Sr. Joan Connelly, SSND
Sister Joan Connelly, a Catholic school educator and pastoral associate for more than 50 years, died of cancer on March 21, 2014 at Lourdes Health Care Center in Wilton. She was 79 years old and had been a professed member of the School Sisters of Notre Dame for 58 years.
Joan Margaret Connelly was born on Aug. 7, 1934, in Providence, R.I., the first in a family of four girls. She studied at Rhode Island College of Education for one year before entering the School Sisters of Notre Dame in Baltimore in 1953, taking the religious name Sister Mary Thomas Villanova. She professed her first vows in 1955 and her final vows in 1961.
Sister Joan earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Nazareth College of Rochester, a master’s in American studies from St. John’s University in New York and a second master’s in religious studies from Providence College in Rhode Island.
She taught at schools in New York, New Jersey and New Hampshire before coming to this diocese to teach history and religion at St. Mary School in Bethel from1970-71.
Starting in 1978, Sister Joan began a long ministry as a pastoral associate and director of adult religious education. In 2001, while still a pastoral minister, she also became co-director of the SSND Associate Program for her province. She became director of the program in 2004.
In 2013 Sister Joan moved to Villa Notre Dame in Wilton, where she continued to be active in community service to SSNDs and her neighbors. She was regularly ministering to the sick, elderly and shut-ins of St. Luke Parish in Westport in the weeks before her death.
A Mass of Christian burial was celebrated for Sister Joan on March 24 in the chapel at Villa Notre Dame in Wilton. Burial followed at St. Mary Cemetery in Bethel.
Fr. Martin Hitchcock, former St. Mary’s pastor
GREENWICH – Father Martin Hitchcock, former pastor of St. Mary Parish in Greenwich, died on March 12, 2014 in Hilton Head, S.C., where he resided after retiring. Father Hitchcock, who was 88, had taken early retirement in 1991 for medical reasons. He suffered from multiple sclerosis.
“He would never tell anyone he was sick, never complained,” says Msgr. Frank Wissel, St. Mary’s current pastor.
“He was a quiet man,” Msgr. Wissel adds. “Anything he did for people—and he did a lot—nobody else knew about it.”
Born in Great Barrington, Mass., in 1926, Father Hitchcock entered St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield and completed his theological studies at St. Mary Seminary in Baltimore, Md. He was ordained by Bishop Henry J. O’Brien in St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Hartford, on May 3, 1951.
When the Diocese of Bridgeport was first formed, Father Hitchcock was assigned to St. James Parish in Stratford and then St. Peter Parish in Danbury. While at St. Peter’s, he served as chaplain of the Newman Club at Western CT State University (WestConn).
He was appointed assistant superintendent of schools in 1964 and became superintendent in 1967. During that time he resided at St. Mary Parish, Bethel; St. Joseph Parish, Danbury; St. Lawrence Parish, Shelton; and Notre Dame Parish, Easton. He was also a member of the Diocesan Liturgical Commission.
In 1971 he was named pastor of St. Mary’s, a position he held for over 20 years. During his time there he converted the former convent and school into a state of the art parish center, much used for parish activities. He also served on the Presbyterial Council from 1976-78.
Father Hitchcock was pleased to recall that among his altar boys were the future Msgr. Frank McGrath, pastor of St. John Parish in Darien; Msgr. Thomas Driscoll, pastor of Notre Dame Parish in Easton; Father Thomas Thorne, pastor of Assumption Parish in Westport; and the late Father Richard Futie, former pastor of St. Mary and Sacred Heart parishes, both in Stamford.
“He went out of his way to take care of priests,” says his good friend Father Joseph Saba, former pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Bridgeport. “Saturday night meals with him were memorable. He taught me how to fold crepes. You couldn’t eat crepes unless they were properly folded.”
A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated for Father Hitchcock on April 1 at St. Mary’s. Bishop Frank J. Caggiano was the principal celebrant. Msgr. Wissel delivered the homily.
Burial followed in his mother’s plot in St. Joseph Cemetery, Canaan, Conn. At his request, Father Hitchcock was buried in a simple Trappist coffin.