December 2009 Obituaries

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Msgr. Lawrence J. McMahon

 Msgr. Lawrence J. McMahon Msgr. Lawrence J. McMahon, retired pastor of Saint Mark’s Parish in Stratford, passed away on December 15, 2009 at St. Vincent’s Medical Center. He was 82 years old.

Remembered as an affable, devout priest with a gifted singing voice and an easy manner with people, Msgr. McMahon was recalled fondly by many parishioners as a real life version of Fr. O’Malley in the noted film, “Going My Way.” He was known for his singing in many parish productions and fund raisers.

Born in Bridgeport On May 19, 1927, Msgr. McMahon was a member of Saint Charles Borromeo Parish, where he attended school, sang in the choir and served as an altar boy.

He later attended Harding High School and graduated from Fairfield Prep in 1945.

Msgr. McMahon entered Saint Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield in 1947, and moved on to Saint Mary’s in Baltimore in 1949. He was ordained in Saint Augustine Cathedral in 1955 by Bishop Lawrence J. Shehan, first bishop of Bridgeport.

Msgr. McMahon’s first assignment was as parochial vicar of Saint Theresa Parish in Trumbull, where he served for eight years. In 1963, he was appointed spiritual director of Saint Joseph High School with residence at Saint Joseph Parish in Shelton, and in 1967 added an assignment as diocesan director of the Family Life Bureau.

During his priesthood, he also served as advocate on the Diocesan Tribunal, vicar for Vicariate IV of the diocese and chaplain at St. Vincent’s.

In 1969, Msgr. McMahon became pastor of Saint Mark’s Parish. During his lengthy tenure as pastor, Msgr. McMahon led several building campaigns that brought the church up to date liturgically in the 1980s ; saw the establishment of a multi-purpose parish center in the 90s and built the commanding bell tower that is now proclaims Saint’ Mark’s in its Stratford neighborhood.

He is also fondly remembered by Saint Mark’s parishioners for his participation in the 25 musicals and 20 cabarets the parish started over the years. Msgr. McMahon was featured in various roles, playing everything from the Wizard of Oz to an Episcopal clergyman in parish productions. “People get to know you in a different light. It makes them less hesitant to come to you with their problems,” he said of his roles.

On August 3, 1991, he was elevated to Prelate of Honor to His Holiness by Pope John Paul II.

Msgr. McMahon retired as pastor of Saint Mark’s in 2003 and moved to the Catherine Dennis Keefe Queen of the Clergy Residence in Stamford, where he continued to help out in parishes throughout the diocese.

After his retirement he moved to the Queen of Clergy Residence in Stamford and continued to help out in parishes and the family of faith in Fairfield County.

On December 20, Msgr. McMahon’s body will be received at Saint Mark Church at 2 p.m., and parish Vigil Mass will be celebrated at 7 p.m. Msgr Larry Carroll, pastor of Saint Pius X Parish in Fairfield will be the principal celebrant; Father Michael Lyons, parochial vicar of Notre Dame Parish in Easton, will deliver the homily. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at Saint Mark’s on December 21 at 11 a.m. Bishop William E. Lori will be the celebrant; Msgr Carroll will give the homily.

Fr. Alfred E. Russo

 Fr. Alfred E. Russo Father Alfred E. Russo died in Stamford Hospital on December 13, 2009 after a long illness. He was 80 years old.

A social, gregarious man, Father Russo made friends wherever he was assigned, and kept those friends throughout his life. In his last assignment of over a dozen years, Father Russo was resident chaplain at Saint Joseph’s Manor in Trumbull. At the Manor, he was beloved not only for his warm smile and kindness, but for his readiness to kid around with patients after Mass or during pastoral visits.

He was born and raised in New Britain, the last of six children, and received his sacraments at Saint Ann Parish there. After graduation from New Britain High School he began his studies for the priesthood at the School of Saint Philip Neri in Boston, MA. He interrupted his studies to serve in the United States Army as a corporal from 1951-53. Because of his background, he served as chaplain’s assistant in the military.

Returning home, he entered Our Lady of Mercy Seminary in Lenox, MA, and completed his theological studies at our Lady of Angels Seminary in Albany, NY. He was ordained by Bishop Walter W. Curtis in Saint Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport on May 26, 1962. His first appointment was as parochial vicar of Saint Joseph Parish in Danbury. Father Russo held that appointment while teaching religion on the faculty of Immaculate High School in Danbury from 1962-63.

He later served at Saint Philip Parish in Norwalk, Sacred Heart Parish in Greenwich, and Saint Gregory the Great Parish in Danbury. During this time he was named priest-advisor to the Juvenile Court in Danbury. He was a member of the Priest’s Council from 1978-80, and became Chaplain of the Knights of Columbus chapter in South Norwalk in 1988.

In 1989, Father Russo was named temporary administrator of Saint Roch Parish in Greenwich. Following that appointment, he served at Saint Rose of Lima Parish in Newtown, Sacred Heart Parish in Stamford, and Saint Mary Parish in Ridgefield. A highlight of Father Russo’s life was meeting Pope John Paul II in 1981.

Throughout his priesthood Father Russo continued his studies, receiving a master’s degree in pastoral counseling from Iona College in New Rochelle, NY, and pursuing a doctoral degree at Saint Mary Seminary University in Baltimore, MD.

In 1995, Father Russo became resident chaplain at Saint Joseph’s Manor. He retired to the Catherine Dennis Keefe Queen of Clergy Residence in 2007.

Father Russo will be received into Saint Bridget of Ireland Parish in Stamford, next door to the Queen of Clergy Residence, at 5 p.m. on December 18. A parish Mass will be celebrated at Saint Bridget by Bishop William E. Lori that evening at 7 p.m. Bishop Lori will also deliver the homily.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated for Father Russo at Saint Ann’s in New Britain, his home parish, on the following morning at 11:30 a.m. Msgr. Kevin Royal, vicar of clergy personnel, will be the principal celebrant and homilist. Interment with full Military Honors will follow in the Garden Mausoleum at Saint Mary Cemetery, New Britain.