Fr. Allen was a beloved figure on campus, integral to the life and spirit of the University and Fairfield Prep community for over 40 years. Before retiring in 2020, Fr. Allen served our community most recently as the University’s Alumni chaplain and special assistant to the president, Mark R. Nemec PhD.
Fr. Allen’s many roles at Fairfield University included moderating the Alpha Sigma Nu Jesuit honor society, serving as a residence hall floor Jesuit, Campus Ministry trip chaperone, Alumni chaplain and Glee Club chaplain. He also served as executive assistant to former Fairfield University Presidents Rev. Aloysius P. Kelley, S.J., and Rev. Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J.
“Fr. Charlie Allen was a much-loved figure on our campus, and in our broader community, and a great friend to so very many of us,” said President Nemec. “If there was anyone who could be said to have embodied the spirit of our University—who knew and loved the town of Fairfield and understood the role that our University and Fairfield Prep play in the life of our region and beyond—it was Fr. Allen.”
A native of Boston, raised in Jamaica Plain, Mass., Fr. Allen’s Jesuit service began in 1959 at the age of 17, where his work took him across five continents, to Mexico, Italy, Egypt, France, Spain, Hong Kong, and the Philippines, among many other countries. He was ordained in 1973, and four years later began serving as an administrator and teacher at Fairfield Prep, including as Prep’s head of school.
“Fr. Charlie Allen made an indelible mark on Fairfield Prep. Serving as an administrator beginning in 1977, and later as headmaster from 1985-1989, Fr. Allen built up the great Ignatian brotherhood with his signature humor and affection for all,” said Fairfield Prep President Christian Cashman, AP ’15, ’23. “He remained a close advisor and friend to Prep for decades and his legacy will live on for years to come. We pray in thanksgiving for his remarkable life and Jesuit ministry.”
In his capacity as Alumni chaplain, Fr. Allen officiated at hundreds of wedding ceremonies, baptisms, funerals and Masses. He also served as a spiritual mentor and friend to a host of non-profit and civic organizations throughout the Bridgeport and Fairfield area, notably in his role as chaplain to the Town of Fairfield’s Police and Fire Departments.
A retirement parade in honor of Fr. Allen that took place during the challenging spring of 2020, drew a cavalcade of nearly 600 carloads of well-wishers—friends, families, former students, town residents, and first responders—who travelled to our campus to thank him for his service over four decades, to the University, Prep, and the greater Fairfield and Bridgeport communities.
In 2021, Fr. Allen was honored by Fairfield University’s Murphy Center for Ignatian Spirituality with the Rev. James M. Bowler, S.J., Award for his lifetime of service exemplifying the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola. On that special occasion, the Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano, Bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport, shared this reflection on Fr. Allen’s impact: “One of Fr. Allen’s greatest gifts is the ability to preach with clarity, simplicity and conviction. His ability to break open the Word of God and apply it to the challenges of modern life has inspired and enriched countless people in many parishes throughout the Diocese. His humor is unsurpassed, allowing him the unique ability to find humor in life and connect that in a deeply meaningful way to the joy of the Gospel.”
Among recent honors bestowed upon Fr. Allen, the new dining facility of the Thomas Merton Family Center, a program of Catholic Charities serving Bridgeport, Conn., was named the Father Charles H. Allen, S.J. Dining Hall this fall. The dining hall now stands as a memorial to his many years of support and service to the Merton Center. Fr. Allen attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new facility in November.
Fr. Allen earned a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in philosophy from Boston College, and additional master’s degrees from Gregorian in Rome, Italy (theology), Brown University (mathematics), and Columbia University (educational administration).
A memorial Mass is being planned in Fairfield, Conn. and details will follow.