Connecticut Diocese to have laywoman leader

Eleonor Sauers seen in front of the parish she will be leading in Connecticut

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano appointed Dr. Eleanor W. Sauers as Parish Life Coordinator of St. Anthony of Padua Parish, effective January 1, 2019. The appointment was announced in a letter to parishioners and comes nine months after the death of the pastor of the parish.

In his letter Bishop Caggiano said that “It has been nearly nine months since the untimely death of Father John Baran, your beloved pastor. In the months that followed, I am grateful that the parish has continued to move forward because of the deeply rooted ministry and strong involvement of the laity developed during Father Baran’s time as pastor. I have also spent a great deal of time in prayer and discernment, which included two meetings with the leadership of the parish, to discern who should follow Father Baran as your pastoral leader.

“We are at a very particular moment in the history of our Diocese, and indeed, within our Church. As I travel throughout Fairfield County, it has become apparent to me that many lay women and men are seeking new ways to serve their parishes, and, in collaboration with the clergy, to create vibrant and thriving communities.

“That is why I have made the decision to appoint Dr. Eleanor W. Sauers as Parish Life Coordinator of St. Anthony of Padua Parish, effective January 1, 2019.

Working with a team of priests who will provide the sacramental ministries at St. Anthony, Eleanor will have decision-making authority in the parish. She will continue to oversee the day-to-day operations of the parish, as she has done so capably over these last months. Her responsibilities, as it is with any priest or deacon appointed as Administrator, is to work with the parish community to develop and foster its pastoral vision and mission. She will continue to be present to the parish in times of celebration and sadness. Her education, formation, and experience makes her professionally, academically, and spiritually ready for this role”.

A Parish Life Coordinator is supported in Canon law.

“My decision to ask Eleanor to take on this model of ministry, the first of its kind for a lay woman in this Diocese, is based on several factors.

  • The uniqueness of this parish community;
  • My deep appreciation for the work that Eleanor has already done here; and
  • The precedent in other Dioceses across the country for this model of pastoral leadership.

“Your responsibility, as the community of St. Anthony of Padua, will be to support Eleanor, the priests who will provide the sacramental ministries, and the lay leadership of your parish.

“I want to take a moment to thank all those priests who have supported this community through Father Baran’s illness and over the last nine months since his death. A very particular thank you must be extended to Father Michael Boccaccio who has served here generously, in addition to his other role in the Diocese as Director of the Propagation of Faith.

“I pledge to you my support for Eleanor and for your parish. I have every confidence that Eleanor will build upon the good work of Father Baran and will help this community to thrive and grow into the future.

“Please join me in praying for Eleanor as she steps boldly into a new role as Parish Life Coordinator of St. Anthony of Padua Parish. Be assured of my continued prayers for each of you, and your wonderful parish family, Bishop Caggiano concluded his letter.