STAINED GLASS WINDOW
ST. PETER & ST. PAUL
UKRAINIAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
105 Clifton Avenue
Ansonia, CT 06401
Rectory Phone (203) 734-3895
Our goal is to raise $100,000.00, which is the cost to restore the age related deterioration of the Purgatory stained glass window. This window was installed 62 years ago, during 1954. If our attention is not given to address this problem, replacement cost would be $300,000.00. Your generous individual contribution in helping to meet our goal will be greatly appreciated. This will allow the beauty of this stained glass window to continue to grace our church building.
Sincerely, Church Committee
Upcoming Fund Raisers
For Stained Glass Window Repair
Sunday, March 19, 2017 – Corn Beef Dinner
Adults $15.00 Children (5 to 12) $5.00
Sunday, April 23, 2017 - Easter Dinner
Saturday, May 6, 2017 – Tag Sale
Lenten Soup to Go!
Three Saints Orthodox Church
26 Howard Avenue
Ansonia, CT 06401
Each Sunday after Liturgy you may purchase a quart of homemade Lenten Soup to Go for only $7.00. This week we are selling Mushroom Barley. Next week will be chickpea and the week after that Borscht! As there will be limited quantities available please reserve a quart now. We will try to accommodate those pre-ordering 1st. All soups will be Lenten ( No dairy, fish or wine or olive oil) Help support this parish project! Questions? See Mat. Cindy or Nina ....
POLISH NIGHT-DINNER DANCE
Saturday, March 25, 2017
6:00 - 10:00 PM
First United Methodist Church
47 Franklin Street
Ansonia, CT 06401
Come out and join us for a wonderful evening of authentic Polish fare while listening and dancing to the sounds of a fantastic Polka Band. Dinner includes various types of Pierogis, Kielbasa, Sauerkraut and Rye Bread, including coffee, tea, and soft drinks, plus delicious Polish desserts. While dining enjoy the sounds of the “Chris and Ronnie Polka Band”, a six-man polka band who will entertain us while we dine and later get us up and dancing the polka! Tickets are $36.00 per person and are on sale now! To make your reservation please call Barbara Tchakirides at (203) 732-1096 OR CLICK HERE TO MAKE RESERVATIONS!
Saturday, March 11, 2017, 6:00 PM
To benefit St. Mary-St. Michael School – Please join Marc Garofalo and his “Kitchen Krew” for a pasta dinner on Saturday, March 11, 6:00 PM (after the 4:30 pm Mass) in the Church Hall. Menu: pasta, meatballs, salad, bread, dessert, wine, coffee, tea, soda. $10 per person; please make checks payable to St. Mary-St. Michael School. Call the Parish Office for reservations. Raffle prizes and desserts will also be appreciated and may be dropped off at the Church Hall in the early afternoon that Saturday.
Derby, CT 06418
Adam’s House, a nonprofit grief education center in Shelton, held its formal ribbon-cutting ceremony today to celebrate the launch of no-cost grief educational programs for Connecticut children and families. Community members were invited to attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony at 241 Coram Ave. and volunteers offered guided tours of the 18 rooms at Adam’s House.
Wakelee Memorial Funeral Home was instrumental in obtaining a $1,000 grant from the Matthew's Children Foundation to help build what is known as a "Confessional" space at the Adam's House that allows the children to record messages to loved ones who have passed or to privately share their thoughts with them or a surviving family member.
MEN WHO COOK
TEAM’s Springtime Fundraiser
It was a great success!
John Zaleski of Wakelee Memorial Funeral Home and Rev. James Midgley of Ansonia & Seymour United Methodist Churches teamed up as Celebrity Chefs for this event and made Seafood Ceviche and Pulled Chicken Sliders. All proceeds from this fundraiser benefit the programs provided by TEAM, Inc. serving the needs of individuals and families living in the Valley.
Priest Set For Fundraising Pilgrimage
By Michael P. Mayko - CT Post - Tuesday, May 31, 2016
Call him the “peddling pastor” or the “cycling cleric.” With less than a year under his collar as the pastor of the Church of the Assumption, the Rev. James Sullivan will be leaving Wednesday morning. But only briefly — and for the good of the parish. The 55-year-old plans to celebrate his second year in the priesthood by cycling 372 miles from Ansonia to the Notre Dame Basilica in Montreal, Canada. His goal is to raise $100,000 to renovate and reopen the auditorium and basketball court at Assumption School on North Cliff Street, which has been closed since 1968. “We’re touching $50,000 now,” he said of the donations received as of Monday. “Last year, a lot of money came in after the bike ride.” While assigned to the Torrington Cluster of Catholic Churches, Sullivan was among seven state priests and two seminarians who cycled 350 miles last year to Emmitsburg, Md. — considered the cradle of Catholic Schools. That ride raised about $182,000 for the state’s Catholic schools. This time, Sullivan expects to biking alone, mostly, as he cycles eight hours and 100 miles a day. “Every 30 miles or so, I’ll probably take a break,” he said. He’ll be wearing typical reflective cycling gear with his priestly collar underneath the jersey. “I want drivers to see that’s a priest on the bike in front of them,” he quipped. On the journey, Sullivan said, he’ll do a lot of praying “the rosary” and for more priests. He’s also carrying a satchel filled with at least a thousand prayer intentions written by parishioners which he intends to bury somewhere near St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal. “That’s been the site of many miracles,” he said. Following him will be a car driven by seminarian Torin Bourke and loaded with water, Gatorade, snacks, bicycle tubes, tires and a repair kit. “Because of my size,” said Sullivan, a 6-foot-5, 225-pound cleric, “I tend to get flat tires. But I can change one as quickly as a NASCAR pit crew.”
For 28 years, the Rev. Sullivan was simply James Sullivan, a partner with his brother, John, in a Wolcott building and remodeling company called Sullivan Brothers. “I loved building,” he said. “I loved the business.” But one day in 2012, while serving as a deacon and visiting the Holy Land, the calling came, and he left for the priesthood. “It was something that was probably in the back of mind,” Sullivan said. “After all, Christ was a carpenter.” He’s developed a following. “I love him so much,” said Judy Larkin-Nicolari, a lifelong Assumption parishioner and the city of Ansonia’s treasurer. “He’s genuine. His homilies hit home — they actually make me cry.” Elizabeth Nicoletti agreed. “He’s such a great priest,” she said. “Everyone relates to him.” Both women say they can’t wait for the auditorium to reopen on the same Oct. 23 Sunday on which Assumption celebrates its 125th anniversary. The Most Rev. Leonard Blair, archbishop of the Hartford Archdiocese, is scheduled to celebrate Mass and dedicate the auditorium. “We used to attend CYO dances there and perform in the Christmas plays there,” Larkin-Nicolari said. “Don’t forget listening to the Irish Ministrels,” added Nicoletti. “What Father Sullivan is doing is wonderful.” Sullivan anticipates that the scraping, sanding and painting will begin June 9. “We’re going to call it the O’Keefe Family Arts and Athletic Center of Assumption School,” he said. “They’ve been such generous supporters.” And he intends to open its doors to teens on a weekends. “I see that as a way of opening the doors to our church to them,” he said. Larkin-Nicolari said she’ll be on the bus that meets Sullivan in Montreal on Saturday.
Sullivan is scheduled to peddle off on his 12-speed Cannondale cyle at around 10 a.m. Wednesday. The trip will be similar to the journey his mother, Phyllis and her sister, Mary, then 17 and 21 made from Waterbury in 1948. “They were no phones, no GPS or 12-speed bikes,” Sullivan said. “My mother had a 1946 Rudge. It was so heavy you could do arm curls with it.” At 18, while a student at Providence College, Sullivan peddled 105 miles to Waterbury in eight hours. A decade or so later, bicycling the 185 miles from Cape Cod to Waterbury took him about 16 hours. Sullivan’s longest trip was 800 miles to Columbus, Ohio, which he said took eight days. By 6 p.m. Wednesday he expects to reach the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Mass. On Thursday, night he anticipates being close to Lake Champlain, and on Friday he should be close to the Canadian border. On Saturday, Sullivan plans to reach Montreal. He’s already he’s thinking about next year’s ride. “Maybe to Washington, D.C., and the National Shrine,” he said. Follow Sullivan’s ride online on Facebook and at ourfathersride.com.
John Zaleski and Rev. James Midgley are teaming up as Celebrity Chefs for this event and making Seafood Ceviche and Pulled Chicken Sliders.
TEAM’s springtime fundraiser has become a Valley tradition! At this year’s 9th Annual Men Who Cook on April 23, nearly 100 Valley men will serve their signature dishes, including tacos, wings, pasta, seafood dishes, and desserts! With Chaz of WPLR’s Chaz & AJ Show as emcee, plus dancing, a silent auction, and a raffle, this is a “don’t miss” event!
Tickets are $60 and include wine, beer, soda, and all of the delicious food you can eat. To purchase tickets, go to TEAM’s website http://teaminc.org/events/men-who-cook/
EFFECTIVE FRIDAY, APRIL 1, 2016
Due to the Northbound Rte. 8 ramp construction, coming off of the Exit 18 (Division Street) ramp - you will no longer be able to cross Division Street onto Westfield Avenue to enter Wakelee Memorial Funeral Home's back parking lot. Instead, you must turn right onto Division Street, come to next intersection and turn left onto Wakelee Avenue, and follow approxmately 1/4 mile to funeral home on your left hand side, across from Pine Grove Cemetery - ample parking in the rear parking lot.
Big Changes Coming To Route 8 Ramp In Valley
CT Post - By Jim Shay - Tuesday, March 15, 2016
By the end of the year, getting onto northbound Route 8 from Derby and Ansonia will be much easier and a lot safer. That’s because of a new entrance ramp under construction in the Division Street/Westfield Avenue area, on the border of those two Valley communities. Along with a new ramp, the nearly $8.7 million project includes installation of a retaining wall, a noise barrier wall, safety improvements and drainage work on both Division Street and Westfield Avenue. Currently, the closest northbound entrance ramp to the project area is off Seymour Avenue in Derby. During the afternoon rush hour, the near constant flow of speeding vehicles makes it extremely difficult to get onto the highway from this Exit 17 entrance ramp. It takes a combination of patience, vigilance, courage and often, quickly accelerating, to make it onto Route 8 without being struck. Judd Everhart, spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, says the Exit 17 entrance will not be closed once the new Exit 18 ramp opens. What the new northbound entrance ramp will offer - less than a mile away from the older ramp - is a safer option of getting on Route 8 with enough time to accelerate and merge safely into oncoming traffic. About two weeks ago, workers started installing panels on a towering noise barrier that will shield a residential neighborhood from the 32,800 vehicles a day that pass through this northbound stretch of Route 8. A mild winter has helped the contractor, Empire Paving Co., stay on track of completing the project this September. The next phase of the project will require some road closures and some lane restrictions. Existing travel lanes on northbound Route 8 in the vicinity of Interchange 18, will be shifted and reduced to 11-foot widths, to accommodate construction work. In a motorist advisory, the state Department of Transportation said, “starting April 1, Westfield Avenue will be permanently closed in the city of Ansonia for all through traffic. Westfield Avenue at Division Street will remain open up to 54 Westfield Ave., where a traffic circle will be constructed to coincide with the future opening of the Route 8 Northbound on-ramp. Westfield Avenue will remain open at the north end from Jackson Avenue to approximately 71 Westfield Ave. where a cul-de-sac will be constructed.” Lane closures can occur on Route 8 north between of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. and between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. Monday through Friday, and between the hours of 6 p.m. on Friday through 6 a.m. on Monday. On Division Street and Westfield Avenue there will be lane closures between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. Monday through Friday, and from 9 p.m. and 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Ansonia church to celebrate 100th birthday, then close
By Michael P. Mayko - Connecticut Post - Sunday, November 15, 2015
It’s a church that was never supposed to be built. Yet on Nov. 22, St. Anthony Roman Catholic church on North Main Street will celebrate its 100th birthday. Then, on Nov. 29, it will close forever. “I was hatched, matched, but won’t be dispatched here,” said Donald Poehailos, a lifelong communicant who was baptized, married and thought his funeral service would be there. For the past two-and-a-half years, St. Anthony’s, built by and for the city’s once burgeoning Lithuanian community, has been on life support. The thousands who stood inside and outside during its opening on Nov. 25, 1915, when no pews had been installed, dwindled to just 45 in recent years. The three Sunday Masses are now just one. And the weekly collections had to be buttressed with a monthly stipend from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford. “Archbishop (Leonard) Blair allowed us to remain open so we could celebrate the anniversary,” said the Rev. Stephen Krugel, pastor of both St. Anthony and the nearby Holy Rosary, into which the closing church will be folded. “So I and the parish community thought, ‘Let’s make this into a real celebration.’ ” So at noon on Nov. 22, the archbishop will celebrate Mass with five other priests: Krugel; the Rev. James Sullivan, newly assigned to the nearby Church of the Assumption; the Rev. Leonard Kvedas of St. Michael’s Church in Beacon Falls and the Rev. David Borino, who is retired. Also participating will be the Rev. Edward Young, pastor of St. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church, whose church played a huge role a century ago in Rome granting St. Anthony’s existence. “I imagine the church will be packed,” said Krugel of the 100th anniversary Mass. “We have almost 300 attending the celebratory dinner afterwards.” Then on Nov. 29, also at noon, Krugel and Auxiliary Bishop Christie Macaluso will celebrate the final Mass. After that, St. Anthony’s will close. Plans are for the church to be sold, along with its nearly three-story rectory and parking lot across the street. “I hope it remains a house of worship,” said Krugel, a 1971 Ansonia High School graduate whose father was Lithuanian. He will set aside space in one of Holy Rosary’s classrooms for some artifacts, including photographs of St. Anthony’s priests. But for longtime parishioners like Poehailos, his wife, Lillian, Frances Barsevich and Edward Kasinskas, all this is difficult. “Up until this point, it hasn’t really struck home,” said Poehailos, who has worn several hats at the church in his 78 years. “To me its like losing a loved one.”
Birth of a church
Only the persistence of the area’s Lithuanian community led to the church being built. On more than one occasion, beginning in 1910, pleas to Hartford Bishop John J. Nilan to establish a church were rebuffed. Instead, he urged the Lithuanian community to take a place among the Church of the Assumption’s parishioners. But in that mostly Irish-Catholic church, the Lithuanians perceived discrimination. They saw their marriages being performed and babies baptized by Irish-Catholic priests and not the Lithuanian assistant. During Mass, the pastor ordered them “to sit farthest away from the altar, since their feeble donations did not merit occupancy of the front pews,” writes William Wolkovich-Valkavicius in his three volume “Lithuanian Religious Life in America.” So they pressed on. Already they formed organizations to raise money, received a gift of land and began construction. The only thing missing was approval from Hartford, and that wasn’t coming. The Lithuanian-Americans turned to their Eastern European brothers — a priest at St. Peter and St. Paul Ukrainian Catholic, which celebrated its own 100th anniversary in June. The Ukrainian priest helped them take their case to Pope Benedict XV in Rome, Wolkovich-Valkavicius wrote. And within months the Pope ordered Bishop Nilan to give the Lithuanians their parish, according Wolkovich-Valkavicius. “That’s something we have never forgotten,” Kaskinskas said of the Ukrainian church’s help. “We may never have existed without them.”
A parish is born
St. Anthony's Roman Catholic Church is on North Main Street in Ansonia, Conn. The church will be celebrating its 100th anniversary on the 22nd of November. The church will be closed at the end of the month due to a lack of funds as well as a dwindling congregation.
On Nov. 25, 1915 — Thanksgiving Day — a parade of nearly 1,000 Eastern Europeans from the Valley, Bridgeport and New Haven, complete with three bands, celebrated St. Anthony’s opening. Inside, the Rev. Matthew Pankus of Bridgeport performed the dedication. And for the next 10 decades, this church became a focal point of Lithuanian life. On Sundays, there would be morning Masses at 7:30, 9 and 10:30. Years later, a 4 p.m. Saturday Mass was added. “The homily would be in Lithuanian and English,” recalls Poehailos. “The Mass was in Latin, so us altar boys had to learn Latin.” When school let out for the summer, religious education began. “That was the only time we had religious education,” recalls Barsevich, another lifelong parishioner. “Two nuns came here to run the program.” Every morning from July to August, there would be classes and activities capped by a play, which the entire parish attended. “I had the lead a few times, opposite Bob Kyasky and Bob Trella,” she said. “If I remember correctly, it was all in Lithuanian, so we had to learn the language.” From the church came a Lithuanian Political Club, a Ladies Guild, a Men’s Club and the Knights of Lithuania, which the late Superior Court Judge Joseph Chernauskas helped form. There were sponsorships of softball teams and separate men’s and women’s bowling teams. “We would compete against teams from the other Lithuanian churches in the state,” Barsevich recalls. Kasinskas remembers Saturday afternoon movies that could be watched for five cents in the church hall. The church sponsored a host of fairs and bazaars on its grounds — the biggest being the Feast of St. Anthony in June. The feast featured Lithuanian music and dancers, and traditional Lithuanian food like Kugelis (a baked potato pudding); Cepelinai (a potato dumpling in mushroom sauce and bacon), sauerkraut soup and jellied pigs feet.
Coming to America
In 1978, a 1,000 pound, 29-foot wooden cross was carried by twenty-five men to its resting spot at St. Anthony's Roman Catholic Church on North Main Street in Ansonia, Conn. The large hand-carved wooden cross, built by Kestutis Svelnys, stood next to the church until 2004 when it was removed due to carpenter ant infestation.
On Oct. 30, 1948, Lillian Svelnys arrived in the U.S. aboard the General Black. She and her family were among the first 813 displaced persons to arrive here from war-ravaged Europe. Svelnys’ arrival was captured by a New York Journal-American photographer in a yellowing newspaper account kept among other artifacts from her family’s life overseas. The image shows her kissing the ring of then-Cardinal Francis Spellman while New York City Mayor William O’Dwyer watches. “The cardinal was handing Hershey kisses to all the children on board,” said Lillian who is now married to Poehailos. “My mother realized that it was a cardinal and she knew the protocol to approach. She told me to genuflect and kiss his ring.” Once here, the family moved in with relatives on Franklin Street and then to High Street. St. Anthony’s parishioners provided furniture, help finding jobs and rides when needed, she said. Her father, Kestutis, a woodworker, found a job at the Mullite Factory in Shelton. The Krugel’s father acted as his interpreter. Her mother found work in a shirt factory. Lillian, unable to speak English, was enrolled in Peck School where she was forced to learn English quickly. “I was given a book a night to read,” she said. “My father helped as much as he could.” She recalled how her father vowed after his family fled the Russian army to Germany that if they made it to America safely, he would build a cross for his church like those dotting Lithuanian countrysides. And in late 1977, Kestutis Svelnys did. He fashioned it from cedar and cyprus. It featured a carving of the Blessed Mother with 12 tulips representing each of the Apostles. Carved into the base were ruta, Lithuania’s national flower and Grand Duke Gediminas’ coat of arms — after all, he introduced Christianity to Lithuania. By the time Svelyns finished his cross, it stood 29 feet tall, weighed over 1,000 pounds and required 30 men in July 1978 to carry it to St. Anthony’s, where a crane lifted it onto a base. It stood there until 2004, when years of carpenter ant infestation left only the outer shell. In a way, the cross’ end paralleled that of the church. “It’s been dying a slow death for such a long time,” Donald Poehailos said of St. Anthony’s. Barsevich saw that, too. The church’s once 60-member Knights of Lithuania diminished slowly to its current 11, with all but one of those members nearing or over 80 years old. They’ve watched second and third generation Lithuanians marry into other ethnic groups and move, taking tradition and their families away from the Valley. As a result no younger Lithuanians were joining and the older ones were dying. The numbers dwindled to just 45 people — too few to support the church. These days, when Poehailos walks the aisles, he sees the crowds and faces from long ago. “The Barauskas family always sat in the front on the right side; the Kasinskases would always face the altar from the extreme left,” he remembered. “The Babonis family would be in the last pew in the middle, in back.”
Lithuanian dancing at the St. Anthony's Roman Catholic Church fair on June 3, 1990 in Ansonia, Conn.
The alter at St. Anthony's Roman Catholic Church on North Main Street in Ansonia, Conn. The church will be celebrating its 100th anniversary on the 22nd of November. Because of a lack of funds as well as a dwindling congregation, the church will close at the end of the month.
Come Nov. 29, all this will be just memories.
Ansonia Holds Mock DUI Crash
April 29, 2015
Special thanks to Officer Mike Barry of the Ansonia Police Department for inviting Wakelee Memorial Funeral Home to participate in the biennial mock DUI collision. In conjunction with the Ansonia Police Dept., Ansonia Fire Dept. and Ansonia EMS - this mock rescue & fatality was demonstrated for the Junior & Senior Class of Ansonia High School as prom season nears. As a parent, this realistic demonstration of EMS and first responders was heartbreaking to observe. This community is so fortunate to have trained, caring professionals protecting them 24/7. Please share this and talk to your teenagers - distracted driving is just as deadly as DUI!
Valley Independent Sentinel - by Ethan Fry | Apr 14, 2015
State Gives Ansonia $3.5 Million
For Wakelee Avenue Work
Ansonia Mayor David Cassetti answers a question at a press conference April 14 announcing a portion of Wakelee Avenue will be rebuilt. Ansonia Mayor David Cassetti announced Tuesday that the city has received a grant of up to $3.5 million from the state to rebuild a mile-long stretch of Wakelee Avenue. Work won’t begin for at least several months, but the mayor said the work is needed to refurbish what is essentially the Main Street for the city’s west side.
In addition to the pavement being in poor condition, sidewalks in the area are intermittent or in disrepair, and there are drainage problems as well. “I’ve always considered Wakelee Avenue to be one of the most beautiful streets, and a gateway to both Ansonia and Derby,” Cassetti told about 25 people gathered at Wakelee Avenue and Jackson Street for Tuesday’s announcement. “I’m thrilled to announce that we are going to wake up Wakelee Avenue this morning,” Cassetti said. “It has been a tired and overlooked street for far too long.” The city will kick in about $350,000 for design costs. The state money was awarded through the state Department of Transportation’s Local Transportation Capital Improvement Program, which is adminstered locally by the Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments. The map below shows the area to be rebuilt.
In addition to milling and repaving the road, the work will also include new curbing, concrete curb ramps, sidewalks, crosswalks, driveway aprons, and drainage work. Even “fancy lighting,” Cassetti said. The work will cost so much because the road isn’t in great shape to begin with, and crews will also replace drainage pipes, catch basins, and do work to protect other subterranean features built over the years. “Off Clarkson street there’s a granite raceway that runs from Webb Terrace all the way down to the river,” Cassetti said. “We’ve got to make sure when we’re doing the excavation that we secure that.” Sheila O’Malley, the city’s grants writer and director of economic development, said design work for such a project typically takes three to six months, but some of the work was already completed when the city was applying for the state grant. “We’re hoping for a three-month phase of engineering, and then after that the bidding process and construction can begin,” O’Malley said.
Joan Radin and Anthony Cassetti, members of Ansonia's Board of Aldermen who represent the city's Fifth Ward, at Tuesday's announcement. Several members of the Board of Aldermen were on hand for Tuesday’s announcement, including Joan Radin and Anthony Cassetti, whose Fifth Ward includes Wakelee Avenue. Radin, owner of Lear Pharmacy a stone’s throw from the site of Tuesday’s announcement, said improving the road will mean a lot for business owners in the area. “Any time there’s an accident on Route 8 we get backed up with traffic in both directions,” she said.
“It’s going to make it really inviting to the public,” Anthony Cassetti said. Bill Purcell, president of the Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce, highlighted the many of the businesses operating nearby. “This is a beautiful mixed-use neighborhood. You could call it ‘Barristers’ Row’ with the attorneys, you could call it ‘Medical Row,’ ‘Pharmacy Row,’ ‘Health Row,’” he said. “It is indeed a very vital corridor.” Cassetti said the city will try to keep a lane of Wakelee Avenue open while the work is going on.
Extensive Renovation Allows Wakelee to Offer New Touches
|John and Milly Zaleski, owners of Wakelee Memorial Funeral Home, 167 Wakelee Ave., pose in the newly renovated interior of the funeral home. (Zukauskas photo)|
The Voices - Wednesday, July 30, 2014by Linda Zukauskas
ANSONIA — Wakelee Memorial Funeral Home, 167 Wakelee Ave., recently finished an extensive interior renovation, completing a series of upgrades.
Owner John Stanley Zaleski, certified funeral service practitioner, told Voices his intention is to provide his customers with the amenities they would expect from a modern funeral home. Mr. Zaleski is a first generation funeral director. “That’s very unusual. Most people come into this industry by inheriting a business from loved ones.”
He explained that, as a young boy, the local priest would excuse him from classes to serve as altar boy for funeral services. “I enjoyed getting out of school for an hour or so but I also liked feeling that I was part of something important. People in this business can help others in a very special way. So, when I left high school, I attended what was then called embalming school but is now known as mortuary science.”
He currently shares his skills with students as a practical embalming examiner for the state of Connecticut Department of Health and is a professional consultant and technical advisory council member of the New England Organ Bank. A lifelong Shelton resident, Mr. Zaleski took organ lessons a few doors down from Wakelee Memorial Funeral Home. “I’m very familiar with Ansonia and knew the owner through mutual friends. I purchased the business in 2006. He honors the original owners by keeping a photograph of Virginia K. and Nicholas Hylwa, Jr. in his office. “I knew this funeral home had potential, partly because it is centrally located to the whole valley, but it also had a lot of room for improvement. I wanted to give families conveniences like off street parking.”
Wakelee Memorial Funeral Home provides services for one loved one at a time, “The family gets my undivided attention and the use of the entire facility.” Upgrades include new electronics to provide for public address, music and video. “It has become popular to have a poster board with photos and families are still welcome to do that here. We can also scan those pictures in and create a video with audio and photo motion. “We’ll produce as many copies as the family requests so they can share them and remember their loved one. That’s not something you can do with a handmade collage.” There is also a complementary memorial page dedicated to the loved one and Mr. Zaleski can post the video to that site. “Anyone in the world can visit that and watch the site at any time. “There might be special days of remembrance, missing a loved one, and that resource is always there.”
He noted that there are many new ways to remember loved ones, such as jewelry imprinted with a fingerprint. “That makes for a very unique way to stay connected to someone you’ve lost.” His wife, Milly, said members of her family wear such jewelry, “They’re beautiful.” Wakelee Funeral Home offers many services such as custom monuments. “Families don’t need to find a monument dealer. I can help them to attain closure in the way they need to have it. More people want cremation now than in the past and many families want one event rather than a separate wake. “There are many more choices and options than ever before and we are flexible enough to accommodate all types of services and all faiths to celebrate the life of a loved one.”
He noted that he could help families with the difficult discussion of a parent’s final wishes with prearrangements and legal aspects of funerals such as estate planning. “Funeral trusts are excluded from assets when a person is doing a Medicaid spend down. But, many people don’t know this.” Mrs. Zaleski noted that it can be a challenge for the family to work around the 24/7 schedule of a funeral director. “When we go to parties, we’ll often take two cars because you never know if there will be a call and John has to leave.” Mr. Zaleski described the business as a family affair and, pointing out the new renovations in and around the home, said his wife is responsible for the flowerbeds, including those around a gazebo where family members often gather to support one another. “It’s a good place for peaceful reflection.” More information is available by calling 203-734-1490 or visiting www.wakeleememorial.com.
By Donald Eng on April 30, 2014
Wakelee Memorial Funeral Home, 167 Wakelee Ave., Ansonia, is hosting a program on the repatriation of fallen servicemen and women, May 10, at 3 p.m. The hour-long program will consist of a video, slide show and lecture presentation. Questions will be entertained following the program. All community veterans are invited to attend the free presentation.
Colonel William Werner will be presenting. Col. Werner has served in the U.S. Army Reserves for the past 24 years. He was called to active duty following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and served in Okinawa and the Philippines as part of Operation Enduring Freedom – Philippines. He later served at Dover Port Mortuary as part of the Army Liaison Team assisting in the repatriation of fallen soldiers. He is currently director of Instruction for a Command and General Staff College Battalion, covering 18 Northern US States. Col. Werner is a licensed funeral director and embalmer. He has an A.S. Degree in mortuary science from Mt. Ida College, a B.S. Degree from the University of New Hampshire, and a M.B.A. Degree from Boston University.
“With Memorial Day soon upon us, we reflect on those brave men and women who selflessly made the ultimate sacrifice and provided this great nation with the freedom we enjoy daily,” said Funeral Director John Stanley Zaleski. “I am proud to invite our community veterans to a free informative presentation about how these fallen heroes are repatriated to the U.S., cared for with utmost dignity and then respectfully returned to their families.”