Mystic Irish Parade Foundation Announces
the 13th annual parade Grand Marshal
By Meagan Seacor
The Irish would say, “Capall an tsaoil an grá,” which means “Love makes the world go around!” On March 20th of 2016, family and friends from near and far will join together as one community to celebrate this love, hope & Celtic culture at the 13th Annual Mystic Irish Parade!
Not only is the parade Mystic’s largest landmark event and one of the Southeastern CT region’s most prominent, it is also one of the state’s most renowned and celebrated Celtic cultural events! The Sunday afternoon festivities will begin at the Mystic Seaport and journey downtown, concluding at the Mystic Arts Center. Over 32,000 people will fill the streets of Mystic for celebration and observance of the Irish holiday of St. Patrick’s Day!
Go green, for year thirteen! In special commemoration of the 13th year, the Mystic Irish Parade Foundation is honored to have Father Tom Hoar, President of the St. Edmund’s Retreat at Enders Island off of Masons Island in Mystic, serve as the Grand Marshal of for the 2016 Mystic Irish Parade! This honor is bestowed to an exceptional member of Eastern Connecticut who dedicates time, energy and effort into giving back to their local community each day.
Father Tom Hoar, formally announced as the Grand Marshal of the Mystic Irish Parade on January 29th, 2016, has resided in the beautiful town of Mystic since 1993. He grew up in South Boston in Quincy in an Irish Catholic ghetto where a peninsula of families of Irish descent had established homes after the war. Growing up in an Irish Catholic family, religion was an integral part of his life and even as a child, he felt very connected to the church.
He journeyed to St. Michael’s College in Vermont where he originally pursued a pre-medicine major with the goal of one day becoming a doctor. During his time there, he was impressed with the Edmundites at St. Michael’s and Father Ray Doherty, who was the college chaplain. He soon realized that God had a different plan as to how he would offer hope and healing and instead of thru medicine, it would be thru ministry.
After entering the Society of St. Edmund in June of 1971, he continued to profess his religious vows on August 22nd of 1972. He currently holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from St. Michael’s College, a Masters of Divinity from the University of St. Michael’s College in Toronto, a Master of Arts degree in Religion and Religious Education from Fordham University in Bronx, NY, a PhD in Higher Education Administration from Michigan State University, and lastly, an MBA & PhD in Culture & Technology and Religious Broadcasting from Salve Regina in Newport, RI.
In 1991, Father Tom was a part of a task force responsible for evaluating Ender’s Island and the vitality of St. Edmund’s Retreat. He took a strong position on how the island and the ministry could be revived. In 1993, he took on the challenge as the Retreat Director. Over the years, he served also as the Director of Development, Director of Enders Island and since 2003, has been the President of St. Edmund’s Retreat.
When asked what his favorite part of being dedicated to the island was, he said, “You never know what will happen, because every day is different, but the fundamental message of hope and healing stays the same. God gives us gifts and challenge us to use those gifts to help people discover the wonder of his love. In sharing a message of hope, you can change the world. By helping one person, you can change the world.”
Father Tom is most proud of his staff, who he describes as “kind and compassionate” as well the people that the island has transformed who came to the retreat suffering from addiction, grief, depression and more. “God walks in and thru all of us. This is an active Catholic retreat and the fellowship and community helped it blossom. People come to the island and hear the message of hope.”
He has traveled the world, but because of his love for the country, has been to Ireland 13 times and hopes to visit again. His favorite part is the village of Spiddal on the shore of Galway Bay in the Connemara region. He also took lessons at the Mystic Valley Hunt Club and fulfilled his dream of becoming not only an avid horseback rider, but riding on the beaches in Sligo County.
In addition to serving as the Chaplain of the Naval Submarine Base in Groton, CT, he also established both the St. Michael’s Institute of Sacred Art and the St. Maximillian Kolbe Recovery Residence. “Father Tom is a special man who has helped countless individuals get their life back on track. He is a true asset to the community and his helping hand reaches far beyond our town,” says Dan Santos, Assistant Resident Director of the Recovery Residence.
“I feel silly that I am being honored as the 2016 Grand Marshal of the Mystic Irish Parade, but I am grateful for the community recognition for the Ministry of Enders Island.” Father Tom also expressed how deeply moved he is by the people who support the ministry, whether it is with $5 or $50,000, or anything in between. His love of Mystic and commitment to St. Edmund’s Retreat and the community is inspiring and the Mystic Irish Parade Foundation is honored to have him serve as the 2016 Grand Marshal!
“Father Tom has been a beacon of light for our community and I’m in complete admiration and appreciation that he’s been chosen for this year” says Neil Ryan, Vice President of the Mystic Irish Parade Foundation. A sincere thank you to Father Tom Hoar for serving as the Grand Marshal and supporting this year’s Mystic Irish Parade!
Grand Marshal Mystic Irish Parade Foundation
2015 Grand Marshal, Sandy McGugan
As the Irish say, “May your home always be too small to hold all of your friends!” The close knit community of Eastern CT fills the streets of Mystic with friends and family in celebration of the one and only annual Mystic Irish Parade, one of Connecticut’s most renowned Celtic cultural events! As a keystone in family entertainment and an event for all ages, the Mystic Irish Parade Foundation celebrates a successful twelve years and look forward to many more to come!
In special commemoration of year twelve, the Mystic Irish Parade Foundation is honored to have Sandy McGugan, owner of Gwenmor Marina and longtime resident of Mystic, serve as the Grand Marshal of for the 2015 Mystic Irish Parade! This honor is bestowed to an outstanding member of Eastern Connecticut who dedicates time and energy into giving back to the local community each day.
Sandy McGugan, formally announced as the Grand Marshal of the Mystic Irish Parade on January 18th, 2014, has resided in the beautiful town of Mystic for a lifetime. His grandfather journeyed to North America from Ireland when he was 17 years old and settled down in New London, CT. His mother frequently joked about coming over on the Mayflower, but research by McGugan’s daughter later proved that some of his family did in fact travel on the infamous ship. His mother, Gwendolyn Morgan, went to college in CT and was a teacher at the Butler School in Groton, CT.
McGugan is a Stonington High School alumni and later served his country in the United States Army. After his service, his worked with his father, who was a marine contractor in Mystic. The company, named after his mother, is Gwenmor Marine Contracting and Gwenmor Marina, which is currently managed and operated by McGugan’s three sons, Christian, Andy and Keith (who was born on St. Patrick’s Day!).
In addition to his three sons, Sandy McGugan and his wife Marguerite, have five daughters who all currently reside in the Mystic area. The McGugan’s are proud parents, and grandparents of 41 grandchildren as well. “You can say our house gets pretty crazy during Christmas!”
McGugan is a dedicated family man and community leader. He is passionate about supporting local sports, fitness and health initiatives including the athletic departments of schools as well as the Mystic YMCA. “Because of the kids, who played a sport, I became invested in the athletic community. My daughter, Vianna, was the first person to win the CT State Championship as both a player and again as the coach for girl’s basketball for Stonington High School. Sports promote dedication, teamwork and passion.”
“I’m truly honored to be the 2015 Grand Marshal of the Mystic Irish Parade. I am humbled that they chose me to do this. Hopefully whatever I have to do in this role, I’ll do right,” says McGugan. His love of Mystic and commitment to family and community is inspiring and the Mystic Irish Parade Foundation is honored to have him serve as the 2015 Grand Marshal!
“I’ve known the McGugan family for over twenty years. Sandy has been a pillar of the Greater Mystic community and I’m honored that he’s been chosen for this year” says Neil Ryan, Vice President of the Mystic Irish Parade Foundation. A sincere thank you to Mr. Sandy McGugan for serving as the Grand Marshal and supporting this year’s Mystic Irish Parade!
Past Grand Marshals
|2014 Grand Marshal
|2013 Grand Marshal
|2012 Grand Marshal
Joyce Olsen Resnikoff
|2011 Grand Marshal
Elizabeth Connors Martinelli
|2010 Grand Marshal
|2009 Grand Marshal
|2008 Grand Marshal
|2007 Grand Marshal
|2006 Grand Marshal
|2005 Grand Marshal
|2004 Grand Marshal
Photos courtesy of Larry St. Pierre Photography