New Chaplains on Campus

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Annual Massapalooza on the Quad at Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, CT. Photo by Mark F. Conrad – August 26, 2018.

BY BRYANA Cielo

Features Editor

With the new school year comes two brand new faces to Sacred Heart’s campus ministry team.

The first is Father Joseph G. Farias. Most recently, he taught classes at Saint Elizabeth’s college in Morristown, NJ. Previous to that, he worked as the Catholic chaplain at two other private universities in NJ, Fairleigh Dickinson University and Drew University from 1982–2002.

“Campus ministry is important. Its purpose is to tell students that the church sees them as important. The church is interested in their lives. Whether they come regularly to a church or synagogue or not, the whole point of religion is that we’re interested in you,” said Farias.

Earlier in his career working part-time at Saint Elizabeth’s college, he got the opportunity to work for Father Anthony Ciorra, the current Vice President for Mission and Catholic Identity at Sacred Heart. Farias also knew Dr. Petillo through a friend. So, when he was asked to join the Sacred Heart community, he already had connections.

“I vetted it out first. I called a bunch of people, many people from my old youth groups whose kids went here,” said Farias. “They all had good things to say, so it was very hard for me to say no.”

When asked what he hopes to integrate on campus, he shared that he was a fraternity advisor for 30 years. With his experience in Greek life and leadership development, he is hoping to get involved with Greek life at Sacred Heart.

“Being a part of Greek life is a way of saying ‘I’m stronger with others. We’re stronger together,’” Farias said.

He emphasized that his goals here aren’t to try to force people to come to church, but rather guide them to ask the right questions about life and the awareness that there is something greater than us. He would like to become a part of people’s lives and assist them in getting through the issues they face in life.

Farias also mentioned that you may be able to find him in Red’s.

“You might see me in the pub. I’m hoping to run a program regularly during happy hour in the pub where you can ask any questions you want,” said Farias. “One example is, I think we need to talk about the sex abuse that has been going on. With a beer, some people will talk a lot easier. Hopefully, people will find me in the pub.”

Another new priest that has come to Sacred Heart’s campus is Father Edward R. Stewart. As a Brooklyn native, he was a priest of the diocese of Brooklyn and his father was a New York City detective. He worked at Saint Francis College for the past 10 years.

Stewart said that the path that led him to Sacred Heart was a “serendipitous intersection of different events.” After a leave of absence from active ministry, he wanted to go back to it.

He enjoyed his experience as a pastor and the ten years spent working at a college, and so he was looking to combine the two. He also knew Father Anthony Ciorra prior to working at Sacred Heart. When Ciorra mentioned that Sacred Heart was seeking new chaplains, he was exactly what Stewart was looking for.

“When I visited Sacred Heart, I found people, students particularly, friendly and outgoing. There was a great energy to the place that was rather exciting. I want to be of service to the entire community in whatever way I can,” said Stewart.

When asked about his plans for his time at Sacred Heart, he shared that he has background in anthropology and nature conservancy. He hopes to implement beekeeping on campus as a way to connect with faith. In conjunction with volunteer programs, he also would like to create a student, faculty, and staff garden on campus that stocks food pantries.

“It was many years ago, but I was a college student myself who went away from home,” said Stewart. “I, at least for a short period of time, found the adjustment difficult, but ultimately I found it was a wonderful experience where I matured.”

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