Judge Lopez To Sacred Heart: When You Give To The Needy, Do Not Sound It With Trumpets

Oct. 24, city officials hosted a forum to address concerns about SHU in the North End.

Retired Superior Court Judge Carmen Lopez has a message for Sacred Heart University rooted in scripture: … when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father, who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

I just finished reading Mr. Larry Wielk’s commentary, published in Only in Bridgeport. Mr. Wielk is the Dean of Students at Sacred Heart University. He obviously wrote this article as a response to the negative publicity generated by the current unacceptable behavior exhibited by students living in rental housing in the North End.

Sacred Heart University is a Catholic institution of higher learning governed by a distinguished and elite Board of Directors. This Board is responsible for articulating the University’s mission statement, as well as its positions on policy. The University’s mission statement and core values are set forth on the University web page.

Sacred Heart University describes its mission as one “rooted in the Catholic intellectual tradition and the liberal arts.” It “embraces a vision for social justice” while it “educates students in mind, body and spirit.” It asserts that it operates with a set of core values that include, “Promotion of the common good of society and recognition of the dignity and worth of every human being.” Furthermore, the University states that it is “cultivating a campus community that is recognized as caring and creative.”

To the extent that Mr. Wielk speaks for the University, he is woefully out of step with both its mission statement and its Catholic tradition. His comments reek of pride, arrogance and self-righteousness. Indeed, his sentiments reflect those of the “noblesse oblige;” those privileged and special human beings burdened with the responsibility of acting with generosity and nobility toward those less privileged than they.

His litany of good deeds provides no relief for those North End residents who have seen their neighborhoods invaded and their quiet enjoyment disturbed by the behavior of transient students.

Cleaning parks, establishing mentoring programs and charitable works, however noble, provide no solace to someone awakened in the early morning hours by raucous parties, or an individual put at risk through the reckless use of city streets.

Instead of wrapping itself in a cloak of self-righteous piety, the University should be having an eye-level conversation with North End residents, in a sincere attempt to solve what everyone admits is a serious problem.

While I was born in Puerto Rico, I came to Bridgeport when I was barely two years old. This is the town in which I have my roots. It allowed me to own and operate a successful law practice, and honored me, by allowing me to serve as a judge of the Superior Court. My dad worked the night shift at the GE plant on Boston Avenue and together with my mother saved to purchase their home in the North End. Their experience is the experience of many Bridgeport residents.

Mr. Wielk’s comments are offensive and disturbing to those of us who love Bridgeport. His disrespect and disdain for Bridgeport begins with his first sentence, where he states that the proposal to limit the number of unrelated people who can live together in a house or apartment, was proposed by “local politicians,” rather than by elected officials.

Whether he accepts it or not, Michelle Lyons and AmyMarie Vizzo-Panniccia were elected by the voters in their North End district. Clearly, they are politicians, but they are also elected officials serving on Bridgeport’s legislative body. They should be referred to by University elites with respect.

To most Bridgeporters, this attitude provides additional evidence confirming SHU’s unwillingness and incapacity to meaningfully address the concerns of residents of the North End. This elitist disdain for Bridgeport elected officials, as well as the residents, can only exacerbate an already acrimonious situation.

St. Augustine, the revered Catholic theologian, said it best, “It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.”

For years, residents have requested cooperation from the University to address violations of zoning laws and other quality of life issues. For years, Mr. Wielk has been consistent in his response to the residents.

On the eve of the 2009 municipal election, November 2, 2009, the CT Post published an essay written by this same Larry Wielk, which responded to an opinion piece asking the University to “Take action on partying students.”

Although the problem has increased in the intervening decade, Mr. Wielk’s rhetoric has remained constant. Apparently, he dusted off his 2009 article and submitted it again in 2019.

In both publications, he highlights the acts of charity bestowed on the poor and unfortunate residents of Bridgeport by SHU students. This year he reminds us that “students have laid down a challenge to the North End Political leaders who have been so vocal: Match us turkey for turkey,” a reference to the annual turkey drive.

Sadly, he has missed that part of Jesus’ teachings found in Matthew 6:2-4:

“So when you give to the needy, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. Truly I tell you, they already have their full reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father, who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”

If Mr. Wielk’s condescending arrogance is not endorsed by SHU’s Board of Directors and its administration, they should say so plainly and repudiate his statement.



    1. Once again, Judge Lopez should be our Mayor.

      She is absolutely inspiring.

      I want to endorse, help elect and work tirelessly to elect those that give me absolute confidence in their ability to govern honestly, ethically, competently and effectively.

      Judge Lopez checks off every critical attribute and characteristic on my checklist.

      If there is anyone who can not see why she should be Bridgeport’s Mayor please see your eye doctor. 🙂

      1. Please, when you start to condemn success you adherently promoting a failed state of affairs. Judge Lopez’s first commentary on this issue had no real solution to this failed state of affairs.

        This commentary is nothing more than an attack one to show a feign attempt of concern for another. I wonder how Jesus would feel about her cherry-picking a quote for the Bible to beat folks up with while pertaining to care for another when she has to stand before God on her Judgement day?

        “If you enter a town and it welcomes you, eat whatever is set before you. Heal the sick, and tell them, ‘The Kingdom of God is near you now.’ But if a town refuses to welcome you, go out into its streets and say, ‘We wipe even the dust of your town from our feet to show that we have abandoned you to your fate. And know this—the Kingdom of God is near!’ I assure you, even wicked Sodom will be better off than such a town on judgment day.” Luke 10-8

        I say pretending because of her lack of solutions and her attack on the Deen. What I find offensive and disturbing unless the SHU owns all the house being rented out that are violating any laws, she is persecuting the innocent and washing her hands like Pontius Piolet. While letting Barabbas, the city and those elected or hired to handle these concerns of the city residents.

        It is clearly evident to everyone that the city is not doing its job, which is part of the sad state of affairs in the North End caused by the growth, the success, of the SHU.

        I find it arrogant to state SHU elitists have disdain for Bridgeport elected officials, as well as the residents, can only exacerbate an already acrimonious situation. considering the city is not doing it job and owns a very large amount of land in Fairfield for those elites can practice there swing.

        Our remedy is simple A, have the city and it’s officials do its job and B, sell some of that land, (there is a large section that will not be too much of burden on all those “Bridgeport residents” who practice their game at the golf course) to the SHU for housing and let the city wash it hands of the burden of the students.

        I will not say Judge Lopes has broken one of the 10 commandments, too not be a false witness, in her commentary against the seen, students, and the university, however, I will say her judgment was not even-handed Matthew 13-24


        1. The City had a role in this becoming the problem it has become no doubt, Every party in this shares some responsibility. Time to fix this, it built rapidly in a very short span of time. And the problems we have came with growth. Thinking of another quote. From Matt Something about not judging others until you take the plank out of your eye. This way everyone can see clearly and come up with a solution.

          1. Considering Judge Lopez said she had graduated at SHU more years they she would like to count please define “rapidly a very short span of time”

            The problems are not just about the growth of SHU but what college effects are, young adolescents. They are not doing any more or less enjoyment or mabey more or less you and I did when we where their age.

            Let’s not forget the cornerstone of Catholics, The The Nicene Creed


          2. P.S the role was of the city is to deal with issues that come with growth and is the responsibility of governance. For the burden SHU places on the city needs compensation not suppression like transfer degrees from HCC, lower and scholarship for Bridgeport residents. John, do you feel the same about the rapid growth of HCC as you do about SHU. JS Good Day people.


  1. Well said Your Honor, I may also add, I remember years ago, the SHU students used to help at Habitat for Humanity as well as were a great source of volunteers when we needed them at My church food drive. That said, all those things they do for community are true, something very disturbing is also going on with these students, The School needs to take responsibility for it. Safety of the Students, More non alcohol events , better education about the dangers of drinking , especially out of control drinking.
    Also somehow these huge dorms got approved to be built in the North End, at same time for as long as I can remember DEmocrats have been in power in Bridgeport since the last republican mayor was Mary Moran. ,In my opinion the City needs to fix this , along with the University’, as well as the parents. There will always be keg parties , I get that, it’s more about responsible
    conduct, Parents trust the School with their sons and daughters, they pay good money for education, and go to sleep at night believing their kids are safe, What can the school do to improve the overall experience, settle down some of these out of control off campus bashes, and keep the streets and the school safe for everyone?

    1. John – you’re correct in saying that this has happened under the Democrats, from the dorms on Park Ave to the dorm on Eckart St (that was supposed to be a doctor’s office) to a now-shuttered grocery store on Madison Ave (don’t me started on THAT!). NOTHING will be done until there are deaths in a dorm or house fire. by then, it’s too late

  2. My I also add that many students who live in these dorms will travel to the cool parties in homes in north end, this becomes a menace at times, quiet neighborhoods become busy streets with Uber and lyft drivers dropping off and picking up students from the dorms to these parties. . Shu needs to do a better job keeping these students on campus , I know they built a diner , not really sure what else, It really comes down to conduct and respecting private neighborhoods, as well as doing what we can to keep everyone safe. I realize it is impossible , nor should be confined to campus, You are welcome in the City providing you behave and respect the neighborhood, bottom line. Michelle Lyons Maria has done all they can to do, seems like SHU just grew so large over the past 10 years, it was impossible to hold back the progress,, It will take a team here in my opinion, solutions not finger pointing Hope the can get this worked out.

  3. Well said Judge Lopez and while Mr. Wielk’s disrespect and disdain is painfully obvious it appears as if the same can be said of the elected political leaders who have done little to nothing for the tax paying residents of this district that have to endure the loss of any its pursuit of happiness.

    This is just like the absentee ballot fiasco in Bridgeport, until something is done about it, there is no incentive to stop it from happening!

  4. Mr Wielk isn’t the first person to disrespect the people of Bridgeport. the original SHU buildings were built to be Notre Dame High School – until Bishop Curtis decided in 1962 to appropriate those buildings for a Catholic college

  5. Donald, With all due respect don’t be so quick to judge our elected officials. I am by no means a fan of Michelle Lyons, however I am aware of the fact that Zoning Administrator Dennis Buckley does not respond to the complaints of city council members and treats some in a disrespectful and dismissive manner.
    Judge Lopez who is known and respected, acknowledged that Buckley is not doing his job. At the north end forum the Honorable Retired Judge Lopez demanded that Buckley do his job. Mr. Buckley who was in attendance turned the brightest color of red which I see as an admission of guilt. All of us who know the Judge know that she was not political grandstanding, simply speaking the truth, which she is known for.
    I am a republican and do not wish to see Michelle Lyons re-elected but I will not go as far as to say that she is responsible for the short comings of Dennis Buckley.
    Donald if you truly want to pursue a productive task and restore order to the north end, demand the resignation of Zoning Administrator Dennis Buckley.

  6. Marshall, with all due respect when school board member Chris Taylor was supposedly living in an illegal apartment it took Maria Pereira maybe weeks to get the fire marshal and zoning department to inspect that building. This problem has been going on for two decades or more and they can’t get the fire marshal to investigate these homes that are being used as Sacred Heart rooming houses? These city council members have an open door to Mayor Ganim’s office, who appoints the zoning commission members and none of the three can’t get this practice stopped? Yes you’re probably right they are doing all that they can!

  7. Donald, It is not the zoning commission who directs enforcement, it is the Zoning Administrator Dennis Buckley who directs the zoning enforcement officers who are city employees, not mayoral appointees.
    Buckley needs to go! If City council Members Lyons and Paniccia publicly come out and demand his resignation, by all means the residents should vote for them, if not the residents need to consider other options. It is time that the Council Members of the 134th show who they are loyal too.

  8. Joe McLaine, what are you talking about, Donald Day gave you the way to get action, Nick Novia as done the same thing, the late Andy Fardy has done the same and I’ve also spelled out the direction to move things to something done.

    Your answer is Zoning Administrator Dennis Buckley and his resignation as the only way to get something done, there are more than one way to skinned a cat. By law the Fire Marshall can close down any building but if no one files a complain the there’s no problem.

  9. Ron, It is the opinion of Judge Lopez that Buckley is not doing his job. I agree and feel he should be removed. The Judge who I believe is more experienced than you or I did not mention the Fire Chief or Fire Marshall. If you feel that is the solution then you should call for their removal also.

    1. Joe McLaine , I didn’t said that Zoning Administrator Dennis Buckley should not be remove from his position, I’m saying that there other steps that can be taken right away that would get results before Dennis Buckley could come anywhere near of Dennis Buckley leaving his position.

      Joe McLaine, what the hell do mean when you asked me, ” If you feel that is the solution then you should call for their removal also?”

  10. Oh ok Joe McLaine, I understand, but are you saying Zoning Administrator Dennis Buckley or the Zoning Commission actions are resistant of the wishes of the Mayor. Or that Mayor Ganim can’t in one phone call get what he wants or need from them? Maria got them involved in weeks and the political leaders from this district can’t get it done in years? That defies credulity!

  11. Donald, I know for a fact that Dennis Buckley does not do his job effectively. I know from personal experience that he is a less than truthful person. He has stated to me in the past that he does ignore zoning violations until a complaint is made. It has become obvious that he even ignores complaints after they have been made. I do not believe that he is truthful in reporting the current status of problems to the Mayor. For instance this is how things should go. A complaint is made to the zoning office. Mr. Buckley dispatches a zoning enforcement officer to investigate. A determination is made if a violation exists. If there is a violation the zoning office reports it to the fire marshal for investigation and each office separately notifies the owner and if the violation is not addressed each office files charges in court. But that may be a bit more work than Mr. Buckley wants to do, and he does give council members the run around. I do believe that you are correct that the mayor can end this nonsense by a quick investigation and a phone call terminating Mr. Buckley’s employment. We have other able people that I’m sure can do the job that Mr. Buckley chooses not to.

  12. Judge Lopez’ commentary is about the disrespect and condescending behavior that the leadership of Sacred Heart University has demonstrated to the residents of Bridgeports via its actions and commentary.

    It is not about Dennis Buckley or the enforcing of Zoning Regulations.

    1. Please,

      Judge Lopez’s commentary was about an attack on Mr. Larry Wielk and in doing so she had showed her judgment as disrespect and condescending. When is condemn Mr. Larry Wielk’s comments about expressing the charitable works done by SHU students by quoting the Bible and St. Augustine.
      In doing so she also condemns every political, elected official, and every charitable organization that expresses the work they do. That includes anyone seen at a turkey drive, serving the poor any holiday meat, or toy drive this Christmas season, and anyone news organization that is seen promoting their charitable works. For like Mr. Larry Wiek they too are filled with pride that changed angels into devils, and had missed that part of Jesus’s teachings found in Matthew Chapter 6:2-4:

      “So when you give to the needy, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. Truly I tell you, they already have their full reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father, who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”

      I expect equal condemnation by you, Judge Lopez, on anyone seen and promoting their good works this holiday season in public, including elected officials Michelle Lyons and AmyMarie Vizzo- Paniccia. 🙂


  13. Joe, I’m not questioning the motives of Dennis Buckley or his fitness to be Zoning Administrator, what I an saying succinctly and concisely is that if Mayor Ganim wanted the zone commission to look into whether those homes in the Sacred Heart area are being used as rooming houses it would take 2.2 seconds to facilitate that action. If those loyal DTC members wanted Mayor Ganim to look into whether those homes in the Sacred Heart area are being used as rooming houses it would take 2.2 seconds to get Mayor Ganim to facilitate that action. Neither the political leaders of that district nor Mayor Ganim gives a rat’s ass whether the lives of the residents of this area are being abridged by those students of white privilege.

    1. BINGO!!!!! Again, it’s about action, there’s a serious life safety situation with homes in the Sacred Heart area that are being used as rooming houses because no one is going into these homes with all of those different names on the mailbox to get the details of what fire code violations there are because again this could be serious life safety problems. Like you said Don, ” it would take 2.2 seconds to facilitate that action.” I’m not even talking the housing codes.

  14. I normally agree with Carmen and have myself sought her out myself for advice in legal matters. But when seeking out religious opinion I would go somewhere else.
    Let me start by saying that I too am a graduate I’d SHU. And as such I am disappointed in their response. However I do not attack the VP of Student Affairs if I want to express my opinion. I was also young once and enjoyed having a good time. We were all young once and maybe things are more out of control now but let’s not forget that.
    To the point of the North Enders and many people on this blog, the Mayor does not report to Dennis Buckley, the Mayor is his boss. If he is not doing his job then the Mayor should let him know. And if he doesn’t then it is the Mayor who is responsible for getting him to do it to getting rid of him. Plain and simple.
    Let’s not blame Larry Wielk. Let’s not lose focus on where the real problem lies. If you want to do something about the city, vote the mayor out. It is that simple.


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