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A Special Snapshot: Monsignor Robert Weiss



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The Newtown Bee’s Snapshot column traditionally introduces readers to someone who lives and/or works in town, offering a brief introduction to that person.

This week we’re breaking our own standard, having spent time recently with Monsignor Robert Weiss, familiarly known to many as Father Bob, the pastor of St Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church. After nearly 25 years in Newtown, and more than 50 years since his ordination, Father Bob will be retiring from his administrative duties at the end of this month.

His pastoral journey over the last 50 years has taken him to five parishes in the Diocese of Bridgeport. His first assignment was at St Andrew Parish in Bridgeport. Over the next 26 years, he was assigned to St Leo Parish in Stamford, St Jude in Monroe, St Joseph Parish in Shelton, and finally St Rose of Lima in Newtown, where he has been pastor since his arrival in 1999.

In 2021, at the age of 75, Weiss was obligated to submit a formal resignation of his pastoral leadership and duties. At that time, however, he requested, and was granted, the rare extension from Bishop Caggiano in part so that he could reach his 50th year of priesthood while still serving as pastor of St Rose. The extension also allowed him to remain the leader of his parish through the tenth anniversary of 12/14, a tragedy he too continues to heal from.

Weiss celebrated his golden anniversary of his ordination in May 2023. He will celebrate his final Mass as St Rose Pastor on January 31.

As of February 1, he will become St Rose of Lima Parish Pastor Emeritus, effectively retiring from much of his work. He can continue to do liturgical work, filling in when priests need coverage for whatever reason, but he will be relieved of administrative duties as of the end of the month.

A familiar face to generations of residents and visitors, Father Bob hopes to do some healing, perhaps start going to movies, and attending weekend events and explore more of his home state when he steps into the next chapter of his life.

Ahead of that, he sat down with Managing Editor Shannon Hicks to answer our Snapshot questions.

Who is in your family? I have an older brother, Richard, who lives in Georgia with his wife; and my brother John, who lives here in Newtown. He recently relocated to town.

What are you looking forward to with the next step in your life? It’s a good opportunity to reevaluate my ministry. I’m not sure what opportunities might come my way — the bishop could come up with something for me to do. I’m going to maintain my relationships with Immaculate High School and with St Catherine Center for Children of Special Needs; I’m going to maintain that board relationship.

I’m part of the Newtown Men’s Club, and I’ll be maintaining that as well.

I think I’m just going to try to stay open to whatever opportunities come my way. I think primarily what’s going to happen is a priest gets ill, and they’ll need somebody to come in for a period of time, or if a priest wants to go on vacation and he’s by himself, I’ll cover some of the Masses for him.

What will you miss most about your parish? The spirit of this parish is phenomenal. Obviously the people make the parish, and it’s just the spirit of community that we embrace not just for St Rose but for the whole Newtown community. I think St Rose has really reached out and become very much a church that really is very involved in the life of its community. Oftentimes that’s not the situation, but it’s very particular to Newtown.

I think that’s what I’ll miss the most, the spirit that exists here. I’m proud that St Rose is so respected in Newtown. I think the fact that we house FAITH Food Pantry, that the Knights support Newtown Youth Services, our school is involved in some of the same activities many of the public schools are — Valentines for The Troops, Easter baskets — I’m pretty proud of that. I think it’s a sign of a healthy community.

What will you miss most about Newtown? I’m going to be living here, at Liberty at Newtown, so that’s not going to be a difficulty.

What do you like to do in your free time? What is free time? (laughs) That is really a hard question for me to answer because I typically don’t have any hobbies to speak of. My whole life has been serving people. That’s what has always brought me the most fulfillment and the most happiness.

Everybody has asked me: ‘Are you going to start fishing? What do you want to do?’ Nothing’s jumped at me yet but I’m hoping I can continue to be an asset to the community with the gifts I have.

I’ve traveled a lot already, and traveling is not something — especially with what’s going on around this world right now — that’s very exciting to me.

Selfishly, I need to learn to take time for myself. I’ve never had the opportunity to do the things, the fun things that go on weekends, I’ve missed that. To be able to go to some of the town fairs and those kind of things, and get to know Connecticut — one thing I’d like to do is try to visit every town in Connecticut — because I’ve been so focused here, that I don’t really know a lot of the small towns. I’d like to take some time to do that.

What is your favorite book or what is the most recent book you’ve read? I have to say, the Bible.

The Bible is something that, every day, I’m one of those people who opens it every day to a random page and puts a finger on something and it’s always either something relevant or something that really makes a point for the purpose of that day. You often hear of people doing that but it works for me. Even some of the obscure Old Testament things, sometimes you’ll think ‘What the heck?’ but before the day is over somehow it’s worked its way into the day.

What organizations are you part of in town? The Men’s Club, as mentioned earlier, and I’ll still be involved in the life of the Diocese of Bridgeport. There are a lot of clergy gatherings, so I will retain that relationship. I think that’s healthy for me. And the two boards mentioned earlier.

Favorite food? Turkey. I love Thanksgiving.

(Father Bob respectfully says he does not want to receive turkey casseroles on a regular basis.)

Favorite color? I tend toward the browns and tans. I find them very relaxing and restful.

Who or what has been the greatest influence on your life? My parents. My dad was a convert to Catholicism, and really lived the Catholic faith. They raised us as a Catholic family, and we were always involved in the life of the parishes and the churches when I was growing up. I have to give credit to my mom and dad for that.

If you could spend the day with one person, who would you choose and why? Bishop Fulton Sheen.

I had the privilege of being his librarian when I was in seminary. You know how you say ‘…you sit at their feet, and the wisdom just comes forth’? He’s one of those people for me. He always had something profound to say and he was ahead of his time, standing up for equal rights and equality, respect for life. Because of that, he was ostracized in so many ways, but he really was ahead of his time. He had a love for the poor, he had a love for the sick. He was ahead of his time when it came to social issues.

What is the most recent movie you’ve seen in the theater? I don’t go to the movies, but that is one thing I hope to start doing. I’m so out of touch — I really don’t do social media — so in conversation I don’t have much to talk about. I’ve already thought about it though and it’s one commitment I’ve made to myself: I’d like to go to a movie once a week.

What is your favorite movie genre? I watch some movies and TV at home, and I like the classic comedies. The contemporary ones leave me a little cool, but the classic ones I really enjoy — “Golden Girls,” “I Love Lucy,” “Keeping Up Appearances,” British comedies.

Right now I’m watching “The Gilded Age,” about New York in the 1800s, on Netflix.

What is your favorite music genre? The music I listen to most is from the 60s. I like that music, before you got the really hard rock n’ roll and all that, you could still sing along and you knew the lyrics, and they were somewhat clear of vulgarity.

What is the greatest piece of advice you have ever been given? Be true to yourself and the person God made you to be.

What is something you cannot live without? Dewar’s White Label (laughs).

What is your proudest accomplishment? To be able to be a priest for 50 years. There was so much turmoil, and so many of my classmates have left the priesthood, so much has happened in terms of the priesthood. God gave me the grace to sustain my vocation for 50-plus years.

What is your favorite travel destination? I love Germany. My heritage is Germany and Austria, so I really enjoy those countries. I’m a little bit obsessive compulsive, so I really love the orderliness of Germany (laugh). When it shows 5:11, the train shows at 5:11.

What is your favorite part about Newtown? Definitely the people, and the sense of community. I often think of those posters, Faith Family & Friends, and I think especially during Sandy Hook, that just came out, it flowed right to the top when the world looked at us.

Do you have a personal credo? Nothing is impossible with God.

Monsignor Robert (Father Bob) Weiss will celebrate his final Mass as pastor of St Rose of Lima Church today. —Bee Photo, Hicks
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1 comment
  1. matildebautista says:

    Msgr. Robert Weiss will be greatly missed by us here in Newtown, I saw the transformation of St. Rose under him, an exceptionally outstanding work & achievement. He is all the people’s man of God, a priest, a pastor. He is one of our family treasure as we had the greatest honor of him officiating our marriage milestone, our Golden Wedding in 2022.
    We wish him God’s continued blessings on his golden years of retirement.

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