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Father Hribsek, former pastor of Holy Cross Parish

FAIRFIELD—Father Aloysius Hribsek, former pastor of Holy Cross Parish in Fairfield, died on the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross, September 14, in Stamford Hospital. He was 92 years old.

Father Hribsek, who lived at the Catherine Dennis Keefe Queen of Clergy Retired Priests’ Residence since 1996, served as pastor at Holy Cross Parish for twenty-three years.

Born on October 28, 1921 in Yugoslavia, he attended local schools there. His studies for the priesthood were done at the Pontificio Ateneo Salesian in Turin, Italy and Salesian College, Aptos, Calif. His ordination to the priesthood as a Salesian took place at Mary, Help of Christians Church, Watsonville, California, on June 29, 1949. He was incardinated into the Diocese of Bridgeport in 1959.

His first assignment for the diocese was as a faculty member at the former St. Mary High School in Greenwich, while in residence at Saint Michael Parish, also in Greenwich. Later he was an assistant at Sacred Heart Parish, Byram, and administrator and pastor at Holy Cross Parish. He lived at St. Luke Parish, Westport as well.

Father Hribsek spent part of his early years of retirement in his native Slovenia assisting Salesian Fathers working in that newly formed, independent country. On his return he was appointed administrator of St. Margaret Mary Parish in Shelton and later chaplain at Villa Maria Retreat House in Stamford.

In addition, Father Hribsek served on the Priests’ Council and did advanced studies at Fordham and Columbia Universities, and the Catholic University of America.

Father Hribsek’s body will be received at Holy Cross Church on Wednesday, September 17, at 4 pm where it will lie in state until the Vigil Mass at 7 pm. The celebrant and homilist will be Reverend Alfred Pecaric, the current pastor.

The Mass for Christian Burial will be celebrated for Father Hribsek on Thursday, September 18, at 10:30 am at Holy Cross. Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will be the main celebrant. The homilist will be Msgr. Nicholas Grieco. Burial will follow at Saint Michael Cemetery, Stratford, in the Priests’ Circle.

Msgr. Frank Wissel, 76 beloved Pastor of Saint Mary Parish, Greenwich

GREENWICH—Msgr. Frank C. Wissel, 76, pastor of St. Mary Parish in Greenwich, died peacefully yesterday evening (June 19) in Greenwich Hospital.

News of his death has been greeted with sadness by people throughout the diocese. His commitment to education and his devotion to the people entrusted to his care made him a towering presence both in Greenwich and among the inner-city students he had served in in Bridgeport.

Msgr. Wissel’s body will be received into Saint Mary Church on Monday, June 23 at 10 am, where it will lie in state until the Vigil Mass there at 7 pm. The celebrant and homilist for the Mass will be Msgr. William Scheyd, pastor of St. Aloysius Parish in New Canaan. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated for Msgr. Wissel in St. Mary’s on Tuesday, June 24, at 11am. The celebrant will be Bishop Frank J. Caggiano; Msgr. J.  Peter Cullen, pastor of St. Michael Parish in Greenwich, will deliver the homily.

Burial will follow at Saint Mary Cemetery, in the Priests’ Circle.

Msgr. Wissel had retired as pastor less than a week earlier, on June 15, after serving the parish for 17 years.

To honor the occasion of his retirement, a marble statue of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal had been erected outside the church, overlooking Greenwich Avenue. It was donated anonymously by a parish couple in honor of Msgr. Wissel and in gratitude to Our Lady for her intercession in the healing of cancer patients.  

The statue was dedicated by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano on a festive Mother’s Day, May 11, with many parishioners and well-wishers looking on. Carved from Carrara marble by the Arrighini Family of Pietrasanta, Italy, the one-ton statue is an exact replica of the one in the Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal on the Rue de Bac in Paris, France. The chapel is where Our Lady appeared to Saint Catherine Labouré in 1830, encouraging her to create the medal.

Msgr. Wissel believed the statue would be the source of many blessings, as well as a powerful witness to passersby on the busy shopping street. “It’s beautifully done, a unique gift given by a very special couple,” he said on that happy day. “I never expected it to be dedicated to me. In Brooklyn you’d have to be dead 30 years for that to happen!”

A native of Brooklyn, Msgr. Wissel, 76, was ordained to the priesthood in 1977 by Bishop Walter Curtis. He holds a doctorate in psycho-theology and ministry from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley, CA.

Msgr. Wissel was the principal of Kolbe Cathedral High School in Bridgeport from 1981-1991. While there he founded the St. Maximilian Kolbe House of Studies for Boys in Bridgeport, designed to educate young men in a family setting. In 1991 he was named Chaplain to His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, carrying the title of Monsignor.

Appointed pastor of Saint Mary’s in 1997, Msgr. Wissel expanded the number of parish programs and organizations and established a fund to assist the needy, including the large immigrant community. All of this was accomplished, he notes, through the “overwhelming” generosity of parishioners in devoting their time, talent, and resources.

His trademark style of running a successful parish, Msgr. Wissel had noted, was to build a team effort between clergy and qualified lay people. “You have to delegate, and you have to affirm people when they are doing a good job,” he said.

Most of all, he always insisted, a pastor needs to be present. “Serve and love the people,” he said. “Try and absorb all their pains and sufferings. And let them know you really do love and care about them, and you’re happy to be there.”

For many years Msgr. Wissel wrote a popular column in the Greenwich Citizen newspaper. Recently, he offered sound advice that expresses his philosophy of life. “God has given us the Bible,” he wrote. “We are, indeed, our brother’s keeper. We have a choice, being blessed with many things, but unless we share them with the needy, all is for nothing.”

Bishop Caggiano has named Father Cyprian LaPastina, formerly pastor of Saint Gabriel Parish in Stamford and a former parochial vicar at Saint Mary’s, as the new pastor.

Msgr. William Loughlin dies at 87

TRUMBULL—Msgr. William Loughlin died on May 26 at St. Joseph Center in Trumbull, where he lived in retirement. He was 87 years old.

William Loughlin was born on March 3, 1927 in Wharton, N.J.  He attended St. Mary’s School there and Bayley High School in Morristown. Thereafter he attended the Oratory Preparatory School in Summit, N.J., and Seton Hall University, attaining BA and MA degrees. He completed his seminary studies and received a Master of Divinity degree from Pope John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Mass.

He was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Walter W. Curtis in St. Mary Church, Greenwich, on May 3, 1969.

His first assignment was as parochial vicar at St. Rose of Lima Parish in Newton. He also served at Assumption Parish in Westport, St. Philip Parish in Norwalk, St. Augustine Cathedral Parish in Bridgeport and St. Mary Parish in Greenwich.

In the summer of 1983, he was named pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Shelton. That fall, he was appointed director of the newly formed Office of Diocesan Pilgrimages, a position he held until his poor health prohibited travel. He was named a Chaplain to His Holiness by Pope John Paul II, with the title of Monsignor, on July 14, 1988.

While continuing as director of the pilgrimage office, he served as parochial vicar of St. Mary’s in Greenwich, St. Luke Parish in Westport and St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Fairfield. In addition, Msgr. Loughlin served on the Priests’ Council.

An evening Vigil Mass and a Mass of Christian Burial will celebrated for Msgr. Loughlin at St. Bridget of Ireland Parish in Stamford. The date and time is still to be determined. Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will celebrate the funeral Mass.

Msgr. Loughlin will be buried with his family in St. Mary Cemetery, Dover, N.J.