In The News

Catholic Charities Newsletter

Making A Difference

Volume 1, Issue 1


The Celebration of Family Champions - 2016

Diane Manning, Connecticut Council of Family Service Agencies Board Chair; Edward J. Tessman, Catholic Charities Executive Director; Carole Gilbert, 2016 Catholic Charities Family Champion Staff Member; Angela Arnold, 2016 Catholic Charities Family Champion Board Member; Joette Katz, State of Connecticut Commissioner Department of Children and Families; Alyssa Goduti, President & CEO Connecticut Council of Family Service Agencies

The Celebration of Family Champions has become an opportunity for The Council to recognize two individuals from each member agency who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to strengthen and support families in Connecticut.

To celebrate these family champions The Council first recognizes that it is a person's individual talent, skill and dedication that changes lives forever. Angela Arnold and Carole Gilbert achieved this honor in their own personal way, by demonstrating the best of what their agency has to offer, consistently giving more, reaching further, and taking bold steps to strengthen and improve the lives of families throughout our state.



Catholic Charities USA

Pictured are Edward J. Tessman, Executive Director and Sister Donna Markham, OP, PhD, CEO and President of Catholic Charities USA

At a recent meeting in Alexandria, Virginia, Ed had the opportunity to spend time with Sister Donna Markham and talk about the organization’s strategic priorities, vision and identity. The Diocesan Directors Leadership Institute Program, sponsored by Catholic Charities USA, gives new Diocesan Directors an opportunity to meet with their peers from across the country as well as meet with staff from Catholic Charities USA.

For more information please contact: Mr. Edward J. Tessman: 860-889-8346,

Catholic Charities Diocese of Norwich Inc. is a 501(c)(3)charitable organization registered in Connecticut.


Norwich Diocesan Catholic Charities Marks 95 Years with Gala - April 9, 2016

L-R: Edward Tessman, Catholic Charities Executive Director, Meg Gustafson,
John Gustafson (Meg’s husband), Bishop Michael R. Cote, D.D.,
Caitryn Gustafson (Meg’s daughter) and Johnny Gustafson (Meg’s son).

NORWICH – The Catholic Charities 95th Anniversary gala was held on Saturday, April 9th at the Mystic Marriott. The evening began at 6:00 PM with a cocktail hour and Silent Auction, where 63 items were on display in the foyer and three adjoining rooms. In the Mystic Ballroom with approximately 150 in attendance, Most Reverend Michael R. Cote, D.D began the evening with a blessing of the “Flames of Remembrance” candles and the opening prayer. Kevin Hogan news anchor at WFSB, Channel 3 was Master of Ceremonies.

It was a very special evening honoring individuals in our community who have made a difference in the lives of others, through their charitable works. Those honored were: “Humanitarian of the Year” – Meg Gustafson has been providing homes for babies in need for decades. Meg and her family have provided round-the-clock care for 27 newborn babies since 2002! In the time that Meg has been with Catholic Charities, not one hospital request has been denied, accepting a new baby into her home within a mere 24-hour period. At the time Meg applied to be a foster mother, her two children were six (6) and ten (10) years old and she said how fortunate she was to be a stay-at-home Mom to her daughter and so. When her children were in school full time, Meg said she felt it was the perfect time to be a foster family. She said “to love and nurture and care for an infant would be a joy and a blessing for us.” If caring and loving 27 newborns has been a blessing for Meg and her family, there is no doubt that the blessings received by those babies has been immeasurable. The Willimantic Advisory Board was chosen as “Community Servants of the Year.” This group of dedicated individuals, Jack Lester, Annette Murphy, John McGill, Lynda Nappi, Joyce Peters, Gary Pillion, Pat McGill and Beth Murphy has been raising funds for the Willimantic Office of Catholic Charities for many years, their largest raised approximately $2,000 this past October.

Jacqueline Keller received the “Honoring our Heritage Award” for her numerous contributions to Catholic Charities. Jacqui has served Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Norwich for the past 37 years. In 2013, His Holiness Pope Francis, awarded Jacqui the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifici Cross of Honor Medal, the highest honor awarded to a layperson for Distinguished Service to the Church and Supreme Pontiff. For the past 60 years, she has been a member of the Secular Order of St. Francis.

Catholic Charities “Employee of the Year” chosen by her peers, was Therese Fontaine. Terri has worked for Catholic Charities for eight (8) years. She was a member of the core group who implemented the Agency’s Electronic Health Record System. Terri lives the mission of Catholic Charities each and every day by responding to Christ’s call to care for those in need. Her co-workers say “her positive attitude is contagious.”

Another very special moment in the program was the establishment of the Margaret L. Keller Catholic Charities Heritage Endowment Fund by her daughter, Jacqui Keller. The purpose of the endowment fund is “to provide single mothers with financial aid to further their education to break the cycle of dependence.” Bishop Cote presented a plaque to Jacqui for her generosity in “having an impact on the lives of single mothers who will now be able to make their way out of poverty through education.”


Catholic Charities’ Executive Director, Ed Tessman ended a wonderful evening saying “As I look over this room tonight, I am truly inspired by the outpouring of support for Catholic Charities and look forward to our future with the hope of continuing our tradition of serving the poor and disadvantaged, of all faiths, throughout Eastern Connecticut. I want to thank you for your continued support and prayers.”

For more information please contact: Mr. Edward J. Tessman: 860-889-8346,

Catholic Charities Diocese of Norwich Inc. is a 501(c)(3)charitable organization registered in Connecticut.



Norwich Diocesan Council
of Catholic Women Layette Program



Judith K. Pappagallo, President of the Norwich Diocesan Council of Catholic Women, and members of the Council (pictured) gathered at St. Matthias Parish in East Lyme yesterday afternoon for a luncheon and to present staff of Catholic Charities with items collected throughout the Diocese for their Layette Program.
Every year, through the Council’s Layette Program, the women of the council actively collect baby clothes, diapers, baby wipes, blankets, and formula. These items are presented to Catholic Charities at a luncheon. Edward J. Tessman, Executive Director of Catholic Charities was joined by three staff members: Rosalinda Bazinet, Program Manager; Miriam Rodriguez, Willimantic Site Supervisor; and Annisa Mrowka, Empowering People for Success and Pregnancy Case Worker.
Ed was in awe of the items that the members of the Council had collected, which had been stacked and covered five, eight foot tables. Ed stated, “Through your efforts and generosity, the Layette Program allows Catholic Charities to continue Providing Help and Creating Hope for those who are poor and disadvantaged throughout our Diocese. These gifts will be life changing for some and provide so many with a new sense of being and belonging to a community. A community of unselfish people who truly care about others.”
“These women are amazing,” stated Rosalinda. Roslainda shared with the group of women that she looks forward to this every year as it is such a heart-warming event. Rosalinda candidly spoke of the impact that the Norwich Diocesan Council of Catholic Women has had on the lives of struggling mothers and how their dedication, hard work and generous gifts help to fill the financial gaps for so many.
The Norwich Diocesan Council of Catholic Women have been supporting women in need since the council founded Catholic Charities, Diocese of Norwich in 1921.
Thirty-four years ago, Geraldine M. Lemire, who at the time was the International Concerns chairperson for the Norwich Diocesan Council of Catholic Women (NDCCW) had a dream. She dreamt she had twins in telling her dream to Helen Connell, NDCCW’s president at the time, they came up with the idea to have a program called “Twin Layettes Around the World.”
The Rosary societies and guilds throughout the diocese put together identical layettes, half of the layettes went to Catholic Charities here in the diocese while the other half was sent to Catholic Relief Services (CRS) who then sent to the Holy Father’s Store Room in Rome.
Throughout the years, half of the layettes collected were sent to Poland, the Indian reservations of the Diocese of New Mexico Birthright of Norwich and New London, ABC Center in Middletown, Rockville General Hospital Pregnancy Program in Rockville, Aides Babies in Harford, Haiti, and CareNet Pregnancy Center of Northeast CT to name a few. Half of the layettes always went to Catholic Charities of Norwich to be used in all their offices for people seeking assistance or to give to parents adopting a baby through Catholic Charities.
The program now is know simply as the “Layette Program” and is hosted each year by a different district of NDCCW (there are seven districts in the diocese). Because the need is so great in the Diocese of Norwich over the past few years the collection has been distributed to the Norwich, New London and Willimantic offices of Catholic Charities.
We encourage all the parishes in the diocese to get involved in this worthwhile project. It makes a great Lenten program for parishes, guilds or Rosary societies to get involved in. Some parishes have picked up on the idea and hold their own Layette Program and bring the items to Catholic Charities themselves.


Purchase Tickets Here

donate button