January 25, 2013
It was billed as one blowout of a party, a "fandango," with a tent for overflow guests, but so far no one has admitted attending the "open house" at Monsignor Kevin Wallin's Waterbury apartment last May.
"For some of you this will be a reminder and for others it will be the first you've heard of the Open House I am having this Wednesday, May 16, at my apartment in Waterbury," Wallin wrote in an email to dozens of church and community luminaries that was obtained by the Connecticut Post. "I am nearly settled in and very few friends have ever seen it. So I decided to have this event to let people see where I have been living since last July, and to celebrate my return to an active life with family, friends, the arts, and several other indispensable aspects of my existence that I had let fall by the wayside the last couple of years at Saint Augustine."
Brian Wallace, spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport, acknowledged Tuesday that he had heard about the party some months after it was held.
"He obviously had a lot of friends," Wallace said of the invitation list that included city politicians, corporate heads and advisers to Bishop William Lori. But he said he later spoke to someone who went and they told him there were few people there.
"It had nothing to do with the diocese," he added.
The 61-year-old Wallin, who served as secretary to two bishops, and taught at a Greenwich middle school in the 1970s before running churches in Danbury and Bridgeport, created a scandal recently when he was arrested by federal authorities on drug charges. He's accused of selling upward of $9,000 of crystal meth a week.
Federal authorities said he was laundering his money through a sex shop he owned, called The Land of Oz, in North Haven.
Wallin had been pastor of St. Augustine's Cathedral Parish, but was suspended from his duties in July 2011 after diocese officials received complaints that Wallin was having sex with odd-looking men dressed in female garb that he brought to the rectory.
Sources said Wallin had also been seen dressed as a woman; when diocese officials searched his rooms, they found a collection of sex toys.
Bridgeport City Council President Tom McCarthy said he received an invitation to Wallin's party but also didn't go.
"I emailed him saying I could not make it," he said. "He was my pastor for years and I'm devastated by the whole thing."
Stamford architect David Goetsch said he didn't go, either.
"He [Wallin] dropped out of sight and I didn't have contact with him again," he said.
Philip Lacovara, who with his wife, Madeline, are close advisers to the bishop, acknowledged getting the invite but said he didn't go.
"I can't believe you are asking me about this," exclaimed Robert Chimini, purchasing agent for the town of Trumbull, before hanging up the telephone. Dan Braccio, program director for the Co-Op center with the Council of Churches, claimed he didn't know anything about the party.
Wallin was a popular figure who was very involved in the diocese and participated in many charitable events. He included invitations to Sister Joan Magnetti of the diocese's office of education, members of the local charity organization, Inner City Foundation and the staff of St. Peter Parish in Danbury. Other invitations went out to state members of the national Order of Malta, for which Wallin served as chaplain.
"These last eleven months have been perhaps the most unique of my life," wrote Wallin in his email to those invited.
"Despite the challenges and stresses they have been extremely productive and allowed me to regain my positive perspective and joy in life. I know only too well that for much of this past year I have been incommunicado and difficult to contact. I did not intend that to be the case when I embarked upon this leave."
Wallace said Wallin was initially sent to a medical center out of state, but eventually ended up at St. John Vianney Center in Downingtown, Pa., the oldest running behavioral health facility in North America for clergy. But Wallin left there without permission.
" I apologize to any and all who may have been offended by my silence," the email continues. "I pray you can appreciate the need I gradually recognized and faced, to step quite far away for a while in order to come back renewed and better than before."
by Dan Tepfer CT Post