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Monsignor Robert Weiss Celebrates Golden Jubilee Of Ordination



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Monsignor Robert Weiss, pastor of St Rose of Lima Parish, celebrated the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood on Thursday, May 18.

In 2021, at the age of 75, Monsignor Weiss was obligated to submit a formal resignation of his pastoral leadership and duties. At that time, he requested — and was granted — the rare extension from Bishop Caggiano in part so that he could reach his 50th year of priesthood.

Monsignor Weiss’s tenure as a Catholic priest is a remarkable, faith-filled journey that begins with a story about his calling.

“I was walking across school campus in my late teens and as I passed the church, I heard a clear voice say to me: ‘become a priest,’” he has shared. Although he jokes about avoiding that route to class after that one experience, he also admits it gave him time to pause and reflect on a future path that voice was asking him to follow.

He chose to embrace his calling. In 1968 he entered St Bernard Seminary in Rochester, N.Y., amid the height of Vatican II. It was a time when seminarians and priests perceived uncertainty due to impending changes to the Catholic doctrine. As a result, he saw fellow classmates withdraw.

“I sat alone at night in the seminary’s chapel asking myself ‘why am I still here?’” he said. “But after days of reflection, I came to the realization that this is what the Lord wanted for me. I didn’t choose priesthood, He chose me.”

Monsignor Weiss was ordained on May 18, 1973. 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.

A Loyal Following

Although he has been pastor of St Rose for nearly half of his priesthood, Monsignor Weiss maintains a loyal following of parishioners and friends from all the parishes to which he has been assigned.

Jeff McKenzie, a longtime St Rose parishioner and friend, said the monsignor “has a special way of drawing people in. We want to be a part of this community.

“I think his gift is to connect Catholic belief to our daily life,” he added.

Perhaps that sentiment is best reflected in Weiss’s weekly homilies.

“I really try to relate the gospel to the contemporary world within which we live today,” Weiss said. “My inspiration comes from asking the questions ‘How are we living every day? ... What is the hope we need to navigate faithfully and keep the Word of Christ alive in modern times?’”

Since 2019, Monsignor Weiss has taken to social media with a series called Weiss Wednesdays, which enables him to connect with a broader Catholic community where they spend time.

Monsignor Weiss’s inspiration has also been rooted in his love of children and his devotion to nurturing their faith and a deeper relationship with Christ. He spent time as a chaplain at Trinity High School in Stamford and as pastor of the schools in his prior parishes.

St Rose of Lima School is perhaps the best testament to his success. He has overseen the growth of the school and its remarkable success with a faith-based curriculum that won the Blue Ribbon award in 2009. A proud Monsignor Weiss had a special blue ribbon made to wrap around the entire school building to let the children know how proud he was of their academic success. For years, Weiss has called children to the altar during weekend Masses to pray the Lord’s Prayer together, holding hands.

Commitment To Community

This steadfast commitment to his community is in large part the reason he was able to take a parish straddled with financial difficulties and rebuild it into one of the dioceses’ strongest in terms of its financial health and vibrancy as a Catholic institution. At times, he has been affectionately known as “Bob the Builder” for his ability to garner financial support for campus expansion in order to accommodate its growth as a parish.

“We have over 50 active ministries that carry out extraordinary and selfless acts of service day in and day out,” he says. “There is seldom a day when this campus is quiet.”

Perhaps the biggest test of a Pastor’s impact as the Shepherd of his flock is tragedy. In the wake of 12/14, Monsignor Weiss found himself, by proxy, a Shepherd for spiritual healing, not only to his parishioners but also to the entire world looking in on Newtown.

The impact of Weiss as a priest was exceptional enough that Arch Bishop William Lori nominated him for the title of Monsignor, a distinction few priests are granted. Approved by Pope Benedict XVI, Father Bob became Monsignor Weiss in 2007.

While many priests in the Diocese of Bridgeport reach this vocational milestone anniversary, Monsignor Weiss has uniquely left an indelible mark on every parish to which he was assigned.

“Reaching this jubilee moment was very important to me,” he says. When he looks back on the day he heard that voice say “be a priest,” Monsignor Weiss is quietly assured he was chosen for this life, not the other way around.

Monsignor Robert Weiss, pastor of St Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church, was granted the unusual extension from Bishop Frank Caggiano that allowed the monsignor to reach his 50th year of priesthood. That milestone was reached on May 18. —photo courtesy St Rose of Lima Church
Weiss is shown lying prostrate during his Rite of Ordination, May 18, 1973. —photo courtesy Monsignor Weiss
Weiss, on the right, is shown during an undated Christmas Mass from the early days of his priesthood. —photo courtesy Monsignor Weiss
Weiss has been the pastor of St Rose of Lima for nearly half of his priesthood. A parish celebration honoring his 50th anniversary of ordination is planned for the approaching weekend. —photo courtesy St Rose of Lima Church
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