NEW FAIRFIELD—Hundreds of people gathered to witness the ceremonial installation of Father Robert Wolfe as the new pastor of St. Edward the Confessor Church.
“We gather with special joy,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano as he presided over the Mass and welcomed well-wishers and worshippers to the Installation Mass in December. “We are praying that you may have many years of ministry here.”
Father Wolfe joined the parish following his time at St. Mary Parish in Bethel. He later became the administrator of St. Edward the Confessor Parish when it and Holy Trinity in Sherman were merged into a single parish last July. Father Wolfe was appointed as the new pastor of St. Edward’s in November following the death of Father Nick Cirillo in August of last year.
Father Wolfe delivered the homily and focused on the season of giving and on the most precious gift ever given.
“The Lord in great generosity gave us the most precious gift possible, the gift of Christ,” he said, imploring all present to appreciate the magnitude of that gift. “The giver wants to give something that’s going to bring out something special in the receiver and the reality is, great gifts have great responsibility attached to them. Take care of it, receive it with humility and love; for great gifts move our hearts to great love and great love has been given to us in a very, very, very precious gift.”
During the Rite of Installation of a Pastor, Father Wolfe announced the names of those in the parish community who will assist him in pastoral duties. The congregation responded with applause and more applause followed when Bishop Caggiano said, “Allow me to present to you, your new pastor,” before Father Wolfe began leading the congregation in reciting the Apostles’ Creed, his first official act as pastor.
Father Wolfe thanked his parents, his brother and soon-to-be sister-in-law and said, “you will always be a precious gift to me.”
He also gave a heartfelt thank you to associate pastor Father Tim Iannacone and to members of St. Mary Parish who were also in attendance to mark this milestone in his journey as a priest.
“Thank you for the confidence and faith you have in me,” he said.
Parishioners gathered at a reception for Father Wolfe immediately following the Mass in the parish hall to celebrate with him and for fellowship.
“I knew him when he was a little boy,” said Virginia Harger, who lived in the Shelton neighborhood where Father Wolfe grew up. “You could always tell he had a vocation … To come here today to see him installed, it brought tears to my eyes.”
Fellow Shelton resident Joseph Pagliaro agreed.
“You could tell he had a vocation, it would just shine through him,” he said. “There’s a genuine goodness about him.”
Amy Davis has been a parishioner at St. Edward for more than five years, and has seen pastors come and go. She expressed appreciation for Father Wolfe’s kind and compassionate demeanor.
“He is just a wonderful person all around,” she said. “He’s kind, he’s got compassion, he’s got everything it takes.”
That compassion was evident to everyone as Father Wolfe assisted former pastor Father Cirillo during his illness and time of need.
Earlier, the Bishop shared a conversation he had with Father Cirillo Nick about who might be chosen to follow in his footsteps and lead the congregation upon his passing. When the Bishop told Father Cirillo he was considering Father Wolfe, Father Cirillo’s response was simply, “He is the best,” and the Bishop said he responded, “I agree.”
“You now have the youngest priest staff in the entire diocese,” Bishop Caggiano said, referring to Father Wolfe and Father Iannacone. “Great things are happening at St. Edward’s and we will continue to build on that.”
Many others shared the same sentiment.
“He’s down to earth. He has a sense of humor, we love that!” said Linda Swander, a parishioner of St. Edward’s for 47 years, adding that the two priests complement one another in their roles as leaders of the parish.
Charlotte Rutsch, who moved with her family from New York to Sherman two years ago, and who attended the Mass with her 5-year-old daughter Tilly, said it’s very evident that Father Wolfe is committed to the priesthood.
“He was instrumental in helping us feel at home,” she said, adding that he has met with the family several times.
She also said his homilies are impactful and memorable.
“You always leave the Mass feeling inspired and renewed in your faith,” Rutsch said. “It is what a good Father does for his flock.”
By Kathy-Ann Gobin