The following in Bishop Caggiano’s homily for the Twenty-Fourth Sunday In Ordinary Time:

My dear friends,

We come here this morning on this beautiful day with the first hints of autumn to hear a very sober, direct, one could even say blunt, lesson from the Lord Jesus. And it comes to us in this parable about our desire to be forgiven; married to the command that we forgive others.

In fact, that command is not new. For we heard in the First Reading from the Prophet Sirach how even among God’s chosen people, they were clearly taught that you need to forgive your neighbor. And then when you pray, your sins will be forgiven. They are intricately linked.

So I thought today, a good question to ask is, why? Why are they linked? What is it that the Lord is trying to teach us in His love – not in His judgment – in His mercy and care for you and me, what is it that He’s trying to teach us do that we can be truly open to the forgiveness of our sins and truly free to forgive our neighbor?

So let us begin with the gift given us by God the Father through Jesus His Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit. Through the death and resurrection of Christ we believe that He has forgiven all sin, provided that the sinner comes forward and does what? In contrition of heart, recognizing his or her sinfulness, asks for that gift. In order for us to receive the gift we need to prepare our hearts to receive it.

Because, my friends, like any other gift, God will not force it on us. He will not give it to us unless we are ready to accept it.

And so what allows us to be contrite of our sins? Truly contrite, really contrite, honestly contrite. It’s when you and I in humility look ourselves in the face and admit the truth of what we have done, with no excuses. No “it’s my other neighbor’s fault”, “it was my wife’s fault”, “it is my brother’s fault”. Or this one: “it was circumstance.”

No. The truth. When we’ve dishonored our neighbor ourselves, when we have not given right worship to God, when we’ve chosen selfishness over selflessness, the truth – the brutal honest truth in humility – what does it do? It cracks the heart open, makes us recognize that we need to surrender in order to be healed.

And it is in that broken heart, if I may call it that, that the rain, the shower, the water, the grace – however you want to describe it – of God’s forgiveness that’s always there, comes flooding in. And we’re healed. And we find the peace and a joy in which we’re set free, almost as if we are reborn.

Why is that linked to the forgiveness of our neighbor? Because, my friends, the same quality is required to forgive our neighbor. For the truth is, when we are on the short end of the stick – meaning when we ask God to forgive us – that’s easy. When this person who told me off or cheated me or betrayed me asked forgiveness, that’s a different story, isn’t it? When we’re at the short end of the stick, it’s a much more different reality.

And yet the humility of that moment is what allows us to forgive them. Because the truth is, we may have gotten the short end of the stick from this person, but how many times have we given it to someone else? That there is a commonality.

None of us in this church escape sin. And when we look our neighbor in the face, it’s with the contrition we asked of God. In the humility of knowing my own limits, I can offer forgiveness in God’s grace and allow that person the same freedom I want for myself. For the hold on to the grudges, or the silence, or to refuse to let that person go free in God’s grace, is to condemn me to slavery.

And allow me to ask you a very blunt question – how do you know, how do I know, that my contrition before God is honest and true?

One of the ways is whether or not that same humility is present when my neighbor asks to be forgiven. For if I refuse to forgive him or her, am I really sorry to Him? And you see my friends why the Lord loves us so deeply that He commands us to do the one, so that we might receive the other fully, totally and completely.

And the interesting thing is, this commandment is so important that in the only prayer the Lord Jesus gave us directly from His own mouth, which we recite, I presume, every day – certainly every time we come to Mass – we call it the Lord’s Prayer. What do we say? Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

My dear friends, our spiritual homework this week is to pray for the grace, to live the power of the word as.

The following in Bishop Caggiano’s homily for the Blue Mass:

My dear friends,

What I’m about to tell you, I’m sure you will find hard to believe, but nonetheless it is true.

That when I was a young man, particularly a young boy, I was incorrigible, stubborn, wanted what I wanted, when I wanted. Of course, some people say to me, not much has changed in 65 years. That’s another story. And I got into a heap of trouble because of it. And ninety percent of the time, mom was the one who took care of it.

But every once in a while, it rose to the level of hearing the words “wait till your father comes home.” And my dad was a 245 pound longshoreman immigrant Italian from Brooklyn. So those words, even in my stubborn heart, gave me great pause to fear.

And he would sit there at the table pondering the punishment to fit the crime. And he would inevitably, somewhere in the speech, tell me “…and remember this is going to hurt me more than it’s going to hurt you.”

And in my mind I would always say “yeah, right”.

Interesting. Some of my closer associates know that as I’ve grown older I’ve come to appreciate the wisdom of my father more and more. For in fact he was right. Because as even I myself as a spiritual father of many people, I’ve come to realize that there are decisions you make for the good of the person before you, or the community in your care, that are not easy, that will not be well received.

But you don’t do it because it makes you feel good or you get satisfaction out of it. You do it because it’s right. And it is what needs to be done for the good (muffled).. take no pleasure in punishing or disciplining my sister and I. Those of you who are parents and grandparents know what I mean. But you do it so that your son or daughter could grow in wisdom, discipline and grace. That is the definition of Christian Love.

We gather here every Sunday to celebrate Divine Love. Love that has come to us in Jesus Christ. And my friends, we need to remember love is to choose to do what is good for those around us – wife, husband, children, grandchildren, relatives, friends, neighbors and even those who harm us – is to always make the choice to lift up our neighbor even when the choice is difficult, even when we may be persecuted by the choice, not appreciated because of what we do, not encouraged for the actions that we choose, but nonetheless we do it because we know it is right and it is good for the person for whom we are making the choice.

That comes as no surprise. For, my friends, each time we come here to this sacred Cathedral we have here the perfect definition of love. You don’t need a theologian to describe it. For here the Lord chose to die for us, not because it was pleasant, not because He enjoyed it, not because in the end it was inevitable. But He chose it so that you and I might have Life Eternal. He chose this for our good. This is the definition of love.

And I remind you and me of this because it’s the only way we could make sense of the scriptures today. Because Ezekiel speaks of this strange notion that if someone is doing evil, it’s not enough simply to mind your business, but to say something to them.

Well the reason is love. For love demands we choose to speak up for the good of the other person even when the person does not want to hear it. That is why the Lord in the Gospel today says the same thing. You see your brother or sister offending or sinning or doing something wrong or harmful to themselves, go and confront them. Not because it’s pleasant, not because you’re going to be welcomed by doing it, but because it is good for them.

You and I are the instruments of that goodness, to lift them up before it is too late.

If that is the vocation of every believer, then today on what we traditionally call the Blue Mass, I stand before you to thank all those who, every single day in their line of duty and active service, are the ministers of love in the world. For that, my brothers and sisters who are present here and not, that is exactly what you are.

For you go as law enforcement, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, on the front line to do what – not to serve yourself, not to lead a comfortable life, not to hide from danger or harm, but you go in every day, wherever duty calls, so that you might lift up your neighbor, whether that neighbor is in a moment of crisis or being threatened by someone, or is in peril of health, you go out there to lift that person up and make the choices that have to be made so that that person might have greater life.

Those are choices this world doesn’t always appreciate. I’m sadly we live in a world that does not fully understand the nobility of your vocation. But in this Church we do. Because in many ways, my brothers and sisters, you make God’s love real to the people whom you serve, whether they realize it or not. But in this church we do realize it. And I, for my part, and on behalf of all God’s people, wish to say thank you to every single one of you for showing the world that love is still alive.

And of course today we have the opportunity to honor one, you Officer Torreso, for your heroic work in saving the life of a newborn. To consider that that child’s future was resting in the actions you had to take. And in that moment you are not thinking of comfort, you were not thinking of anything other than to save that little infant’s life. And you did. You’re an instrument of God’s creative love. And that child, as that child grows older, I hope and pray that he will pray for you. Because you were the instrument of his life in this world, and all of us are grateful to you for your heroic service. And you represent the heroism of everyone in this church who in other ways, perhaps known and unknown, have put your life in the service of someone else that they may have life.

And of course, we also remember those who died in the line of duty 22 years ago. It seems like it was yesterday when our city was attacked in a war we didn’t choose to fight. The thousands of people (that) died, and hundreds and hundreds of the men and women on the front lines, died with them. And hundreds and hundreds served those survivors for months after. And many have been slowly dying since. Those were heroism acts of love so that Christ was present in the darkest of hours in any person’s life who was in that place we now call Ground Zero. And so many others.

And so on a day like today, we pray that they will rest in Eternal Peace for the goodness of their life. For they did not fail love, and therefore, love will not fail them.

So allow me to end by simply saying to all of you who are here – and I ask you take this message to those who could not be here, for so many other responsibilities – thank you for your service. Thank you for being honorable. Thank you for doing what you do, even at times when the world and the press and whoever else does not appreciate it and will not encourage you. Thank you for being the Ministers of Love. And remember that love, true love, Christ’s love, never fails.

NORWALK- Are you a young adult between the ages of 18 and 35 in the Diocese of Bridgeport? Then we want to see you at the bishop’s annual Mass for Young Adults on Saturday, September 30 at St. Matthew Parish in Norwalk!

Join fellow young adult Catholics for a Rosary and reflection at 5:30, followed by Mass celebrated by Bishop Caggiano at 6. And then be sure to stick around for a social following Mass.

Don’t miss this great opportunity to join other young Catholics in the diocese for worship and fellowship.

If you’re coming to the Bishop’s Mass for Young Adults, please RSVP at

For more information on the bishop’s Mass for Young Adults and other events for young adults in the diocese, visit

To read the official announcement of Bishop Coyne’s appointment from the Archdiocese of Hartford, click here.

Statement by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano Welcoming Bishop Christopher Coyne, Co-adjutor Archbishop of Hartford.

Today we send our heartfelt congratulations and best wishes to Bishop Christopher Coyne of Burlington Vermont who has been appointed as the Co-adjutor Archbishop of Hartford.  He will succeed Archbishop Leonard Blair, who will retire next year.

As we prepare to welcome Bishop Coyne, we take this opportunity to send our abiding gratitude to Archbishop Blair who has faithfully shepherded the Archdiocese since 2013, with his prayerful, collegial and pastoral leadership in the State of Connecticut.  The Diocese of Bridgeport was created out of the Archdiocese of Hartford in 1953, and we continue to share a close relationship of mutual support and cooperation—one that we look forward to continuing with Bishop Coyne.

Bishop Coyne is a man of the people, who understands the struggles and challenges faced by individual and families striving to lead faithful lives. As one who comes from a large, extended family, and who worked many jobs prior to his ordination, he has never lost touch with those he serves as pastor and shepherd.

We look forward to working with Bishop Coyne as we seek to walk with all in their faith journey, engage the young, and accompany those who are suffering, neglected, or unwanted by our society. His considerable communications skills and pastoral gifts will be of great service in the mission of evangelization and overall renewal of the Church.

As the Archdiocese of Hartford prepares for the welcoming ceremony, I ask all of the people of the Diocese of Bridgeport to join me in welcoming Bishop Coyne and asking for blessings upon him as he takes on the responsibilities of leadership with deep faith and joyful spirit.

My dear friends,

I’ve been asked to answer the question, where do we go from here? What is our future before us? And it seems to me that the answer perhaps has already been given by a man 60 years ago, on the 28th of August 1963, when he gathered with those of like mind on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC.

On that day, Dr. Martin Luther King, I think gave the nation a roadmap for its future for Americans of all goodwill. And 60 years later, that path had still not been fully created. It still remains our path for the future.

Because as you know, my friends, Dr. King spoke of a dream. A dream for all Americans. A dream where everyone, black, white, brown live in dignity and respect that’s given by God and not the state. That all people could live in equality and justice and peace.

In that dream, he refused to believe that the bank of justice could be completely bankrupt, but that justice could no longer be delayed. He has a dream that says that soul force would overcome all physical force because evil meeting evil leaves no one standing. And that, my friends, I believe is still our future. It is the path that God has given us to walk together.

And yet it seems to me the very word dream can mean different things to different people. And for us to appreciate what Dr. King was asking of us we need to remember that, for example, for those who may be psychologists a dream is something that occurs that allows us to deal with our fears and our anxieties. And sometimes those fears and anxieties cannot be addressed.

If you ask the scientist, perhaps he or she would say that our dreams particularly in the deep sleep that you and I have each night, that they express the deepest desires of our happiness or to be satisfied, but to find peace that may or may not be fulfilled.

But for our future, my friends, to realize the dream that is before us, we need to remember that that dream lives in a biblical spirit. Because when God dreams He’s inviting us to fulfill His deepest desires for us. He invites us to action together. And at times, that action may cost us dearly.

In the history of salvation we know that dreams have been so much a part of the unfolding of God’s grace. Think of the patriarch, Joseph – the two dreams he had that the bundles of grain that his brothers gathered would bow down to his bundle. That the moon and the stars, eleven of them, would bow down to him. And the response of his brothers was to nearly put him to death and throw him in a cistern for they refused the desire of God. No differently, Joseph of Nazareth, the boss, the father of Jesus, we know from sacred Scripture he also received dreams from God. And he upended his entire family and became an immigrant and refugee losing his language, his livelihood, his position so that those entrusted to his care, our lord and our lady that they might be free.

You see, my friends, for us to understand where the future will lead us when we look at the dream that was put before us in the spirit of the sacred Scripture in the spirit of our God, the Lord has given us a choice as a community, as a nation, as individuals, you and I. How is it that we can fulfill God’s dream for us as a community of sisters and brothers?

And my friends, I would be a liar if I told you how that path will unfold. I do not know. No one does. But allow me to suggest three steps that you and I together can take.

And the first is, as Father Reggie said so beautifully in his own remarks, we as a people of faith must remember the past with honesty and contrition. For my friends, we all know in our heart of hearts, we know with clarity of mind and conscience that slavery was an abomination and an atrocity that should never have occurred. And although Christianity has always taught that it is a great evil, the truth is that slavery flourished even among Christian nations. And the untold suffering endured by men, women and young people can never be forgotten.

We celebrate freedom that came at the price of great cost. And the effects of that slavery, racism and segregation still remain in our midst. His Father Reggie said so beautifully in his very poignant and honest remarks, and yet they become systemic hidden in so many ways. So segregation is illegal by law, and yet redlining continues to segregate people. We have equality in law, and yet the halls of influence are closed to so many of our sisters and brothers who don’t believe, don’t belong to the club hall of industry, where they can be included in opportunities denied to others.

My dear friends, for our future, we cannot forget our past. We cannot fight an unnamed sin.

And so I stand before you as your spiritual father in the Church, committed to do whatever I and we can together to educate and challenge our people and or people of goodwill to know what it is in our midst that we must root out once and for all. And we can do that together.

But I, as your bishop, to be able in any way I can, to help the people of God to understand the truth of the evil of racism, discrimination, segregation, and to offer an invitation of repentance and conversion in Jesus Christ, who is the Savior and Redeemer. He is the one who gives freedom to all God’s children. And we can do that through the preaching and teaching of our clerics and pastoral leaders, by the training of all those who are in leadership for celebrating our racial and cultural diversity and to celebrate the communities that make the one community of the Catholic Church together.

My friends, in our future, this is what you and I must do together. And I want to say publicly to you, Father Reggie, thank you for your leadership of the vicarioan black Catholics. But more importantly, I want to thank you for being a man of honesty and integrity, a man of faith, a man who speaks the truth and lives what he preaches and teaches. And I think Father Reggie demands our collective thanks. Let us show him.

And also Valerie. Valerie where are you? Oh, she’s probably not just preparing for the reception. I want to thank Valerie Bien-Aime for her tremendous work in working not only with Father Reggie, but all the vicars of all our different communities to lift up the diversity of our church and to tell the story of who we are in Jesus Christ.

The second step, my friends, in our future, is whatever we decide to do, we must do it together as one family. Baptism has made us sisters and brothers adopted in Jesus Christ. There is only one Lord, one faith, one Savior, one baptism, one redeemer. And we are all brothers and sisters in Him. And each of us is made in the image and likeness of God. So imagine the beauty, the grand, the power of God. For we all, in our diversity, are reflecting His life and love in the world. We must stand together as sisters and brothers in faith.

And if I may, there are those here whom we honor, whom I honor, those who have stood together in the face of great trial and persecution, who have endured personal attacks and attacks upon their family simply because of the color of their skin or for the history of their people. I want to thank you for your perseverance, for your courage, for your faithfulness when society did all it could to try to marginalize you. And if we ought to stand together, and we will, then I ask you to continue to share your personal story of courage and integrity. Because those stories, my friends, can melt the hardest of hearts in our midst.

So how can we work together? Allow me three suggestions.

The first is that we must continue to create a safe space, an environment that truly welcomes from the heart in every parish and school and mission in our diocese and in that space for God’s people to tell their stories of freedom and integrity.

I ask you, secondly, to support Father Reggie and the vicarian of Black Catholics. For we can come together in the events that are being sponsored so that we can give witness to a community that is alive and an intrupal part of the heart of our Church. And it is important that every community council committee that we have in our diocese, that in every office of leadership, that our diocese reflect who we truly are in the richness and beauty of our diversity. And so, if I call to ask your help, please say yes.

My dear friends, the third step is perhaps the hardest, but the one you and I must do together. And that is never stop dreaming. You know, my friends, I very often do not remember my dreams. I have a little pad of paper next to my bed, and I always promise myself when I wake up and I have some. Vague recollection of what I was dreaming. I’m going to try to write it out. And of course, the desire for coffee when I wake up is more important – sometimes – than to write down what I dreamt. And it just fades away.

But our future does have a dream. A dream we need to believe in, stand together in and fight together as sisters and brothers. And can you imagine, 60 years from now, 120 years after the dream was first put before us? Can you imagine the world that our children’s children will inherit if that dream becomes a reality? My friend, that dream must be realized. That dream can be realized. That dream will be realized if we work together in the grace of Jesus Christ. Our future depends on it.

Thank you, my friends, and God bless.

My dear friends,

At least to my way of looking at things, the early days of the pandemic seem like they were a thousand years ago. But you and I probably still remember those early months of the pandemic, more particularly as we struggled to figure out what this virus was and how it was transmitted.

Do you remember? Was it by touch? Was it by breathing? Was it in the air? And a lot of what we did in response was simply because we did not know how it was transmitted, that is, passed on from person to person. Now that we do know, we’re better able to protect ourselves.

As I was reflecting on the scriptures, particularly the Gospel, that came to mind. Because my friends, disease and viruses are not the only things that are transmitted in life. There is something far greater and more important, and it is the offer and gift of faith. It too is transmitted, meaning that it is passed on from person to person, generation to generation, starting with the men that we heard in the Gospel who are the apostles, the foundation of the Church of Jesus Christ.

Let’s consider for a moment how faith is transmitted. Because the Lord today in the Gospel is giving all of us a very specific challenge in that work. But before we realize the challenge, let’s look at how faith is transmitted. How is it passed on?

Perhaps in this coming week you could spend some time asking yourself the question, how did I come to Faith? When I look at my own life, it was certainly the experience of the Sacraments. Coming with my mom and my sister, and at times even my father, to Mass, to confession, to novenas, to adoration – not knowing who it was I was encountering until I grew older.

It was by word. What I was taught, what I heard from the preaching at mass and from other occasions, from being privileged to go to Catholic school and having my the sisters of Saint Dominic teach me. I was offered the word of Salvation in Jesus.

And then there were the role models. There were many because actions speak louder than words. So I think back on my teachers in school. Some who were religious, some who were not. The coach I had in high school. Some of my friends’ parents and of course, my own parents as well.

And then they were the leaders of the Church. I already mentioned the sisters. And it was the priests that I had the privilege to meet, many of them in high school and older. All of them, all of that has a role to help us, to what? Meet the Lord Jesus, hear His voice, feel His presence and His love. Respond yes to that and begin the Journey of Faith which lasts for a lifetime. That, my friend, is the Transmission of Faith.

So now, what’s the challenge for today? Jesus says the laborers are few. And of course, when He speaks of the shepherd, you and I immediately think of the shepherds – that is, the ordained ministers of the Church. And rightfully so. We have a unique role to play in the Transmission of Faith. And not just in our words but in our loving service to you, and by our example. And on this Father’s Day, we should give thanks for the spiritual fatherhood of our priests. All of them. Because even though they do not give life in a physical way, they give life in a spiritual way. And they’re asked to nurture that life and protect that life.

But this is the challenge. Please do not understand the word ‘shepherd’ solely to mean a deacon, a priest, or a bishop. For the Lord meant much more than that. The truth is, anyone to whom another life has been given to care for, to guide and protect is a shepherd or shepherdess. And our role understood that way is perhaps the most powerful way the offer of Salvation in Jesus Christ can be passed on to those entrusted to our care.

So today we celebrate Father’s Day. Natural fathers, godfathers, grandfathers, foster fathers. Fathers are given a unique role, are they not? For not only do they bring forth life with their wives, but they are called to nurture that life, protect that life, guide that life. That’s being a shepherd to your children, and in time, your grandchildren. You are playing an essential role to help them to realize that as you love your children, God loves them. You are father, He is Eternal Father.

And so on this day, we give thanks to all those who are fathers. Because the Lord is asking you, He is commanding you, to be His presence to all those entrusted to your care.

But they’re not just fathers. Those of you who are mothers, godmothers, spiritual mothers, religious mothers – all of you play an equal role. Because to you has also given the great privilege. Either to give birth to life or to take life and nurture it in the spirit of Christ. And so you too are shepherdesses, you too have been given lives that are meant to be molded, cared for, protected and nurtured, intentionally. Because the greatest gift you can give your child, mother, father, aunt, uncle, whoever it is, teacher, doctor, counselor, the greatest gift is not physical life, but eternal life in Jesus Christ.

And my dear friends, you do not need me to tell you in the 21st century, the transmission of life, that is the transmission of faith in Jesus Christ, is being broken over and over and over again. And there is now multiple generations who have not encountered the power, mercy, and love of Jesus Christ. And when we imagine how we can allow that transmission, or forgive me for putting it, that infection, to happen, we need to think and remember that every single person in the Church to whom another life has been entrusted, has work to do. In word, in witness, in authenticity, and most especially, in self-sacrificing love.

For it might be very blunt, if we say God is Love, and we say that Love took a human life and died on the cross for me, and I do not have people around me who will love me just as I am, even when I mess up, there’s no one in my life who takes an interest and will walk with me in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, if there’s no one in my life who is willing never to turn their back on me, if there is no one like that in my life, how can I possibly believe you when you tell me that God loves me? For He will only love me through you and me.

So there is a profound challenge the Lord is asking of us today in this 21st century in the life of the Church. But have no fear my friends, because with the grace and power of the Holy Spirit and being nourished by His sacred body, blood, soul and divinity, all of us here, spiritual fathers, natural fathers, spiritual mothers, natural mothers, grandfathers, grandmothers, aunts, doctors, lawyers, counselors, whoever we are, in this time when we need to find new ways to transmit the great gift of faith, perhaps the beginning and most important part of the task is staring us in the face when we look in a mirror.

My dear friends,

I was going to start my homily by stating ‘isn’t this a joyful day?’ but you have already proven it for our brother David. We come here in the presence of our living God to ask that the Father and Son send the Holy Spirit upon our brother David, who has been prepared for this moment all the days of his life, so that he might enter what I called at the beginning of mass ‘a great mystery’. For you, David, will be ordained into the Mystery the Sacrament of the Diaconate. And you will become a living sacrament of service; that is, to lay down one’s life in love, so that those who are loved may grow – increase – may have ever greater life.

It is the type of service, my friends, that the world out there does not quite understand. For service in our modern world is a quid pro quo. We do, to get. We serve in expectation of something in return. But that is not what brings us here today.

From the very mouth of the Savior I have come, not to be served, but to serve and give my life as a ransom for many. And so consider the adventure, the odyssey, that you have lived David, from when you were a little boy to the four ends of the earth, so that you might have learned and will continue to learn what this mystery really means.

For my friends, every Christian is called to that life of service. But there are some among us who live this sacrament so we might always be reminded of what it is we share and He sacramentally lives. In this case, our brother David.

Last night we had the opportunity to chat at dinner and you recounted some of the stories that I had forgotten about your time in itinerancy. So when I say you were prepared from the beginning, very beginning of life, so that was in the midst of mom and dad and your sisters and brothers who love you so deeply and have formed you, in times of triumph, and in times of crisis. You saw how God accompanied you, and them, in His love and mercy, at every moment of every day.

And I’m grateful to you, Sabrina, and Matt for giving us this gift. It is a precious gift. And it does cost, it does. And I, and we, are grateful to you and to your whole family for the gift of David that you now give to the entire Church.

And then, of course, in the way your brothers and sisters in the way have walked with you since your youth. And they are more your family, are they not, right? They walk with you with honesty. They walk with you with generosity. They walk with you with integrity. And always in love.

And I’m sure I’m not exaggerating to say you could not imagine your life now without that community of support. And no matter where you go, and only God knows in the end where you will go in ministry, they will always be there as part of your larger family. And they have helped you to come to this day.

But going back to itinerancy…the most exotic places I have ever imagined, you have gone to, and you have served. Sleeping on kitchen tables so that the creepy crawlies would not – kind of – make their home with you in the middle of the night. To learn different languages, different customs. To be able to see poverty and dignity go hand in hand. To be able to explore the depth and breadth and beauty of God’s mercy, that is not bound to our little world alone, but it is at the four corners of every place on Earth. And you were welcomed with generosity, hospitality, and true acceptance.

And why have you walked all that? First and foremost so that you could be a man of holiness. For our ultimate vocation is to enter into the glory of Heaven. But God, in His great love, has chosen this vocation. And you and your courage have discerned it and chosen it freely. Because this is the path God wishes you to walk for holiness of life now. And glory in everlasting life.

And I as your bishop and spiritual father are grateful to you, for all that you have walked and for your willingness to say yes.

Towards the end of our conversation last night, my friends, David and I remarked on the fact that, what a beautiful day to be ordained to Deacon on the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. And allow me to propose to you, David, and to your brother deacons, and perhaps to all of us who are here in this sanctuary, that it is the very heart of Mary that will be your catechism for your diaconate year, and for the rest of your life as a cleric.

But consider, my friends, this Heart of Mary Immaculate, chaste and pure. First and foremost, it was a heart that was open to the word of God. And she was formed in that word when she was a little girl in the words of the prophets, and the great revelation that came to God’s chosen people about the nearness and power and sovereignty of God and how He was a liberator from their slavery. And in that word of God that rested in her heart, it was that willingness to allow the word of God to lead her, that allowed her, when the word came to her in Gabriel, to say yes even though she had no idea at that moment where that word would lead her, no idea it would lead her to Calvary where she would say yes again and again and again.

Scripture says she pondered these things in her heart. And among that was the word which he bore in flesh, in the word that sets us free. So as Mary did, I ask you David to do, to allow the word of God to be pondered in your heart, to be disposed to it as you have all this time, to welcome it as divine fire that will burn away whatever is sinful in your life. And also to enlighten your mind so that you might do what we heard in the Gospel. To go out and teach all nations because the nations out there need to be taught the truth. Not what the world thinks is the truth, not what’s politically correct, which the world thinks it guides itself. It’s the truth who is Jesus Christ. He is the Living Word.

You have, up to this point, had the courage as a young man to face your own sinfulness and limitations, to grow in humility. I’ve seen that with my own eyes. So I ask you to follow our lady’s lead, so that the word can continue to mold you and form you into Holiness to be a holy preacher of the word who is Jesus.

But we also know that our lady’s heart was one that always was mindful of the needs of those around her, not her own. Consider, my friends, when our lady received the gift of the life of her Savior in her own womb. The very next thing she did was to go to Elizabeth, an old woman who had self-conceived. Not thinking of her own needs, she went to Elizabeth because, my friends, in those days an elderly woman who was pregnant, chances are she would not survive her own pregnancy. And so for months she went to attend to her elder, her cousin, and the one she loved, to give herself in self-sacrificing love.

And so you too, all of us, but you especially, to mold your heart so that you will continue, David, always to give your life in service to others, not account for your own needs, but for the needs of those whom you will serve. And it will hurt.

Simeon said ‘the sword will pierce your heart to our lady’. Because to love as Christ loves, as you all know, my friends, costs dearly, but rewards us infinitely. So walk with the heart of our Lady.

And if I may, finally, it was the immaculate Heart of Mary that allowed her, in her ‘yes’, to become the Tabernacle of Life, Tabernacle of the one who will become here, for us, the Eucharist, the Bread of Life.

As a deacon you will help me today, and countless others after me, at the Ministries here at the altar. But remember David, you are not being ordained to be a housekeeper of the altar. You are ordained so that you might bring the Bread of Life to hungry hearts who are abandoned. Elderly, sick who may even doubt if anyone loves them. And you will bring the Bread of Life to remind them that they are loved by Him, by you, and by us.

May Mary be your companion as you are the minister of the Eucharist itself.

So you may be sitting there saying to yourself, ‘my gosh am I ready for this?’ And the answer is, no one is. Are you worthy for this? No one is. That’s the beauty of God’s love. For He will grant you every grace you need so that you may minister as his deacon – and please God one day as His priest. And you will do it worthily, wisely, joyfully, because it will be Christ alive in you.

David, congratulations! We all are very proud of you. And you know in our own way we all love you very much. And today as your spiritual father I commend you to the Immaculate Heart of Mary who is your guardian, your protector, your defender, and your mother. May she lead you in this year ahead in your ministry to be ever more joyful, present, holy, faithful. And one day may she take you by the hand and lead you to the throne of her Son, one day to the Glory of Everlasting Life. May God bless you, David, all the days of your life, through Christ our Lord, amen.

My dear friends,

At first glance it may seem a bit odd that we gather today to celebrate the Feast of the Eucharist, the Feast of Corpus Christi, the Lord’s Body and Blood, when in fact you and I celebrate that same Sacrament every day of the year – except Good Friday and Holy Saturday.

And of course, the origin of the Feast perhaps cannot give us the answer to the question, why do we in fact celebrate this day? For in the medieval Church my friends, there was a general sense among God’s people that even those in the state of grace were not worthy to receive the Eucharist. This was the age of Saint Francis of Assisi, who tradition tells us, received the Eucharist three times, can you imagine, three times in his life, because he thought he was not worthy.

And so the Church, in that age, asked that the Eucharist be brought forth into the community literally to leave the Church, so that believers could look, at least, upon the Lord in His Eucharistic presence and have spiritual communion with Him – something we rediscovered, did we not, in covid – when we could not gather in person to pray.

But times have changed, and we now live in a time, since Pope Pius X over a hundred years ago, encouraging everyone who is a believer, a member of the Church, who is in the state of grace, to come forward and receive this great sacrament.

So I asked the question again, why do we celebrate this day? And I think, my friends, the answer to that question lies in a basic human tendency. That when we are familiar with something, we tend to take it for granted. We tend to forget how special it is. We become lukewarm and mediocre in our practice.

And so it seems to me it is good that we celebrate this Great Feast, to remind us of what we truly believe. And what is it that we believe about this great sacrament?

First, my friends, we call it the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass because, to the power of Grace, each time we come to Mass, you and I enter, in an unbloody way, into the one sacrifice Christ offered on Calvary for your Redemption, and mine. He offered His blood so that we might not have to offer our blood. But we enter into that one sacrifice so that its fruits could be ours. And the forgiveness of sins, and the redemption of our souls, and eternal life that comes from that sacrifice we depict over the altar, could be ours.

We also call it a Holy Meal. But it is a meal unlike any other. For its roots were in the Passover meal. When the Jewish people recall liberation that came to them through the hands of Moses as they passed through the Red Sea. You and I come to share a meal because the lord loves us so much
that He wants to be present to us completely. Not just in spirit, not just in mind, not just in soul, but in body.

For consider, of all the sacraments the Lord could have chosen to create. In this great Sacrament He gives us food that our bodies need to digest, because even our bodies will one day be saved in Him. He loves you so much that He is totally present to all of you and me. That is a meal unlike any other.

And we also believe it is a sacred memorial. In a few moments I will be at the altar and I will say the words ‘in Persona Christie do this in memory of me’. For my friends, we don’t remember history. We remember that He is truly, fully, substantially present here. This, my friends, what we remember is on this side of death we will never encounter Christ more fully than here.

And we also remember that the sacrament of His sacrifice must be the invitation of my sacrifice, and yours, in love for our neighbor, our wife, our husband, our child, our co-worker, even those who offend us. For it is not enough for us to receive the Eucharist if we do not remember we are, to do what the Lord did always and everywhere. For if we are not willing to sacrifice ourselves in love, how could we possibly think we are ready to come forward to receive the sacrament of His sacrifice, for you and me?

And lastly my friends, as Augustine, who is our Patron here in our mother Church reminded his believers 1600 years ago, we receive the Body of Christ to become the Body of Christ. We receive Holy Communion so that we might have communion with each other. We receive His body to become part of the mystical Body of Christ. And what does that mean? It means that in every country, language, race and culture, all who believe, all who receive His body, are truly one family in Him.

And as I’ve taught you many times, the bonds of Grace are far more important than the bonds of nature. And it is that unity that we bring forth into the world as His disciples.

So why do we celebrate this feast? So that your mind and mine, your spirit and mine, your faith and mine, may be strengthened and renewed. And that you and I might have the conviction to go out into that divided and unbelieving world and invite all God’s people to come to see, to adore,
to eat, and to live.


Introducing Catholic Chat

Artificial Intelligence has been all over the news lately. Screen writers in Hollywood are on strike, in part, because they do not want computers auto-generating scripts. Educators worry about students using AI to create content instead of doing their own homework. Corporations are afraid workers will let AI complete tasks assigned to employees. Most of us, however, have more to worry about than whether AI will replace us.
I believe there is a flip side to the argument. Artificial Intelligence can be used for good. If used wisely, AI can interface with documents, websites, and texts so the user can interact with the words on the page more than ever before.

Enter Catholic Chat, a web app that provides an interactive and engaging opportunity for users seeking answers from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Once you land on the page, you can choose to have a conversation as a child, an adult, or a scholar. Enter any question about the Catholic Church and in a few moments, the site responds using only the Catechism as a source. Still have a question? Enter it and participate in a conversation with AI and the Catechism that can allow you to dig deeper into what the Church professes.

Though it will never replace a teacher or a parent, Catholic Chat does provide a place where the faithful can engage with a text that can seem daunting or unfamiliar to many. Families can use it to start a conversation about any element of the faith. Teachers can use it to ensure what they teach is the truth. Students can use it to look up questions about their faith. Even clergy can use it to infuse a little bit of the Catechism into their homilies at Sunday Mass.

I encourage you to visit Catholic Chat and use intelligence that is artificial to engage with teachings that are true. While you are at it, check out all the other great things our Institute for Catholic Formation is up to.

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Frank J Caggiano
Bishop of Bridgeport

My dear friends in Christ,

Forever I will sing of the goodness of the Lord. Rightfully so, for you and I who are disciples and followers of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, for we have much to sing about, much to be grateful for. The very blessings of our lives in faith, the community we form, the blessings that come in ordinary life, and in the most extraordinary ways, in faith. As we gather each day around the altar of our savior and enter into the mystery of His death and resurrection, and receive His body, blood, soul and divinity as the foretaste of everlasting life. We have much to sing about in thanksgiving to the Lord.

But it seems to me that today we have a singular blessing for which we will sing with all our hearts and minds. In this one historic moment in the life of our diocese, to have six of our brothers come forward freely, generously, to offer their lives to be configured to Christ the Priest, and to be a living sacrament of His merciful goodness and love. And to lay down their lives so that you and I might have greater life in Him. If that is not a blessing to sing about, I don’t know what is.

You, my dear brothers, to say that we and I are proud of you would be an understatement. When I look at you as I’ve come to know you all these years, so very different one from the other. The odyssey – if I may call it – of your life, for all its twists and turns, some of you traveling from foreign lands as young people or as young adults. Those who, in your studies and in your education, in the ups and downs, the successes and trials, the great moments of suffering and pain, the spirit had foreseen. And you by your generosity cooperated to allow this moment to occur.

And what I am most grateful to all of you is not simply your yes today, but how I have seen you grow into an unbreakable brotherhood amongst all of you. You are in many ways, my brothers, so aptly prepared for this moment. Because this moment is a moment of both challenge and great hope for the Church and for the world.

In your formation you know well what it is the Lord has asked of you. And yet I think it is good and just that we remember, all of us, in this sacred space. For these six, our brothers, were configured in baptism, adopted sonship into the mystical Body of Christ. And they’ve been called to a holiness of life.

And yet they have this other calling, that with by the imposition of my hands and the grace of the Holy Spirit, they will be configured to Christ the Priest. And to them will be given a three-fold function – the priestly, prophetic and kingly office of Christ to exercise on behalf of us, His body.

Recall what the Lord is asking. For you are called to sanctify God’s people, to lead them in prayer. Most especially entering into the Great Mystery of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass with your unworthy hands, as our mind to allow simple bread and wine to become the antipasto of eternal life. I can’t help it, I’m Italian.

And yet, you will powerfully sanctify God’s people, to the extent that you seek radical personal Holiness yourself. For in the age in which we live, people may listen to what you say but they will look intently at how you live. And I have every confidence that you have walked that road and will continue to walk that road. That as a truly humbly, bold man of radical Holiness and leader of prayer, you will guide all of us to greater sanctity of life.

And then you are called to be prophets in our midst, which is to preach the Word of God. And as I’ve said to you many times, allow me on this sacred moment to remind you again; you are called to preach the gospel courageously, fearlessly and effectively. Be patient with God’s people at times when they cannot fully always appreciate what it is your heart aches to say. For you will find the words and gestures and actions and presence to convey the truth who is Jesus Christ.

And then, of course, as deacons you have already understood what the kingly office is, which is to serve, to give your life over as John the Baptist says, that they He may increase and I may decrease. And so as priests we lift up He to increase, which is His mystical body. And we, by decreasing, are giving over service which is the greatest of all authorities.

I know in my heart of hearts you are ready for this vocation. And that is why I am delighted to be here to be the humble channel of so great a Grace.

But allow me, for your sake, for my sake, and for the sake of all of us here today, my friends, in such great numbers. These are brothers are entering into the mystery of priesthood, joining their brothers, some of whom have served as priests for many years. And you and I navigate a world where it is filled with challenge to Christian Faith.

We heard from the first and second readings about how wolves will infiltrate, so that they might divide God’s people. We heard of how we need to stand firm against trickery and against truths that are not truths at all. You, my brothers, are entering into this mystery in a time which, for the eyes of those who do not believe, may be a time of perhaps wonderment and discouragement. But you go forth with hope and vigor and zeal.

Because, may I suggest, you follow the example of the man whom the church honors today – Saint Bernardine of Siena. Who in his own age, in the 14th century, found a world that had lost its path. And oftentimes a church that had become, lacks in its worship and in its witness.

And what did he turn to? The Holy Name of Jesus.

And that, my brothers, is what I’m going to ask you and me and us, in this church, to bring out into that world. For you are priests of the only One in
whom there is salvation for every person who has ever existed. For there is no salvation outside of the name of Jesus.

And if you wish to put the evil one at bay, if you wish to separate what is false from what is truth, bring forth the name, power and teaching of Jesus. If you wish to heal a broken world, if we wish to give hope to those who are lost, those who are searching, those who think there is no purpose and meaning to life, bring to them the name of Jesus and invite them and walk with them in the path before them.

There are many ways to live life, and you, my brothers, are entering into the great mystery of the priesthood, to show the world that there is only one true way to live life. There is only one way to have true hope. There is only in one name where every human heart. as broken as it can be. will find healing and strength. You, my brothers, will go forth carrying the name of Jesus. And you will help to bring His kingdom into this world in ways that you could not even begin to imagine.

So, my brothers, we are all praying for you. And I stand ready to help you in any way I can, to go forth from this church to be a happy, healthy, joyful and holy priest of Jesus Christ. Congratulations, my brothers, and may God bless you today and all the days of your life, through Christ our Lord, amen.

Welcome to our weekly messages on “The One”!

Allow me to begin by offering my sincere thanks to everyone who attended the gatherings of parish leaders that began in January and ended a few weeks ago. More than 2,300 parish leaders attended these nine meetings. I am deeply grateful for the commitment of time and travel made by those who were able to participate in what I believe is an audacious invitation by the Holy Spirit to foster a true and lasting renewal of our Church. I call it “The One” because it is the single greatest priority we will embrace as a diocesan family in the years ahead.