Rooted in Gospel values that affirm the dignity of every person, Saint Catherine Center for Special Needs provides unified pastoral and educational support for individuals with disabilities, and serves as a centralized resource for the Diocesan community.
Through direct service at Saint Catherine Academy or our Adult Day Program, and support in the Parishes or Catholic Schools for faith formation, The Center strives to foster the educational, spiritual and social well-being of people with disabilities.
Our Core Values
We respect the dignity and diversity of each person.
We serve people of all races, ethnicities, faiths, and economic backgrounds.
We focus on the total well-being of each person we serve.
We create a supportive and welcoming atmosphere, where each person feels a sense of belonging.
We celebrate the abilities and successes of each person.
We seek to build interpersonal relationships in a nurturing community.
We bring hope and joy to our students, clients, families, staff, and community partners.
Adult Program Welcomes New Director
Mary “Brady” Cronin of Prospect, Conn., has joined Saint Catherine Center as the new Director of Adult Services. She will work closely with Executive Director Helen Burland to coordinate all program functions, from managing staff and developing Individual Plans for our young adult participants, to interfacing with the Department of Developmental Services. She will also work with Eric Spencer, Director of Education at Saint Catherine Academy, to maximize coordination with the school.
Brady comes to the Center with more than a decade of experience in child development and mental health counseling. Most recently she was Program Director for the Level II Therapeutic Group Home at Family & Children’s Aid in Danbury. In addition to coordinating daily care and treatment plans for the residents, she was responsible for maintaining all licensing and regulatory requirements. Brady has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Connecticut, and a Master’s in Human Services with a concentration in Clinical Counseling from Post University.
Brady feels confident her experience with adolescents will translate comfortably into working with adults with disabilities. “I was born into the field of helping others,” Cronin says. (Her mother, Kelly Cronin, was Executive Director of Waterbury Youth Services for 35 years.)
“We’re thrilled to have Brady on board,” Helen said. “She brings some excellent skills from her previous work with young adults—as well as a lot of fresh energy.”
All Are Welcome, Just as They Are: Special Needs Mass on December 2
Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.” Luke 18:16
Two such Masses were recently held in the region: In September, St. Pius X Church in Fairfield hosted a Mass for individuals with Down Syndrome and their families, and in early October, St. Catherine of Siena Church in Riverside celebrated a Mass for people of all ages with disabilities. Organized and facilitated by Parish Partners: Ministry of Hope, more than 130 people attended. A lively luncheon followed.
On Sunday, December 2nd, at 2 p.m., Saint Catherine Center will host its annual Mass Celebrating People with Special Needs at Holy Cross Church, adjacent the Center at 750 Tahmore Drive in Fairfield. As many as 15 young people from all over the Diocese will receive the Sacraments of First Holy Communion and/or Confirmation. It is a moving experience each year. Individuals of all ages and their families are welcome to join in the celebration, with refreshments following. RSVPs (203-540-5381) are appreciated.
“It is beautiful to see Anna and her classmates participate in the Mass,” said Dave Stowe, parent of a Saint Catherine Academy student who was confirmed at the 2017 Mass. This year, Anna will be one of the readers for the celebration.
In addition to promoting inclusion of people with special needs in parish life, Saint Catherine Center’s Office for Parish & Community Support serves as a resource across the Diocese to help families with the process of preparing their special needs children and young adults to receive the Sacraments of Baptism, First Holy Communion, and Confirmation. Gail Mikolsky, director of the program, is available to advise families and Directors of Religious Education about accommodations or modifications that might be needed, and even to “practice” with the individuals. Call 203-540-5381 for more information.
“Oh, What a Night!”
The Annual “Joy and Gratitude” Dinner on June 10th at Fairfield University was hugely successful, attracting nearly 300 guests and raising over $300,000 in much-needed support for Center programs. (Visit our Facebook page to see the photos!)
The combination of a great Silent Auction, a unique array of Live Auction experiences, and the generosity of so many donors who raised their hands in the Call to Charity contributed to the event’s success. Funds raised in the Call to Charity will support the development of vocational and social enterprise opportunities for students and adult day participants.
Three individuals were recognized for their contributions of time and talent to Saint Catherine: the late Dan Caruso (Community Service); Eileen Blees (Volunteer Service) for facilitating gym class at the Academy the past 10 years; and Michael LaBella (Leadership), for his contribution as a Board member.
“It was a great evening in every aspect—the size of the gathering, the quality of the auctions and, of course, the guests,” noted Charles Chiusano, Chairman of the Board. “The food was excellent, and the results are a godsend!”
Guests enjoyed the relaxed, summertime atmosphere. Numerous attendees said the event was “the best one ever” for the Center. “This event is like a family reunion for a great cause,” said one guest. “I get to relax, catch up with friends, and support this wonderful organization at the same time.”
A special Thank You to all our Dinner Sponsors: Britta and Denis Nayden; GoldPoint Partners; Knights of Columbus Supreme Office; Dian Jennings Mayo; AEA; CrossBay Capital Partners, LLC; St. Aloysius Parish; St. Rose of Lima Parish; TD Bank, N.A.; and all our Table Patrons.
We also thank Kelly Weldon and the Dinner Committee for all their help and enthusiasm!