Fueled by His Faith

Mariner’s Point resident’s commitment to others

Peter DeLeonardo driving car

If it’s just after 9:30 a.m. on a Wednesday, then Peter DeLeonardo is on the move. He slides behind the wheel of his 2011 Toyota Avalon and pulls out of the parking lot of The Village at Mariner’s Point in East Haven and heads to Yale New Haven Hospital.

He’s on a mission, of sorts. In fact, he’s been on it for 23 years. For a man of deep faith, his work as a Eucharistic Minister is not only a privilege, but an opportunity – an opportunity to serve others. Such opportunity is not something that Peter would miss. He doesn’t miss such things.

Peter – who moved into an apartment at Mariner’s Point recently – is a man who appreciates structure and order. Educated at the University of New Haven, and later, Bridgeport University, he enjoyed a long career at PerkinElmer, where he worked as a mechanical design engineer. Much of his work involved high-resolution cameras.

Growing up in the New Haven/Hamden area, his parents passed on to him important principles for living: Work hard, consider others and embrace your Catholic faith. Those lessons were reinforced in him as a parishioner at Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity Parish in North Haven. There, he grew to be a man guided by his faith.

Peter remembers vividly the day that would ultimately set in motion his Wednesday morning treks to Yale New Haven Hospital.

“My parents were ill,” he said. “My mother was in hospice, and I wanted a priest to come and see her. But there wasn’t one available at the time. Finally, one was able to come, and he made it in time to give her her Last Rights.”

The experience did not sour Peter. It fueled him, and his parents would have liked that. He started volunteering his time, whether it was for the American Red Cross or Habitat for Humanity.

“I just felt a need to help out,” he said.

Later, he connected his volunteer efforts more directly to his Catholic faith, becoming a Eucharistic Minister. To visit Yale New Haven Hospital was a natural fit. To bring the Holy Eucharist to patients is a privilege, he said.

“It is definitely so important, and I get something out of it,” says Peter. “I just had a patient last week. The staff had mentioned that he hadn’t received communion since he was a boy, and I was able to encourage him to come back to the church. I told him that Jesus loved him.”

Those are the stories that have kept Peter going back to the hospital for all these years — the simple conversations he has with patients, the few minutes of genuine human connection that just might brighten someone’s day and improve their outlook on things. That’s why, if it is just after 9:30 a.m. and it’s a Wednesday, Peter DeLeonardo is on the move.

Peter DeLeonardo

The Village at Mariner’s Point