St. Vincent DePaul Mission

Waterbury, Connecticut, U.S.A.

 

Our Heritage

The St. Vincent DePaul Mission of Waterbury, Inc., a non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization, was founded by the Rev. Philip J. Cascia, D. Min. on March 11, 1978. It is dedicated to eliminate the root causes of homelessness in the Greater Waterbury Area. To this end, we have established a network to address each cause contributing or allowing a person or family to become homeless. However, this can only be accomplished through cooperation between the non-profit provider, the State of Connecticut, the Church and the private and corporate sectors of society.

In 1978, the St.Vincent DePaul Mission established a Thrift Store under the direction of Rev. Philip J. Cascia and its Board of Directors. The Thrift Store operates six days a week, providing clothing and material needs for the poor. A case worker is available to assess the individual needs of the clientele. Our experience has taught us that a poor person may be able to afford a rent, but not, however, furniture or clothing. The St. Vincent DePaul Thrift Store helps this person get on their feet, maintain their dignity, and become a member of society. The Thrift Store also financially supports the Soup Kitchen.

In 1981, hunger became a known way of life for many Connecticut residents. To relieve the people's hunger, Father Cascia established a Soup Kitchen in the Hispanic neighborhood on South Main Street in Waterbury. The Soup Kitchen allows the area's poor to receive, at no cost to them, over 450 nutritionally balanced hot noon time meals, served six days a week. At least 350 people eat at the Soup Kitchen each day.

Located in the Soup Kitchen is a food pantry. The pantry donates approximately 200 meals of groceries, twice a week to poor single adults and families. The Soup Kitchen Manager also provides a referral service to individuals who express a need.

On March 1,1997 the Soup Kitchen closed and reopened at its new location, 327 Baldwin Street, as the Merriman Culinary School / Kitchen. The staff is able to provide an education and training program to teach the homeless adults living in the shelter a work ethic and at the same time restaurant job skills. The students prepare the meals for the poor.

As economic benefits grew further away from the poor, homelessness became evident in Waterbury and the surrounding towns. To address this need, on October 5, 1984, Father Cascia and the Mission founded the St. Vincent DePaul Homeless Shelter. With 126 beds, this is the largest Shelter in the State of Connecticut. Since the inception of the Shelter over 13,600 different men, women and children have taken refuge there. In 2006 the Shelter saw 932 different individuals; over 22,000 bed nights were used. Thank God it has never been filled. The Shelter also provides daily case management, breakfast and supper for the clientèle who receive temporary refuge. The Shelter has four full time case workers. It is because of their work that the average stay for a person or family is only 48 days. Within this time frame the person or family will have a permanent place to live or be placed in an appropriate assistance program.

One of the major causes of homelessness is mental illness. After the Shelter had been in operation for a year it became obvious that some of the people being released from State mental institutions did not have the capability to live in society without a program designed for remedial skill training.

Father Cascia and the Board of Directors addressed this issue by working with the State of Connecticut Department of Mental Health, and in 1986 established a fifty bed supervised living program. The program currently has seventy eight clients. This program teaches the chronically mentally ill the basic living skills that you and I take for granted. The clients are taught such things as personal hygiene, financial management, job search and cooking. A doctor, psychologist, and fifteen case managers are staffed to ensure that the mental health and recovery of the individual is obtained. The expected average time a person will be in this program is one to five years. However, some lower functioning clients may be a permanent resident in the program. Also included in this program is an eight bed Group Home for lower functioning mentally ill men and women.

Another one of the major causes of homelessness is the lack of affordable housing. Every town and city in the State is affected by the rising cost of home ownership and apartment rentals. Many times our own adult children have been unable to live in the town in which they grew up because the economy of the town is out of the reach of their income. In 1989, the Mission addressed this issue. The St. Vincent DePaul Mission of Waterbury, Inc. purchased two parcels of land and, with a grant from the State of Connecticut Department of Housing, has built and manages sixteen units of affordable housing on South Main Street, Waterbury for the working poor. These units are self supporting by the rents collected.

The St. Vincent DePaul Mission is funded by grants from the State of Connecticut, the Archbishop's Annual Appeal, Foundations and Public Donations. The major portions of donations come from individual people who live in the Greater Waterbury Area.

The thirteen towns in the Greater Waterbury Area are also contracted with the St. Vincent DePaul Mission of Waterbury, Inc. to assist them with their poor and homeless, which eliminates the expense and need for a shelter in every town.


On January 16, 2007 the Founder of St. Vincent DePaul Mission, Rev. Philip J. Cascia, D. Min. died after a six month battle with Burketts Lymphoma. Father Cascia was born in Enfield, Connecticut to Charles and Rose Cascia on December 27, 1951. He leaves one brother Michael, two nieces and two nephews.

His presence is deeply missed not only by his family, the Staff and Board of Directors, but also by the poor and hungry who looked to him for hope.


Father Cascia was succeeded in January 2007 by Rev. Joseph T. Donnelly, the Pastor at Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in Southbury, CT as Chairman of the Board.

Father Donnelly was born in Waterbury on April 22, 1946, and attended Sacred Heart High School. He attended St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield, St. Bonaventure University in Olean, NY, Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, and Creighton University in Omaha. He holds an S.T.L. degree in Theology and also an MA degree in Christian Spirituality.

Fr. Donnelly was ordained for the Archdiocese of Hartford at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome on December 17th, 1971. Since then, he has fulfilled assignments as Parochial Vicar at Church of the Epiphany in Cheshire and Church of St. Anthony in Prospect, Director of Spiritual Formation at St. Thomas Seminary, Administrator at the Church of Sts. Peter and Paul in Waterbury, and Pastor of the Church of St. Bridget in Manchester and the Church of Sacred Heart in Southbury.

In addition to his appointment as Chairman of the Board of Directors of St. Vincent DePaul Mission of Waterbury, Fr. Donnelly has also been involved in the following ministries:

  • Teacher, Sacred Heart High School, Waterbury, 1975-1977
  • Associate Professor, St. Joseph College, West Hartford, 1980-1994
  • Substitute Chaplain, Hartford Hospital, Hartford, 1980-1986
  • Spiritual Director/Consultant for Program for Professionals, Institute of Living in Hartford working with priests in residence, 1995-2003
  • Pastors Advisory Committee, Archbishop’s Annual Appeal, 2003-present
  • Spiritual Director
  • Retreat Director

 

 

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