Ad hoc committee against racism holds first virtual meeting

BRIDGEPORT—On a late June afternoon, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano gathered virtually with the diocesan appointed ad hoc committee against racism for their first meeting.

This committee was established as a response to the call for change in our communities. The committee includes clergy and religious, as well as lay men and women who will develop a strategic vision and practical steps for the diocesan response to sin of racism.

“I am very grateful for your willingness to come together to address this particular moment of opportunity and grace in our midst,” said the bishop. “It is an opportunity to take a tragedy and make it a real opportunity for long-term change.”

Committee members expressed their optimism about the work that could be done. “It is my hope that the diocese will be a more just place—a place that welcomes everyone and allows opportunity to everyone, especially to come and know the Lord,” the bishop said.

The bishop began by updating the group that Foundations in Faith has secured upwards of $40,000 for any initiatives that may come out of the committee. Bishop Caggiano also announced that he has been appointed to the USCCB’s ad hoc committee against racism, which would make for a good opportunity to share resources and ideas amongst the groups.

It was discussed that The Leadership Institute will host several webinars this summer to advance the conversation about racism, cultural diversity and how simply by listening to one another, we can begin to affect change.

The webinars, which will feature experts from the field of academia and ministry, will begin on July 30, and continue every Thursday at 1 pm until September 3.

Topics include:

  • Race and the Catholic Church
  • Race and Catholic Social Teaching
  • How to have a conversation about race
  • Beyond Black: Race and Multiculturalism
  • Growing in Awareness and Knowledge
  • Teaching Peace

A preliminary video will be introduced featuring Father Reggie Norman, pastor of Our Lady of Fatima and episcopal vicar for the Apostolate of African American Catholics. The webinars will be recorded and archived for the benefit of everyone throughout the diocese.

For complete details on the webinars and to register, please visit The Leadership Institute’s website at

The committee discussed how these webinars could be a great opportunity to drive interest to different apostolates, such as the Apostolate of African American Catholics, that some may not know much about.
The hope is that these webinars will provide opportunities for those of other languages to have similar conversations in their own language.

Committee members expressed their desire to create interfaith dialogue and ecumenism within our communities.

“We need to find ways that communities that exemplify our diversity are being heard—how do we find a vehicle that allows us to create unity?” a committee member questioned.

Another goal of the committee is to invite youth to have a role in the and to make sure principals and schools are equipped with the resources they need.

“We have an opportunity to bring people to ever-more conversion,” said the bishop.

Committee members discussed the great diversity within our diocese and the importance that all communities feel represented. “A mile in this diocese can be like 1,000 miles, to see how communities can sit side-by-side and not even interact,” the bishop said.

“We need to examine honestly and thoughtfully the institutions – how we operate, how we spend our money so that the institution itself changes,” he said.

“At the end of the day racism is a life issue,” said Dr. Patrick Donovan, director of The Leadership institute and facilitator of the ad hoc committee. “We need to look at it as part of the whole of Catholic social teaching.”