Featured on News 12: Thomas Merton Center hosts Thanksgiving meal for 100 people November 29th, 2021

The Thomas Merton Center held its Thanksgiving meal Wednesday and served more than 100 people in need.

Michael Reese, of Bridgeport, has fallen on hard times, but still says he has a lot to be grateful for.

“Today was absolutely a traditional Thanksgiving,” Reese said. “I’m full, need to unbutton my belt.”

He says he’s thankful to the Thomas Merton Center for his warm holiday meal.

“I would not have a Thanksgiving meal if it wasn’t for them,” Reese said. “It’s a place to come and actually get something to eat that helps you, that satiates you and you’re not hungry right afterwards. The meal today was excellent.”

Gov. Ned Lamont served up some warm meals with State Sen. Tony Hwang and Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim.

Director of Thomas Merton Center Bill Colson opened the doors for people to come inside for the first time since the pandemic hit.

“For the first time in almost two years, they’re actually able to come in and enjoy their Thanksgiving day meal.”

Vaccinated guests were able to dine inside and unvaccinated stayed outside.

The Thomas Merton Center will be closed on Thanksgiving but will be back open on Friday to serve a meal to those who need one.

The center also had a vaccine mobile clinic for people to get their COVID-19 vaccine and booster shots.

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Safety Marking Inc. celebrates 23 years of partnership with the Thomas Merton Center November 4th, 2021

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. , Nov. 02, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — To commemorate twenty-three years of lasting partnership, Mark Kelly was honored with a Plaque of Gratitude by the Thomas Merton Center for his contributions in giving back to the local community of Bridgeport, CT. This recognition is a testament to Mark Kelly’s commitment and dedication to serve those in need since 1998.

“Mark was instrumental in supporting ‘Project Warm’, a Thomas Merton Center initiative during the winter months. The purpose of the Project was to provide a warm, safe, comfortable, and sustainable alternative venue for the guests of the Center. Through his support and efforts, it was possible to continue The Merton Center’s mission of providing meals and other support services during the pandemic. Mark’s passion and support for this project made a difference,” shares Bob Colson, Operations Manager at the Thomas Merton Center.

The mission of the Center is to provide a loving, safe, and hope-filled community that responds to the needs of its guests and residents and respects the dignity of each person. Catholic Charities of Fairfield County Executive Director, Mike Donoghue, lauded Mark Kelly and Safety Marking’s loyal support: “23 years is literally half the Merton Center’s history. Time and tenure are just the beginning of the story, though. When I consider the human impact of Mark and Safety Marking’s support, it’s remarkable. Imagine the lives we’ve changed and saved over those two decades.” Donoghue continued, “Mark reminds us that while we may track our progress in the number of meals we serve or referrals our case managers make, we’re talking about saving people’s lives. One person at a time.” Donoghue concluded, “Thomas Merton once said that we do not exist for ourselves. Mark Kelly, his family and SMC demonstrate this every day and we are forever thankful.”

The Thomas Merton Center serves an average of 400 meals a day and the center recently launched its virtual fundraiser – A Day in the Life of The Thomas Merton Center. Mark Kelly of Safety Marking sponsored this event. To date, the event has raised over $300,000. Mark Kelly states: “It is very important to me to support such a vital and complex initiative; meeting the needs of our vulnerable neighbors in Bridgeport, CT. I am doing what Thomas Merton would want and that is the point. We are helping to provide critical resources for our neighbors suffering from food insecurity and needing basics such as shelter and groceries.”

Mark Kelly of Easton, Ct. is the Founder and President of Safety Marking, Inc. Mark Kelly recognizes how important it is to give back to the local community and has made a lifelong commitment providing aid to local neighbors in need. Mark Kelly has also been a member of The Thomas Merton Center Advisory Board in Bridgeport, CT for over 20 years. He is committed to the very important work they do of providing safety and hope to those who need it most.

For more information about Mark Kelly, Safety Marking Inc.’s Founder, and their Safety Program, visit the company website at

About Mark Kelly
Mark Kelly is the Founder and President of Safety Marking, Inc. He started the company in 1973 as a small family-owned striping business servicing Fairfield County, Connecticut. He instilled in it his values of accountability, teamwork, and integrity and managed to redefine the marketplace by setting the industry standard with premium products and services. Mark Kelly’s dedication resulted in Safety Marking Inc. becoming a pavement marking leader, providing top-notch services in New York, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.

The Thomas Merton Center Event Raises Money to meet the needs of the hungry in Bridgeport June 18th, 2021

BRIDGEPORT – The Thomas Merton Center recently wrapped up its spring virtual fundraiser – A Day in the Life of The Thomas Merton Center. Over $310,000 was raised with money still coming in. This event was in lieu of the center’s usual in-person Celebrity Breakfast but still brought out the Celebrities.

Hosted by Bridgeport native John Ratzenberger providing a voice over from Pixar Studios in California, the event does just what its title indicates. It follows a typical day in the life of TMC dealing with the complex issues of COVID while continuing to provide guests food and groceries. The event’s primary sponsor, Mark Kelly of Safety Marking, Inc. generously matched every dollar raise, helping the program reach its goal of $300,000. Other sponsors included Ridgefield Thrift, Aquarion and Bank of America. Many individuals went above and beyond to do on-line fundraising for the event which raised program awareness.

The video features staff, volunteers and guests of TMC. Kenneth Graham who was a guest, now gainfully employed and coming into TMC to volunteer his time in the kitchen preparing meals states “I found the staff would listen…..I feel like I should give back because they were here for me.” Yashira Cruz, who with her family of 4 not only utilizes the food panty but also helps out in the garden. As Yashira stated, “It is important to have these resources because without them I wouldn’t have….I’m trying not to cry…I don’t have family here, so to me they are my family and when I need help they’re there.”

The Thomas Merton Center is a program of Catholic Charities of Fairfield County which operates a day shelter that is the largest soup kitchen and the largest food pantry, the EatSmart Market Place, in Bridgeport. The program is committed to providing a loving, safe and hope-filled community atmosphere that responds to the needs of its guests and residents and respects the dignity of each person. The Thomas Merton Center reflects to the individual and the community our shared responsibility to love and support one another.

Family of Bridgeport man who died of cancer raises money in his memory for Merton Center April 26th, 2021
A Bridgeport family who recently lost their loved one to cancer is asking for the public’s help finishing a job he started. The Thomas Merton Center in Bridgeport feeds thousands of people every month. During the pandemic, city officials say it performed the vital function of keeping many families from going hungry. Anthony Mobilio, who passed away from cancer in January, was a big supporter of the Merton Center. Mobilio was the owner of Mobilio & Son Heating and Cooling. The last job he agreed to do was to install a new boiler for the charity.
Carol Mobilio says her brother was an extraordinary man who always thought of others and got the job done no matter what obstacles were in the way. “Growing up without our parents, we had this bond that was amazing,” she says. “We were praying for a miracle until the very end, and we never gave up hope.”
Mobilio’s nephews carried on the job in memory of their uncle. “I think it’s just special to give back where you come from, and you never forget what you come from, and I think that’s important,” says Shawn Mobilio, Anthony’s nephew.The Mobilio family is asking the community to come together to help the Merton Center pay for the boiler. “We want to raise money for the Merton Center, we want to dedicate the boiler in his memory,” says Carol Mobilio.
Bill Colson, who heads the Merton Center, says this fundraising effort could have an enormous impact. He says it could help the nonprofit continue serving some of the most vulnerable members of the Bridgeport community. “It’s really going to pay great benefits to us and what we do here at the Thomas Merton Center,” Colson says.

View the full story on News 12..

Family of Shelton man helping Merton Center in his memory March 17th, 2021

SHELTON — The family of a Shelton man who died earlier this year is raising money in his memory to help a Bridgeport-based operation that helps feed the hungry.

Anthony Mobilio, a Shelton resident for more than 25 years, spent much of his working career in the heating industry, which is why his family felt The Thomas Merton Center’s need for a replacement boiler system would a perfect way to honor his memory.

Mobilio’s sister, Carol Mobilio, said on Jan. 14 — the day before her brother died from cancer — Sabine Kuczo from the center called his nephew, Joseph Mobilio Jr., of Cheshire-based Mobilio and Son Heating and Cooling, for help with replacing the building’s heating boiler system.

“Anthony would have loved helping the Merton Center with this project,” Carol Mobilio said. “My family and I informed the Merton Center we would like to support this project in Anthony’s memory to help raise funds and they established a memorial in his name.”

Anthony Mobilio started Anthony’s Fuel in Bridgeport with his brothers, twin Vincent and Joseph, which was in operation for 25 years. In 2008, he joined Southern Connecticut Gas Co. while also owning his company, Salem Heating and Cooling in Shelton.

“Anthony enjoyed helping serve families with all their heating needs,” his sister said.

The family is raising money to support a new heating boiler for The Thomas Merton Center, a Catholic Charities program. The center is a food service program which offers breakfast and lunch daily through its soup kitchen. Groceries are provided once a week through its food pantry.

Anthony Mobilio was born in Bridgeport and, his sister said, was raised with “strong family values and a highly motivated work ethic.”

She said her brother started his education and training in the heating industry at the age of 18, working for Hoffman Fuel for three years before starting Anthony’s Fuel in Bridgeport with his brothers.

“He was a mentor and inspiration to other HVAC technicians in the heating business, especially his nephew, Joseph Jr.,” Carol Mobilio added.


By Brian Gioiele

Shared from the 3/17/2021 Connecticut Post eEdition

2020 Friendsgiving is a HUGE Success! Watch the Videos Now! January 4th, 2021

Thank you to everyone who supported the 2020 Friendsgiving event. With your help, $132,285 was raised to help support the Thomas Merton Center’s mission to feed the hungry in Bridgeport. This far surpassed our initial goal of $100,000.

If you unfortunately missed the event, you can watch the video below. We have shared the event in its entirety and even broke it down into segments for your convenience. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Full Length Friendsgiving Video Event

Abbreviated Friendsgiving Video Event

Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Thomas Merton Center

Chef Lorraine Kelly Preparing Our Friendsgiving Meal

Maribeth Johnson Explains What the Thomas Merton Center Means to Her

What the Thomas Merton Center Means to Veteran Joseph Oliveras

Catholic Charities of Fairfield County Joins with Bank of America to Launch Innovative Restaurant Partnership in Stamford and Bridgeport September 8th, 2020

Support Provides Double The Impact: Meals Purchased from Locally-Owned Restaurants Served to Those In Need at New Covenant Center and Thomas Merton Centers

Fairfield, Connecticut – September 7, 2020 – Catholic Charities of Fairfield County, the largest private social service provider in the state of Connecticut, received a grant from Bank of America to create an innovative meal partnership with local restaurants in Stamford and Bridgeport. The meals purchased supported the New Covenant Center and Thomas Merton Center, Catholic Charities’ partner centers that operate two large soup kitchens and food pantries in regions that were hit the hardest by the coronavirus. Not only does this partnership support locally owned Connecticut restaurants, but it put these delicious, locally-produced meals on the plates of those who are in need here throughout Fairfield County.

Rohans Family Spice delivers meals-to-go to the Thomas Merton Center

Before the coronavirus, Catholic Charities served over 1.3 million meals per year across the county through its soup kitchens, food pantries, and senior nutrition programs. Due to the ongoing health crisis, that number significantly increased by 300 percent. Catholic Charities used the grant from Bank of America to purchase food from local restaurants in Stamford and Bridgeport to serve at the soup kitchens at the New Covenant and Thomas Merton Centers. As so many businesses had to close during the state shutdown, supporting local restaurants is critical now more than ever, as capacity remains at 50% for indoor dining, and many restaurants have had to permanently shut their doors.

“As the coronavirus continues to impact our residents, it is extraordinary to witness Catholic Charities provide for our most vulnerable populations and support local businesses at the same time,” said Bill Tommins Southern Connecticut Market President for Bank of America. “At the onset of the coronavirus, Bank of America made a commitment to support vulnerable populations in the communities we serve. We are grateful that we can support organizations like Catholic Charities because they are so dedicated to helping those in need.”

“Working with Bank of America has been a blessing for our staff and guests. The project has allowed our guests to explore different food that they normally would not encounter. They truly enjoy it. Our staff loves engaging with the different restaurant owners and learning about their experiences and how they have been impacted by the pandemic, just as we have,” said Craig Adler, Director of the Thomas Merton Center.

A meal-to-go prepared by Rohans Family Spice

The Stamford and Bridgeport restaurants that the New Covenant Center and Thomas Merton Center purchased food from includes the Parkway Diner, Michael’s Italian Restaurant, Seasons Eats, Sunshine Cuisine, The Original Vazzy’s, and Rohan’s Family Spice Restaurant. Combined, these restaurants helped the food centers provide over 1500 meals to local residents.

Johnny Vazzano, owner of The Original Vazzy’s understands that his customers are now facing financial hardships and is doing his best to help ease that burden by offering discounts and promotions, like The Family Meal Deal. The restaurant feels that being a part of the community and maintaining a spirit of giving is a vital part of what they do. Vazzy’s has always given back to the City of Bridgeport even before the pandemic and have been regular donors to the Thomas Merton Center. Johnny Vazzano and his staff believe that “we are all in this together.”

“This project was not only very beneficial to New Covenant Center, but it was also enlightening. Our staff was able to meet the owners of these wonderful restaurants and hear their stories of how they were impacted by COVID-19. This virus knows no boundaries. It impacted these businesses, our agency and most importantly the guests we serve. The project coordinated by Bank of America helped all of us,” said John Gutman, Executive Director of New Covenant Center.

St. Catherine Of Siena Collects Donations To Support Three Area Food Banks May 6th, 2020

TRUMBULL—On a picture-perfect spring morning, an enthusiastic crew of volunteers from the Parish of St. Catherine of Siena wearing face masks and gloves welcomed more than 150 cars to a contact-free Drive Through Food Drive to support the Trumbull Food PantryBlessed Sacrament Parish in Bridgeport, and the Thomas Merton Center in Bridgeport, all of which are experiencing extraordinary need right now.  Through the generosity of St. Catherine’s parishioners, the May 2 effort raised more than $3,000 in cash donations and food donations overflowed from nearly 100 feet of tables.

“Demand for food at Thomas Merton Center has skyrocketed since the COVID-19 crisis began, which is now serving nearly 500 meals daily, up from 150 per day at this time last year. Some of these meals we are delivering to clients of other Bridgeport non-profits, including homeless shelters who don’t have food resources,” said Mike Donoghue, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of Fairfield County.  Mr. Donoghue extends a very special thank you to Dan & Kelly Murphy, Parishioners of St. Catherine’s who organized the event, the many volunteers who helped remove food from cars and deliver it to the food banks, as well as everyone who drove through with donations on Saturday.

Father Joseph Marcello, Pastor of St. Catherine of Siena, reflects that “Many families who came to help were wearing masks.  They had big smiles under their masks, which I could see in their eyes, as they were here because they wanted to help.  It’s attributed to St. Francis of Assisi that it is in giving that we receive.” He continues: “We don’t know who the recipients of this food will be other than that they are hungry and in need.  And we know that not one of those cars would have come on that day had it not been for Jesus Christ, who came so that we might have life, and have it more abundantly.”

Mr. Donoghue noted that “Our clients are hourly workers who have recently lost jobs, immigrants, homeless, or mentally ill individuals struggling to make ends meet. Please know how grateful we are for your help and support! Catholic Charities programs are a partnership with all the generous and caring faithful of our Diocese. Thank you for helping us treat every human being, especially those who are most vulnerable, with the love and respect they deserve!”

If you missed the event and would like to help, financial contributions for this purpose are still welcome. The Social Justice and Charitable Outreach Committee is using all financial donations to buy food which will be divided equally among the three food banks. Please mail your contribution for this purpose to 220 Shelton Road, Trumbull CT 06611.  Make your check payable to St. Catherine of Siena, and write FOOD BANKS in the memo line.

Plans for a second event are already in the works.

The Drive Through Food Drive was organized by St. Catherine’s Social Justice and Charitable Outreach team, led by Salvatore Spadaccino. Other initiatives that the Social Justice & Charitable Outreach Team has worked on include: toiletry drive, school backpack drive, Thanksgiving food drive, annual Parish giving tree, pro-life baby shower, and more. For more information on the Social Justice and Charitable Outreach ministry at St. Catherine of Siena in Trumbull, contact Salvatore Spadaccino, Coordinator for Social Justice and Charitable Outreach, at [email protected]

The Parish of Saint Catherine of Siena warmly welcomes anyone who is new to our area, anyone who is searching for the truth, or anyone who is looking for a spiritual home. We are joyfully and faithfully Roman Catholic in belief and practice— a community of faith, worship, service, and formation—and with open hearts we invite all our brothers and sisters into a living and saving friendship with the Lord Jesus Christ, in the communion of His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.  We are conveniently located at 220 Shelton Road in the Nichols area of Trumbull.

As seen in Fairfield County Catholic