NEW FAIRFIELD—Members of multiple congregations gathered at St. Edward the Confessor to share insights and collaborate about the role of ambassadorship in the church.
Bishop Frank J. Caggiano led the evening with an Ambassador Mass accompanied by seven priests from surrounding parishes.
“It’s encouraging to see the excitement and enthusiasm from the people,” said Father Michael Novajosky, who is overseeing the initiative for the diocese.
The Ambassador Formation initiative is aimed at equipping parishioners with the knowledge and tools to confidently talk to others about their faith and encourage those that may be disenfranchised with the Catholic Church to reengage with its teachings and spiritual guidance.
“There are a lot of people looking for something right now and a lot of people need an invitation,” said Linda Schneider, a parishioner of St. Joseph in Danbury.
Bishop Caggiano said he was grateful for all that attended the Mass and have been involved with the Ambassador program. He said the desire to be involved in the program shows a desire to deepen their relationship with the Lord.
He said the faithful should be, “living vessels of the presence of Christ allowing people to see through us to Christ and find their way home.”
“People leave the church because they are wounded for whatever reason but you and I are sent to be the healer and the balm to invite them home.”
The bishop acknowledged it is a challenging task and that every situation will be different but worthwhile.
“This is not a list of things to do, it is a life to be lived (by example),” Bishop Caggiano said. “It’s time to no longer apologize for what we believe in. We are joyful in living (our faith).”
“You will go out into the world to be ambassadors to enter into people’s lives and invite them gently (back to the church),” he said.
Richard Bruno, a parishioner of St. Mary in Bethel agreed.
“You have to do it delicately. You have to bring them back little by little,” he said. Bruno is involved in several outreach programs at this church including the Knights of Columbus, teaching RCIA and leading a prayer group.
Following Mass, Bishop Caggiano led the group in a discussion to share their insights about the program and offer suggestions on how best to reach those who may be hesitant or have misgivings about returning to the church.
One of the suggestions included providing a business card to ambassadors to give to people to help foster communication with the church.
The bishop said there are plans to do something similar with the use of a QR code that can be scanned with a mobile device to help people more readily access information.
There seemed to be a consensus that more education is needed for both children and adults and that many adults might benefit from ongoing education to understand the meaning of what is actually happening at Mass.
Schneider said while teaching catechism during the pandemic via Zoom to help children prepare for Holy Communion, an added benefit was having parents engage in the classes simply because they could overhear what was being discussed. For some, she said, it reinvigorated their desire to reengage with the church in a more meaningful way.
The Ambassador program is in its initial phase of implementation but excitement is building among the ambassadors about the possibilities.
“I’m really excited about being able to reach out to other people,” said Marianne Fahey, a parishioner at St. Gregory the Great in Danbury. “It brings you to another level in your faith.”
Attendees also thanked the bishop for his guidance and for offering masses online during the pandemic.
“When people ask, ‘What is the state of faith in Fairfield County?’” the bishop said, “the answer will be, ‘It is alive and well.’”
By Kathy-Ann Gobin