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New St Rose Pastor Embraces And Is Embraced



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Father Peter Cipriani arrived at St Rose of Lima Parish on February 1 to lead the large and vibrant Catholic community that had not had a new Pastor in more than 20 years.

He arrived in Newtown from Our Lady of Assumption Parish in Fairfield. Upon barely settling into his new residence and office in Newtown, Fr Cipriani began accepting requests from the many enthusiastic parishioners, staff and ministry leaders who wanted to welcome him to the St Rose family. Initial days of introduction and orientation kept him busy enough, but he also had to tend to the day-to-day operations of a big parish.

Upon reflection of his first days, Fr Cipriani says he felt the bigness and energy of the community right away.

“I felt as though I was walking out of a kindergarten class and onto a college campus,” he said. “The sheer size and vibrancy of Saint Rose was initially overwhelming to me despite that I’m a Pastor who likes to stay busy and spiritually engaged.”

By comparison, Fr Cipriani’s former parish in Fairfield is about a third of the size of St Rose, which has about 3,600 registered families. The spring season brings a busy schedule for many of the 50 active ministries including the sacraments of Holy Communion and Confirmation, which includes twice as many students as his previous parish. Because of its size, St Rose sacramental services span multiple weekends and require additional Masses to accommodate the more than 325 confirmands and communicants. This too, was an eye-opener for the new Pastor.

“My St Rose to-do list circumnavigates the globe multiple times,” said Fr Cipriani. “That is a testament to the Christ-like spirit of this incredible community”.

In his first weekend Mass, Fr Cipriani assured his new congregation that he recognized the transition to a new Pastor could be overwhelming to them as well, and affirmed that both Pastor and flock would forge a new future together.

It seems the flock has responded by embracing his spiritual leadership with enthusiasm and renewed energy. Already affectionately known as Fr Peter or Fr Cip, the response to his arrival has been very positive. Donna Locke, long-time parishioner and active ministry leader of the adult sacrament program says Fr Cipriani has been incredibly supportive from the onset. “His eagerness to offer the sacraments to those seeking our faith is fantastic,” she said.

In addition to a large parish, Fr Cipriani also leads one of the bigger and growing elementary schools in the Diocese, St Rose School. By all accounts, students and staff alike are impressed with his interaction with the children and commitment to the school’s mission.

St Rose School Principal Dr Bardhyl Gjoka says Fr Cipriani “breaks down powerful messages from scripture into practical and relatable lessons for our students and does it with energy and a friendly approach.”

Perhaps the best testament to his initial success comes from the altar during Mass. Fr Cipriani’s approach to homilies is unique and captivating. In a recent homily, he drew parallels between the Bible’s story and lessons of Adam and Eve to the hit movie Barbie.

“Fr Cipriani’s homilies show his easygoing manner and sense of humor,” says Donna Rahtelli, longtime parishioner, school teacher and active ministry leader. “His messages are outstanding and reach the young and old with interesting parallels, and children respond to his creative use of props.”

With a little over 100 days into his service at St Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Parish, Fr Cipriani believes he was sent to the right place.

“This parish and her people exemplify the Holy Spirit and are welcoming, warm and supportive,” he says. “My challenge is to help us harness that incredible spirit even more in our everyday living, loving and worship.”

But first, Fr Cipriani has to learn all their names.

Father Peter Cipriani delivers the homily to First Holy Communion children at St Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church during their recent Butterfly Mass. The new pastor of St Rose arrived on February 1, and has already reached his first 100 days milestone.
Fr Cipriani during Mass.
The Knights of Columbus, St Virgilius Council 185 present an annual Memorial Day Ceremony at St Rose Cemetery to honor those veterans who are buried there. Fr Cipriani presided over this year’s ceremony.
Fr Cipriani giving First Holy Communion. —photos courtesy St Rose Church
Fr Cipriani blesses preschool children during Ash Wednesday.
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