Obituary. August 23, 2020
Jacqueline Muriel Whitehead Musante, 94, passed away peacefully in her sleep on August 22, 2020, succumbing to congestive heart failure after a brief illness. Jackie, the third child of Frederick Whitehead, Sr and Ella Mary Haggerty, was born in New York City on June 30, 1926. They moved many times during her childhood as her father, Fred, took odd jobs to provide for his family during the Depression. Eventually, Fred brought the young family to Walnut Beach, Milford, CT where Jackie grew up with her parents and four siblings, brother Fred Jr, and sisters Dorothy, Eileen, and Joan.
Jackie attended Milford High School, where she was an active member of the AOX sorority. She graduated from secretarial school and took a job at the Dictaphone Corporation in Milford, where she worked for 5 years before raising a family.
Introduced by friends at a houseparty in 1945, she met the love of her life, Edward J. Musante a decorated WWII hero who had just returned from four years of wartime service as an Army medic serving in the Pacific and European Theatres. They married in 1948 and originally settled in Milford where they built and operated their beloved Meadowside Market. Over the next 15 years, they were blessed with and raised seven children, Kathleen, Susan, Edward Jr, Andrea, Ellen, Michael, and Jacqueline, moving the family to Park Avenue in Bridgeport. Education was a top family priority, and they proudly watched as all of their children graduated from college, several with advanced degrees. Jackie faithfully cared for Edward through years of illness until his too-young death of emphysema at 63 in 1986.
Jackie was a trailblazer and role model for women, serving in myriad leadership roles in the Catholic Church, first in volunteer capacities at St.Augustine Cathedral Parish, Bridgeport, where she led the Ladies Guild, Rosary Circle, Council of Catholic Women, and youth ministry. Jackieserved as Bridgeport Diocese’s first female lector and Eucharistic minister,and founded the first diocesan faith formation program for special needschildren.
She returned to fulltime work in the early 1970s when she took the job as Coordinator of Youth Ministry for the Diocese of Bridgeport, an inaugural program focusing on faith formation for teenagers. She became one of the first lay Pastoral Associates in the Bridgeport Diocese in 1974 when she joined Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, Bridgeport, serving as Director of Faith Formation for adults and children. During this time, she began her long association with the Diocese of Bridgeport as a Master Catechist and for more than 30 years provided training to catechists throughout the Diocese.
In 1988, Jackie moved to her cherished home in Easton, CT and accepted a position as Pastoral Associate for Notre Dame Church of Easton. Among her many duties, she found special joy in visiting hospitals, ministering tothe sick. After serving there for 12 years, she became a certified spiritual director and volunteered, once again, to lead scripture study groups, offered spiritual counseling, spoke extensively at adult faith formation conferences and programs, and represented the Diocese on many commissions including the 2013-14 Synod of Bishops. At this time, Jackie also began hosting and leading pilgrimages to the Holy Land and spearheaded fundraising programs for an impoverished parish in San Salvador, Latin America.
During her many decades of tireless service, Jackie took special pride serving on the leadership team of two nonprofits. In the early 1970’s, Jackie was appointed by Bishop Walter Curtis as the first woman to serve, for many years, on the Anglican/Roman Catholic Dialog which brought closer together the Episcopal and Catholic churches in Fairfield County. And, her work with Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice (CAPP), a pontifical foundation established by Pope John Paul II with lay Catholic business, academic and professional leaders, promoted Catholic social doctrine and brought her to Rome for meetings with world representatives.
In 1991, Pope John Paul II awarded Jackie the prestigious Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice ("For Church and Pope") cross, the highest decoration conferred for distinguished service to the Catholic Church by lay people and clergy.
Like a stone with a never-ending ripple, Jackie’s gracious and rich life has positively influenced many. She will be remembered as an insightful and spiritual mentor, an avid reader, an intellectually curious lifelong learner, an eager traveler, a doting grandmother, and a generous friend.
She was predeceased by her parents, Fred and Ella Whitehead, husband Ed, brother Fred Whitehead, Jr, sisters Dorothy Andera, Eileen Burns, and Joan Thorndike and grandson Ryan Saba.
Among the many left to cherish her memory are her seven children and their spouses,Kathleen Musante (Bob Hoover) of Pittsburgh, PA, Susan Musante of Anchorage, AK, Edward J. Musante (Janice Musante), of Shelton, CT, Andrea Parker (David Parker) of Huber Heights, OH, Ellen Musante of Fairfax Station, VA, Michael Musante (Lori Czechowicz Musante) of Wallingford, CT, and Jacqueline Musante Feldman (Adam Feldman) of San Pedro, Belize.
Jackie also leaves nine grandchildren, Saara Dewalt (Kalen Ickes) of Central, SC, Gareth DeWalt (Diana Rogosa) of San Francisco, CA, Kiely Feldman Corti (Ryan Corti) of Clackamas, OR, Hannah Feldman Hunt (Chastin Hunt) of Boston, MA, James Saba of Baltimore, MD, Thomas Saba of Fairfax Station, VA, and Jenna and Meghan Fekete of Wallingford, CT, six great-grandchildren, Owen and Sasha Ickes, Molly and Miles DeWalt, Harper and Eli Corti, and numerous nieces/nephews, family and beloved friends.
To celebrate Jackie’s life, friends and family will gather for a Mass of Christian Burial at Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church, 545 Stratfield Rd, Fairfield, CT 06825 at 10AM, Wednesday, August 26. Due to COVID restrictions, attendance in church is strictly limited to 65 people. All are welcome to a graveside committal at Gate of Heaven Cemetery, 1056 Daniels Farm Road, Trumbull, CT 06611, immediately following Mass (at approx. 11:30AM).
Honoring her wishes, and in lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Jackie’s memory to Sacred Heart University to support the establishment of a Women in Religion Speaker Series. Donations can be made online at www.sacredheart.edu/givetoshu. Please select “other” on the “Designation” menu and write “In memory of Jacqueline Musante” when completing donations. Checks payable to “Sacred Heart University” can also be mailed. Please note “In memory of Jacqueline Musante” in the subject portion of the check and mail to Sacred Heart University, University Advancement, 5151 Park Avenue, Fairfield, CT 06825.
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