St. Margaret Mary Parish in Shelton will celebrate its 50th anniversary this weekend with a special Mass on Sunday, Oct. 20 at 11:30 a.m.

The Rev. John Strynkowski, church pastor and administrator, will celebrate the Mass.

Bishop Frank Caggiano, the newly installed leader of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport, will be a guest at the Mass and give the homily.

“We [will] come together to joyfully celebrate with gratitude for the many blessings the church has received for the past 50 years,” St. Margaret Mary officials said.

History of the church

In 1963, then-Bishop Walter W. Curtis of the Bridgeport Diocese decreed a new parish should be established, and that it should be erected on a piece of property atop Long Hill in Shelton.

Curtis said the new parish should be under the patronage of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. In September 1964, Mass was celebrated for the first time in the new church.

In September 1975, construction began for a new church behind the original one. The new sanctuary was dedicated on June 27, 1976.

Summer vandalism incident

On June 10 of this year, during the early morning hours, St. Margaret Mary's Church was vandalized.

Vandals poured oil on the pews and carpet, and smashed windows and statues. Outside, they destroyed the statue of Mary, and poured paint on two cars.

When parishioners heard of the vandalism, many came to the church to help clean and re-glue the heads and hands of statues.

The Rev. Strynkowski rededicated the church before the next morning Mass.

Spirit is strong, membership is growing

The vandalism has not broken the spirit of the church — if anything, it has made it stronger, according to St. Margaret Mary officials.

The parish now has more than 1,000 family members and the membership is growing, church officials said.

St. Margaret Mary Church is at 50 Donovan Lane, off Long Hill Avenue. It is located behind the Shelton Board of Education central office (formerly Ripton School).