St. Joseph High School Gala remembers Fr. Baran

MONROE—More than 300 people turned out Saturday, November 17 to pay tribute to one of the most beloved graduates of St. Joseph High School, the late Father John Baran, pastor of St. Anthony of Padua, who was described as a gifted homilist and spiritual leader who inspired his community of believers to live lives of grace and generosity.

Head of School, Dr. William Fitzgerald, said, “Father John Baran ’76 made a difference at St. Anthony of Padua Parish. Father John is one of ten alumni to serve parishes in the Diocese of Bridgeport, moral men who have dedicated their lives to Christ and his congregations of believers.”

Father Baran, who passed away in March, was recognized with the school’s Spiritual Leadership Award, and Brian and Brenda Bellows and their daughters were honored with the Dedication Award at the school’s annual Maroon and Gold Gala.

Dr. Fitzgerald, who announced the creation of three new scholarships, said that last year the school offered more than $1.5 million in scholarships.

“Nothing is more important to our future and our country than the education of our children, and no academic program is superior to the faith-based, moral foundation we offer at      St. Joe’s,” he said.

In recognition of the service of Brian Bellows, retiring member of the Board of Directors, and his family’s overall involvement, the board personally endowed The Bellows Family Scholarship.

“We are a family of faith and moral values, and it is families like the Bellows who make the difference,” Dr. Fitzgerald said.

The Bellows family — Brian and Brenda and their daughters Sarah ’07 and Laura ’11 — was honored for being “the model of a St. Joe’s family.” The girls distinguished themselves in many ways, academically and athletically and most notably, Dr. Fitzgerald said, by never getting a detention. Brenda Bellows was recognized for her work with the Parents Association. Brian, who recently retired as national sales manager at United Health, lent his expertise and resources to advance the school’s marketing and communications programs.

“We are a better school for the Bellows and are proud to announce the Bellows Family Scholarship, which will be awarded each year to a student who exemplifies a strong faith, high moral character, academic achievement and active participation in the life of the school community,” Dr. Fitzgerald said.

Father Baran was remembered as a pastor who “nurtured an engaged and active parish that serves as well as it worships.” Dr. Fitzgerald said Father Baran’s ministry “moved so many of us to live life gracefully and always in service to the greater good.”

A video was shown in which parishioners and friends recalled Father Baran as “an amazing homilist” and a pastor who “built community and empowered the laity.” He encouraged people to become more involved. He was remembered as an extraordinarily hospitable man with a wry sense of humor who could also be “funny and brutally honest.” He left the parish with “a legacy of hospitality and cooperation in the service of the Gospel.”

“The Father John Baran ’76 Scholarship will be awarded annually to an enrolled student who is active in his or her parish and who exemplifies a dedication to community and a personal faith life that is committed to action,” Dr. Fitzgerald said. “As the St Anthony of Padua parish as a community exemplifies these values and as they are a sponsor of the scholarship, preference will be given first to a student active in that parish. The recipient will be selected by the St. Joseph High School scholarship committee.”

The award was accepted by Eleanor Sauers, director of religious education, who worked with Father Baran in the parish for many years.

Dr. Fitzgerald also announced the Rosemarie Skawinski Chaves ’74 Engineering Scholarship. Rosemarie Skawinski Chaves studied Industrial Design in the College of Engineering at the University of Bridgeport and had a successful career at Avco Lycoming. She was encouraged in mathematics and science by the St. Joseph faculty … and was the only young woman in her drafting class.

With the goal of encouraging young women to engage in engineering fields, the Rosemarie Skawinski Chaves ’74 Scholarship will be awarded to a student currently enrolled at St Joseph High School who intends to pursue a career in engineering. Preference will be given to female candidates. The recipient must also display the qualities of a St Joseph High School student profile: faith commitment, high moral character, social responsibility, academic achievement, and active participation in the school community. The recipient will be selected by the Scholarship Committee.