Fr. Colin McKenna, who died Sept. 9 after being struck by a Metro-North train in Westport, was remembered yesterday by Fr. Reggie Norman as a “very smart young man” whose “greatest ability was to speak the truth.”
Norman is pastor of Our Lady of Fatima Church and often says Mass at Sacred Heart in Georgetown, as McKenna did.
“Colin suffered as most priests do, on behalf of the people we serve,” Norman said. Clarifying, he added, “we suffer because we give up everything of ourselves for the work of Christ. Referencing physical problems McKenna had, which he did not specify, Norman said, “Colin suffered much of his adult life and still took care of other people.
“He always stood up for the marginalized,” he added. He was an advocate for them.”
When asked for an example, Norman said, “he did it constantly. When we’d be at our priests’ meeting, if there was an elephant in the room, he would bring it up. He would say, ‘have we forgotten about this part of the population?’ It was part of his lifestyle. That’s just who he was.”
McKenna was laid to rest Tuesday in the Priest Circle at St. Michael’s Cemetery in Stratford, following a Mass of Christian Burial at St. Augustine’s Cathedral in Bridgeport. The main celebrant was the Most Rev. Frank Caggiano, bishop of Bridgeport, who also gave the homily.
Contributions in memory of McKenna may be made to Clergy Support through Catholic Charities, 238 Jewett Avenue, Bridgeport, CT 06606.
A native of Westport, McKenna had lived in Wilton for a number of years, according to a spokesman for the Diocese of Bridgeport.
For the past two years he served as a writer and editor at the diocese office of communications. Among his work was a number of op-ed pieces for local newspapers. He also wrote and published a book of op-eds he had sent to the New York Times (http://www.blurb.com/b/5072543-never-published).
With a great interest in general knowledge, he participated in the TV game show Who Wants to Be A Millionaire, calling it “an unbelievable experience.”
He also loved animals of all kinds and often adopted pets that needed homes.
“Colin will be fondly remembered as a kind and gentle priest who loved his ministry and helping others,” his obituary read.
Caggiano called McKenna’s death “a great tragedy for our diocese” which he “faithfully served throughout his priesthood.”
McKenna graduated from Fairfield College Preparatory School in 1982 where he was co-captain of the swim team. He also coached the swim team at New Fairfield High School and was the aquatics director at the New Canaan YMCA.
He graduated from the University of Vermont in 1986 and earned his master of divinity degree from Pope Saint John XXIII Seminary in Weston, Mass., in 1999. He was ordained to the priesthood that year by the Most. Rev. Edward Egan, the third bishop of Bridgeport.
His first assignment was parochial vicar of St. Joseph’s Parish in Shelton. In addition to Sacred Heart, he also served at St. Roch Parish and St. Mary Parish in Greenwich, as well as many other parishes within the diocese.
McKenna was born in Bridgeport, the son of Winifred (Tona) and the late Eugene R. McKenna. He is survived by his mother, his brother, Gene McKenna, and Gene’s wife, Moon, of Fairfield, and many cousins in both the United States and Ireland.
His death is being investigated as a suicide.