Monsignor Roger Watts dies at 91 of coronavirus complications

STAMFORD — Monsignor Roger Watts, the longtime pastor of St. Cecilia Church in Stamford and half of the well-known “brother priests” in the Diocese of Bridgeport, died Tuesday at Stamford Hospital.

He was 91, and the cause of death was cited as complications from coronavirus.

He and his brother, the Rev. Albert Watts, had been residing in the Queen of Clergy Residence in Stamford since their retirements in 1999.

“It is with great sadness that the diocese has learned of the passing of Reverend Monsignor Roger J. Watts yesterday morning at Stamford Hospital. He was 91 years old. Msgr. Watts was a talented man who loved his life as a priest and worked joyfully to serve others in his ministry,” according to a statement released by the diocese Wednesday.

“Bishop Caggiano has asked for prayers for the repose of the soul of Monsignor Watts and the consolation of his family, especially his brother, Reverend Canon Albert W. Watts.”

Monsignor Watts served at Our Lady of Fatima from 1972 to 1980.

“He was beloved by the people here and at other places he served,” Father Reggie Norman, Our Lady of Fatima pastor, said. “He was a gentle spirit.”

Monsignor Watts and his brother were ordained together in 1959 in St. Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport by then-Bishop Lawrence Joseph Shehan.

“Fifty years ago on June 5, two young men, both brothers, laid side by side on the sanctuary floor while their parents in the front pew watched and listened as the choir prayed the Litany of Saints of them,” recalled the Rev. Albert Watts, in a 50th anniversary commemoration of their ordination, in the diocesan publication.

The brothers originally came from Fall River, Mass. Together, they had served the Bridgeport Diocese for over a century.

The Rev. Albert Watts had served as pastor of St. Ambrose Church in Bridgeport and as Defender of the Bond in the Diocesan Tribunal. He retired in 1999.

Monsignor Roger Watts was an educator who also served as the spiritual director of the diocese. Early in his career, he was the principal at St. Mary School in Ridgefield, as well as a priest in the parish there. He also taught at Central Catholic High School in Norwalk. Watts was pastor of Lady of the Star of the Sea in Stamford before moving to St. Cecilia Church in Stamford in 1984. He retired in 1999.

He belonged to the ecumenical faith tradition, taking part in Passover seders at Temple Sinai in Stamford. Watts was also an adept painter, and his portrait of St. Joseph was hung at a health clinic in Haiti.

His death was the first of a priest in the Bridgeport Diocese thought to be connected to the coronavirus outbreak.

Funeral arrangements were pending.