On Saturday, Dec. 7, Monsignor Kevin T. Royal was formally installed as the 13th pastor of St. Mary Parish at the 4:30 p.m. Mass in the church on Catoonah Street. The Most Rev. Frank J. Caggiano, fifth bishop of Bridgeport, presided.

The ceremony, for a standing-room-only crowd, included the presentation of the pastor to the staff, members of the Pastoral Council and Finance Council as well as the lay members of the Parish Corporation.

Placing his hands on the Book of the Gospels, Msgr. Royal recited the Oath of Fidelity and led the assembly in the Profession of Faith.

With his usual wit and humor, he addressed the crowd as well as the bishop, telling him, “I have your number,” when offered help by the bishop. Bishop Caggiano called the monsignor a “priest’s priest” and conveyed his utmost faith in his abilities and spiritual leadership. The bishop and the monsignor then signed the Oath of Fidelity, making the installation official and complete. A reception in the Parish Hall followed.

Msgr. Royal arrived at St. Mary Parish in August from Holy Spirit Parish in Stamford, where he had served as pastor since 2013. He replaced Msgr. Laurence Bronkiewicz, who retired after 16 years as pastor.

Msgr. Royal grew up in Stratford. He completed his theological studies at the Pontifical North American College in Rome and was ordained in St. Augustine Cathedral in 1985. He holds a licentiate in biblical theology from the Gregorian University in Rome.

Several parishioners from Holy Spirit Parish attended the event to support and wish Msgr. Royal well. He was a popular and well-liked pastor at Holy Spirit.

The response of St. Mary parishioners to Msgr. Royal’s appointment by the bishop has been overwhelmingly positive and welcoming. “I’ve been here for four months and it feels like years,” Msgr. Royal said to laughs. “I’ve heard from many of you about what you would like to see happen at the parish, with many ideas the complete opposite of the others.” “But truly I feel very blessed to be at this incredibly vibrant parish in beautiful Ridgefield and I look forward to doing the work the Holy Spirit has set out for us.”

Some of the more crucial items on the monsignor’s agenda include bringing the faithful back to the church, restoring confidence in the pastoral leadership, and deciding on a path and timeline to refurbishing the 124-year-old church. A tall order indeed, but with his faith set firmly in Jesus Christ and a lay community eager to help in any way they can, the monsignor has great hope that much can be accomplished.

“There’s a wise observation about being a pastor: ‘To be a good pastor, one must see what the Lord is doing in his people.’ In these first months at St. Mary’s, there has been a lot to see and to collaborate with.”