WATERBURY – A deacon, a maintenance volunteer and members of a Catholic men’s organization were recipients of pro-life awards at the 23rd annual dinner celebrating the anniversary of Carolyn’s Place, a crisis pregnancy care center. The event took place Nov. 1 at La Bella Vista Pontelandolfo Restaurant in Waterbury.
Deacon David Reynolds, who serves the linked parishes of Immaculate Heart of Mary in Harwinton and Immaculate Conception in New Hartford, received the Carolyn’s Place Ministry Award, which recognizes individuals with a religious vocation who exemplify extraordinary commitment to the protection of human life.
Stanley Sypek, a maintenance volunteer at Carolyn’s Place for over 10 years, received the center’s Walter J. Williams Service Award for providing outstanding volunteer service to the ministry.
The Connecticut Knights of Columbus Councils received the center’s Maureen A. Donohoe Award for life-affirming values that they actively promote in the general community.
Father Robert J. Rousseau, director of the Archdiocese of Hartford’s Pro-Life Ministry and founder of Carolyn’s Place, told the more than 330 attendees the story of how the center came into being 24 years ago. At that time, he was pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Watertown. While he was leaving the dark church after a meeting of a women’s group on the night of Nov. 4, 1991, he heard a cry.
“I looked down, and there was a shaft of light coming in from the main church, and in that shaft of light I saw this little foot waving,” he said. He switched on the light immediately and saw a cardboard box near a wall, and in the box was a baby girl. He ran to get help from one of the women, a nurse, and the hours-old infant was rushed to Waterbury Hospital, where she was found to be healthy.
“The result of that was that a whole group of people in St. John’s Parish got together, and what we were thinking was that no woman should have to go through pregnancy alone,” he said. The mother of Carolyn Marie – a name chosen because Nov. 4 is the feast of Saint Charles Borromeo – has never come forward. Carolyn has been adopted, and she and her new family have chosen to remain anonymous.
Father John Granato, pastor of the Torrington Cluster of Roman Catholic Parishes, was chosen to present the ministry award to Deacon Reynolds because of their long association in Torrington, where Deacon Reynolds founded Two Hearts Pregnancy Care Center in 2012.
Deacon Reynolds said he was moved recently by a Facebook post by a former client of Two Hearts, a woman who had been on the verge of aborting her baby. On her Facebook page, he said, she posted a picture of that child playing with two other children.
“If it wasn’t for Two Hearts, if it wasn’t for all the pro-life people who are here today, there would only be two young children in the picture, not three.… That’s why we do it,” he said.
Ellen Cavallo, director of Carolyn’s Place, presented the service award to Mr. Sypek, a man who she said works quietly behind the scenes to keep the center running smoothly. “As soon as one thing is fixed, something else breaks, but he never says no,” she said.
Mr. Sypek said that when he got the late-night call that he was to receive the award, he at first thought it was an emergency call to fix a computer problem. The relief on his face may have caused people to think he was not excited about the award. He said, “Please don’t confuse dumbfounded with lack of excitement. I am still kind of shaking my head.”
Archbishop Emeritus Daniel A. Cronin presented the Knights with the Maureen A. Donohoe award, but first he reminded attendees that the worldwide service organization was founded in Connecticut by Father Michael J. McGivney and that Archbishop Cronin’s office began the cause for Father’s McGivney’s sainthood in 1997.
“With your help tonight, the cause will reach its conclusion eventually, and in a short period of time, hopefully,” he said.
Thomas Vita, state deputy, accepted the award on behalf of his fellow Knights. “It falls on us to defend life,” he said. “We live today in what Saint John Paul II called the culture of death. Who speaks for the victims of the culture of death? We do, all of us who are here this evening; and slowly the tide of public opinion has swung in our favor.”
Charlene Berube, a member of St. Ann Parish in Bristol, said she supports Carolyn’s Place because pro-choice people are sending the wrong message. “Unfortunately, what our political system has done has made it sound like we are taking away someone’s rights when we talk pro-life,” she said. “The message is that this is a baby. It doesn’t make any difference how this baby came about.”
Carla Torres, of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Waterbury, said, “I think it is a great cause, and it’s done a lot for the young ladies. I’ve been volunteering with them for three years now. I think it’s a great night for people to get together and bring in whatever they can for Carolyn’s Place.”
For information about Carolyn’s Place or its pro-life services, call 203-597-9050 or go to carolynsplace.net.