dirienzos_feb11Rosemarie DiRienzo holds the award that she received recently from the volunteer organization Soldiers’ Angels as her husband, Deacon Mario DiRienzo, points out a photo in a room in their Woodbridge home that is dedicated to Mrs. DiRienzo’s efforts to support soldiers and military chaplains. (Photo by Mary Chalupsky)

WOODBRIDGE – For the past five years, Rosemarie DiRienzo has been sending supplies to military chaplains stationed in the far-flung bases in Iraq and Afghanistan through Soldiers’ Angels – a group dedicated to sending care packages and letters of support to soldiers from home.

To thank her for her work, the California-based nonprofit organization recently recognized her with an award in the shape of a beautiful crystal angel that reads, "For giving above and beyond the call of angels in supporting our military personnel."

On the back is the simple phrase that captures the efforts of the group, founded in 2004 by the mother of two soldiers, as well as Mrs. DiRienzo’s mission: "May no soldier go unloved."

"You have no idea how wonderful this work is," said Mrs. DiRienzo, the wife of Deacon Mario DiRienzo, who serves at St. Augustine Parish in Seymour. "It’s wonderful, the responses and letters I’ve received.

"It has become an obsession with me," she said emphatically. "My father was an Army man, so I’m tuned into the military and the contributions of our service people."

Mrs. DiRienzo volunteers to serve one of four areas assigned by Soldiers’ Angels – specifically, to chaplains who minister in remote regions by offering prayer and sacramental support, celebrating Mass and providing pastoral counseling.

She has been assigned eight chaplains; six of whom are Catholic priests. The chaplains minister to 350 to 600 male and female soldiers.

She send the priests vestments, chalices, altar linens, prayer cards, rosaries, Bibles and other items collected from priests in the Archdiocese of Hartford. Each box is accompanied by a letter from the DiRienzos.

She also responds to requests she receives from the chaplains and the organization by sending items for soldiers, such as socks, T-shirts, personal hygiene items, hot chocolate, sheets, gloves and even candy and toys that the soldiers give to local children to help bridge relationships.

Local priests who have given items to send are Father Gene Gianelli (Our Lady of Assumption Parish in Woodbridge); Father Joseph Donnelly (Sacred Heart Parish in Southbury); Father James Shanley (St. George Parish in Guilford); Father Stephen Sledesky (St. Bridget/St. Bartholomew in Manchester); Father Robert Beloin (chaplain at Yale University’s St. Thomas More Chapel); and Father Ronald Genoa (Archbishop Daniel A. Cronin Residence in Bloomfield).

Other donations for the boxes of items that she sends monthly have been from Holy Family Monastery and Retreat Center in West Hartford, the Rosary Guild at Holy Rosary Parish in Ansonia, local councils of the Knights of Columbus, and the religious education program and parishioners of St. Augustine in Seymour.

The Thursday Woodbridge Senior Ladies group also has donated stitched prayer pouches for soldiers to slip into their pockets with a prayer or blessing inside; and children at St. Bridget School in Manchester assembled ‘happy feet’ care packages that included soap, detergent, socks, brushes, foot powder, nylon rope and clothes pins.

Mrs. DiRienzo also bargain- hunts for such items as stuffed animals and candy at local stores, and gratefully accepts donations from anyone who wants to help.

In addition to sending to her assigned chaplains, she also sends items to Father Dennis P. Hanley and to Father Lee W. Hellwig, both priests of the Archdiocese of Hartford, both of whom are serving overseas.

In return, she receives numerous letters of appreciation as well as photos of soldiers and priests, the latter shown wearing the donated vestments.

The DiRienzos send the boxes at their own expense. The postage on boxes transported on military cargo planes costs between $6 and $14, she said.

In one letter, a soldier wrote, "You’ll never know how much morale is lifted by the love and support of friends like you back home. Be assured that your contribution goes a long way in motivating our war fighters. It is my hope that this note will communicate our thanks and appreciation for your extraordinary generosity."

"They’re just so appreciative of everything you do that you just want to keep doing this," said Mrs. DiRienzo.

An entire room in the DiRienzos’ Woodbridge home is dedicated to Soldiers’ Angels. Some of the letters and photos are kept in that room. Other photos hang on a wall at her husband’s office, DiRienzo Mechanical Contractors Inc. in New Haven, where customers have identified family members in the photos.

"We do not realize how important and uplifting it is for them to get messages from home to help their morale," said Deacon DiRienzo, who has been a permanent deacon for 25 years.

In another letter, a soldier related that he and his wife have a baby on the way. He further wrote, "I’d like to personally thank you. It’s extremely uplifting for us to receive support from home in a war that many people in the United States seem to have placed in the back of their minds. We cannot deny that there are many who have lost their life. We cannot forget the courage, sacrifice and spirit that these soldiers possessed as well as the soldiers who on this very day are on patrol thousands of miles from home and loved ones. Once again, thank you very much for the time you give to us and for your support."

With a note of quiet determination in her voice, Mrs. DiRienzo said, "You get letters like this and you know you’re doing the right thing."

Information about Soldiers’ Angels is available at http://soldiersangels.org.

 

 

Events Calendar

October 2014
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
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10:00 AM
St. Anthony Parish, prospect, Prospect, United States
St. Anthony Parish in Prospect will again operate its Pumpkin Patch during the month October. It will be open Oct. 4-31, and all proceeds will support the parish's HOPE Ministry, which assists local [...]
Date :  October 04, 2014
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07:30 AM
Anthony's Ocean View, New Haven, New Haven, United States
The Foundation for the Advancement of Catholic Schools (FACS) will host its annual Archbishop’s Columbus [...]
Date :  October 10, 2014
11
08:30 AM
Caritas Christi Center, Hamden, Hamden, United States
Caritas Christi Center in Hamden will host a contemporary presentation of the discipline of centering prayer as silent communication with God [...]
12:00 PM
152 Litchfield St., Torrington, Torrington, United States
Oktoberfest 2014 will be held to benefit the Torrington Cluster of Roman Catholic Parishes (St. Peter, St. Francis of Assisi, Sacred Heart and St. Mary) from noon to 6 p.m. Oct. 11 at 152 Litchfield St., [...]
Date :  October 11, 2014
12
01:00 PM
Lourdes in Litchfield, Litchfield, United States
Lourdes in Litchfield Shrine will have its annual harvest dinner at 1 p.m. Oct. 12 in Pilgrim Hall. [...]
02:00 PM
Cathedral of St. Joseph, Hartford, Hartford, United States
HARTFORD – The 25th anniversary celebration of the Diocesan Rosary Rally will take place from 2-3:30 p.m. Oct. 12 at the Cathedral of St. Joseph. Archbishop Leonard P. Blair will give a talk titled [...]
Date :  October 12, 2014
13
14
07:00 PM
Chiara Center, Meriden, Meriden, United States
Thomas Finn, Ph.D., will present a six-session educational and psychological workshop designed to help [...]
Date :  October 14, 2014
15
06:00 PM
Holy Family Passionist Retreat Center, West Hartford, United States
"Incorporating Prayer into the Classroom Setting: An Evening Workshop for Parish Catechists," will be [...]
06:30 PM
Caritas Christi Center, Hamden, Hamden, United States
The film 'Places in the Heart' will be shown, discussed and studied from 6:30-9 p.m. Oct. 15 at the [...]
07:00 PM
St. Peter Claver Parish, West Hartford, West Hartford, United States
WEST HARTFORD – The Archdiocese of Hartford’s Office for Catholic Social Justice Ministry (OCSJM) will sponsor a workshop on the need for criminal justice reform at 7 p.m. Oct. 15 at St. Peter Claver [...]
07:00 PM
Our Lady of Calvary Retreat Center, Farmington , Farmington, United States
  On Wednesday, October 15, Our Lady of Calvary Retreat Center in Farmington is offering "Autumn [...]
07:00 PM
Most Holy Trinity Church, Wallingford, Wallingford, United States
WALLINGFORD – Peter Wolfgang, executive director of the Family Institute of Connecticut, will give a [...]
09:00 AM
Our Lady of Calvary Retreat Center, Farmington , Farmington, United States
  On Wednesday, October 15, Our Lady of Calvary Retreat Center in Farmington is offering "Autumn [...]
10:00 AM
Caritas Christi Center, Hamden, Hamden, United States
"Are You Here for Me, Lord?" a program for the bereaved, will be presented by Sister Mauryeen O'Brien from [...]
Date :  October 15, 2014
16
09:00 AM
Lourdes in Litchfield, Litchfield, United States
Lourdes-in-Litchfield will have its semi-annual tag sale from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Oct. 16, 17 and 18 and [...]
Date :  October 16, 2014
17
07:00 PM
Sacred Heart Church, Southbury CT, Southbury, United States
Sacred Heart Parish in Southbury and its adult choir music ministry will have a Taize prayer service at 7 p.m. Oct. 17 at the church. Taize is an [...]
Date :  October 17, 2014
18
07:00 PM
Academy of the Holy Family, Baltic, Sprague, United States
The Baltic Council of the Knights of Columbus will sponsor a benefit dinner for the Academy of the Holy Family at 7 p.m. Oct. 18 at the academy, located  at 54 West Main Street in Baltic. [...]
07:00 PM
Montfort House, Litchfield, Litchfield, United States
Lourdes-in-Litchfield will have its annual Fine Dining and Wine Pairing fund-raiser from 7-10 p.m. Oct. 18 [...]
08:30 AM
Doubletree by Hilton, Bristol, Bristol, United States
Magnificat for women will have a breakfast at 9 a.m. Oct. 18 at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Bristol. Registration opens at 8:30. The speaker will be author Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle.  The [...]
09:00 AM
Archdiocesan Center at St. Thomas Seminary, Bloomfield, United States
The eighth annual “Unbound: Freedom in Christ Conference” will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 18 at the Archdiocesan Center at St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield. Based on Neal [...]
09:00 AM
Holy Angels Parish Center, South Meriden, Meriden, United States
Former Planned Parenthood clinic director Abby Johnson and abortion survivor Gianna Jessen will be the [...]
Date :  October 18, 2014
19
01:00 PM
Sacred Heart Academy, Hamden, Hamden, United States
Sacred Heart Academy in Hamden will have an open house from 1-3 p.m. Oct. 19.
01:00 PM
Notre Dame High School, West Haven, West Haven, United States
Notre Dame High Shool will have an open house from 1-3 p.m. Oct. 19.
01:00 PM
Sacred Heart Academy, Hamden CT, Hamden, United States
HAMDEN – Sacred Heart Academy, an independent Catholic college preparatory school for young women in [...]
02:00 PM
Cathedral of St. Joseph, Hartford, United States
Annual anniversary Mass for couples celebrating significan wedding anniversaries.
02:00 PM
St. Mary Star of the Sea Church, Unionville, Farmington, United States
UNIONVILLE –The Legion of Mary of St. Mary Star of the Sea Parish will host a living rosary program in [...]
04:00 PM
St. Justin Church, Hartford, United States
St. Justin Parish will host an Interreligious Harvest Festival at 4 p.m. Oct. 19. Local Catholic and [...]
Date :  October 19, 2014
20
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05:00 PM
Aqua Turf Club, Plantsville, Southington, United States
The Office for Catholic Social Justice Ministry (OCSJM) will present awards for exceptional efforts in social justice ministry at its annual dinner Oct. 21 at the Aqua Turf Club in Plantsville. It [...]
05:00 PM
Aqua Turf Club, Plantsville, Southington, United States
Click here
07:00 PM
Caritas Christi Center, Hamden, United States
"How to Live an Inspired Life and Inspire Others" is the title of a workshop schuled for 7 p.m. Oct. 21 at [...]
07:00 PM
Our Lady of Calvary Retreat Center, Farmington, Farmington, United States
Our Lady of Calvary Retreat Center will offer a program entitled "Returning to the Church of My Youth" presented by Deacon Art Miller.  Deacon Miller will share his reflections on the [...]
07:00 PM
Chiara Center, Meriden, Meriden, United States
Thomas Finn, Ph.D., will present a six-session educational and psychological workshop designed to help [...]
09:00 AM
Our Lady of Calvary Retreat Center, Farmington, Farmington, United States
Our Lady of Calvary Retreat Center will offer a program entitled "Returning to the Church of My Youth" presented by Deacon Art Miller.  Deacon Miller will share his reflections on the [...]
Date :  October 21, 2014
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07:00 PM
Holy Spirit Parish in Newington, Newington, United States
Holy Spirit Parish in Newington will host a concert by Elisabeth von Trapp, granddaughter of the legendary Maria and Baron von Trapp, whose story inspired “The Sound of Music,” at 7 p.m. Oct. 24.Ms. [...]
12:00 AM
Lourdes in Litchfield, Litchfield, United States
Lourdes-in-Litchfield will have its semi-annual tag sale from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Oct. 16, 17 and 18 and [...]
Date :  October 24, 2014
25
08:00 AM
Goodwin College, East Hartford , East Hartford, United States
EAST HARTFORD – International Catholic speaker, author and radio host Jon Leonetti will be the keynote [...]
08:00 AM
Notre Dame High School, West Haven, West Haven, United States
Notre Dame High School admissions test
Date :  October 25, 2014
26
01:00 PM
Xavier High School, Middletown, Middletown, United States
Open house at Xavier High School in Middletown for young men in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades.
Date :  October 26, 2014
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06:00 PM
Infinity Hall, Hartford, Hartford, United States
HARTFORD – Malta House of Care will sponsor a new fund-raising event at a new venue in October. “A Little Night Music Under the Stars” will be held from 6-8 p.m. Oct. 28 at Infinity Music Hall and [...]
07:00 PM
Chiara Center, Meriden, Meriden, United States
Thomas Finn, Ph.D., will present a six-session educational and psychological workshop designed to help [...]
Date :  October 28, 2014
29
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31
12:00 AM
Holy Family Retreat Center, West Hartford, West Hartford, United States
Holy Family Retreat Center will present "From Control to Compassion," a weekend retreat for men and women with Father Michael Crosby, Oct 31-Nov 2. It wil explore the causes and consequences [...]
Date :  October 31, 2014

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