Diocese names Synod Commission Members

BRIDGEPORT—As preparations for the Diocesan Synod gets underway, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, has appointed members of the newly formed Synod Commission, which will guide the work of the diocesan conclave over the next year and a half.

The Synod Commission is an advisory body that works directly with the Bishop and the synod director. Members were chosen from the priests, deacons, religious, Catholic Center employees and lay leadership of the diocese.

“These are the men and women of our diocese dedicated to the Lord and to the service of their communities,” Msgr. Dariusz Zielonka, Synod Director, explains. “Their knowledge, experience and leadership skills will help tremendously to prepare and conduct the discussions and events of the Synod. I am looking forward to working together with this highly qualified group.”

Msgr. Dariusz said that the Synod Commission will help to structure the many opportunities for lay men and women throughout the diocese to make their voices heard, beginning with listening sessions to be held in May and June of this year. The Synod is expected to involve more than 350 delegates in the process of planning for the future of the diocese.

Synod Commission Members:



Msgr. Orlowski

Msgr. Walter C. Orlowski, KCHS Pastor, St. Matthew Parish, Norwalk

Msgr. Walter Orlowski, Pastor of St. Matthew Parish in Norwalk for almost 20 years, is grateful to Bishop Caggiano for calling the Synod and honored to be the priest-representative on the Synod Commission.

“It is an exciting time for the diocese, because the Synod gives us all an opportunity to share our thoughts and visions together as clergy, religious and laity,” he says. “Together, we will lay out a blueprint for our future which will no doubt make our Church stronger and allow us to carry on the mission of Christ.”



Sr. Rita

Sister Rita Petrarca, A.S.C.J. Pastoral Associate, Saint Joseph Parish, Shelton

A former teacher and principal, Sr. Rita brings a wide variety of backgrounds to her role as representative of women religious on the Synod Commission, including her experience in parish work and provincial administration. She has served as pastoral associate at Saint Joseph’s for the past eight years.

“I am excited about the idea of a Synod. In my work with parents and godparents preparing for baptism, and in marriage preparation, I often find a lack of knowledge of what our Catholic faith is all about and what it can mean in their lives. I hope that the Synod will be a time of grace in calling our diocesan community and our parishes to a deeper level of lived faith and worship.”



Deacon DiTaranto newDeacon John DiTaranto St. Jude Parish, Monroe

In his six years as a deacon at St. Jude Parish in Monroe, Deacon John DiTaranto has covered a wide range of duties. He has performed house blessings, visited the sick in hospitals, worked with lectors, performed baptisms and assisted with RCIA and Confirmation classes. Of all of his activities, he finds his work as the spiritual director of the Emmaus Youth Group most fulfilling.

“I have a consulting business working with companies on change management issues and essential leadership training,” he says. “The Synod Commission will give me the opportunity to take some of my skills in the secular world and bring them to the service of the diocese.”



DamienDamien O’Connor, Director of the Office of Pastoral Services

“I am honored to serve the diocese in this capacity,” says Damien O’Connor, the senior director of the Office for Pastoral Services. He and his family are parishioners at St. Ann Parish in Bridgeport. “The primary objective of our Catholic faith is to bring people to Jesus Christ,” O’Connor affirms. “This often involves carefully listening. We are then better equipped to serve people by formulating a strategic plan that reflects the reality of their life (and faith) experience within the Church and ultimately bridge any gaps that exist. Put simply, the Synod will allow this process to take place. Trusting in the intercession of our Blessed Mother, I am certain that the Synod will truly serve our diocese.


Lay Leadership

CarolCarol Pinard St Aloysius Parish, New Canaan

As the former DRE at St. Aloysius Parish, New Canaan, for over 30 years, Pinard was diocesan director of religious education until 2013. In that capacity, she worked closely with religious educators throughout the diocese.

“The Synod is an opportunity to come together, to study and assess the needs of the Church in Fairfield County, to help create a spiritual renewal that will bring all people, young and old, into a personal and active encounter with Christ.”


Lay Leadership

Martha MissimerMartha Missimer St. Patrick Parish, Redding Ridge

Service to the diocese as a Confirmation catechist and a lector has been especially close to the heart of Martha Missimer of St. Patrick Parish in Redding Ridge. “My passion lies in my ministry as a spiritual director,” she says. The United States Air Force veteran is an EPS (Education for Parish Service) graduate who conducts retreats and workshops in addition to giving individual spiritual direction. She is currently the program director for the Immaculate Heart of Mary chapter of the Associates of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth.

“I joyfully join the Synod Commission, grateful for the opportunity to serve Our Lord Jesus in a new and exciting way,” she says. “By the Grace of God, I hope to listen well and honor reverently the voices of God’s people in our diocese as we endeavor together to build a magnificent bridge to the future.”

Lay Leadership

john rodrJohn Rodriguez,St. Peter Parish, Bridgeport

John and his wife, Lucy, and I have been members of St. Peter Parish for over 25 years—since before they were married. John is a member of the financial parish council at St. Peter’s. The parents of two children, they are certified Natural Family Planning (NFP) teachers from Couple to Couple League and have been teaching and promoting NFP in Spanish throughout this diocese as well as other dioceses nearby for about 14 years. They have been involved in the Spanish marriage prep retreats for about 10 years and have talked in the Spanish St. Cyril of Jerusalem classes on the topic of the “Family” based on the Catechism and Familiaris Consortio.

“Through involvement in the Synod Commission, I want to help come up with ways to reach out to the Spanish community, to bring to the table the needs in our diocese and narrow the gap between our different cultures,” John says. “We want to find ways to spread the message of God’s plan for marriage and family.

Deputy Synod Director

PCT in Palm Springs

Patrick C. Turner, Deputy Synod Director

Patrick was named Deputy Director for the Synod in June 2014.  He will assist the Synod Director, Msgr. Dariusz Zielonka, in managing the year-long process for the Diocese. He comes to the Diocese after spending the last eight years as the Brooklyn Vicariate Representative for the Diocese of Brooklyn.  “In that role, Patrick served as a bridge between the diocesan curial offices and the more than 90 parishes in Brooklyn, “, said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano.  “He brings great organizational and strategic planning skills to his new role and will help us move forward in the months ahead.”  “I want to thank Msgr. Dariusz, Bishop Caggiano and all those who have welcomed me so warmly.  I am extremely excited about the opportunity to serve the Diocese of Bridgeport and to assist the faithful of Fairfield County envision a future for the church,” Patrick said.