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St. Francis Welcomes New Pastor

Father Michael Dunn, who became the new pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Church earlier this month, said he remembers getting what he believed was a call from God to join the priesthood when he was a child.

In the sixth grade, a "big nun with a big booming voice" visited his class to talk about vocations to the church. "She began her talk and she said that 'God is calling some of you right here, right now,' and then she paused and stood right in front of me and just stared down at me. I remember really feeling like maybe God is calling me," said Dunn, who has taken over for the recently retired Monsignor Nicholas Grieco. He went home that day and told his mother.

"But I also added, 'but I don't want to do that because that seemed like back then at that age, that's the most boring thing that you could possibly do," said former associate pastor at St. Theresa's in Trumbull.

And so he put the idea out of his head for years, until after graduating from Sacred Heart University, where he received a degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in religion. Out of college, he counseled troubled teenagers while going for his masters in counseling. It wasn't long before Dunn decided to rethink his path.

But a stuttering problem he'd had his whole life made him doubt whether or not he could be a leader in the church. "I thought, well even if I want to do this, how am I going to get in front of people and read and talk and preach," said Dunn, who added that his favorite part of his day is delivering mass. In his seminary studies, he met another priest who had struggled with speech problems before who became his mentor and coach. "I went from not being able to get through a sentence without having all kinds of issues to actually being able to get up in front of people and preach and read."

Dunn said he has received a warm welcome in Weston. "I really look forward to getting to know the people here," he said. "To bonding with them and them with me, and just really together trying to create a real home here where we truly feel the love of God and the love of others."

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