Monsignor Walter C. Orlowski, Jr. passed into eternal rest on Monday, December 21, at the age of 68.
“Throughout his ministry, his spirit of joy and compassion gathered an entire community around him and brought healing and affirmation to so many lives. His death is a great loss to parishioners, his brother priests, and to the entire community. He will be deeply missed by all,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano.
Monsignor Walter was best known for his service as pastor of St. Matthew Parish in Norwalk for 26 years. He brought enthusiasm, love, and a get-it-done work ethic to his priesthood which spanned over 40 years in the Diocese of Bridgeport. He was first assigned in 1979 to serve as parochial vicar at St. Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport. In 1984, he was named parochial vicar of St. Mary Parish in Bethel. He was then assigned in 1990 to St. Luke Parish in Westport. And in 1994 was named the fourth pastor of St. Matthew Parish.
Monsignor Walter’s time as pastor of St. Matthew Parish will be best remembered for his tireless energy encapsulated by early mornings and late nights. He was never out of ideas for how to improve the Parish and better serve its people and the broader community. He was both full-time pastor, and part-time builder. In 1995, shortly after being named pastor, Monsignor Walter led the groundbreaking of the new Parish Center. In 2003, he oversaw an expansion of the church to increase capacity and to include a family room. And in 2019, the Parish celebrated the groundbreaking for a new multi-purpose recreation center.
Monsignor Walter was born in Bridgeport, and raised in Fairfield. He attended St. Thomas Aquinas School in Fairfield where he served as an altar boy. He graduated from Bullard Havens Technical School in Bridgeport. He began his seminary studies at St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield and completed his studies at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Maryland. In 1979, he was ordained a priest by the Most Rev. Walter W. Curtis, second bishop of Bridgeport. And in June of 2008, he was named a monsignor by Bishop William E. Lori.
Monsignor Walter served as a member of the Priests’ Council and the College of Consulters, Dean of Deanery G, Mary, Mother of Divine Grace. He also served as priest president of the board of All Saints Catholic School in Norwalk, and as a board member of Elderhouse of Norwalk.
Monsignor Walter - better known as Wally to his family - is survived by his two sisters, Joan [and William] Joyce of Shelton, and Carol Colburn of Fairfield; his nephew, Collin [and Karen] Colburn of Fairfield; and his niece Shannon Colburn of Norwalk. He is reunited in heaven with his parents Walter C. Orlowski, Sr. and Jeanne M. Orlowski.
Wally will be remembered by his family for his insatiable desire for adventure and his dedication to those he loved. His passions included traveling, driving for hours through the western USA, cheering on the New York Mets, riding roller coasters at amusement parks, and being first in line to hit the stores on Black Friday. He was a devoted caregiver to his mother, Jeanne, throughout her life, but particularly in her later years. And he played an instrumental role in the lives of his sisters and niece and nephew.
His family will receive friends on Monday December 28, from 3-6 PM at St. Matthew Church, 216 Scribner Avenue, Norwalk. Due to Covid restrictions, his Funeral Mass is being held privately, by invitation only, and he will be laid to rest at St. John Cemetery in Norwalk.