Monthly Newspaper • DIOCESE OF BRIDGEPORT

Nuggets from Chapter Friday 12/2, Bishop Frank Caggiano’s “Three Lessons from a Journey with Jesus”:

  • A story that goes from the streets of Brooklyn to a seminary looking across the Sound to Bridgeport to a position as the Bishop of the diocese of Bridgeport.
  • Three lessons learned in an extraordinary faith journey.
  • A humorous, humble and vulnerable testimony to the grace, love and persistence of Jesus as our Lord.

With wonderful humor and great humility and authenticity, The Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano, the Fifth Bishop of the Catholic diocese of Bridgeport, CT, shared the incredible twists and turns of his lifelong faith journey, as well as three lessons learned along the path.

Caggiano described with tremendous transparency life growing up in a closely-knit Brooklyn community as an Italian-American son of immigrant parents. He talked about his father’s extreme pride when he was accepted into Yale and his father’s heart-wrenching disappointment when he announced he was going to seminary.

Caggiano explained the two calls that have been on his life. First, the call to step up and be a man of faith–letting his life be claimed by Jesus–which he humbly admits is a project still underway. Second, his call to leadership and the challenges in discerning, understanding and finally accepting that call.

With extraordinary vulnerability, Caggiano then shared three life lessons from his faith journey, including the difficult ways in which some were learned:

Bishop Caggiano ended with a wonderful word of encouragement about the blessing and importance of men being able to meet in the spirit of the New Canaan Society–a safe place where men can remove their masks, support each other and share the life lessons learned in our journey with Jesus.

“So, let me just end by saying this. You are very blessed to have this gathering. For me, coming as a brother and witnessing what you are–don’t ever take it for granted. There are not many safe spaces where we can gather and drop our masks and be who we are called to be and to share whatever life lessons we have learned in the grace of Jesus Christ. So, I must tell you I am very grateful to have shared this morning with you, and perhaps, if time permits, I may be able to join you not as a speaker but just as a brother in faith.”

Following Bishop Caggiano’s talk is an extended Q&A covering topics such as the faith implications of being a Mets fan and the important role of fathers.

Click HERE to hear Bishop Frank’s talk and read about the three lessons.

Remember that NCS New Canaan talks are also available as a Podcast.

BRIDGEPORT—During his regular Sunday Mass at St. Augustine Cathedral (8:30 am), the Bishop offered the following reflection on the First Sunday of Advent, the beginning of a new spiritual year. In his homily he encourages us to “make a resolution or perhaps more than one to use this new year for our spiritual growth and for the love of our sisters and brothers, We are pleased to provide this transcript:

Good morning, everyone. I think we can safely say that for all of us, when we have the opportunity to begin a new year, take it also as an opportunity for a new beginning, fresh start, to be able to look at our life in a new way. And please God, with his grace and our resolutions, seek to improve it. That is why on New Year’s Day, almost all of us make resolutions, which to varying degrees we are successful in keeping. And yet that crossed my mind in preparation for this day because my friends in the eyes of faith, today is New Year’s Day. You and I come to begin yet another year of grace in the church. And perhaps we can take a lesson out of our secular handbook and perhaps use this day to make resolutions to grow in our spiritual life, our relationship with the Lord and our love for one another.For today is the first day of Advent, the season we celebrate the three comings of Christ.

First and foremost, in four weeks, you and I will gather to adore the Christ child born in Bethlehem. And so these weeks are meant as a  time for reflection and penance in a cleansing of our minds and hearts to receive him worthy.

But he came to establish a kingdom. We celebrated that last week. And so Advent also prepares our minds and hearts and our will to receive him at the day and hour of his choosing as we heard in his, in the gospel from the Lord himself to await his coming when he will not come in swaddling clothes in poverty, but he will come in majesty and power and every knee that ever existed will bend to him. He who is the judge of the living and all the dead, he will come to heal all creation and offer it to his father as a fragrant gift.And then of course, in the in-between time, as you and I walk this journey of faith, we celebrate an advent, as we do every day of the year, the coming of Christ here on the altar, under the form of bread and wine. He comes to accompany us, feed us, support us, strengthen us in our challenges, to overcome our temptations, to enlighten our minds and give strength to our wills to do good. Why? So that you and I might be co-workers in building up the kingdom that was created and born in Him. On this New Year’s Day, we begin the journey anew.So what is my suggestion to you, my friends? My suggestion to you as it is to me, is to spend this day and use it wisely to make resolutions as we would on New Year’s day, but spiritual resolution so that we might welcome Christ into our lives in an ever more perfect and beautiful way. And perhaps the three comings, the grammar of advent can help us to examine our conscience. So for example, it is no mistake that Jesus came in Bethlehem in poverty. He didn’t come in royal glory because he stood with the poor and the destitute and those who have no one to stand with them. I ask you, my friends, as you look on this new year, what can you and I do more than already? We are doing to stand with the poor and the sick and the immigrant and those who are alone, who have no one to stand with them. Because when we do, we will discover the face of Christ in our midst.So too the coming of Christ and glory. I alluded to the fact that you and I are coworkers in building the kingdom in our midst. And so I ask you as I ask myself, what part of my life is not building up the kingdom? Where do you and I refuse to forgive, to hold a grudge, refuse to be the dispenser of mercy. Where do you and I and our lives still stubbornly, clinging to a spirit perhaps that is divisive, that does not seek unity and peace? If you and I can name it, this is the day to make the resolution with Christ’s grace to overcome it one day at a time. And then of course my friends, we speak of the coming of Christ here on the altar. You and I are faithful to this great sacrifice every Sunday, some of us every day. And yet my friends forgive me for putting it this way, but familiarity can easily breed contempt, can breed an attitude where we take this precious gift for granted.

And so I ask you each time you come to the altar to receive his Sacred Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity as I do each day. Are our hearts filled with wonder and awe that Christ is there for you and me? Are we filled with gratitude that the master of all things comes as food so that you and I might have life have we forgotten to be? When we come to church, when we’re here in adoration, he comes to us each and every day. What must I do in my life and yours so that we may welcome him with ever more gracious and grateful hearts?

Today is New Year’s for us. In faith. Let us make a resolution or perhaps more than one to use this new year to our spiritual growth and for the love of our sisters and brothers, for if we do. When we come to Bethlehem and we look upon the face of the judge of all things, whenever that day comes, my friends, we will be far more ready, far more prepared, far more grateful, and far more open to the gift the Lord asks us to accept. And that is the gift of eternal life. Happy New Year’s.

All are invited to join the Bishop in person each Sunday at St. Augustine Cathedral, 399 Washington Avenue in Bridgeport. The live-stream will be available Sundays at 8:30 am on the St. Augustine Cathedral website (www.thecathedralparish.org, while the replay will be available on the Diocese YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/c/BridgeportDiocese/streams) once Mass concludes.

During his regular Sunday Mass at St. Augustine Cathedral (8:30 am), the Bishop offered the following reflection on the Solemnity of Christ the King. In his homily he reminds us of the difference between worldly power and the “authority of the Shepherd,” which is love that unites us all. We are pleased to provide this transcript:

“My dear friends, it was the last day of our family trip to London, and my mother sister insisted that we go to this final destination. And I remember as we arrived, we went down these long steps, very dark and damp, very narrow because we were going deeper and deeper into the Tower of London to see the crown jewels of the kings and queens of England. And I must confess, I was unimpressed going down. But when you actually see them, they are quite astonishing. Some of the largest diamonds in all the world sit in the crown that now will be on the head of Charles II.

As we were coming up the steps, it dawned on me that for all their beauty and for all, they represent authority and power in its time, absolute authority in terms of this world. It dawned on me that on those very steps, there were those who walked having no concern for the authority. Those jewels represented were not impressed in the least because they were walking in allegiance to a different king. The English Martyrs, they gave their lives being held in that tower because they believed that the only king that matters has a throne of wood and jewels made of nails. And they honored him to the end.

Today, you and I gather to celebrate Jesus Christ, king of the universe. We need to be sure we understand what it is we are celebrating in his kingship for in this world, my dear friends, kingship authority and power usually measures itself in a very divisive way, meaning that wealth is accumulated in the hands of those who have authority to the detriment of those who do not. Oftentimes that authority is exercised, not in a way that brings unity, but actually can divide us. And when it is held in the hands of those who have no answer to anyone else, it can be ruthless, oppressive. We see that in our own world.

And while it is necessary for the world to have structures of authority, those structures need to remember that one day, whether they like it or not, they will kneel to the only king where the authority of our shepherd is one of love. It’s not divisive, it’s uniting because he offered his life from his throne. For all of us saints and sinners alike, he did not come to exercise that power in an exclusive way, but in an inclusive way because he asks us, you and me, to love each other as he loved us. And he promises us, not riches, not diamonds, not crowns, not comfort, but he promises us a place in paradise as he gave to the good thief. In the last moments of his life, he asks us to be His presence in the world for his kingship would be invisible without you and me as those who walk in his footsteps.

So I ask you, to whom do you and I pledge our allegiance to which king do we bow and kneel and offer our loyalty, our duty, our obligation, our life? And if you and I will say to ourselves, well, Bishop, of course I give my allegiance to Jesus or else I would not be here. That may be true, but allow me to ask you a second question as I ask myself. If we truly have our allegiance to the king of love, do our lives show that allegiance clearly or do they not? And at times, I dare to say that is true for all of us in the season that will be coming next Sunday.

As we begin the holy season of Advent, it is time for us to reflect, to seek forgiveness, to repent, so that on Christmas morning when the infant is born, in the poverty of Bethlehem, we will be able to look upon him. And with hearts, minds, and wills, renew our pledge of allegiance to the King of kings and the Lord of Lords. Jesus the Christ.”

All are invited to join the Bishop in person each Sunday at St. Augustine Cathedral, 399 Washington Avenue in Bridgeport. The live-stream will be available Sundays at 8:30 am on the St. Augustine Cathedral website (www.thecathedralparish.org, while the replay will be available on the Diocese YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/c/BridgeportDiocese/streams) once Mass concludes.

WASHINGTON—Catholic church leaders are taking a new approach to passing on the faith, saying they recognize a pressing need to do this in a way that adapts to the modern world.

This new outreach, called the Institute on the Catechism, is not a place but instead a new springboard for faith formation developed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee on the Catechism.

It will involve catechetical publishers working directly with the USCCB subcommittee on new ways to pass on the faith using digital tools and aiming to reach a more diverse church. It will also provide resources to dioceses and yearly, in-person training conferences and retreats for diocesan catechetical leaders.

As Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of Bridgeport, Connecticut, chairman of the bishops’ Subcommittee on the Catechism, sees it: Catholic parishes need to re-create a “Catholic culture that recognizes we’re in the 21st century. We can’t go back to 1950; it’s gone.”

Re-creating what he describes as a “radically different model” for teaching the faith is something he has been working on with this subcommittee for the past several years.

The bishop announced the proposal to create the institute at the bishops’ spring meeting last June. It will officially launch November 10-12 just ahead of the bishops’ annual fall meeting in Baltimore.

This new approach, starting on the 30th anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, draws inspiration from Pope Francis’ 2021 document “Antiquum Ministerium” (“Ancient Ministry”) that described catechesis as an official church ministry. It also builds on the Vatican’s Directory for Catechesis, issued in 2020, that gives guidelines for catechists and pastors particularly in the role of evangelization.

The most frequently used description for the Institute on the Catechism is evangelizing catechesis.

In explaining this to Catholic News Service October 19, Bishop Caggiano said this new method will emphasize truth, beauty and goodness and it “recognizes that the passing on of the faith is no longer in a Catholic culture but in a secular and hostile culture toward Christian faith.”

He said the institute’s mandate is to “create multiple opportunities where a young person can encounter Christ in an ongoing way” and have the “leadership of the church and their parents accompany them.”

In other words, it’s not just religious education through textbook learning or even service projects but a more concentrated effort to engage young people with the church and provide role models for them with diocesan and parish resources to facilitate this. One of the hopes is that these youths will in turn reinvigorate the church.

In a previous interview with CNS about this project, catechetical consultants said the institute has the potential to change the fundamental relationship between publishers and bishops into something that’s less reactive to a finished product and more collaborative.

Mike Raffio, vice president director of sales for Pflaum Publishing Group and the president of the Association of Catholic Publishers, said leading people to a meaningful encounter with Christ through catechesis and an understanding of their role in the mission of the church is something many catechetical materials attempt. “But we must admit our own limitations,” he added.

“Any person’s faith development is a lifelong journey. That journey, even for young people, includes so many more variables than catechetical texts can be expected to provide,” he said.

Similarly, Sabrina Magnuson, a catechetical consultant for Loyola Press, said the institute’s aim of forming leaders who will in turn inspire and form parents, teachers and catechists in their home diocese is a daunting prospect.

“At the end of the day, the textbook is a resource, a tool,” she said. “Encounter is so much more than that.”

Bishop Caggiano said about 17 bishops plan to attend the institute’s launch, committing to using this new model in their dioceses, and he hopes more dioceses will join next year.

In the meantime, he said, participating dioceses will get the support they need to get this work started. It will also be a learning experience for all participating dioceses and a time to come to a deeper understanding of what parishes really need to make this work.

“It has to be the work of the Holy Spirit,” he added, and he also said it will need financial support that he hopes to get from those who want to be partners in this effort.

Catholic News Service | By Carol Zimmermann


Photo: A group including students from Sacred Heart Academy and Presentation Academy in Louisville, Ky., attend a prayer service for victims of human trafficking in 2019 in downtown Louisville. The U.S. bishops hope to better engage young people with the church through the Institute on the Catechism being launched Nov. 10-12, 2022, just ahead of their fall general assembly in Baltimore. (CNS photo/Ruby Thomas, The Record)

WESTPORT—Parishioners and friends gathered at St. Luke Parish on October 29 for a Mass and reception with Bishop Frank J. Caggiano in memory of Monsignor Andrew Varga. It was an opportunity to celebrate his life and support vocations in the Diocese of Bridgeport.

The warm and welcoming event was hosted by Father Kumar Xavariapitchai and Connie Von Zwehl, founder of the Monsignor Andrew Varga Scholarship Fund. She established the fund as a way to provide for diocesan seminarians in memory of Monsignor Varga, with the hope that other parishes will consider a similar program in the future to honor deceased priests.

Von Zwehl reflected on her parents’ dedication to St. Luke Parish as one of its founding families, and how grateful she was that she was able to attend her mother’s funeral service at St. Luke’s on the weekend when Bishop Caggiano officially reopened parishes during the coronavirus pandemic.

Walter Lohotsky, a close friend of Monsignor Varga, shared memories of him as a wonderful friend. Bishop Caggiano also reflected on fun, warm memories, including Monsignor Varga’s exceptional culinary skills, while focusing on the need for more seminarians and to pray for all priests.

The Blessed Michael McGivney Society was recently established in the Diocese of Bridgeport to support the educational and formation needs of seminarians in the diocese.

“It offers opportunities to accompany our seminarians on their discernment journey as they consider a calling to the priesthood,” said Pam Rittman, director of development and of the Annual Bishop’s Appeal. “Connie established the scholarship to honor Monsignor Varga and to help defray the cost of educating our seminarians. She graciously offered to match every donation contributed.”

Contributions to the Monsignor Varga Scholarship can be made at https://bit.ly/3DqmmDp or sent to the Diocese of Bridgeport Catholic Center, 238 Jewett Avenue, Bridgeport, CT 06606. Please make payments out to the Diocese of Bridgeport and specify the gift is for the Monsignor Varga Scholarship.

MILFORD– On Wednesday, September 7, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano visited Academy of Our Lady of Mercy, Lauralton Hall to celebrate its Opening Mass and meet with students.

Faculty, staff and students gathered in the historic chapel with the Bishop Caggianoof the Diocese of Bridgeport, presiding.

In his homily, the Bishop reminded the Lauralton community that being a disciple of Christ is a lifelong journey that we make one day at a time, and he spoke of his own personal journey and challenges in living as a Christian in action.

Mrs. Catherine Grace Gallagher ’85, P’15, P’16, P’18 shared: “I think the Bishop’s homily was memorable because it was so candid, and he was himself so personable. He came down from the altar and shared with us his experiences and his reflections.”

The bishop’s message resonated with students, faculty, and honored guest Board Chair Patrick Lagrange P’19.

During his visit the bishop also blessed the newly refurbished science lab, where the excited students and faculty celebrated Lauralton’s strong foundations in science and its commitment to STEM education with the newly refurbished science labs.

As she cut the ceremonial ribbon, President & Head of School Elizabeth Miller welcomed students and dedicated the labs “to all the alumnae who studied in these very rooms from 1930 to today. Those women are now engineers, architects, archaeologists, medical doctors, researchers, and so much more.”

The new facilities optimize work and traffic flow so that multiple student groups may inquire, experiment, and collaborate on distinct projects and models. The labs also promote interaction between our Science and Math Departments, a partnership that is so integral to the success of the STEM program.

Lauralton offers seven AP courses in math and science – AP Calculus AB, AP Calculus BC, Computer Science Principles AP, Statistics AP, Environmental Science AP, Chemistry AP, Physics 1 AP – and two Early College Experience (ECE) opportunities; those classes, Advanced Biology and Environmental Science, give students the chance to earn college credit and are taught by Lauralton faculty members who are certified through the University of Connecticut as adjunct faculty.

Pictures by Shades Shutters Photography

BRIDGEPORT– Bishop Caggiano learned one of the most profound lessons of his life from a homeless man, but the lesson was a kind of comeuppance that rerouted his way of thinking about the poor and his spiritual life.

In his homily at the noontime Mass celebrating the beginning of the new pastoral year for Catholic Center employees, the bishop said that service is not simply helping others, but learning to see them and respect them as children of God.

Speaking to 70 employees who gathered for the Mass and luncheon that followed, the bishop said that after graduating from college he worked briefly as a sales rep for McGraw Hill, and his commute often took him to the tunnel between 47th and 50th Streets in Manhattan, where the F train stops below Rockefeller Center.

In his desire to be a good Christian, each time he passed the homeless man who lived in the tunnel, he would give him $1.

“I was happy with myself,” he recalled, but he then grew to understand that there was a smugness and complacency to his spirituality, because he left one very important thing out of the encounter—he never asked the man his name!

The bishop said that after he was ordained and was serving as pastor of St. Dominic Church in Bensonhurst, the man’s face returned to him when he was sitting before the Blessed Sacrament.

“His face appeared to me vividly, and I wanted to address him, but realized that I’d never bothered to ask his name. I had seen him as the world saw him—as a problem to be solved, not a man with a name and a life.”

The bishop said the realization embarrassed him but expanded his spiritual path and changed the way he saw the world.

Reflecting on the beatitudes found in the Gospel of Luke, the bishop said the Lord teaches that those who are physically poor and afflicted are closer to God because they are unencumbered by wealth or privilege. In that sense, they are freer and more open to God’s gifts.

He said the Gospel has an important message for Catholic Center employees as they go about serving the poor through their ministries and social programs.

The bishop told employees that the renewal of the diocese and the larger Church will be found in the understanding that we are called to be servants of servants and to see each other as brothers and sisters.

“We come together not as an institution but as one family, and that means those who are entrusted to our care must be seen as the Lord sees them. God sees authority as service, not as power.”

The bishop said the homeless man helped him to grow spiritually, and that if he gets to heaven, he will have one question to ask the homeless man, who will surely be there, “What is your name?”

HARTFORD—The Most Rev. Frank J. Caggiano, Bishop of Bridgeport, will serve as a keynote speaker at the 2022 Connecticut Catholic Men’s Conference on September 24, at Northwest Catholic High School in West Hartford. “The Most Holy Eucharist” is the theme of the 15th annual Connecticut Catholic Men’s Conference, which has moved indoors again after two years of COVID-19 restrictions.

Bishop Caggiano said he is looking forward to participating in the conference, and he hopes that many men throughout our diocese join him for this day of renewal and spiritual enrichment. “The conference is a great opportunity for spiritual reflection, prayer and fraternity—one man to another offering encouragement as husband, fathers, and individuals who witness to Christ in their own lives. I strongly urge those within driving distance to reserve the time and join us,” he said.

“We’re gearing up for another incredible day of profound teaching, fellowship and awesome worship,” said Men’s conference director Ken Santopietro, who said he expects a large delegation from the diocese to attend the conference. The annual statewide conference is a collaboration between the Archdiocese of Hartford and the dioceses of Bridgeport and Norwich. “This event will serve not only as a Men’s Conference, but as a mini Eucharistic Congress that will serve the spiritual needs of our men who need to be knowledgeable about the Real Presence and advocates of their Catholic faith,” Santopietro said.

Santopietro said the image of our conference’s Eucharistic procession reflects the connection the CCMC has had to the Eucharist. “We knew this image expressed so well the truth Connecticut Catholic men have come to understand—that the Eucharist truly means that “God Is With Us.“ He said in order to drive home the importance of the Eucharist and the real presence to Catholic men,  the conference has invited the following speakers to join Bishop Caggiano at the Men’s Conference:

Father Chris Alar, MIC, entered the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, the religious community entrusted with spreading the message and devotion of Divine Mercy, as a postulant in July 2006. Prior to that time, he received a bachelor’s of science in industrial engineering and a master’s of business administration from the University of Michigan. After working as an engineering manager at a large automotive supplier in Detroit, he began his own consulting firm in Charlotte, North Carolina in 2000. Answering the Lord’s call, he attended Franciscan University of Steubenville, in Ohio, for his philosophy studies, Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C., for his theology studies, and he earned his Masters of Divinity degree from Holy Apostles Seminary in Cromwell, Connecticut. Father Chris wrote and produced the popular “Divine Mercy 101” and “Explaining the Faith” DVD series and is the author of the bestselling books After Suicide: There’s Hope for Them and for You, as well as Understanding Divine Mercy.

Father Wade L.J. Menezes, CPM is a member of the Fathers of Mercy, a missionary preaching Religious Congregation based in Auburn, Kentucky. Ordained a priest during the Great Jubilee Year 2000, he received his Bachelor of Arts in Catholic Thought from the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in Toronto, Canada and his dual Master of Arts and Master of Divinity Degrees in Theology from Holy Apostles Seminary in Cromwell, Connecticut.

Father Wade has been a contributing writer for the National Catholic RegisterOur Sunday Visitor, and other publications. He is also host of the EWTN interstitial series  “The Crux of the Matter” and “The Wonders of His Mercy”, and “In Defense of the Eucharist.” He is the author of two books: The Four Last Things: A Catechetical Guide to Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell and Overcoming the Evil Within: The Reality of Sin and the Transforming Power of God’s Grace and Mercy. Father Wade is also the host of EWTN Global Catholic Radio’s “Open Line Tuesday.”

Father Larry Richards: A gifted and captivating speaker, preacher, retreat master and author, Father Larry Richards, a native of Pittsburgh, Penn., was ordained to the priesthood on April 21, 1989 for the Diocese of Erie, Pennsylvania.

He has served as Pastor of St. Joseph Church/Bread of Life Community, also in Erie, since July 1, 2002. In addition, Father is the spiritual director and founder of DME (Divine Mercy Encounter) Retreat Program in the Diocese of Erie. He is the founder and president of “The Reason For Our Hope Foundation,” a non-profit organization dedicated to ‘spreading the Good News.’

Father Larry’s first book, “Be a Man! Becoming the Man God Created You To Be” was published by Ignatius Press in October of 2009, and was the #1 best seller by Ignatius Press in 2010. Father hosts the EWTN internet radio show called “The Reason For Our Hope” on Mondays and Fridays at 1 pm (EST), and the EWTN radio show called “Father Knows Best” on Mondays and Fridays at 4 am.

(Register online at: www.ctcatholicmen.org/purchase-tickets. For further information phone: 860.484.7950.)

June 25, 2022

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The historic United States Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe vs Wade will be remembered as a moment of recognition and obligation; recognition that the court’s decision will save untold innocent, unborn lives, and a reminder of our common obligation to reach out to pregnant women and children in need of our help.

Many faithful in our diocese have worked tirelessly over the years to provide a courageous witness in the public square to the rights of the unborn and the sanctity of human life. Their actions have been heroic and prophetic, and I am deeply grateful for their commitment.

Now through much sacrifice, advocacy, and prayer we have arrived at a place where we can move forward and build on this achievement by doing all that is possible to safeguard the lives of the most vulnerable among us. The work ahead to build a true culture of life must be shared by all of us, and it must be done with compassion and civility.

We are blessed to have many pro-life initiatives in our diocese. Through programs such as Malta House, Project Rachel, 40 Days for Life, and other efforts, we have been able to encourage and support women who choose life, and to provide shelter and other services to them during and after pregnancy. Likewise, our Project Rachel ministry works to bring healing and forgiveness to those who chose abortion. Yet much more needs to be done and we will be seeking ways to increase our pastoral and social services.

At this historic moment, let us offer our thanks and gratitude that our prayers and hard work have been answered.  Let us also remember that our Catholic faith has been consistent and unwavering in its belief that all human life must be protected and safeguarded from the moment of conception to natural death.

As we are encouraged by this long-awaited ruling, let us also acknowledge that our country remains divided and wounded. May this also be a time of reconciliation where all people of good will can find common ground to build a truly just and life-giving society.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano,

Bishop of Bridgeport

 

As I watched in horror at the scene unfolding in Texas, I, like so many other Americans, was deeply shaken by the senseless loss of life and our continuing inability to protect our children and so many others from gun violence.

Once again we are confronted with images of those bearing the unspeakable pain of losing a child, a classmate, a parent, or a friend. We have become bystanders to an ongoing national tragedy that shakes our faith in our institutions and in ourselves.

In the Diocese of Bridgeport, we are all too familiar with the pain and anguish of losing children in such a senseless act. We stand in prayerful solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Uvalde. May our Lord cling to them in their brokenheartedness, and our Mother Mary wrap them in the mantle of her comforting love. Likewise, we remember our Sandy Hook parents who had so much taken away from them, yet continue to work to safeguard all children in our society from the kind of gun violence that has once again disrupted so many lives and families.

I pray that in the days to come, as we rally around our brothers and sisters in pray and solidarity, let us also resolve ourselves to do whatever is necessary to take common sense steps at preventing this tragedy from occurring again.

The previous reflection originally appeared on Bishop Frank Caggiano’s Facebook page. Follow the Bishop for daily reflections and weekly homilies.

At this most troubling and distressing moment I would like to send my condolences to the McGrath family, and I urge all across the diocese to unite in prayer for the McGrath family, for members of the Fairfield Prep community, and for all those affected by this sudden loss and unthinkable tragedy. The incident is under investigation, and there is much we do not know about the circumstances. However, we do know it has left a deep and lasting trauma for the families and for the Fairfield Prep students and many others who must  deal with their grief and shock in the coming days.  They will need much prayerful support and guidance to move forward. Though we are shattered by this heartbreaking news, now is the time to be strong in our faith and resolve to lift up all in our prayers and our compassion.

(This op-ed was written by Bishop Caggioano for Hearst Newspapers and appears in papers today throughout Fairfield County)

At first glance at the news and the state of our world, it may seem challenging for any of us to sing the songs of alleluia this Easter morning. As we celebrate the feast of Easter in which Christians believe that the Lord Jesus broke the chains of sin and death, we may struggle in a very particular way to see the signs of such new life in our broken world. Where are the signs of Easter in the midst of so many tragedies and such profound suffering?

Pictured: Bishop Frank Caggiano administers ashes to 5-month-old Paschal Emejeamara and his mother, Maria, during Ash Wednesday Mass at St. Augustine Cathedral, in Bridgeport on March 2, 2022. Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

If we reflect upon the larger world, we need look no further than the atrocities and humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Ukraine. Innocent men, women and children are suffering unspeakable torture, fear, suffering and death at the hands of invaders waging an illegal, unjust and criminal war. I need not describe the scenes we have seen in real time since I am certain that they have burned themselves into our memories perhaps for the rest of our lives. So this Easter, we can ask, where are the signs of Easter’s promise of new life among so much pain?

Likewise, we can look closer to home and try to make sense of the rising tide of violence in our communities and streets. To see the recent attacks in a Brooklyn subway station– the same one that I traveled through all the years I attended high school–the scenes of wounded young people, a chaotic stampede and senseless violence and injury perpetrated upon innocent bystanders who were simply going about their ordinary lives is shocking and deeply unsettling. Once again, we can ask, where are the signs of Easter’s promise of new life among so much pain?

My dear friends, if we have the courage to search again within these scenes of pain and suffering, we may begin to see the signs of Easter where we least expected to see them.

For whose spirit does not gain hope and encouragement at the many Ukrainians who are valiantly and courageously fighting to protect and defend their neighbors and friend in their time of greatest need? How can we miss the many acts of courageous, sacrificial love that have been offered to those in need as members of our common human family? While we often cannot in a direct way enter into the struggle for freedom and justice in many parts of the world, our prayers, resources and advocacy can help make a profound difference in rolling back the waves of evil that threaten our sisters and brothers. These, my friends, are the signs of Easter’s victory over sin and death.

So too closer to home, as we reflect upon the courageous acts of assistance given to strangers on a subway, who for those brief moments loved each other as brothers and sisters, or the protection and aid given by first responders to all those fleeing from the random shots of a gunman, here too we can see the signs of Easter’s victory over sin, chaos and death.

We celebrate Christ’s victory over sin and death as a twofold invitation offered to all who believe in Him, carry his name as Christians or seek to live a life of good will. Easter invites us to follow in His footsteps to realize our final victory over sin and death in the glory of Heaven. However, it also challenges us to work for the victory over sin in the countless moments of our everyday lives.

We should also find hope in the understanding that Passover and the Muslim celebration of Ramadan have come together during this Holy Week as people around the globe unite in prayer and reverence, while lifting up their hopes, lives and voices to ask God’s protection and favor despite a world of travail and suffering.

While we cannot stop destruction when someone choses to be an agent of sin and death, we can serve as Christ’s hands, eyes, feet and heart in the world, and do what we can, despite the cost, to claim His victory wherever we can. It is in such acts of kindness, mercy, forgiveness, understanding, accompaniment, assistance and peace-making that we show the world that Christ is truly risen, alive in our hearts and leading us forward to share the signs of His Risen life with every person we meet.

Where are the signs of Easter’s promise of new life among so much pain? They are waiting for you and me to show them to the world.

I am delighted to announce Reverend Monsignor Thomas W. Powers has been appointed Rector of the Pontifical North American College in Rome beginning in the new academic year.

Monsignor Powers is eminently qualified for leadership of the College; not simply because of his past distinguished service in Rome and as adjunct spiritual director at the seminary, but also by temperament, openness of mind and heart, a sense of fairness, and a compassionate understanding of the challenges people face in their lives and families. He also brings scholarly knowledge of the international Church and its traditions to his role in leading the education and formation of the next generation of priests.

Those of us who have had the good fortune of working with Monsignor Powers are aware of his integrity, loyalty, courage and intellectual gifts. He has lived his life sacrificially for the Church and its people.

On a personal note, Monsignor Powers has been invaluable to me in his role as Vicar General. I will miss his discernment and judgement, the fraternity he brings to our priests, and his service as a collaborator in our efforts to renew the diocese. Most importantly, I am always inspired by his personal prayerfulness and commitment to leading a life of holiness.

As Monsignor Powers begins this new ministry in service of the Church, may the Lord continue to abundantly bless him!

The previous reflection originally appeared on Bishop Frank Caggiano’s Facebook page. Follow the Bishop for daily reflections and weekly homilies. 

As we begin the second week of Lent, the Church reminds us to embrace fasting and abstinence as essential spiritual practices during this time of penance and conversion. We know that the purposes of fasting and abstinence include divesting ourselves from unhealthy attachments to our possessions, deepening our spiritual hunger for Christ and to seek repentance for our sins.

As a child, I remember being taught by the Dominican sisters that fasting had another worthy purpose. The sisters asked us to remind our parents to set aside whatever money was saved by what we chose to eat on days of abstinence and fasting for donation to the poor. This allowed the spiritual work of fasting or abstinence to have a direct charitable effect.

Given the continued suffering endured by the people of the Ukraine, allow me to suggest that we donate whatever we “save” from our fasting and abstinence to help feed our brothers and sisters in the Ukraine. I can think of no better way to show our solidarity with the people of that war-torn country, as well as help us to grow in our spirit of gratitude for the blessings we sometimes take for granted. Such donations can be sent directly to CRS, the USCCB or any other worthy charitable organization.

The previous reflection originally appeared on Bishop Frank Caggiano’s Facebook page. Follow the Bishop for daily reflections and weekly homilies. To learn more about how Catholic Relief Services is helping our brothers and sisters in Ukraine, please click here.