GREENWICH—“Baptism is not a spectator sport. The Church needs to find new ways to reach out, and I need your help doing that,” Bishop Frank Caggiano said last night at the Annual Catholic Appeal (ACA) reception held at Indian Harbor Yacht Club in Greenwich.
The gathering was part of a series of receptions for Annual Catholic Appeals leaders and major donors to help launch this year’s effort. The evening, hosted by Jim and Susan Larkin of Greenwich, brought out more than 100 men and women. In a personal, candid and inspiring talk, the bishop discussed the challenges facing the Church, thanked donors for their past support, and asked them to give generously this year to support some major diocesan initiatives.
The bishop said three of his priorities for this year are building support for The Bishop’s Scholarship Fund, raising funds to bring 300 young people from the diocese to World Youth Day, Poland, 2016, and finding resources to implement the short-term needs and future plans identified by the Synod. “The Synod is one of the most remarkable experience of my priestly life. We have 400 synodal pilgrims working to move us forward,” he said. Noting that many donors have generously given to create scholarships for Bridgeport youth, the bishop said there is a need throughout the diocese to help families, particularly those with more than one child in a Catholic school. “We’ve done a remarkable job in Bridgeport, but there are poor elsewhere in the diocese, even in Greenwich. My dreams is that no children will be denied Catholic schooling because of financial constraints,” he said.
In his introduction of the Bishop, Jim Larkin noted that the two largest denominations in the U.S. are now Catholic and those who describe themselves as former Catholics. He praised Bishop Caggiano for meeting with Voice of the Faithful members almost a year ago “to bring them home.” “He’s a listener, he’s a healer, He’s a reconciler, and above all else, he’s an evangelizer,’ said Larkin. During the evening, the bishop welcomed the new ACA chair-couple, Julie and Rowan Taylor of St. Aloysius Parish in New Canaan, the parents of our daughters.
“Our faith is very important to us,” said Julie Taylor who praised her late mother and father for their love of the Church. “They didn’t talk about their faith, they lived it,” she said, noting that young people today face many challenges to growing in the faith. Rowan Taylor said the appeal is important because it helps the sick and the needy, educates children in the faith, and builds up communities of faith throughout the diocese. He noted that if a donor puts aside just $10.00 a week for the Annual Appeal, the gift can help to feed an individual at one of the diocesan soup kitchens for a year.
During a question and answer session following his talk, the bishop was forthright about the challenges facing the Church but said he remains hopeful. Mentioning that some of his lifelong friends fall into the category of those who have left the church, the bishop said that when he sits across the table from them, he’s not Bishop Frank, but the Frank Caggiano they grew up with and they level with him.
“They have a thousand reasons and I don’t know what it will take to bring them home,” said the bishop, but he remains hopeful. “The Church is a sleeping giant and it’s time to wake. We have the truth, the faith and the Lord. We will find the path to welcome them home. The best days of the Church are yet to come. Together we ill work for the renewal of the Church we love so deeply, and for new life as a diocese. Msgr. Alan Detscher, pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Riverside, started off the evening by saying he was a lifelong Greenwich resident. He said that every parish in the diocese benefits from the Annual Appeal also helps to educate priests.
For more information about the 2015 Annual Catholic Appeal, contact the Development Office: 203-416-1470 or www.2015acabridgeport.com