Commentary: Parishioner defends Shelton pastor’s performance

The Rev. John J. Stronkowski has been removed as pastor of St. Margaret Mary Church in Shelton by the Diocese of Bridgeport.

The Rev. John J. Stronkowski has been removed as pastor of St. Margaret Mary Church in Shelton by the Diocese of Bridgeport.


I, along with many other parishioners of St. Margaret Mary Church in Shelton, feel the forced resignation and public flogging of Father John Stronkowski is unfair and unacceptable.

Why? First of all, the parishioners were given limited information on why he was forcefully removed while the rest of the story was broadcast in the local media.

Prior to Mass, we were read a letter from the Bishop Caggiano, and instructed not to comment. No comments allowed? The very people who support the church are not allowed to question or comment, to get the real truth?


Has done much for the parish

I have asked countless fellow parishioners and not one can understand why he is accused of not carrying on his ministerial duties as he has done more for our parish than any priest we can remember in over 30 years.

Father John is being chastised for not living at the rectory. Where does the Pope live? He is also being accused of having growing difficulties with the staff because he fired two of them. Why did he fire them? Perhaps it was necessary?

He supposedly had difficulties with “lay leaders.” Who are these people? I cannot find anyone to say anything other than how happy they are with his performance.

But with no comments allowed. We can’t know if there are maybe three people vs. 1,003 that have issues with him?


There when needed

While there may be circumstances that cause a perception of him not being available to tend to his flock, I know personally that he drops whatever he is doing to go to someone in need.

He may teach classes, but he is sharing the gifts God gave him, including the many repairs he has done for our parish that saved us significant amounts of money.

But I was told by the bishop’s spokesperson that that is not acceptable for a priest to do, he has to make a choice to either minister exclusively, or choose another career. Like we have enough good priests to cast one out for having other interests. Didn’t Jesus do carpentry?

According to the newspapers, there were rumors that he may be seeing a woman, and although Father John denies it, the public is told he is being reviewed for clerical misconduct involving another adult. A public flogging with no proof.

But when we have a priest that does the unthinkable with a child, he just gets moved to another parish with everything swept under the carpet.


Integrity is being assaulted

This may be Bishop Caggiano’s way of protecting the faithful and the integrity of the priesthood, but I, along with many others, believe he assaulted the integrity of Father John in public before he was given a fair trial, and the most insulting part is, the parishioners of St. Margaret Mary were not asked their opinions or feelings, but told to keep quiet.

It appears unidentified “lay leaders” are the only ones worthy of having an opinion.

I urge all who have their own opinions to call Bishop Caggiano and express their concerns. Evidently, another priest is being appointed our pastor in June. So much for a fair review — guilty before proven.

I, for one, think Father John has done an outstanding job of tending to the church and parishioners and would like him to be appointed our pastor.


Linda Hvizdo is a Shelton resident.



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  • Mike C

    When our 22 year old son passed away in 2013 Fr
    John went well above and beyond what any other priest would do, including
    another Shelton church that I was a parishioner of. Fr John was spiritually
    there for us during the darkest time of our life. He truly understands the work
    of God and we will be always grateful for this. I would urge everybody who Fr
    John has helped at their time of need to write the Diocese of Bridgeport and
    let it be known how he has touched your life.

    Mike C

  • John Shuster

    The culture of secrecy in the priesthood exists because so many priests lead double lives that involve sex, money and other activities in direct violation of their public vows.

    This priest could be innocent or guilty of something. It is so hard to tell because the lives of priests are not transparent.

    Their response to the sex abuse atrocity through lawyers and public relations firms has left many people scratching their heads in confusion, wondering why they couldn’t just handle it themselves. Charitable and external spiritual activities have long been used to attempt to cloak the secret lives of priests.

    The end result of this inquiry will likely be made public but you will never learn all the details and political dynamics of their decision on this man.

  • Danno

    Most bishops in the church are like little tyrants, the arrogance to prevent dialog.

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  • Tina Marie

    Hi..I really hope I was being referred to as “fired” in this post…My position was publicly posted without my knowledge, after I explained I had a conflict on 4 Saturdays and needed the days off…I notified the pastor in May regarding dates in September and October…I was told “not to worry” and then, a few weeks later, a parishoner approached me asking if I was leaving…I was blind-sided at a Sunday mass…I sang the last mass of the day because I am responsible, gathered my things, and left…I never lookedd back. I spoke with the Bishop’s office and everyone there was extremely supportive. Our new Bishop is fair and reasonable. I also shared other concerns I had at that time. I was devastated that parishoners who supported me for 7 years never got an explanation, and I never got the chance to say, “Goodbye.” I was even barred from singing a funeral for a friend’s mother. I heard about this whole thing today and read this letter online…I just want everyone to know I was not fired. I left a toxic work environment that was making me question my faith. It was my choice to stay or go back. I made a decision in the hopes it would deflate conflict and ease the transition to a new pastor. We had just suffered a terrible vandalism, and the parish needed to heal and look with confidence to their new leader. I had lost all faith in Fr. John’s ability to lead at that point, so returning would have only introduced dissent. I left because it was the right thing to do. I wish everyone well, and I hope to see you at mass this weekend. 🙂

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