History of Saint Agnes Mission
Catholics of Woodmont were the responsibility of Milford pastors during the early 20th century. A chapel, initially was to be named for the Sacred Heart, was erected by the pastor of St. Mary, Milford, in 1906. With a hefty Catholic population center now concentrated in Woodmont, Archbishop Henry J. O’Brien raised St. Agnes from mission to parish status on July 8, 1954, with Father John R. O’Connor appointed as first pastor. The vacant Woodmont Country Club building was purchased for $1800. Parishioners donated their own labor to refit the edifice as a parish hall. The following year, the parish decided to build a new church. Upon completion, the new church was dedicated in May, 1960.
St. Agnes was a Roman girl (291-304AD) who was only thirteen years old when she suffered martyrdom for her Faith. Agnes had made a promise, a promise to God never to stain her purity. Her love for the Lord was very great and she hated sin even more than death! Since she was very beautiful, many young men wished to marry Agnes, but she would always say, “Jesus is my only Spouse.”
Procop, the Governor’s son, became very angry when she refused him. He had tried to win her for his wife with rich gifts and promises, but the beautiful young girl kept saying, “I am already promised to the Lord of the Universe. He is more splendid than the sun and the stars, and He has said He will never leave me!” In great anger, Procop accused her of being a Christian and brought her to his father, the Governor. The Governor promised Agnes wonderful gifts if she would only deny God, but Agnes refused. He tried to change her mind by putting her in chains, but her lovely face shone with joy. Next he sent her to a place of sin, but an Angel protected her. At last, she was condemned to death. Even the pagans cried to see such a young and beautiful girl going to death. Yet, Agnes was as happy as a bride on her wedding day. She did not pay attention to those who begged her to save herself. “I would offend my Spouse,” she said, “if I were to try to please you. He chose me first and He shall have me!” Then she prayed and bowed her head for the death-stroke of the sword.
Agnes feast day is January 21st but has a second feast day January 28th which is her birthday.
PRAYER To St Agnes (traditional wording)
Almighty and everlasting God, who dost choose those whom the world deemeth powerless to put the powerful to shame: Grant us so to cherish the memory of thy youthful martyr Agnes, that we may share her pure and steadfast faith in thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Photos of St. Agnes Church
History of Saint Mary Church
In the 55 years which have elapsed since the dedication of the new St. Mary Church, located in Milford, CT, there have been so many splendid developments.
Of capital significance was the opening of St. Mary School in 1961. The parish is forever indebted to the Sisters of Mercy whose presence guaranteed its success.
Father Dennis F. Moran died in 1967 after a pastorate of thirty-five years. He was succeeded by Father Joseph H. Collonan, whose entire priesthood was spent at St. Mary Church. In tribute to his years of dedication and service, a fitting memorial was established after his death. A Schulmerich Basilican Bells Carillon was purchased through generous donations of parishioners, and was in use until electronic chimes were installed in 2007.
In 1987, Father Francis J. Seggel formed a committee for the renovation of our pre-Vatican II church building. When the architectural plans of D. Paul Antinozzi of Church Manufacturers Guild, Inc., of West Hartford, were accepted by the committee and approved by Archbishop John F. Whealon, work on St Mary Church was begun.
Renovations to the church included refinishing the pews, carpeting, improving the lighting and installing a new sound system. The sanctuary was redesigned. The altar and repository were repositioned, and after the altar rail was removed, the marble was used for a new pulpit. The church project was completed in approximately two months. Archbishop Whealon celebrated the Mass of Rededication on Sunday, May 29, 1988.
Through the efforts of Father James J. Cronin, our prized reproduction of the painting of Madonna and Child by Giovanni Battisti Salvi (known as Sassoferrato) that hung above the altar of the second church was restored and now has a place of honor in this church. In 2002, he had installed fourteen new oak doors, consistent with the style of the original church doors. Ten have stained glass panels depicting parables of Jesus.
In 2012, the sanctuary ceiling was decorated with hand painted panels featuring various symbols associated with the Blessed Mother.
The 1955 Dedication of Saint Mary Church
“The new edifice of St. Mary R.C. Church will be dedicated on October 30th at a solemn High Mass to be celebrated at 11 am by the pastor, the Rev. Dennis F. Moran.This article appeared in the Milford Citizen in October 1955:
Located on Gulf Street on the site of the former Milford School athletic field, the structure has a main section, which will seat 800 communicants. A wing, planned for parish activities will accommodate 375 additional persons and can be incorporated in the main body of the church.
The exterior of Saint Mary Church is of red brick, with limestone trim and arched doorway and doors of natural oak. Both exterior and interior follow line of classic simplicity, note of richness being introduced in the stained glass windows. One of the last pieces of work designed by John Terence O’Duggan, of Boston, before his death earlier this year, is the window depicting the story of Christ’s life with his Blessed Mother, in brilliant but subtly blended hues.
Of particular beauty is the rose window in the upper rear of the church. Also distinctive is the triple window in stained glass over the sanctuary, which has a religious-patriotic theme: “The Blessed Mother’s Protection of America.”
The pews are of natural oak as are the single statues of St. Ann, St. Mary, St. Joseph and St. Anthony, which stand in alcoves in the body of the church. The L.F. Dennenborn Woodworking Company of Hartford carved these. The Stations of the Cross are executed in limewood with oak figures in bas-relief.
An effect of quiet spaciousness is achieved by means of the cathedral ceiling with oaken beams, by simple, off white walls and in the sanctuary by plain walls in mulberry tone.
The altar design was sketched by Howard Sullivan, the New Haven architect, and the detail was executed by Felix Lorenzoni of New York city, whose family for generations have been cutters of stone and marble in Italy. In keeping with the theme of dignity and simplicity, the sections of the altar were cut and finished by the Lorenzoni family and shipped to Milford. The altar is white with pedestals in rose marble.
A modern baptistery and efficiently designed sacristry, or vestry, are the other features.
Concealed lighting through the church produces a soft, reposeful effect. A speaker on the altar enables responses by the organist and choir church to be easily heard. An electric Baldwin church organ was replaced in 2007 with a Casavant Freres organ that is comprised of 2107 pipes.
In the social activity wing of Saint Mary Church, a sparkling, modernly equipped kitchen in porcelainized steel has been installed. Eight doors on all sides of the building will provide ready access and egress.
Consecration of the altar will be conducted in a separate ceremony by the Rev. Mr. Moran about a week before the formal dedication. The church cornerstone will be laid at the time of the dedication.”
Photos of St. Mary Church
Clerical History of St Mary Church (1995 - Present)
2012 - Present
Pastor: The Reverend Aidan N. Donahue
1994 - 2011
Pastor: The Reverend James J. Cronin
Assistants: Frederick M. Langlois (1994), Vito DeCarolis (1995), Ronald P. Zepecki (2002), Kevin G. Donovan (2003), Nathaniel C. Labarda (2004), Chacko C. Kumplam (2010)
1980 - 1993
Pastor: The Reverend Francis J. Seggel
Assistants: Thomas Baylis (1980), John J. Castellani (1980), Arthur Flynn (1982), Robert G. Ladamus (1982), Robert L. Beloin (1983), Stanley K. Sikora (1984), John A. Zalonis (1986), William J. Killeen (1987), Stephen Bzdyra (1991), Thomas Gaffney (1992), Frank Papa (1992)
1976 - 1979
Pastor: The Reverend James A. Carroll
Assistants: Thomas F. Gaffney (1976), Vincent J. Paolillo (1976), John J. Quinn (1977), David M. Kennedy (1978)
1974 - 1975
Co-Pastors: The Reverend Joseph F. Gorman, Lawrence LeClair, William J. Brenza
1970 - 1973
Pastor: The Reverend Joseph H. Collonan
Assistants: Raymond F. Gallagher (1973)
1955 - 1969
Pastor: The Reverend Dennis F. Moran
Assistants: Robert J. Keen (1955), Bernard D. Killeen (1957), James P. Cusick (1959), Robert W. Bergeron (1961), Francis A. Mayock (1961), Joseph T. Rozint (1967), Joseph F. Gorman (1969), Gerard A. Monniere (1969)