The following is Bishop Caggiano’s homily for Christmas Eve

Good evening, everyone. Merry Christmas to you all. Thank you. A few years ago, I had the occasion to go to dinner with some boyhood friends couple of nights after Christmas. And of course, we reminisced of the old days and shared some war stories.

But much of the conversation really was reminiscing about Christmas and the experiences that we had growing up. And one of my friends spontaneously asked the question, what was your favorite Christmas hymn? Growing up, there were four of us. Silent night got three votes. I was the lone man out for my friends since as far back as I could remember.

The hymn I find most beautiful, most haunting, most provocative is Greensleeves. It is the english melody which begins with the words, “What child is this?” And of course, because I want to keep tonight merry, I will not sing it for you. But you know the words, “what child is this that laid to rest in Mary’s lap, sleeping? What is this child?”

You see, my dear friends, for 2000 years humanity has had to face that question and to answer it. Of course, many answers have been given through those ages. But you and I come here as a people of faith because we can answer it with our minds and hearts renewed. We come here to proclaim to all the world that this child, born in the quiet and silence and poverty of a manger in a small town in the middle, basically of nowhere, is Christ the Lord. The desire of every human heart, the fulfillment of what God promised us, the long awaited Messiah, the one who gives hope, the one who gives life, the one who is love himself, God made man.

And we join christians throughout the ages and throughout this world to proclaim that message, that this child has changed all creation and you and me. And so we come here to sing and proclaim in words this ancient faith.

But, my friends, to proclaim it in words is not enough. And so allow me to ask the question again. What is this child to me and you? And what is it that he is asking of us to give back to him? Another way to answer the question is, how will my life be different because of this child coming into my life?

What is it that I must do differently? How is it that I must respond by action? Because words are easy to speak. And perhaps the very place where Jesus was born can give us the answer to the question. For if you ever have the occasion to go to the holy land, to Bethlehem, which tonight we remember, sits in quiet because its inhabitants live in the midst of a war where many have died and are dying.

The place where the prince of peace was born and a land that yearns for peace that still eludes it deeply. If you and I were to go to the basilica of the nativity, we would find that the entrance to the basilica is completely blockaded and has been for 500 years, to protect it against those who invaded it over and over and over again. And the only way to enter into it is a small door. And the only way to enter in is literally to bow down, to go into the basilica and enter into the presence of this child. And that gesture is the answer to the question, what is it that you and I to do for this child?

You and I are to bow down through this door of humility and dare to walk in his footsteps, to give over to this child our very heart, our very life. You may be saying, bishop, what does that look like? Allow me to paint a brief picture. You see, my friends, in a world of great entitlement, you and I are asked to bow down and offer a heart that is grateful for everything we have, big and small, extraordinary and ordinary, in a world then as now, that did not find room for God when he came. You and I are to offer our hearts in humility and have a welcoming heart to all around us, even those with whom we don’t agree, even those who are our immigrants in our midst, even those whom the world has no place for in the world out there, my friends, that oftentimes divides.

A world out there that finds no mercy, a world out there that is sometimes cold and cruel. As it was on the day Christ was born in Bethlehem, so, too, you and I respond how? With a humble heart that dares to be forgiving, understanding, kind and loving, even when it hurts.

You see, my friends, we are going to bow down and adore the Christ child. And we are asked to do it in our words, in our actions, today and every day of our lives. And so we come here to pray for the grace to do that, for it is not easy. But walking in the footsteps of this child has never been easy. But for those who persevere, they will walk unto eternal life with Him.

So I ask you, what is your favorite Christmas hymn? Whatever it is, leave this church and sing it with all your hearts, wherever you go. And by our lives, let us continue to proclaim that. Who is this child? He is Christ the Lord.

The following is Bishop Caggiano’s homily for the Second Sunday of Advent

My dear friends, the very first time in my life that I looked upon the desert with my own eyes was the very first time I went to visit the Holy Land. And it was the desert that we hear described in the Gospel, the very desert that John the Baptist entered and invited others to follow to seek conversion of life. There are many ways to describe that experience. It is really impressed in my memory, but perhaps these are the sort of words that can best describe it. Certainly it is a formidable place, the desert.

I could not imagine being lost in it, because if one were lost in it, you would surely perish. But it is also beautiful in its own way. In a very strange sort of a way. It’s beautiful, eerily so. There’s almost a fascination with the desert which needs to be tempered.

And of course, above all else, it is silent. I was with a group of priests and I found my way drifting off, and so I was on my own. One could say the silence was deafening.

And it seems to me if we were to speculate as to why John the Baptist preached this message of conversion in the desert, in fact, it is precisely the silence that may have been part of the motivation, because John’s message to his people and to you and me is one of conversion. And if we wish to convert our life literally, as we say in Greek, metanoia, to change one’s face, to change its direction, to seek radical holiness in life, that’s not possible unless you and I devote ourselves to prayer, to deep and profound prayer. And what I’d like to suggest is, if you and I are serious about praying, then we need to rediscover the power of silence, quiet in a very busy and frenetic world.

The truth is, my friends, many of us struggle with that to find, if I may say, our personal desert in the busyness of our lives, a place where we can lay aside all of the concerns and anxieties and worries and thoughts that you and I have that kind of impinge on our lives, that kind of motivate the things we do. It’s very hard to take the demands of life away for a bit and to sit in silence.

It is in that silence that you and I need to remember that prayer is not time to seek things from the Lord. It is also a time to seek the Lord. And they are not the same thing for many times when you and I sit to pray, if we can carve that silence for very good intentions, we have a long list of things we ask the Lord for, for ourselves, for our spouses, for our children, for our friends and neighbors, for the world and the needs of the world, which are so many. And all of that, my friends, is good.

But what about the Lord himself?

What about entering into the silence with nothing to say and nothing to ask for, except for Him to sit before Him? So what can happen? So that, like a gentle mirror, the Lord could hold the mirror up to you and me, and we can see reflected back not only the good that we have done and the good people we strive to be, but also with His mercy and gentleness, to begin to glimpse where we have failed, where we have sinned, where we have compromised, where we have become mediocre, where we have become lukewarm, where we have become no different than the world out there. And many times, my friends, we fear that the Lord will judge us. But the truth is, the Lord does not come first and foremost to judge us.

He comes to invite us to new life, to invite us to begin again in Him. And He will provide his mercy and grace so that we can admit in honesty our faults and failings and begin to turn our lives where it is necessary to walk a path of conversion that will take our life to reach its destination. But if we do not seek Him, then I’d like to suggest we cannot truly seek a road of conversion, for it’s not something to do. It is something to be. And we must find Him so he may lead us to ever greater holiness of life.

So may I ask you a question? In the second week of Advent, and this advent, as you know, is very brief.

Where is your desert? Where is mine? Where do you find in your life the intentional decision to go into a place that is beautiful, formidable, and profoundly quiet? Are you and I ready to find that place, to carve out the time whenever it may be, and to enter into that place and not ask things of the Lord, but to seek the Lord, to have the courage to run into that space and not worry about what will happen. Not worry about, I’ll be okay.

Not worry about. Could I get lost in it? Just go in. And to find him, the gentle, loving, merciful shepherd who will take us by the hand, reveal to us our faults and failings, grant us the grace of his mercy, and walk with us in life, to eternal life.

My friends, this coming April, I was to visit the Holy Land. But unfortunately, that pilgrimage has been canceled because of the terrible war that is going on in the Holy Land. It is so deeply paining for all of us to consider that the very land the Lord walked, the Savior Redeemer, is marred with so much violence and destruction, so much hatred and bitterness. We pray for the prince of peace. We pray that peace will find its way in the Holy land for all those who are suffering.

But please God, peace will be restored. And please God, we will be able once again for those who have the opportunity to go back to the land that is holy, because the Lord walked there. And I think to myself that the very first place I want to go to when I return, if it is God’s will to return, is back to the desert.

My dear friends, rejoice in the Lord always. I say it again. Rejoice. Those are the words we just heard from St. Paul to the people of Philippi.

And, of course, tonight we do gather here with great joy in our hearts, all of us. Because in our midst are 40 of our sisters and brothers who have been chosen to be honored by Pope Francis for their extraordinary witness, for their deep generosity, for the great conviction of their hearts and faith, as in the midst of our church, as catalysts – catalysts of hope.

And yet it is remarkable, isn’t it, my friends, that those words come from the man who was no stranger to suffering and challenge. By the time St. Paul wrote these words to the people of Philippi, he had already been shipwrecked more than once, imprisoned, literally escaped by the skin of his teeth, certain death precisely because of his faith and commitment to Jesus Christ.

And yet Paul was a man who knew that God’s grace could overcome any challenge, any difficulty, any suffering for those who are willing to stand firm in faith. And so when you see rejoicing in that context, it also gives us a clue why we are here in the first place and why those of you, my dear friends, who are being honored are being honored tonight.

For you yourselves have been no stranger to not only challenge in your own lives, which we all share, but to see clearly the challenges of our sisters and brothers those who are poor, those who are homeless, those who are sick, those who are young, seeking an education to be formed in the mind of Christ. Those of you who walk quietly and generously in your life, making a difference in so many unassuming ways for those who are facing such profound challenge. Many, when they see such challenge, walk away. But you did not, and you do not, and you will continue not to. Why?

Because the same faith and conviction that burned in the heart of St. Paul burns in your heart and has for some for many, many years.

You see, my friends, you may be tempted to believe that you are here solely because of the good works that you have done. And that is, in fact, one reason you are here. But it is not the most important reason you are here. You are here because you have been chosen precisely because you have lived a life that demonstrates sin, who can rejoice in the Lord and make a difference in those who face challenge and suffering day in and day out. You are here because of who you are more than what you have done.

Now, you may say, Bishop, that’s lovely. It’s quite slowly. But what do you really mean?

Well, let me demonstrate it by this way. When you ask young people why they left the Church and they have left the Church in large numbers, the number one reason might surprise you. It certainly surprised me. It is not, first and foremost, the teachings of the Church, even the moral teachings of the Church. Certainly they struggle with them.

But it is not the principal reason they’ve walked away from the Church. It is not the misgivings and the sins of the leaders of the Church which trouble all of us. But the number one reason they cite why they leave the Church is because they do not see integrity of life among the Christians. They know or to put it bluntly, they know many Christians who talk the talk and do not walk the walk. And they say, if it’s not worth walking, why are you asking me to walk it with you?

You, my dear friends, are here being honored because you are among those who walk the walk. For you are men and women of deep integrity, who don’t just speak about your faith, just don’t simply do the things of faith, but that in every plot, in every moment of your lives, you have been like St. Paul, a woman or man whose faith animates and radiates your heart. And if you’re thinking sitting there, he’s talking about someone else and not me, I am talking about you.

All of you who are being honored are deeply humble, and many of you have done things that no one will ever know. But what everyone does know, because you cannot hide it, is that you are a people who love Christ and are not ashamed to show it in every day of your life. And that, my dear friends, is a reason for the whole Church to rejoice. And Pope Francis is inviting all of the Church to rejoice with you.

Allow me one last thought, because I see you’re all very uncomfortable.

Can you imagine how many people’s lives you have touched in so many small and big ways? Children who had a path to an education they would not have dreamt of before? Someone who is homeless, who now has a place where his or her name is known and they considered our guests, not our clients. How many people have you touched by the simple smile that radiates an honesty of a hospitality and a devotion that perhaps a person has not encountered for a very long time?

Consider, young and old, the thousands, the tens of thousands, perhaps even more than that, whose lives have been made better, more whole and more holy because they simply met. You, my dear friends. That is why you’re here.

You have been ambassadors of the Renewal of the Church long before there ever was a Bishop Caggiano here in Bridgeport. And the truth is, you are my greatest and most important colleagues to continue the renewal of the Church. Because the renewal of the Church will not be any grand program, any grand initiative. It’s no great banner. There’s none of that.

All those days are over. The Renewal of the Church is going to be one person of authentic life, touching the life of someone else. And when we touch one after another after another, we begin to create a tsunami of renewal. And you, my friends, are at the forefront of that. And for this reason, I can say, in the name of Francis, the successor of Peter himself, and all the good people of this diocese, thank you for your witness and for the remarkable men and women you are.

St. Paul says rejoice in the Lord. I say it again. Rejoice in your midst. My friends, this night it is easy to rejoice.

And so I congratulate you. And I thank you. And we have more work to do. And together we will bring that renewal to the whole Church.

BRIDGEPORT— Accountability Sunday in the diocese is set for December 3, when all diocesan parishes, schools and other entities will simultaneously issue their financial reports to the faithful using a standardized accounting reporting model.

Michael Hanlon, CPA, chief financial officer of the diocese, said every diocesan entity is required to report annually the results of their financial activities for the fiscal year ending June 30. The individual reports will be made accessible either through parish bulletins or websites.

Accountability Sunday was mandated by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano in 2021 to ensure financial transparency and provide a standardized template for reports issued by parishes and schools.

Hanlon said the bishop’s leadership has led to a reporting model that is consistent, uniform and accessible to parishioners throughout the diocese.

“Our goal is to communicate to all parishioners and donors that good stewardship is being practiced, and to provide a standard report that is uniform and transparent. We are stewards of all funds entrusted to us as we continue fiscally responsible and prudent decision making at all levels of the diocesan management team,” he said.

Hanlon said the diocese had had a very positive response since initiating Accountability Sunday.

“It has allowed everyone to access a simple method to understand the financial conditions of reporting diocesan entities. I believe it’s a way to show our gratitude and respect for those who give sacrificially to support their parish or other entities and the larger work of the Church.”

Hanlon said that the Accountability Sunday financial statements are designed so that the average person in the pew who may not have experience reading financial reports could understand the financial details. He added that the reports may show that without other revenue sources, including fundraising activities undertaken by parishes and schools, many would report operational deficits.

Hanlon said the diocese has led the way by publishing its audited financial statements and its annual budget in Fairfield County Catholic and on its website. As the October issue of Fairfield County Catholic reported, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano and the Finance Council of the Diocese of Bridgeport have approved a fiscal year ending June 30, 2024 operating budget with a total of $24,432,690 in revenues and $24,413,694 in expenditures, representing an $18,996 projected budgeted surplus.

(The complete diocesan audited reports are available online. To learn more, visit the diocesan website:

The following is Bishop Caggiano’s homily given at the Annual Red Mass February 5, 2023

My dear sisters and brothers in the Lord. One of the very first tasks I was asked to attend to after I received word that I was going to be named the auxiliary Bishop of Brooklyn was to create a coat of arms. And I had absolutely no idea how to do that. I always thought coats of arms were like mystic houses of monarchs and kings. And I said, do I need one?

And they said, oh, no, absolutely, you need one. So after a few days of trying to struggle as to how you do this, a kind, gentle, older priest said, Frank, you highlight the people, the saints, the ones in your life that truly matter. The Lord, our lady and St. Michael.

Now, it’s interesting. There are two symbols that represent St. Michael’s, and so I chose one. One that all of you who are here as part of the legal profession know very well. It is the symbol of the scales. And the reason for that is St. Michael is the guardian of the Divine Law. He is the keeper of the Gates of Heaven, and he is the one to ensure that those who enter into glory are the ones who have followed the Divine Law.

Those of us here in the legal profession, Lady Justice blindfolded holding the scale, is a reminder that entrusted to you, who are the administrators and the guardians of the law, your noble profession and vocation is to ensure that the law is administered equally justly, one could say blindly, so that the law can fulfill its basic purpose. In short, to allow for the right ordering of society, the protection of the common good, the protection of individual rights within that common good, so that society can enshrine its values and live by them. And if I may put it in religious terms, that all God’s children can live in justice, equality and peace. And that is why you’re here today, so that the whole church can pray for you, because your vocation is noble and is being lived in very difficult circumstances. And to add to the difficulty is the Lord Himself, because in His great kindness, He offers to all of us whether we are the guardians of the divine law or the guardians of our civil law.

A great challenge today, and He wastes no time in spelling out exactly what it was, is, and presumably will always be.

He challenges the scribes who are the teachers of the law and the Pharisees, who valued themselves as the perfect practitioners of the law and reminded them that there is a duty more than just following the letter of the law.

Many times, my friends, we follow the law because we fear the consequences of breaking it. And that is a motivating factor. But the law exists for more than that. It enshrines values, goods that, whether the law existed or not, should in fact mark our common life and my life and yours in our journey of discipleship. We speak of the letter of the law and the spirit of the law.

And the Lord is reminding us that it is not enough to administer and protect the law. But it is also for you and I, in His Divine Law and our civil law to embrace the values upon which those laws were created and to live them every day of our lives.

The difficulty is, for those of you who practice the law day in and day out and day out you can’t legislate somebody’s heart.

And that is true even in the realm in which we now sit. For we can easily fall into the temptation to follow the laws of the Church and not have them touch our lives.

So what are we to do? Particularly in a world where in the church and in civil society the common good is fracturing before our very eyes and that we cannot even begin to agree on the values upon which the law was created in the first place? Where do we go from here? How do we follow the Lord’s mandate to live the Spirit and the letter both? My friends, you will have to turn to a much smarter preacher than me to have the answer to that question.

But this much I can offer as advice, for it haunts me now. I wish it will haunt you as well.

If you cannot legislate the Spirit, what you and I can do is witness to it is to order our lives in such a way that we need not ever fear breaking the law because we are living the spirit of the law ever more deeply and perfectly in our life. To persuade society to find its way back to unity and peace to persuade our sisters and brothers that the greater value is not to avoid punishment, but it is to strive for greatness. If you and I, who administer and are the guardians of the law are given this noble task to allow our society to find what it seeks that every human heart may find the peace it deeply desires then perhaps the best way forward is for you and I personally, to commit ourselves to be a mirror, a shining example, a life of integrity that takes the very values that you and I believe in and the values that our society are built on and to live them ever more perfectly in our life. Whether we are in the courtroom, whether we are in the supermarket, whether we are in the sacred space of our churches that heroic, zealous witness is far more persuasive than any homily, any law brief, any talk that can ever be given.

And it seems to me the Lord, in his great kindness is reminding us that we can find a way forward not simply by protecting the letter of the law, but to be women and men who live the spirit of the law.

And to do it to the best of our ability in grace.

My dear friends, I mentioned the fact that there are two symbols for St. Michael. There is another symbol. And when I came to Bridgeport, I was asked to change it, so I did.

I’m very obedient. It’s fine. Let’s change it. And the symbol now, for St. Michael the second symbol is the fiery sword because it is to Michael to administer injustice whatever punishment is meted out to those who do not follow God’s commands.

We are not given a fiery sword, but what we are given the task to walk together as sisters and brothers to lead those of goodwill with us to embrace the values that will allow all of us never to have to face the fiery sword of God.

The following is Bishop Caggiano’s homily given at the Diocese’s 70th Anniversary Mass, Saturday, October 21, 2023

My dear sisters and brothers in the Lord,

“To thine own self be true.”

I remember reading those words for the very first time in freshman English class. Of course, they come from the opening acts of probably one of the most famous plays ever written in English, written by Shakespeare – Hamlet. And at the time I remember it so vividly because it struck me as both quite reasonable and also quite challenging. Reasonable because I would think everyone and anyone would want to live a life of authentic integrity, to be at peace with one another and be at peace to reveal who we are to the world, who / whatever that person may be. But challenging because, as I learned in 13 and I learned at 64, it is a work in progress to live that life of deep integrity, authenticity. To be able to truly be true to oneself.

Now people of goodwill will strive to do that, for obvious reasons. But for you and I, on this most important day, gather as believers and followers of the Lord, we must remind ourselves, my friends, that for us it is not an option. For we are called, each of us, to be true to our own selves in Jesus Christ.

For consider who we are. That although all of us are sinners, nonetheless on the day of our baptism we were claimed by the Father and made His sons and daughters in Grace. On that day you and I were forgiven original sin and all the sins we may have have committed up to that point. And we be given a destiny and a mission of holiness, destiny of eternal life. And all of us baptized are the dwelling of the Holy Spirit, so the very Living God and me inspiring us, enlightening us, giving us the Seven Gifts of His Grace so that by being true to who we are in Christ, we may become His presence in the world.

We can add our voices to Peter and to Thomas in response to the question we heard today from the Lord: who do you say that I am, being true to ourselves? We can say you are our Lord and our God, you are our Our Savior and Our Redeemer, you are the deepest desire of my heart, you are my only lasting hope.

And when we are true to ourselves in Christ, we take seriously the great call the Lord asks of us, to find the time to recognize His presence, to encounter Him over and over and over again, every day. To fall more and more in love with Him because He is the center of my life, and yours. And with Him we have everything. And without Him we have nothing.

But my dear friends, on a day like today when we gather here to celebrate the anniversary of the founding of our local Church by the successor of Peter himself, reminded that to be true to ourselves in Christ means that we must always remember discipleship is never lived alone.

Look at this church, look at the diversity of God’s people. Who alone could claim us as His own and forge us into a family where the bonds of grace are more powerful than the bonds of blood and nature? Look upon this gathering here in all our different vocations. And who are we, in fact, but branches of a divine vine? We are members of a living, mystical body. The world out there thinks we’re some venerable human institution that does some charitable work, helps educate kids…they kind of tolerate us in the modern world. But they are blind to what we see.

Because you see, my friends, in this Holy Church, what we see is that you and I are the assembly of those who worship and open the doors of eternal life. Here is where heaven and earth meet. Here is where we receive the fortaste of the banquet that will never end. It is for this reason, my friends, that we gather here to remember that we are the universal sacrament of salvation. For there is no salvation without the presence of Christ. And we are His living presence in the world. We, who are His disciples, we are the sons and daughters of His heavenly Father.

And on this day when we remember the founding of our local Church seventy years strong, we come here with gratitude. For we stand on the shoulders of giants. Bishops, priests, deacons, women and men in consecrated life, lay faithful of every race and language and culture. For seventy years, nearly four generations before us, they struggled with zeal, with courage, with fidelity, with generosity, and made the church alive and real in so many ways that I could not even begin to enumerate here today.

We come here with thanksgiving, as we look to the past that we have as a local Church which was certainly not without difficulty, not without challenge. But life is filled, at times, with challenges. But with a heroism and a zeal and a fidelity, that there is no way I can fully describe. And we come here to give thanks that we are part of that family, that is part of another family that began in the upper room with the apostles, our lady, and the great Martyrs of our Church.

We would not be here if they had not come before us. And today we thank them. And many of them have gone to the Lord and we pray that every single one of them rests in the glory of everlasting life.

But my friends, we must remember they did not have an easy time of being true to themselves. Consider, in this state, it was until the end of the second decade of the 19th century that Catholics were actually given the right to vote. It was in the 20th century that fellow Christians stopped gathering together, to oppose Catholics to have any role in society. It has not been easy. And yet those who came before us in the individual struggles they faced, and in the corporate struggles this assembly faced, they remained true.

And so in this moment of Grace I want to remind all of us that we are no strangers to challenges, are we not? Certainly. But the challenges of our modern world are different. For what do we face? We face the spectre of mediocrity, irrelevance. We face the spectre and the challenges of that world that wants us to simply go away. And we are going nowhere.

I invite you, my friends, as we begin this writing this new chapter in the life of our local Church, that we strive to be true to who we are in Christ. That each of us strives to seek radical Holiness so that our Lord is not a mystical, historical figure but He is the friend who caresses our heart every day. And despite my faults and yours, to also seek to accompany each other, all of us, as sisters and brothers, so that we could realize the vision of Augustine, our Patron who says “the tears of one are the tears of all. The joys of one are the joys of all.” And zeal in joyful optimism that shining fervently in faith, hope, and love. That world out there that wants to make us irrelevant will stop in its tracks and come to realize that what it seeks, what it hopes for, what it longs for, it can find it right here in Jesus Christ.

You know, we all know “to thine own self be true”, Polonius’ words to his son in the first act, third scene of Hamlet. But he offers that advice to his son because a fruit comes from it. If you read the rest of the line it says, and I am paraphrasing, that one who does that cannot do harm to his brother or sister.

My dear friends, on this joyful day when we move forward in optimism and grace, let us consider what it is that awaits us. If you and I, this day and every day, are true to who we are in Christ, the scriptures told us we will rise resplendant. We, you and I will see the beginnings of a new Heaven and a new Earth. You and I will be invited to become members of a Kingdom that will never end. And my friends, we will have the great Grace to be able to answer the question of the Lord. Looking Him straight in the face and to proclaim to Him what our life as individuals, and as this one family of faith, will proclaim to all the world: you are my Lord and my God. To Him be glory and honor, now and forever. Amen.

The following is Bishop Caggiano’s homily at the Annual Saint Luke Guild Mass:

My dear sisters and brothers in the Lord,

They were words that were burned into my mind and into my heart. Words that I never expected to be said, although somewhat feared that they would be said. The diagnosis is non-small cell lung cancer and it was spoken to my mother. And I froze in the response, of which I had none. And my mother, in her great holiness, just sat there with that look of resignation that I knew very well.

And it began an odyssey of thirteen months. And its an odyssey that taught me, my friends, very personally, the beauty and power of Christian healing. For my mother had the privilege to be attended at Memorial Sloan Kettering, which is a secular, private hospital. And yet, as grace would have it, her attending physician and all those who cared for her, were deeply faithful Catholics. And they showed my mother the face of the healing power of Christ.

For you see my friends, they certainly tried to attend to her disease as best they could. But they also recognized from the beginning that my mother, and I, and you, and they are destined as pilgrims for a greater life. They revered her dignity as a child, daughter of God, and yet they attended to her spirit as well.

In the those moments of doubt and fear and isolation that even the greatest believers have when they face a medical challenge that is deeply grave, they accompanied her on her journey. And as I said, they showed the face of Jesus.

For what is Catholic health care, my friends?

That which we celebrate here today. We celebrate the men and women who are doctors, physicians, nurses, physician aides, healthcare workers, attendants in hospitals, every single person who allows health care to be delivered. We celebrate all of them today. But what is it that they do together? It seems to me that they extend the healing Ministry of Jesus Christ. For we hear in the Gospels that the Lord healed, and He did – interestingly, He healed more those afflicted in spirit than those afflicted in the body. But He healed them both. And He healed them as a sign of a Kingdom that was coming in Him. That we would all please God one day to the mystery of death which is inevitable For all of us will enter into His Glory by His Mercy.

Isaiah spoke of about it today in the first reading. The mountain we will dwell on, the mountain of the Glory of God where even death itself will be destroyed. Christ has brought that to us. And in His Ministry of Healing, He seeks to make whole what is broken, but always recognizing the infinite value and dignity of every human person made in the image and likeness of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

And He comes to heal not just the body, but the spirit. And my friends, it seems to me often times, healing the spirit is far more difficult than healing the body. And it is a Ministry that doesn’t just practition, but it’s a Ministry of compassion. Catholic healthcare walks with people on their journey. For those who are doctors and nurses and other healthcare workers, I could imagine the difficulty in your own spirit when there is a diagnosis that you know there will be a point – there will be nothing else to do except walk in faith. To walk so that no one walks alone to the great wedding feast that Jesus refers to us in the Gospel.

My dear friends, all of you who who are here, who are involved in health care in any way possible, every way possible, when you do it in the name of Jesus you are offering a Ministry that is beyond price. You are the co-workers of the building of the Kingdom. You are the face of Christ to those who are facing difficult moments in their life journey. And every year we come here, I come, we come to say thank you for doing that, reflecting that, being the instruments of healing and compassion in the name of Jesus.

But this year we will do one more thing. And you will notice from your program, when my homily is complete, I will have the great privilege to inaugurate a new Guild that is a company, a community, a fraternity of sisters and brothers who share the same healthcare Ministry. So that they might be fed and strengthened in the work Christ has chosen for them. For my friends, you know how difficult it is to be faithful to Christ in our modern world. And in the world of healthcare there are many challenges, in a world that wants to make Health Care a business. Those who are Catholic healthcare professionals make it a Ministry. And that is difficult.

And so we are creating a new Guild in honor of St. Luke, physician and evangelist, so that those who give compassion may receive it. Those who give healing might themselves be accompanied in the times when they need strength and fortitude, to grow together in prayer and formation, and to walk with each other and please God. I to walk with them. So that they may remain strong and faithful in the Ministry Christ has asked of them. And to which everyone in this church is deeply grateful for.

So my friends we heard in the Gospel that Jesus, the man who gave the feast, said go out and get everyone. And those who came were not prepared, were thrown out. Because we do not know the day or the hour, when perhaps a doctor, nurse or someone may say to us, the diagnosis is X. And therefore you and I need to be ready.

But how fortunate we are, that whether the diagnosis is the flu or the diagnosis is non-small cell lung cancer, how fortunate we are that we have here, in this church and throughout our Diocese and throughout the world, we have sisters and brothers who are the face of Jesus to us as we journey onto eternal life.

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

My dear sisters and brothers in the Lord,

As Jesus does each time, He teaches us a parable. Today the Lord, in this Parable, is teaching us what the Kingdom of God will look like. The Kingdom of Heaven that He brought by His life, death, and resurrection. A Kingdom that we are all walking towards with His help and the power of the Holy Spirit.

But as He also does in His parables, He’s also asking us to look inside of ourselves so that we might be ready to receive the Gift. And more than that, that you and I are ready today to help build that Kingdom in this world with His grace.

And so today in the parable of the tenants and the vineyard, the Lord is building on what Isaiah had taught centuries before. It seems the more time passes, the more things stay the same. And in the time of Isaiah. he preached, gave this image of a vineyard. Remember, my friends, the vineyard is not a place. As we heard from the psalm, it is a people in the time of Isaiah. God’s chosen people.

And what did they do when they heard about this message of life, of a Kingdom? They rejected it. Because it demanded that they change their lives. It demanded that they they look deep within themselves, that they be obedient to the words of the prophets, that they set aside their sin, they seek a new life. And many said no.

So too for the Lord Jesus. Remember, He is the King of the Kingdom. And in the parable we hear that even when the Son comes to preach a Word, what? Not of judgment, but a Word of mercy, of kindness, of forgiveness, of patience. Many who heard Him then, and many who hear Him now, refuse to change their lives, Refuse to walk in His footsteps, Refuse to live as He asks us to live, imitating Him.

So allow me to ask you a question. How do you and I avoid the fate of those who say no? How is it that you and I can say yes to the Lord Jesus and to what He asks?

Well you see, my friends, if you look at this parable of the tenants, let me ask you another question. If you were the owner of the vineyard and you sent one person to try to reason with the people who were tending the vineyard, or a second person, or a third person, or a fourth person, and everyone you sent got beat up, got manhandled, got thrown into a pit, and you heard all this and you kept sending people, and they kept doing the same thing, let me ask you – would you send your son or your daughter to those people? Would you put someone who was so dear to you in harm’s way? Would you or I actually risk he or she, whom we love, perhaps the most, to send them to a people who showed themselves to be stubborn and ungrateful? Would you do that?

I’m not sure I would. But God did. And that’s the point.

For you see, my dear friends, the lesson of the parable is that God never gives up on us. God’s love for us is so deep, so beautiful, so profound, that he will offer you and me everything and anything, even his most beloved Son, whom we depict here on the cross. There is no limit to God’s love for us because He wants us to be part of His Kingdom. He wants us to receive what our hearts truly desire. He wants to give you and me the joy and peace only He can give. He wants you and I to be free from our sins. He wants us to run and laugh and dance as His own children. And He will spare nothing so that we might have the chance to have so great a gift.

And how sad it is that there are so many who say no.

How do you and I avoid saying no? Well allow me me to ask you one day to look in the mirror, the mirror of your own spirit, as I will mine. And mirrors do not lie, do they? And look deep within your own heart and ask yourself the question, what prevents me from doing to my neighbor what God is offering for me? What is it that I can do more to help my sister, brother, husband, wife, neighbor, classmate, or friend so that I may show to them the Lord Jesus alive in me? Who is it in your life that you are refusing to forgive? When will you and I forgive them? Who in your life, in my life, do we have a grudge? And we say to ourselves, well only if the person does this or this or this, maybe I’ll speak to them.

But God does not do that to us. Why do we do it to others? How far will you and I walk to be merciful and kind and forgiving, even when we get nothing back in return?

For you see, my dear brothers and sisters, in order to enter into the Kingdom, you and I must become like the King, in this case the vineyard owner. And if you and I live lives where we only want to be faithful until it’s comfortable, we only want to be faithful until it hurts maybe just a a little bit, that we’re willing to be comfortable only to the point where everyone else around me is doing the same thing. If you and I want to be part of this Kingdom, then my dear friends, what the Lord is asking of us is to dare to live as He did.

And that is not easy. It is not easy to give and receive nothing back. It’s very difficult to forgive when a person may not return the forgiveness to us. But that is what we are called to do, one step at a time. And we come here to the Altar of God because what we cannot do, He can do in us.

And boys and girls, for those of you who are here from religious education, remember you are going to learn about your faith. Not so much that it stays here, but it has to move to here. And it has to move to here as you walk and live and talk. And choose friends who will help you to imitate the Lord Jesus.

My dear friends, allow me to end by asking you one last question. What would it take in your life to do what the landowner did? What has to change in your life or mine so that we can give up everything for Jesus? And perhaps we could spend this week asking our ourselves that question. And to the extent that we can get an answer, we have work to do.

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

My dear friends,

For about a year and a half between College Seminary and major Seminary, I worked in the world as a salesman for McGraw-Hill Publishing Company. And my territory was New York and the greater region. And part of my job was to just visit my customers to make sure they were happy.

I had one customer in particular, the most important one I had, who as soon as she saw me did not like me. And nothing I could do could change that. So much so that we saw each other face to face the first time I went, and not after that. For as soon as I would show up and they announced that I was there, she would walk down the hall, always in front of me, and I would be talking to her but she wouldn’t be looking at me. And then she’d go into her office and close her door on my face. And I knew the visit was over, and I go home.

In those months when I worked for McGraw Hill I also was considering, reflecting, praying on whether I had made the right decision, whether the Lord was really calling me to be a priest. And because at times I can be stubborn, it took almost 20 months to realize that everything I wanted, which I had, was not what I needed. What I needed is to follow God’s will.

So I decided to go back to the Seminary. And so my district manager said ‘Frank, you have to go visit this person and tell her yourself.’ I thought, ‘okay’.

So I arrived, and she’s walking down the hall, and I’m right behind her. And she was so far ahead of me that I literally had to scream out. And I said to her, ‘by the way, I’m leaving’. And she stopped, and she turned around, so I saw her face to face for the only second time. And she said to me – I’m going to change the phrasing because we’re in church – she said she said to me, ‘who would hire you?’ And I said ‘Jesus’.

And my friends, the reaction was amazing. You could see her face, I saw her face change. Her shoulders, they were always like this, began to relax. And for the first time, not yelling but whispering, she said to me, ‘What did you just say?’

I said ‘Jesus. I’m going back to the Seminary to be a priest.’

And then she was at her door, she flung the door open and she said to her secretary, ‘cancel my appointments’. And she said ‘you’, pointing to me, ‘you come with me’.

And I went into her office for the first time, which was the last day I was there, and for almost two hours she talked. And I just sat there. And she talked about her life, which was a life filled with a lot of suffering, a lot of pain, a lot of wounds. And I don’t think I said five words. And at the end she was kind of cordial. She wished me well. And I left the school. And I was on Seventh Avenue in Manhattan and I said to myself, ‘what was that? what happened?’ And then the words of the second reading today came to mind.

Saint Paul and Philippians sings at the name of Jesus, ‘every knee shall bend in the heavens on Earth, and under the Earth. And every tongue professed to the Glory of God the Father Jesus Christ is Lord, the name of Jesus.’

You see my dear friends, all of us come here to this church with our own names given to us in baptism. But many times we forget that we have one name we all share together, also given to us in baptism. In that name is Christian. For we are all named after Jesus the Christ.

And we know in baptism we were given the gift of the Holy Spirit, the forgiveness of original sin, the enlightenment of our minds, and the gifts of faith, hope, and love.

But what we sometimes forget is that we will also given the Name of Jesus. And with the Name of Jesus comes power, and grace, and authority for us to use in service of our brothers and sisters.

Now you may say, ‘Bishop, this gift of the name of Jesus, how can it be shared?’ Like, ‘what does it do for me?’

Well I glimpsed it that day, where it freed the tongue of this woman to share something probably she had not shared with anyone else. And she began to feel the healing power of God.

But my friends, with the name of Jesus you and I can see what the world is blind to. And by seeing brothers and sisters who are sick and homeless and handicapped and alone, we can be the ones to reach out to them. Because they are our brothers and sisters, with names and respect and dignity.

And what will happen? Christ will use us to bring healing and hope to them. With the power of Jesus, His name in The Gift of the Holy Spirit, He asks that we allow our hearts to become compassionate, merciful, kind, patient, and forgiving. Not because we are doing it alone, but because He will do it through us.

And what will happen? There will be people, couples, neighbors, co-workers, friends, our communities, and even our Parish that will find freedom from sin. Joy that only Christ can give. That they will find that they can be forgiven, and they will learn how to forgive. They will recognize that God’s love is real because we have brought it to them. And all of that comes to us through the name and power of Jesus and His presence in you and me, in His Holy Spirit.

How often do you and I reflect on this gift? How often when you and I pray, do we ask that the power of the Name of Jesus be unleashed in you and me? How often do we go out these doors and proudly profess who we are? For we are Christians. And our allegiance is with Jesus Christ, in word, witness, and the lifestyle that we choose to show.

May I ask this week for our spiritual homework, is to reflect on that question. Have I had this gift all these years and have done very little with it? For the time has come to unleash its power in you and me. For if you are wondering what difference can one name make, in the case of Jesus, the difference is everlasting life.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano has issued the following three decrees on September 29, 2023, the Feast of the Archangels: the Decree of Dedication of the Altar of the Private Association of Carmelites of Mary Ever Virgin, the Act Commemorating the Blessing of the Private Chapel of the Association of Carmelites of Mary Ever Virgin, and the Decree Establishing a Private Chapel for the Association of the Carmelites of Mary Ever Virgin.

To read the text of the three decrees in full, please see the below document:

Decrees for the Carmelites of Mary Ever Virgin

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

Sisters and brothers in the Lord,

When I look back on the many many times that my sister and I fought when we were young, the majority of those occasions were precipitated because one of us thought we were being unjustly treated. Because we were keenly aware of what the other was getting.

Now the truth of the matter is, most of those times it was all self-interest. But it does demonstrate for even when we’re very young, there’s an innate desire for justice. That we be treated fairly, we be treated equally, we be treated with dignity. And unfortunately in the society in which we live that struggle, you and I as Believers must bring forward. For the world does not treat everyone equally or justly. We have much work to do to realize that basic human desire and need. It is, after all, a basic virtue.

Now I raised this for a reason. Because this parable is strange, isn’t it? For when you read it or hear it at first
value, it seems as if the landowner is being unjust. For if you worked a full day and you worked for an hour, who in our structure of life would give you the same wage? It seems unjust.

And yet, Isaiah tells us our ways are not God’s ways. Our thoughts are not His. So what is the Lord actually teaching us?

well perhaps my dear friends, part of the answer lies with the fact that the context of the parable is the clue to the answer we are looking for. For the Lord is not giving us an example of human interaction or how society operates. He would not waste his time doing that.

This parable, like every parable, like every miracle, is a sign and teaching of the Kingdom. He says so, the evangelist, right at the beginning. And if that’s the case, we have to see it with a different set of eyes. So let me ask you, what is the wage that is being given if the landowner is the king of the Kingdom? What is the wage being given? What is at the heart of the Kingdom if not the generous, reckless love of God that cannot be earned, no matter how long or how short we work? It is a gift open to all. It is a gift that is not given to us because we are meriting it.

And let me ask you a second question. What is the day the Lord’s referring to? It’s not the 24 hours you and I measure, but perhaps it is the measure of one’s life. And if you see it in those terms, in that lens, then this wage, this gift of God’s love to some come at the beginning of their lives, some in the middle of their lives, some in the twilight of their lives. For none of them is wages earned, they are free gifts.

And therefore you may ask yourself, well then Bishop, why would I need to get it at the beginning of my life and work in the vineyard for the love of God. Why would I do it at the beginning? Well precisely because of what the love does to you and me. It heals us, it frees us, it empowers us, it enlightens us, it encourages us to be the instruments of God’s love to our sisters and brothers.

You see, that is what makes the labor a joy. For the gift, the wage was given. And we journey through life. And those who receive it towards the end of their lives certainly are healed and forgiven. But perhaps they could look at the arc of their life and sometimes wonder, why I was not able to say yes earlier, see the benefits that they glimpse towards the end of their earthly life. But that is not for us to judge. The question we ask ourselves, me, you, all of us is, in the journey of our day have we accepted this love? Do we allow it to enter our lives? Will we allow God to heal us, forgive us, empower us, enlighten us? Or do we still cling to the idea that somehow I am not worthy, somehow I need to earn it.

There is another lesson to be learned though my friend. And that is, unfortunately, a tendency we can all fall into. And that is, as I look upon this church and you look at one another, we are all workers receiving the wage. And how often are we tempted to compare ourselves to others? Others who perhaps have been in the vineyard, faithful to Christ longer than us. Or the many, many who are not even here at all, as if my holiness has anything to do with your holiness.

The truth of the matter is my friends, religious observance is not the equivalent of a holy life. It is a means to a holy life. And the love of God is given to you and me so that we might be impelled with His help, to seek His will, and do it faithfully. And that is the road to holiness. That is the result of a life lived working for the Kingdom. For the ultimate wage is eternal life with Him.

So when we re-read this parable, it is not only just but wildly generous, isn’t it? That no matter where you and I are on the Journey of our Life, the day of our work, wherever we happen to be, whether our life is a mess, whether we have just begun the journey, the Gift is ours.

Who here in this church believes, then, that it is not worth working for the Kingdom having received so great a gift?

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.