Msgr. Frank Wissel, 76, beloved St. Mary pastor, lifelong educator

Reverend Monsignor Frank C. Wissel

Reverend Monsignor Frank C. Wissel

Reverend Monsignor Frank C. Wissel, D. Min., former Pastor of Saint Mary Parish in Greenwich, died on June 19, 2014 at Greenwich Hospital. He was 76 years old.

Monsignor Wissel was born in Brooklyn, NY on January 29, 1938 to Frank Wissel and Ann Mooney. He attended Long Island University, receiving Master’s Degrees in both Science and Professional Studies, with majors in guidance and counseling. For 17 years he was a teacher and administrator in the Catholic schools of the Diocese of Brooklyn.

From 1972-1975, Monsignor Wissel served as an Adjunct Professor of Psychology at City University of New York, and from 1973-1975, was a Psychologist for the New York City Board of Education, specializing in teenagers with severe problems. He received his Doctorate in Psycho-Theology and Ministry from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley, CA; and held New York Certification in teaching, guidance, and counseling. He was a certified counseling psychologist in the State of Connecticut.

Hearing God’s call to the priesthood, Monsignor Wissel entered Maryknoll Seminary in Maryknoll, NY. He was ordained for the Diocese of Bridgeport by Bishop Walter W. Curtis in 1977. He served at Saint John Parish in Darien; and three parishes in Bridgeport: Saint Mary, Saint Anthony, and Blessed Sacrament. From 1981-1991 he was Principal of Kolbe Cathedral High School in Bridgeport.

Monsignor Wissel was the Founder and Director of the Saint Maximilian Kolbe House of Studies for Boys, established in Bridgeport in 1983. The mission of the Kolbe House is to educate young men in a family setting, who have a strong desire to learn and to be honest and good citizens. To date, 49 young men from Africa, Columbia, Ecuador, Indonesia, and Peru have attended Kolbe House, and have achieved great success with Bachelor and Master Degrees in their fields of study.

In 1991, Monsignor Wissel was named Chaplain to His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, carrying the title Monsignor. That same year he was appointed President of the Catholic Secondary Schools of the Diocese of Bridgeport.

In 1997, Monsignor Wissel was appointed Pastor of St. Mary Parish in Greenwich. Over 17 years, he expanded the number of parish programs and organizations, and established a poor fund to assist the needy, including the large immigrant community, all thanks to the generosity of parishioners who devoted their time, talent, and resources.

Monsignor Wissel served on the Board of Trustees of Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT, where he received an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters in 1994. For more than 10 years he wrote a popular column in the Greenwich Citizen newspaper.

In 2009, Monsignor was awarded the Friends of the Legion Award by the Legionaries of Christ, celebrating the “Year of The Priest.” In 2011 he was Grand Marshal of the annual Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in Greenwich, the same year that the annex to Kolbe-Cathedral High School was christened “Monsignor Frank C. Wissel Hall” in his honor.

On May 11, 2014, a marble statue of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal was unveiled at Saint Mary Parish and dedicated to Monsignor Wissel in appreciation for his 17 years of service as Pastor.

Monsignor Wissel will be lying in state at Saint Mary Church in Greenwich on Monday, June 23, 2014 from 10:00 a.m until 7:00 p.m. A Vigil Mass will be celebrated at 7:00 p.m. The celebrant and homilist will be Reverend Monsignor William Scheyd, pastor of Saint Aloysius Parish in New Canaan.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Tuesday, June 24, 2014 at Saint Mary Church at 11:00 a.m. The celebrant will be the Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano, Bishop of Bridgeport. Reverend Monsignor J. Peter Cullen, pastor of Saint Michael the Archangel Parish in Greenwich, will deliver the homily. Interment will follow in the Priests’ Circle at Saint Mary Cemetery in Greenwich.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Monsignor Wissel’s memory to the Kolbe Cathedral High School Scholarship Fund, 33 Calhoun Place, Bridgeport, CT 06604.

— by the family

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