Connecticut council constructs a parish playground dedicated to
Blessed Michael McGivney
By Elizabeth Sadusky and Columbia staff
When the pastor at St. Matthew Church in Norwalk, Connecticut, wanted to build a playground on church grounds for the parish’s many young families, he knew just who to ask. And when the Knights in St. Matthew Council 14360 agreed to take on the project, Father Jeff Couture already knew who the play site should be dedicated to: Blessed Michael McGivney.
“Blessed Father McGivney wanted to create environments in the church to bring kids and families to connect,” said Father Couture, Council 14360’s chaplain at the time. “A playground is the epitome of that.”
The Knights moved quickly to make it happen. A council member with a landscaping business provided labor to level a patch of land behind the church, as well as mulch to cover the area. Teams of Knights spread the mulch, installed a wooden rail fence, and assembled various play structures purchased by the council. Less than a year after Father Couture proposed the idea in late 2021, the Blessed Michael McGivney Playground — an inviting cluster of climbing equipment, slides and swings — opened for business.
On Sept. 23, Bishop Frank Caggiano of Bridgeport dedicated the playground’s crowning element: a new statue of Father McGivney standing with two schoolchildren.
The new play area is particularly popular as a post-Mass destination for families with young kids. But it’s also in use throughout the week by families visiting the parish rec center or just looking for a quiet outdoor spot.
“Our 2-year-old loves that it’s right there when we finish Mass,” said parishioner Tony McConnell. “And we love that it’s set back from the road and away from the parking lot. It’s a great addition to our neighborhood and parish.”
For Past Grand Knight Anthony Armentano, the council’s grand knight when the project began, the playground harkens back Father McGivney’s mission in founding the Order. “It’s an opportunity to make sure we understand the importance of family,” he said, “that we should always be watching out for families.”
The project has attracted interest in the council, he added, with parishioners asking him, “How do we join?” or “What do the Knights do?” He hopes the recreation area, which is open to all, might even attract people in the community to join the parish.
Father Couture, who retired this summer as pastor of St. Matthew, likewise hopes the Blessed Michael McGivney Playground will have a wider effect, fostering friendships within the parish and strengthening children’s bonds to the Church.
Reflecting on the image of Jesus with the children in the Bible, Father Couture said, “We sometimes have this false image of Jesus, with hands praying in this folded position, and the kids lining up like at first Communion, coming to him. No, it was chaotic — kids were probably playing all sorts of games and arguing with one another. … The playground shows the Church’s purpose to meet kids where they are at.”
ELIZABETH SADUSKY writes from New Haven, Connecticut.