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Wooster Square Priest Resigns

Sexual abuse allegations date to 1983 in Boston

Jan 18, 2004 | The pastor of a prominent Roman Catholic church in New Haven has resigned in the wake of an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor going back more than 20 years.

The Rev. Andrew Brizzolara, who had been pastor of St. Michael’s Church on Wooster Place since August 1999, recently submitted his resignation to Hartford Archbishop Henry J. Mansell.

A statement issued by the archdiocese Saturday evening said the allegation dates back to Brizzolara’s days in the Archdiocese of Boston in 1982 or 1983.

The Rev. John Gatzak, director of communications for the archdiocese, said Brizzolara has had his "ministerial faculties removed" by Mansell.

"That means he cannot minister in any capacity in the Archdiocese of Hartford," Gatzak said Saturday night. "He has returned to his order community and is staying at a residence specifically for their priests."

Brizzolara is a member of the Missionaries of St. Charles order, or the Scalabrinians. Gatzak said the order generally serves immigrant populations. He said the residence is in New York State and is not in a parish setting.

Bishop Peter A. Rosazza, the auxiliary bishop of Hartford and the vicar general of the archdiocese, informed St. Michael’s parishioners Saturday at the 5 p.m. Mass. Gatzak said Rosazza will make the same announcement today at the 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Masses.

"He will be asking for prayers for the alleged victim, for Father Brizzolara himself and the entire parish community, Gatzak said.

Gatzak also said there are no allegations of misconduct on Brizzolara’s part during his time in Connecticut.

"He has done some outstanding work in the Archdiocese of Hartford," Gatzak said.

The parish serves an estimated 500 families. It is one of the most prominent churches in the city, and serves as a cornerstone of the Wooster Square neighborhood. Brizzolara has been particularly prominent in the city’s Italian American community during his short tenure. He was honored by the local American Committee on Italian Migration in 2002.

The diocese anticipates that the Scalabrinians will designate another priest to take over St. Michael’s in the near future.

Brizzolara is the third Catholic priest in the New Haven area to come under scrutiny for alleged sexual misconduct in recent years.

The Rev. Robert Newman resigned from Sacred Heart Church in July 2002 after allegations arose that he sexually abused children in the Archdiocese of Baltimore in the 1980s. Newman had been widely praised for his efforts to rid his neighborhood of drug trafficking and blight. There were no complaints against him during 12 years in New Haven.

The Rev. Daniel McSheffery of St. Augustine in North Branford was placed on administrative leave from his post in May 2002 after similar allegations were made by three men who accused him of molesting them in the past. His status and whereabouts could not be determined Saturday.

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