Torrington Parish School Honors Long-Time Bishop for 51st Year of Priesthood

TORRINGTON – Friends have come from all over Litchfield County.

And for Mgr. Robert Tucker, it was the occasion for him to celebrate his own birthday as a priest.

“I was very happy,” Tucker said of the event to celebrate his pastorship. “Especially since I wanted to celebrate my 50th birthday last year, but we couldn’t do it due to COVID-19, so it was wonderful to celebrate my 51st this year. “

Tucker was ordained in 1970 and led the Catholic community of Litchfield for over 20 years.

The gala, presented by St. John Paul the Great Parish and Academy in Torrington, took place at the Nancy Marine Studio Theater, Carole & Ray Neag Performing Arts Center, Warner Theater.

Susan Cook, president of the academy’s school board, was pleased with the turnout on Sunday.

“We didn’t really know how it was going to turn out,” she said. “There were people from all over Litchfield, Torrington; My father’s family and friends were there; it was just awesome.

A highlight of the day was when Mayor Elinor Carbone presented the school and church with a key to the city, Cook said.

“It was so touching,” she said. “The mayor said, ‘I’m giving this in honor of Father Tucker, but we want to give it to the academy.’ It was wonderful.”

The event was also a fundraiser for the school and the parish. Tucker graduated from what was then St. Francis School. The name of the parish and the school was changed in 2017 to Saint-Jean-Paul le Grand.

“I also thought it was a great way for us to thank Father Emmanuel (Ihemedu) and Susan Cook, who are committed to keeping the school going,” Tucker said.

“I graduated from St. Francis School in 1956, and it is the only remaining Catholic school in the area. I wanted the kids to have a choice of what school they could attend, and it was a wonderful choice for them, ”she said.

In May, the church held a thank you party for Ihemedu. It marked his fifteenth year as a pastor, but it was also recognition of his work in keeping the school and church open. When Ihemedu arrived in Torrington to lead Saint-Jean-Paul-le-Grand parish three years ago, the academy was on the verge of closing due to declining enrollment and financial difficulties.

Today the academy, which had 81 students when Ihemedu arrived from a parish in Hartford, has 144 children in kindergarten through eighth grade and the school has set a goal of reaching 170 students and d ” establish a waiting list for registration.

Tucker was happy to see so many of his own friends as well as friends from school and ward.

“It was perfect,” he says. “The people who came seemed to be having a wonderful time and they were able to raise money for the school.

“St. Francis School was a wonderful opportunity and the school is always an opportunity for the children to attend and have a chance to succeed,” said Tucker.

Tucker grew up in Torrington and graduated in 1956 from St. Francis of Assisi School, now St. John Paul the Great Academy. He graduated from Saint-Bonaventure University and was ordained a priest in the Archdiocese of Hartford on May 23, 1970, according to a statement.

Tucker has been the pastor of St Anthony of Padua Church in Litchfield for over 20 years. In July 2013, he also became pastor of Saint Thomas de Villanova Church in Goshen. In July 2017, with the pastoral planning of the Archdiocese of Hartford, he became the pastor of Our Lady of Grace Church in Bantam; in December 2017, the three churches merged to form the St Louis de Montfort Parish Corporation.

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