NOTE: Front page story
By Brenda Maguire
NEW BRITAIN — The Rev. Thomas Walsh has been heavily involved in the New Britain community since 2003, when he became pastor of both St. Mary Church on Main Street and St. Ann Church on Clark Street.
His duties have called for offering prayers for Memorial Day and Veterans Day services, and he’s conducted ceremonies for the Police Department.
Now, after eight years in New Britain, the 49-year-old Walsh has been reassigned to be pastor of the Most Holy Trinity Church in Wallingford. He starts his new position today.
“I have mixed emotions,” he said. “I had thought that I would be a pastor here in New Britain for longer.
“I’ve come to know the people more and more in each place and in that sense it is difficult to say goodbye.”
Walsh’s strongest memories of his time in New Britain include the funeral of former Gov. Thomas Meskill in 2007.
“In the church there were all sorts of VIPs,” he said, including former governors, senators and U.S. representatives.
Walsh said he’ll always remember how crowded St. Mary was every Easter Sunday, and he’ll remember the funeral for the Rev. Augustine Giusani in 2008, when past parishioners came to pay their respects.
Walsh is also leaving with other memories, from ethnic celebrations to performing weddings and baptisms for parishioners.
Walsh noted that both churches have grown in his time with them. St. Ann, which has 1,200 families in its parish, has seen an increase in attendance for its annual church feast and Columbus Day festivities.
St. Mary, which has 2,000 families in its parish, has seen growth because of high immigration rates. St. Mary patriarchal feast, which started in 2005, has also grown every year.
When Walsh was an assistant pastor at St. Ann from 1994 to 1997, he only knew a handful of Italian words and needed to learn both Italian and Spanish to better serve the parishioners of both churches.
He went out of the country multiple times in order to learn the languages. These trips included going to Siena, Italy, and Puebla, Mexico.
“You learn a lot quicker when you’re in an environment,” he said. “It also gives you a chance to learn the culture more and become acquainted with the tradition.”
Walsh is excited to move on to the Most Holy Trinity Church because it’s one of the largest parishes in the Archdiocese of Hartford and because it has a parochial school.
Walsh said he will miss the various ethnic groups in New Britain. Not just the Spanish and Italian communities, but also the polish community.
“I haven’t regretted one day here,” he said. “I thoroughly enjoy being a pastor and I enjoy being a pastor here in New Britain.”