Trumbull couple to chair ‘A Bridge Home’

TRUMBULL—In a divided world, Dan and Kelly Anne Murphy, the chair couple of the 2022 Bishop’s Appeal, see an opportunity for Catholics to build bridges to one another and the community after two challenging years of a global pandemic.

They are urging the faithful to support Bishop Frank J. Caggiano’s vision by building “A Bridge Home.”

“That theme is meant to highlight hope and renewal underway in our Church and lives,” the bishop said in his December Pastoral Exhortation titled, “Let Us Go Forth from the Upper Room.”

Joe Gallagher, chief development officer of the diocese, said he is grateful that the Murphys accepted the Bishop’s Appeal leadership challenge, and he’s looking forward to partnering with them. “We’ve been blessed by the faith and dedication of our past chair couples, and both Dan and Kelly Anne are adding to the proud tradition within our diocese,” he said.

The Murphys believe the campaign offers the diocese an opportunity to bring healing and hope to families, friends, neighbors and others who are weary from the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. It will also help reunite the Church, reaffirm our faith and welcome others back.

“We speak of the Body of Christ, and we have to gather all our resources and bring people back who may be on the other side of an obstacle,” Kelly Anne said. “We need to work on our formation by knowing and understanding what we believe. For example, many Catholics don’t believe in the True Presence. We have to get back to our roots and also reach out to people in need.”

The Murphys, who are members of the Parish of St. Catherine of Siena in Trumbull, served as the vice chair couple in the previous two campaigns and have been active in ministries in their church and the diocese.

“There is nothing more important than serving our Lord, and it has become more evident to me, with the pandemic, that a lot of people took a pause and a break,” Dan Murphy said.

“But our faith is one of community, and we need to do this together. It’s not done in isolation; we have to bring people together, particularly in our divided world.” In his letter, Bishop Caggiano outlined three tasks that will be the focus of the appeal: to teach and preach the Gospel with clarity and conviction; to transform local parish and school communities into spiritual families united in faith; and to create bridges to people who feel neglected by the Church or who the world considers “outcasts.”

The Bishop’s Appeal, formerly the Annual Catholic Appeal, highlights hope, renewal and evangelization, Kelly Anne said. It will invest in services to engage people in their faith by offering opportunities for discipleship, in addition to helping those who are struggling. The goal of the appeal is $8.1 million, which is the same as last year. Each parish will be allowed to determine how funds are used that are raised in excess of its goal.

“We are blessed to have the Murphys step into the role of chair couple for the 2022 Bishop’s Appeal after serving as vice chairs for several years,” said Pam Rittman, director of development and the Bishop’s Appeal. “Their leadership, deep faith, and roots in volunteering through their parish and diocesan ministries provides the foundation to inspire others.”

  • Among the initiatives the appeal will sponsor are the Institute for Catholic Formation to ensure young people stay connected to the life, mission and ministry of parishes, along with a new mentoring program called “The Bridge” Center for Young Adult Entrepreneurship, which will provide resources and mentorship to young adults for growth in their Catholic faith, while making an impact on their local communities.
  • The Sacred Heart Guild will support programs centered on Christ in the arts and evangelization by focusing on the beauty and truth of the Catholic tradition. The guild will seek to inspire through pilgrimages, workshops, concerts and talks that celebrate Christ in the arts, including sacred music, painting, architecture and literature, with particular attention to the needs of young people in our diocese, the bishop said.
  • Other ministries supported by the appeal include the St. Catherine Center for Special Needs and the Ambassador program, which assists parishioners in welcoming back those who have stopped attending Mass or left the faith.
  • The Bishop’s Scholarship Fund provides tuition assistance to nearly 1,300 students at diocesan Catholic elementary schools annually. In addition, it helps seminarians who are discerning their calling in preparation for the priesthood at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia and Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Stamford, while providing assistance to men in formation to the diaconate.
  • The Seton Collaborative offers expertise to diocesan schools and parishes by focusing on efficient and effective operations. Retired clergy receive support to live in dignity at the Catherine Dennis Keefe Queen of Clergy Residence.

The Murphys have seen firsthand the programs that benefit from the diocesan appeal. Kelly Anne is especially focused on Catherine Dennis Keefe Queen of the Clergy Residence because her uncle, Father John Conlisk, was a priest in the Diocese of Bridgeport.

She and their son Kevin, a freshman at Fairfield Prep, recently participated in a food distribution project at the Thomas Merton Center in which some 2,000 people lined up to receive food provided by the Church of Latter-day Saints in Utah.

She still recalls the first time she volunteered at the Merton Center. “I was on the line, scooping out the food and trying to interact with the guests, and I looked across at these people and thought any one of us is two steps away from being in that line, and it hit home that we were really blessed,” she said. “We’re not in the line, and we are blessed to be serving in the line.”

She believes that many people are eager to support the charitable works of the diocese through Catholic Charities of Fairfield County.

When Kelly Anne talks about the good works the Church does, she recalls her grandmother Margaret Conlisk, an immigrant from County Mayo, who like many others came to America from Ireland and brought their faith with them. They took jobs as housekeepers and laborers and lived lives centered on Christ.

“My grandmother always said that you never miss anything you give to the Church,” Kelly Anne recalled. “You went to Mass and put your money in the basket…and it better not jingle.”

“Our parents raised us in a Catholic house and it has carried on down the generations,” said Dan, who admits to becoming fully immersed in the faith after their oldest daughter Alana started asking theological questions at sixyears-old, which he describes as “pretty deep.”

The Murphys are members of the Order of Malta and also volunteer during the organization’s annual pilgrimages to Lourdes for the sick, visiting the shrine to Our Lady.

Dan, a CPA with more than 20 years of executive finance and accounting experience, is a Fourth Degree Knight of Columbus and belongs to the Ancient Order of Hibernians.

He and their son Sean, a junior at Trumbull High School, are on the Welcome Team of St. Catherine of Siena, and Kevin is a master of ceremony at the parish.

The couple also has two daughters—Alana, a graduate of Boston College, who is getting her master’s degree in English at Fordham University, and Bridget, who is working on her master’s in teaching at Fordham while teaching math at Cristo Rey High School in New York City. All four Murphy children attended St. Catherine of Siena School.

(As we begin the 2022 Bishop’s Appeal, A Bridge Home, thank you for your support. To make your gift or learn more, please visit, or text the word, APPEAL, to 475.241.7849. If you have questions, please call 203.416.1470.)