The Catholic population of North Stamford continued to grow throughout the 1950’s. The first Bishop of Bridgeport, Lawrence Sheehan, later Cardinal Archbishop of Baltimore, founded a new parish carved out of St. John Parish, the mother church of Stamford. He named Monsignor Daniel Foley as first pastor in 1960. Ten acres of land was purchased at the intersection of Long Ridge Road and Stillwater Road from land owned by Sheila Martin, listed by its earlier owner as “grazing land for cows.” The new parish would be dedicated to Saint Leo the Great, the fifth century pope, who helped save the city of Rome from invaders and promoted authentic Christian teaching.
Our founding pastor, Msgr. Foley, had, at first, no place on the property to lay his head. He lived at St. Joseph Hospital and, since there were no buildings on the property at all, he celebrated Mass at the nearby Roxbury Elementary School. The first Mass was celebrated on Pentecost Sunday, May 6, 1960. In a very short time multiple Masses were offered each Sunday and Religious Education for the youth got underway and was first used on October 5, 1961. An eight room school opened in 1963 and was staffed by The School Sisters of Notre Dame until its closing in 1973. To date, there have been four additional pastors at St. Leo Parish; Father John Filip, Father Richard Grady, Msgr. Benedict Tighe, and Father James Grosso. Our fifth pastor is a native of St. Leo Parish and is the first vocation to the priesthood from the parish.
St. Leo Parish continues to thrive as an active, loving and caring Catholic community. The parish continues to grow through daily Mass and special devotions such as Rosary Processions, May Crowning, and Eucharistic Adoration. There is something for everyone. We have a superb Religious Education program, and active Youth Ministry, and one of the largest Senior Citizens groups in the city. There is also Bible Study, RCIA, Intercessory Prayer Group, and weekly rosary. Our four choirs, ranging from the very young (grade 1) to the Contemporary to the young at heart, add greatly to the liturgical life of our parish. St. Leo Parish is very proud and supportive of the Social Concerns Committee. The annual clothing drive, Christmas Wish Tree, and Thanksgiving Dinner provided for the New Covenant House Soup Kitchen are just some of their activities. Our Soup Kitchen ministry provide meals three of the four Thursdays of the month for the New Covenant House Soup Kitchen and incorporate many volunteers. Of course, our Annual Parish Fair is one of the largest in Fairfield County and includes well over 300 parish volunteers.
As we celebrated our Golden Anniversary in 2010, we were and are still grateful for all of God’s blessings. We are mindful of the many deceased parishioners who have worked so lovingly to build up this wonderful parish. May Saint Leo Parish continue to flourish and may it continue to be a beacon of our holy Catholic faith. May its parishioners continue to grow in love of the Lord Jesus.