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Monday, February 18, 2008

A city mourns

In an All About Milford tribute to the memory of two young lives lost here last week, stories about the funerals of Shawn Foley and Jonathan Dolceacqua are posted here together.

On Friday:
By Brian McCready
Milford Bureau Chief
— Hundreds of mourners packed St. Ann’s Church Friday for the funeral of city teen Shawn Foley, whose father spoke of his son’s love of athletics, school work, and cars.
Gerald Foley told about 750 people, seemingly the entire Jonathan Law High community, of the great impact his son’s life made, despite being cut short at the age of 17. About 200 students lined up around the church in the area leading to the altar, even more jammed into the foyer. Sobs could be heard during the 90-minute service as faculty distributed tissues to grieving students.
Shawn Foley, and his back-seat passenger, Jonathan Dolceacqua, 18, died when Foley lost control of his car Monday night, sending it skidding into a utility pole in the parking lot of Westfield Connecticut Post mall. Front-seat passenger Michael Vicino, 16, of Milford, remained in critical condition at Bridgeport Hospital Friday. Police said speed was a factor, and they are investigating witness reports that Shawn Foley may have been racing with another car.
“My family and I want to express our sincere gratitude for your support and well wishes,” Gerald Foley said, often overcome with emotion. “In our time of need, you have shown a level of compassion I’ve never seen before.”
Immediately after news surfaced of the accident, students mobilized to create a memorial at the mall honoring their friends.
The Rev. Thomas Ptaszynski said Gerald Foley’s family asked him to address assembled students concerning the “mistake” Shawn made. Ptaszynski did not elaborate except to say Shawn Foley made an error and “didn’t intend for anything bad to happen.”
But he added, “We have to think before we act.”
“We are not indestructible. Our actions can have far-reaching consequences,” Ptaszynski said.
Gerald Foley asked everyone to keep his son, as well as Dolceacqua and Vacino, in their thoughts and prayers.
“Our families will be forever linked in our tragedy,” Foley said. “Remember them not how they died, but how they lived.”
Foley described his son as being born to run, which was a lifelong “passion.” Shawn Foley, a track star, won a meet at Simon Lake School, then was awarded a first place ribbon three years in a row at West Shore Middle School. At Law, Shawn Foley holds the school record for the 100-meter dash.
While running was a passion, he also excelled in football. During the most recent football season, he kicked several extra points to help Law’s team to a successful record.
“Shawn enjoyed school and made friends easily,” Gerald Foley said. “He was a good student who performed well in school.”
He said teachers always remarked that his son was a “pleasure to have in their classroom,” but Shawn’s real love was cars, and it was his dream to own a Ford Mustang.
“One of my fondest memories of Shawn is celebrating all his passions,” his dad said. “The joy in life as a parent is our children.”
Ptaszynski recalled how Shawn sat in church every Saturday, and how he received the sacrament of confirmation just two years ago, with his, brother, Scott serving as a sponsor.
“Shawn treated people with respect, love and care,” Ptaszynski said. “We have to make Shawn’s life meaningful. We have to make that happen. Good has to come from his life or it’s doubly tragic.”
He said many will not comprehend why Foley’s life was tragically cut short, but he said he believes God is as sorry as anyone.
“Shawn is with the Lord. Shawn is at everlasting happiness and peace,” Ptaszynski said.
“Shawn’s life has meaning for each person here.”

On Saturday:
By James Tinley
Register Staff
— The hundreds of mourners who filled St. Gabriel Church for Jonathan Dolceacqua’s funeral service Saturday were asked to hold onto the memories the 18-year-old left behind.
“As the newspaper articles all seem to mention Jonathan’s warm smile, let us now recall our own fondest memory of Jonathan,” the Rev. Maurice Maroney said at the beginning of the morning service.
Dolceacqua’s fellow Jonathan Law High School students, faculty, family and friends that filled all the pews of St. Gabriel Church and lined the back wall of the church obliged Maroney’s request and dropped their heads in silence.
Dolceacqua was the back seat passenger in 17-year-old Shawn Foley’s 1990 Nissan 240SX Monday night, when Foley lost control of his car and crashed into a utility pole on a ring road around the Westfield Connecticut Post mall. Foley and Dolceacqua were killed.
Front-seat passenger Michael Vicino, 16, of Milford, remained in critical condition at Bridgeport Hospital Saturday. Police said speed was a factor, and they are investigating witness reports that Foley may have been racing with another car.
But there was no mention of the car crash that claimed Dolceacqua’s life at his funeral Mass. Instead, Maroney and Dolceacqua’s paternal grandmother, Alison Dolceaqcua, chose to focus their thoughts and prayers on the memories that the youth left.
“No matter how long we have known Jonathan, whether it a short or a long time, it is the memories that we have that will carry us through this tragedy,” Alison Dolceacqua said.
Alison Dolceaqcua, who referred to herself as “Grandma Allie,” recalled the weekly Sunday dinners, being introduced to new family pets, watching school pageants and plays, and the fishing trips that she and her husband shared with their grandson.
“Most of all I remember how sensitive he was toward his little brother, Matthew,” she said.
Dolceacqua is also survived by his older brother, Michael, and his twin brother, Anthony.
Alison Dolceacqua and Maroney both asked those in attendance to take solace in their faith Jonathan Dolceacqua is now in heaven.
“Welcome to angelhood Jonathan,” Alison Dolceacqua said. “We love you.”


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