St. Francis of Assisi Parish – The Catholic Community in Weston
The regimental chaplain of General Lafayette’s staff celebrated the first Mass in Weston when the Continental troops were bivouacked in this area. More than 150 years later, in September of 1953, 35 people from eight families met at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Clifford E. Smith, in the presence of Father Joseph Cleary, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Georgetown, who became the group’s first spiritual director. At that time, in order to attend Mass, Weston Catholics had to travel seven miles south to the Church of the Assumption in Westport or north to Sacred Heart Church in Georgetown. “What do we have to do to get a church of our own here in Weston?” they asked.
This meeting proved to be a giant step on a journey of faith. Father Cleary shared the results of his very successful meeting with the Bishop of Hartford, who gave a sympathetic response to their dream. The Weston Catholic Society was soon formed.
In February 1954, Bishop Lawrence J. Shehan, recently installed as the fist Bishop of the newly created Diocese of Bridgeport, enthusiastically encouraged the members of the Weston Catholic Society to continue their efforts. Toward the end of 1954, after much work and many fundraising events, 12 acres of land owned by Mr. George O. May were purchased at a cost of $25,000. As the congregation grew, the celebration of Mass was moved to the Weston Town Hall.
Finally, on October 26, 1955, Bishop Shehan announced he was canonically establishing the Parish of St. Francis of Assisi, with the Town of Weston as its boundaries. At the same time, he announced the appointment of Father Franklin J. Corrigan as its first pastor.
There would be other milestones ahead. Father James Murphy, who succeeded Father Corrigan as pastor in 1957, undertook a fund-raising drive to complete the building of a church. On Christmas Eve 1958, the first Mass in the nearly completed St. Francis of Assisi Church was celebrated. After six years of planning, fund-raising and hard work, the dream of Weston’s Catholics finally came to fruition. Bishop Shehan formally dedicated the church on February 1, 1959.
After the church was dedicated, Father John Filip was appointed pastor and remained until 1964. Father Hugh Coffey arrived as pastor in August of that year; he oversaw the construction of a rectory next to the church in 1968. Father Edward Doyle served from 1974 to 1981, and Father Robert Franklin, who served from 1982 to 1991, succeeded him. Bishop Edward M. Egan then installed Monsignor Nicholas Grieco as seventh pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Church on February 2, 1991.
Along with the Parish Council, Monsignor Grieco began long-range parish planning, including the formulation of a parish mission statement, “In the Spirit of St. Francis, to know Jesus and make Him known.” Seven ministries were created to carry out the mission of the church in the parish.
Work was completed on a new parish center, which was blessed and dedicated by Bishop Egan on September 30, 1999. The new facilities were quickly put to use as Religious Education classrooms, ministry meeting rooms, and the large hall and kitchen used for social events. The new St. Francis of Assisi Preschool was also incorporated on the ground level.
After serving as pastor for more than 19 years, Monsignor Grieco retired on June 30, 2010.
Bishop William Lori turned to Father Michael L. Dunn to lead the parish; his tenure began on July 1st of the same year. Father Dunn remained pastor for the next seven years and was then called to serve at St. Gregory’s the Great in Danbury. Bishop Frank Caggiano appointed Father Jeffrey W. Couture to follow in the footsteps of Father Dunn and become the pastor of St. Francis.
- Rev. Franklin Corrigan 1955-1959
- Rev. John Filip 1959-1964
- Rev. Hugh Coffey 1964-1976
- Rev. Edward Doyle 1976-1981
- Rev. Robert Franklin 1982-1991
- Monsignor Nicholas Grieco 1991-2010
- Rev. Michael L. Dunn 2010 – Sept. 2017
- Rev. Jeffrey Couture Sept. 2017 – present
About our past0r Fr. Jeffrey Couture
Father Couture comes to us with a wealth of pastoral experience. He has served as a parochial vicar at both St. Edward the Confessor in New Fairfield and St. Mary’s in Bethel, as Episcopal Chaplain of Immaculate High School in Danbury, and as Chaplain of the Newman Center at Western Connecticut State University. He also has 25 years of experience as a Youth Minister. Since August 15th, Father Couture has served as Parochial Administrator of St. Gregory the Great Parish in Danbury.
Father Couture, 45, was raised in Fairfield, CT with his siblings and interestingly, he is a triplet. As a child, he dreamed of becoming a Firefighter but went on to graduate from Sacred Heart University with a B.A. in Philosophy and Comparative Religions. He received his Masters degree in Divinity at Mt. St. Mary’s in Maryland and was ordained into the priesthood at the age of 39.
One may be interested to know that Father Couture began managing a restaurant at the age of 21. He has experience as a sous chef and has management experience honed by careers at Marriott and Starbucks, having opened the Starbucks in Cos Cob. His likes include music (classical, contemporary Christian, Rock and Roll and Heavy Metal), wine, and cigars. As for sports, Father Couture is a diehard Yankee and Giants fan. His hobbies are boating and golf, which he loves and is trying to improve his game.