Monthly Newspaper • DIOCESE OF BRIDGEPORT

COVID-19 Statement from CT Catholic Bishops

March 4, 2021

People should feel free in good conscience to receive any of the vaccines currently available (Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson) for the sake of their own health and the common good, which requires the prompt vaccination of as many people as possible.

This guidance is in accord with what has been stated by both the U.S. Conference of Bishops and the Holy See in Rome. At the same time the Church continues to advocate for the creation of vaccines that do not rely on cell lines derived, even remotely, from abortion.

‘Let Us Enter the Upper Room with the Lord’

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My dear friends in Christ, for the last year, we have faced an unprecedented time that has dramatically changed every aspect of life, in ways known and unknown. One can say that we have lived a time of spiritual twilight, when we experienced a growing sense of darkness, mixed with moments when the light of charity and kindness broke through to encourage us.

For who among us has not wrestled with fear and anxiety as we tried to deal with the uncertainties caused by a pandemic that upended our lives without warning? How many of our family members and friends suffered deeply because of the loss of a job, sudden illness, living in long periods of isolation or the fear of the unknown? Who has not been moved to tears when we looked at the sight of family members visiting relatives in hospitals, unable to be with them in their hour of sickness? How difficult it was to spend birthdays, anniversaries and holidays separated from parents and grandparents, unable to visit them so as to keep them safe! How many have endured the sadness and disappointment of making the hard decision to remain at home and not attend Sunday Mass, not simply to avoid risking their own health but to protect the well-being of their loved ones?

Yet, throughout these difficult days, we have also experienced moments of great joy and light. We have been moved by the sight of young children writing letters to seniors to quell the lonely days as the world entered quarantine. Neighbors have run errands and gone shopping for neighbors unable to leave their homes. Doctors and nurses and other frontline workers have sacrificed their own health and safety to care for those who have fallen ill, forgoing vacations and overtime pay to make sure those who are critically ill are not left alone. Families have gathered virtually, talking more during the pandemic than perhaps they would otherwise, simply to check in and check up on one another. Indeed, the virtual means of communications have brought so many closer together. Finally, how can we forget those faithful men and women, clergy and laity alike, who kept our churches clean when Masses resumed, who reimagined faith formation so that our young people could remain connected, who worked so tirelessly to keep our Catholic schools open? These moments of hope and light have reminded us that, even in the darkest times, we are a people of light.

For everyone who brought light in the midst of the darkness, I thank God each day for your witness and generosity.

Now as we begin to look to a time beyond the pandemic, many speak of a “new normal” that is a way of life that will be different because of what we have experienced together. If this is true, I ask you, should we not draw greater light out of this darkness by shaping the “new normal” so that our personal faith may be strengthened, the unity of our Church deepened and we are ready to go out in mission and witness to the Gospel in new and courageous ways? As Christians, we believe suffering and death leads to new life. Let us use the months ahead to work together to craft a future that will bring greater unity and renewal to ourselves, our families and our Church. As we anticipate the grip of the pandemic to slowly loosen in the coming months, let us now begin with a quiet period of personal and communal prayer, study and renewal. For having been strengthened in mind and spirit, we will be ready later this year to go out into the larger world and bear witness to Christ in new, bold and creative ways.

I come to you now, my dear friends, when many may be wondering about the future direction of our Church, to invite you to begin this spiritual journey with me, seeking the Lord’s grace to transform this time of suffering into a springtime of renewal for the life of the Church. It will be a journey that will move us beyond the fatigue that has settled in as weeks turned into months and as what we hoped would be temporary began to change the world around us. It will be a journey where we will rise out of the darkness with the Lord Jesus at our side, and in obedience to the promptings of the Holy Spirit bring new energy and commitment to the preaching of the Gospel, in word and witness. It is a journey that will last for a lifetime.

I. The Upper Room

“When the day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread arrived, the day for sacrificing the Passover Lamb, He (Jesus) sent out Peter and John, instructing them, ‘Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.’ They asked Him, ‘where do you want us to make the preparations?’ And He answered them, ‘When you go into the city, a man will meet you carrying a jar of water. Follow him into the house that he enters and say to the master of the house, ‘The teacher says to you, ‘Where is the guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large upper room that is furnished. Make the preparations there” (Lk. 22: 7-12).

Since every journey demands preparation, our journey of renewal will begin by accepting the Lord’s invitation to enter in the quiet of our hearts and rediscover His presence and power in our personal lives, our families and in our communities of faith. The image that comes to my mind is that of the Upper Room where the Lord often gathered with His apostles and disciples, in times of challenge or decision, to strengthen them for what lay ahead.

Recall that it was in the Upper Room that the Lord celebrated the Last Supper with His apostles, to feed them in anticipation of the sufferings that they would endure by proclaiming His Passion and Death. It was in the Upper Room where the apostles, having seen the Risen Lord, could not overcome their fear until the seven-fold gifts of the Holy Spirit gave them the courageous strength to become fearless missionaries in a harsh and cruel world. It was also in the Upper Room where the apostles learned to discern the Spirit’s plan for each of them and to go out in mission.

My friends, the Lord is inviting you and me into the Upper Room to receive the same gifts He gave to His apostles and disciples. In the months to come, in courageous and prayerful silence, the Lord will feed us, teach us and prepare us to go out in mission into our divided world to bring the light of Christ’s love to everyone we meet.

If we accept this invitation to spend time in the Upper Room with Him, He will offer us the same spiritual gifts already in our midst that will prepare us for the mission ahead. These are the same gifts that our recent Diocesan Synod highlighted, including the need for daily personal prayer, to seek forgiveness of our sins and to receive and adore the Eucharistic Lord. These gifts, which lie at the heart of our Catholic faith, are not new but will take on new power and purpose as together we celebrate their power to heal us, feed us and give us strength. This letter will explore how these gifts can bring us renewal and prepare us for the larger mission to come.

My friends, the Synod was guided by these words spoken by the Lord: “Remain in me as I remain in you” (Jn. 15:4). In this moment of preparation, may these words echo in our minds and hearts. For if we wish for true renewal and to be ready to go out into the larger world, nothing can be accomplished apart from the Lord and His grace.

II. Upper Room: A Place to be Fed

“Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ” (Jn. 17:3).

In the Upper Room on the night before He died, the Lord fed His apostles both His Word and His Sacred Body and Blood. Recognizing that the Lord cannot force us to accept His gifts, these same gifts will feed you and me only if we are willing to receive them.

1. Personal Prayer

We can begin our preparations by making a conscious, daily decision to spend time in prayer with the Lord, with no short cuts and no excuses. We must not allow the fear of silence to dissuade us from prayer. Rather, if we have the courage to enter into the silence, the Lord will gently whisper the assurance of His love for us. He will speak to our hearts and remind us that He is always with us, in every moment of every day.

We can pray in any manner we wish, whether reciting the rosary, novena prayers, the Liturgy of the Hours or simply in unstructured conversation with the Lord. We can choose whatever time and place is most conducive to allow us to settle our minds and hearts to enter into the Lord’s presence. However, our commitment to pray—not as an addendum to a busy schedule but as a foundational part of our day—is crucial for the work that lies ahead of us. For if we wish to invite our children, grandchildren, neighbors and friends to share the joy of Catholic faith, how can we lead them to Christ if we do not spend time with the Lord each day deepening our own personal relationship with Him?

I ask that you consider including the Word of God in whatever prayer you choose. As we take our place at the Lord’s feet, as the apostles did in the Upper Room, we will be fed by listening to His Word. Unlike the apostles who had the privilege of hearing the Lord’s words with their own ears, you and I can hear the Lord’s words in and through the Sacred Scriptures. In our prayer and study, we can listen to the Lord’s teachings from His own lips, learn to follow in His footsteps and be inspired by the examples of the holy women and men of faith who followed Him.

Praying with the Scriptures can take many forms, including Lectio Divina, or engaging in Scripture sharing and study, whether online or in person. I call upon all pastoral and Diocesan leaders to make available whatever resources they can to unlock the beauty, meaning and power of the Word of God. For the admonition of Saint Jerome must never be forgotten: “Whoever does not know Scripture does not know the power and wisdom of God, then ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ” (Prologue of the Commentary on Isaiah: 1, CCL 73, 1).

2. Reconciliation with Christ

In the quiet of the Upper Room, we will also find the strength to seek the Lord’s word of forgiveness from the sins that may haunt us, sometimes hidden deep within our heart.

For we live in a time when sin is equated with “committing a mistake,” “making a poor choice” or “attending to my private business.” Sin is denied because to admit it may “impose guilt” that is perceived to be harmful. If the human person is considered the standard of truth and morality, what place does sin have in such a life? Yet, in the quiet of the Upper Room, the foolishness of these presumptions will be laid bare. For it was in the Upper Room where the Lord cast aside His outer garment, tied a towel around His waist and proceeded to wash the feet of His apostles, in anticipation of the Last Supper to follow. By this task, usually reserved for slaves to perform, the Lord reminded His apostles of their need to be cleansed, in order to receive His sacred Body and Blood and to serve others worthily.

If we enter the quiet of His presence, the Lord will gently hold up a mirror into our souls so that we can gaze upon our sins without excuses or pretense. At those moments, we will encounter a Savior who does not seek to condemn us but to forgive. He will whisper the same words to us that He spoke to the woman caught in adultery: “Has no one condemned you?…. Neither do I condemn you. Go and from now on do not sin anymore” (Jn. 8:10-11). Our gentle and merciful Shepherd will offer to wash away our sins so that we can receive His Body and Blood with hearts and minds renewed.

Before we invite others to experience the liberating word of God’s forgiveness, should we not take this privileged time to relearn how to examine our conscience, admit our sinfulness and seek the forgiveness of our sins through the Sacrament of Penance?

I recognize that the pandemic has created obstacles for many who wish to approach the Sacrament of Penance. It is for this reason that I am asking that Centers of Mercy, once established in our Diocese during the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy (2015), be re-established in every deanery. These Centers of Mercy will be parishes that will offer the Sacrament of Penance in the evenings, with the help of the priests of the area, so that no one need wait more than two days in order to receive this healing sacrament. These Centers, along with the parishes already offering the Sacrament of Penance throughout the Diocese, will observe every protocol needed to maintain the safety of penitent and priest alike. These new Centers of Mercy will begin their work no later than March 1st and a comprehensive list will be published in every media platform of the Diocese.

On Monday, March 29th, we will hold our annual observance of Reconciliation Monday. As you may know, on this day, Confessions will be heard in many parishes throughout the Diocese, both in the afternoon and evenings, so that everyone who wishes to receive the sacrament can do so before the Easter Triduum. I ask you to consider participating in this unique opportunity to receive the gift of forgiveness that only Christ can give.

My friends, the Lord wishes to free each of us from the burden of our sins. Should we not then use this time to shed the baggage of our sins and accept His freedom with joy?

3. The Holy Eucharist

Finally, and most importantly, it was in the Upper Room that at the Last Supper the Lord Jesus fed His apostles His Sacred Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. The Lord fed them His Body and Blood so that they could anticipate through grace the mystery of His Passion and Death, and to strengthen them for the sufferings that lay ahead.

My friends, each time we have come to Mass, we have taken a seat at the table in the Upper Room, like the apostles, to be fed the sacred Body and Blood of our Savior and Redeemer. Through grace, we participate in an unbloodied way in the one sacrifice of the Lord’s death on the Cross. At Mass, we enter in the mystery of our redemption and salvation in Christ. It is celestial food that gives us the strength to go into mission wherever that may lead us.

I recognize that among the many disruptions caused by the pandemic, none has created greater hardship, sadness and disappointment than the inability of many to come to Sunday Mass. It was with great sorrow that I suspended Sunday worship last year, to ensure that the lives of our people, especially the sick and elderly, were protected from an unknown and unseen menace. Ever since public worship has resumed, we have maintained our health protocols to allow those who are ready and able to attend Sunday Mass to come to church as safely as possible. I understand the burden that many may feel because of these measures and I deeply appreciate your cooperation. As I write this letter, more than 25,000 Catholics have returned to Sunday Mass, and we await the return of many more Catholics to Sunday Mass as conditions improve.

I also wish to thank those individuals who have remained connected to the celebration of the Mass by viewing it online due to their inability to return to church at the present time. Christian prudence demands that every person carefully examine the circumstances of their life and to make decisions that will keep them safe and protect the well-being of their loved ones. The Lord feeds you His grace through the Spiritual Communion you now receive, until the day comes when you can return to receive His sacred Body and Blood without fear. When that time comes, your parish community will welcome you home with open arms.

My friends, let us also use this quiet time of preparation to ask the Lord to reawaken in our hearts a passion, respect and reverence for the Blessed Sacrament. Our reverence is deepened as our understanding and appreciation of the “Mystery of Faith” that is the Eucharist grows. Sadly, many adult Catholics have not had the opportunity to explore the depth, breadth and richness of this central mystery of our faith. I call upon our clergy and pastoral leaders to offer sustained and comprehensive adult catechesis on the Sacrament of the Eucharist and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the coming months so that our love and passion for the Eucharist can grow. Diocesan resources will also be published soon, including a detailed theological reflection on the mystery of the Eucharist, as fuel to awaken the fire of our Eucharistic faith. Let us use the months ahead to deepen our knowledge and appreciation of so great a divine gift.

We must also acknowledge the debilitating spiritual effects created by the celebration of Mass that lacks reverence or beauty. For it is the power of beauty that engages the heart, allowing the grace of the Eucharist to move its participants to remember that their destination is heaven and to embrace their mission to preach the Gospel in the world. A beautiful and reverent celebration of the Mass demands a proper disposition by the celebrant and lay faithful alike. We cannot allow the distractions of the world to draw our attention away from the mystery before us. Each of us must relearn the power of preparation before Mass, interior silence and thanksgiving at the conclusion of Mass so that the gift given can yield its proper fruit.

I have also asked that every deanery establish at least one Center of Adoration—a local parish that will offer Eucharistic Adoration throughout the day, so that everyone who wishes can be fed by the Eucharistic Lord in a personal and powerful way. These Centers will also afford those who remain uncomfortable with attending Mass on Sunday an opportunity to encounter the Eucharistic Lord in quiet throughout the day. It is my desire that every deanery will have at least one such Center of Adoration operating no later than the start of April.

III. Upper Room: A Place to Listen

“I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own but he will speak what he hears and will declare to you the thigs that are coming” (Jn. 16:12-13).

In addition to being fed, the Lord wishes for us to enter into the Upper Room with Him to relearn how to listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, often spoken in and through the lives of the people around us. For we cannot be effective in mission unless we can address the concerns that believers and non-believers hold in their hearts.
Some believers continue to have questions of faith for which they have never received adequate answers. Others have wounds that burden them or hurts from past failures in the Church that tempt them to walk away in indifference. Each of us must ask the Lord to teach us how to listen to those concerns so that in our personal encounters with the people we meet, we can be effective in leading our brothers and sisters to find the answers that they seek in Jesus.

IV. Upper Room: A Place to Recommit to Mission

“When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim” (Acts 2: 1-4).

Finally, like the apostles, we must be prepared to reenter the larger world as courageous missionaries of the Gospel.
In our Baptism and Confirmation, each of us was given the mission to be a disciple of Christ who can speak an effective word of salvation to whomever we meet, whether they be our family members, co-workers, friends or even strangers. This word of salvation that comes from Christ invites every human person to become “a new creation” in Him (2 Cor. 5:17).

To speak an effective word of salvation does not always require spoken words but can be powerfully conveyed by the example of a joyful, faithful life. It often does not require that we leave our homes or places of work to be missionaries. In fact, it is in these familiar places that our mission begins. This means that at every moment of every day we are called to be missionaries, even during these days of the pandemic. In fact, these past months have given us unique opportunities to offer help, consolation and care in the name of Jesus. In those occasions, we lived the vision attributed to Saint Teresa of Avila who taught her sisters:

“Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”

Saint Paul describes this mission by using the word “ambassador.” He writes, “So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us” (2 Cor. 5:20). Who are these ambassadors? Simply put, they are you, me and all who have encountered the person of Jesus Christ. Where are we to go? We serve as ambassadors of Christ in our homes, classrooms, workplaces, clubs, ball fields, and when we shop, travel, and spend time with friends. For the work of an ambassador is to build a living bridge to the people we meet, accompanying them in their struggles, answering their questions and allowing them to experience how much they are loved by Christ, through you and me. When I first came to the Diocese, in my installation homily, I spoke about my deep desire to build bridges to those who were seeking meaning and direction in life. It seems to me that the time has come when we are all called to be bridge-builders to the people around us, leading them to Christ, for whom we serve as His ambassadors.

At times we have all failed to be true ambassadors of Christ. Such failure has a familiar look. As Saint Ignatius of Antioch describes it: “Do not have Jesus Christ on your lips and the world in your hearts” (Letter to the Romans, Chpt. 4:7). We must resolve to learn from any past mistakes we have made and serve with new zeal in this work the Lord has given us.

Furthermore, the time is coming when we will be able to leave the safety of our homes and reenter a world forever changed by the pandemic—one that may not welcome the message we will bring. We must recognize that we live within a post-Christian world, in which many do not understand the Christian faith nor have had an encounter with the Lord and His mercy. It is a world where many may not readily welcome the Gospel or may even actively oppose it. It is a world that will nonetheless be surprised by the power of the Gospel and its ability to bring joy and hope where the world cannot give it.

Let us draw hope from our knowledge that the world did not welcome Jesus in whose name we were baptized. Indeed, we are in good company as we go out into the world.

As we begin preparations for a great evangelical outreach into the larger world that will begin in the fall of 2021, the pastors of our Diocese and I will need the assistance of co-workers who will not be afraid to go out into their communities to invite people to encounter the Lord and His mercy. We will need people to echo the prophets and saints who have gone before us, willing to see light through the darkness and willing to say to the Lord, “Here I am. Send me” (Is. 6:8).

Such co-workers, drawn from the laity and clergy alike, must be willing to use the months ahead to undergo intensive personal and spiritual formation to prepare themselves to be missionary ambassadors of Christ. When ready, they will be sent out into their community, under the care of their local pastor, to invite those who have left active participation in the life of the Church to return home. In time, this same invitation will be extended to people of good will and anyone searching for the real meaning of life. For such meaning is found only in the Lord Jesus.
Our pastors have been asked to discern who among their people they can recommend to enter this formational experience, which will be done both online and in person. Formation will include a period of discernment for those who might wonder if this particular opportunity is something the Lord is calling them to do.

If the challenge of serving as a missionary ambassador stirs your heart, I ask that you contact your local pastor and discuss this pastoral opportunity. Evenings of information will be held in the first week of March to provide prospective candidates further information. Furthermore, I call on everyone to pray for those who will respond to this important invitation.

Conclusion: Saint Joseph, “A Righteous Man” (Mt. 1:19)

As we reflect upon the challenges we face and the mission that lies ahead, we may be tempted to be discouraged. Join me to seek the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to enlighten our minds, give joy to our hearts, strengthen our will and shake off all discouragement. Let us prepare ourselves to respond boldly and courageously to whatever awaits us. Let us enter into the Upper Room with Christ so that He can strengthen us for the task that lies ahead.
May these words attributed to Saint John Henry Newman stir our hearts, “Teach us, dear Lord, frequently and attentively to consider this truth: that if I gain the whole world and lose you, in the end I have lost everything; whereas if I lose the whole world and gain you, in the end I have lost nothing.” For if we place our hope in the Lord and not in the world, what do we have to fear?

As you know, Saint Joseph, the righteous one, is being honored this year throughout the Church. For he was a man well acquainted with unexpected change, having his life upended by visits from the Archangel Gabriel and flight into an unknown land. Yet, it was his courage, strength of faith and quiet perseverance that allowed him to overcome the challenges the Holy Family faced. He quietly and faithfully guided and protected the Lord Jesus and our Lady until his death.

On March 19th, the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, the Husband of Mary, I will consecrate the people of the Diocese to the protection and intercession of Saint Joseph during a solemn celebration of Mass at Saint Augustine Cathedral at 7 pm. This celebration will be livestreamed as well. I have also asked all the pastors of our Diocese to offer the same Mass and consecration in their local parishes, also at 7 pm. A plenary indulgence will be available for all those who participate in either the Diocesan or parish celebrations. The spiritual requirements needed to receive this extraordinary grace will be published shortly. As we begin this journey of renewal, I can think of no better guide and protector to whom we can entrust our journey than Saint Joseph. May he help us quietly and faithfully to fulfill the work that lies before us.

My friends, I offer you these reflections on the day when we accept ashes on our foreheads as a sign of our mortality and an invitation to conversion. It begins the holy season of Lent, during which we journey with Christ into the desert so that we can be purified and made ready to celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord at Easter. It is a season, for many, reminiscent of the twilight we have been enduring for some time. Still, we are gifted with the knowledge that Good Friday is followed by Easter Sunday. We know that Easter joy follows the Lenten twilight.
May we bring the ashes we receive today into the Upper Room where we will discover that the Lord can bring light into darkness, lead twilight to dawn and raise ashes to new life.

Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano
Ash Wednesday
February 17, 2021

Some Parishes return to Phase 2 guidelines

BRIDGEPORT–  With a second wave of the coronavirus beginning to take hold across Fairfield County, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano has updated health and safety protocols for the Diocese of Bridgeport.

In a memo to all clergy issued today, the bishop noted that several cities including Bridgeport, Danbury, and Stamford have reverted to the state’s Phase 2 reopening guidelines in response to a growing positivity rate and an increase in hospitalizations.

The Bishop announced that if a parish is located in a city or municipality that has returned to Phase 2, then the following guidelines are in effect:

1. Mass and Liturgical Events
a. Indoors limited to 25% of capacity, no more than 100 people total
b. Outdoors limited to 150 people total

2. Non-liturgical Gatherings
a. Indoors limited to 25 people
b. Outdoors limited to 100 people

The bishop said there are no other changes to the most recent diocesan liturgical guidelines.

In addition to limiting capacity, masks, proper social distancing, and frequent sanitization are essential.

The bishop thanked pastors and priests for their continued leadership and support of diocesan COVID-19 protocols during this challenging time.

Bishop updates Covid-19 protocols

BRIDGEPORT—A fundamental mandate of our Catholic faith is to protect human life. The diocesan coronavirus procedures that are in place have been achieving this mandate.

In recent weeks however, there has been an increase in the number of COVID-19 positive cases in our area. A few towns have added new restrictions to contain the spread of the virus. Therefore, the following additional guidelines are now in effect:

  • If there is a significant increase in the infection rate in your town, then your parishioners must be notified of the increased risk through social media and the parish website.
  • Pastors and Parochial Administrators may add further restrictions if necessary, to reduce the risk of infection. The following are some examples of additional actions that may be taken.
    a. Outdoor Masses (weather permitting)
    b. The suspension of liturgical music
    c. Only clergy allowed in the sanctuary
    d. Temperature checks as people arrive for Mass
    i. Anyone with a temperature greater than 100.3 degrees should not be admitted.
  • In order to respond properly to any grave concern regarding an increase of infections in a given area and to maintain proper ecclesial supervision over the public celebration of the sacraments, especially the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the final decision to temporarily suspend Mass in a given parish can only be made by the Bishop or the Vicar General after consulting with the pastor.

As we approach the beginning of Fall and the attendant uncertainties of the coming months, we do so in the knowledge that the protocols we have put in place have protected the lives of our parishioners and priests. I am grateful for your leadership and support, and your continued vigilance as we pray for the end of the pandemic.

“Building Bridges” of Healing During the Pandemic

June 1, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

This Pentecost Sunday, as we commemorate the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles, Pope Francis reminds us, “The Spirit is peace in the midst of restlessness, confidence in the midst of discouragement, joy in sadness, youth in aging, courage in the hour of trial.”

As the human toll from this terrible pandemic continues to increase in our midst, and I read the prayer requests from our live-streamed Masses, I am aware of the great suffering that a growing number of our neighbors are experiencing. They need our collective help.

Now more than ever the Annual Catholic Appeal (ACA) allows us to continue the mission of the Church and provide for these new faces of need in our midst. In the last few months, support of the ACA has allowed us to:

  • serve an extra 700 meals a day at our soup kitchens and other local non-profit nutrition programs and homeless shelters;
  •  move 70+ homeless individuals into a Shelton motel where they receive three meals a day;
  • meet the demand for counseling services during a heightened time of depression and anxiety;
  • provide distance learning to all diocesan Catholic schools and students who remain active in their studies; and teach faith and Sacramental preparation;
  • celebrate Masses and liturgies online;
  • support Hospital Chaplains and deacons on the frontlines where they are bringing Christ to patients and families who are in crisis and often all alone.

I am deeply grateful for your support of the Annual Catholic Appeal and I ask for your help so we can continue to provide essential services and comfort for those in need during this emergency appeal. To make your gift, please visit www.2020ACABridgeport.com. You may text the word APPEAL to 475.241.7849. If you have already made your gift, thank you.

Please be assured that you and your family remain in my prayers with the hope and love of our Risen Lord.

Sincerely yours in Christ,


Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano
Bishop of Bridgeport

Bishop Announces Phase II Return To Public Mass

May 29, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

It is with great joy that I would like to announce that our parishes will be able to resume public worship inside our church buildings beginning the weekend of the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (June 13th and 14th). In those parishes that are ready to follow our established norms, the celebration of weekday Masses, Funeral Masses and Nuptial Weddings within our Churches may also resume after the weekend of June 13th and June 14th.

As you know, we began the outdoor celebration of public Mass in the diocese on May 21, the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord. I am pleased to report that this first phase of re-opening has gone very well with a growing number of parishes now offering outside Mass both seated and in parking lots.

These Masses have been offered in a manner that health officials consider the safest ways in which to congregate by practicing social distancing, and the same policies will be in effect as we begin to celebrate Mass within our Churches buildings. While the challenges are considerable when congregating in an indoor location, we are confident that by following public health recommendations, we can come together for Mass in a manner that is as safe or safer than in other public gatherings.

I recognize that the last few months have been a most difficult time for all of us. I am grateful for your patience and prayers during this unprecedented moment in our history. I very much appreciate the great sorrow and loss felt by many who have longed to return to Mass. We will also need to live with continuing uncertainties about the course of the pandemic and its full impact on our society. However, I believe that it is also the right time to move forward in hope and faith, while taking all necessary precautions and safeguards to protect life in our community as we resume public worship within our Churches.

In order to do so, we will observe a few fundamental principles. First, I will continue the dispensation of the obligation to attend Sunday Mass for all those who are vulnerable or concerned about their health or the health of loved ones. For this reason, I encourage all parishes to continue to live stream the celebration of Mass, while public worship slowly resumes. In addition, for those who choose to come to Mass in our Church buildings, we will maintain strict social distancing of at least six feet, frequent sanitization of common areas, the use of hand sanitizers and face masks for all in attendance, and the continuation of many of the previously published liturgical norms issued for the celebration of outdoor Masses.

One issue of supreme importance is the permissible seating capacity of every Church building. Each Church’s seating capacity must be determined by following strict social distancing requirements. This means that the seating capacity in every Church will vary depending upon its size and configuration. To do otherwise would be to potentially put one’s neighbor into harm’s way—a danger that we must avoid in order to remain faithful to our fundamental Catholic belief in the sanctity of every human life.

A complete list of the extensive guidelines recommended to pastors and parishes regarding this next phase of planning will be posted on our diocesan website at: www.bridgeportdiocese.org on Monday, June 1, 2020.

In order to accommodate as many parishioners as possible to the celebration of Sunday Mass, parishes will also be permitted to continue to offer Masses outdoors and simulcast a Mass that is celebrated in the Church to other locations (either indoor or outdoor), provided that all appropriate guidelines are adhered to in these auxiliary locations.

As we take this next step with great anticipation, let us remember that our common sacrifice has had one prime motive: to follow the mandate of the Lord of Life to protect, defend, and keep safe every human life. We best honor that commitment to life and those who have lost their lives in the pandemic by ensuring the safety of our neighbors.

To be certain we face many challenges as a Church and a society in the coming months, but as we gather around the Lord’s table together, we can take assurance that the Eucharist will sustain us.

I pray that the Lord Jesus will bless you and your families and that even in the midst of this crisis you find time to enjoy the summer.

Sincerely yours in Christ,


Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano
Bishop of Bridgeport

Guidelines for the Celebration of Mass Indoors
Click here to learn more

Bishop Announces Gradual Return to Public Mass

May 11, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In the joy of Easter, I wish to announce the good news that in consultation with the pastors of the Diocese, we will be able to begin the outdoor public celebration of Mass on May 21, the Ascension of our Lord. This is the first step in a process that will remain consistent with Governor Ned Lamont’s call for the gradual reopening of the state in a way that safeguards public health and safety. It is my hope that the reopening of our churches, which represents phase two in our planning process, may be possible soon.

Before I outline some of the proposed details for the first phase of plan, I wish to express my sincere thanks for your patience, perseverance and fidelity during this most difficult time, when public Masses were suspended. While it has been a great sacrifice for all of us, especially those who have watched a relative or friend fall ill, buried a loved one or remained in isolation and even fear, I believe that observing the state’s shelter at home order has saved many lives. On behalf of all priests of the diocese, permit me to say how much we have missed you and look forward to welcoming you back home to your parish homes.

We have also been reminded that in our darkest hour, the Lord did not abandon us.

Our planning process assumes what most health experts have told us that the threat of the COVID-19 virus will be with us for some time. Whatever we plan must avoid a possible relapse in the progress we have made to eradicate this silent killer from our midst. As a result, we will move forward in a gradual, systematic and responsible manner to resume public worship safeguarding the health and safety of our clergy and faithful.

Further, the obligation to attend Sunday Mass will remain dispensed for the time being while we slowly resume the public celebration of Mass. This is recognition of the fact that seating will initially be limited at each celebration of Mass due to the state’s requirements for social distancing and other health mandates. It also recognizes that the elderly, who are most vulnerable, should consider remaining sheltered at home for the time being. For this reason, my hope is that each parish will continue to live stream the celebration of Mass while public worship slowly resumes.

The first phase in our plan to resume the celebration of Mass with the faithful is optional in nature and will remain in effect until Church buildings and other indoor venues can be safely reopened for worship. For those parishes that wish to offer Mass outdoors, one of two possible formats can be used. The first format will allow those who attend to be seated on chairs that will be arranged with proper social distancing. Individual outdoor seating up to 50 people. The second format will allow those who attend Mass to remain seated in their cars. The number of cars that can participate in an outdoor Mass will depend upon the size of the parking lot, the need to distance cars six feet apart from each other and allow for the safe exit of any car in case of an emergency. The outdoor venue and format for Mass will be designated by each pastor.

In order to ensure an orderly process for the celebration of Mass outdoors, a series of guidelines have been established that details many of the concerns that need to be addressed, including the use of a parish reservation system either online or over the phone for each Mass, the creation of detailed norms for the distribution of Holy Communion in a safe manner and other liturgical considerations. These norms will be posted on our diocesan website and I invite you to read them at your convenience. In addition, I ask that you consult your parish website for more detailed information about your parish’s potential participation in this first phase of planning.

Finally, I have asked each pastor to draft a parish plan for this first phase of planning to ensure that the particular needs of his parish are properly addressed. The guiding principle behind all such planning is to ensure the safety and health of our faithful and clergy, while preserving the sacredness of our liturgy and worship.

As we take this first, hopeful step forward, I pray that the Lord Jesus will continue to bless you and your families in this time of enduring challenge. Let us look forward in joy and gratitude to worship and to celebrate our Lord’s blessings once again together as a family of faith.

Sincerely yours in Christ,


Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano
Bishop of Bridgeport

 

General Guidelines for the Resumption of Public Mass
Guidelines for the Celebration of Mass Outdoors

Guidelines for the Reception of Communion

Bishop extends Public Mass Suspension

BRIDGEPORT—The extension of the suspension of the celebration of public Masses in the Diocese of Bridgeport will now continue through Wednesday, May 20, 2020.

In an April 21 memo to all pastors and priests, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano announced that in the interest of the health and safety of the faithful and consistent with the April 10 executive order of Governor Ned Lamont limiting public gatherings, the suspensions will stay in place through May 20.

The bishop told pastors that he is working with a small committee tasked with implementing a plan for resuming the public celebration of Masses in phases once the State begins to loosen restrictions on public gatherings. He will also consult with all the Pastors before releasing a plan for resuming liturgical celebrations in the presence of the lay faithful as soon as it is safe.

“I am grateful to those Pastors who are continuing to provide the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the Anointing of the Sick, live-streamed Masses, open periods for prayer inside the church and Eucharistic Adoration,” he said.

Since the suspension of public Masses, the diocese has live-streamed Masses celebrated by Bishop Caggiano, and most parishes have been able to live-stream Masses and prayer services to parishioners. The diocesan Leadership Institute has also live-streamed a novena and the Divine Mercy Chaplet in addition to making other prayer resources available.

In the absence of public Masses, the bishop has urged the faithful to deepen their sense of “spiritual communion” with the entire Church and to intensify personal prayer in addition to joining the live-streamed liturgies.

The bishop said that funerals and weddings may still be celebrated in churches outside of the context of Mass, as long as fewer than 50 people are in attendance and proper social distancing is maintained.

Since the State will likely require the use of face masks even after large gatherings are once again permitted, the bishop asked pastors to consider providing masks, where possible, for the clergy, ministers and lay faithful when public Masses resume.

The bishop first suspended the celebration of public Mass in the Diocese of Bridgeport, effective March 16, 2020. That suspension was to be in effect through April 30, 2020. To view live-streamed Masses and find other prayer resources, visit the diocesan website and social media at www.bridgeportdiocese.com.

Emergency ACA: “Build Bridges” of healing during the pandemic

April 20, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

When I began my ministry as your bishop nearly seven years ago, I spoke of the need to build bridges between people. I suggested that each of us is a “living stone” in the bridge that Christ wishes us to create to provide healing and service to our neighbor, especially those in need. Little did I know at that time of the personal and extraordinary challenges that we would all face in our families, parishes and community as a result of the terrible COVID19 pandemic that has upended our lives.

While I am grateful for all who have helped “flatten the curve” and done what was asked by our health officials to help save the lives of the most vulnerable in our midst, the numbers we hear in the media can easily mask the names, faces and stories of the tens of thousands of people who are living in grief for the death of a loved one, struggling against the grip of a faceless enemy, living in fear and isolation, or for the first time facing the prospect of not having enough money to buy food, medicine or pay their monthly rent or mortgage. What the future holds has not been this uncertain in years but the challenges we will face will endure long after the coronavirus has been tamed.

Therefore, in these days when we celebrate the promise of new life in Easter, I write to you now to ask your heroic help to re-launch the 2020 Annual Catholic Appeal in a moment of extreme, urgent need.

I come to you in this emergency to ask for your help to ensure that the Annual Catholic Appeal, which has provided basic human services of food, shelter, education and counseling to many in the past can be maintained and, to the extent possible, be expanded to the many others who are facing real hardship for the first time in their lives. I recognize that some of you are now among those who are facing these hardships. For this reason, I am asking all those who can to give as generously as possible, so that our Church can be there to assist you and your family.

We have seen many faces of heroism in those who have served on the front line of this crisis: doctors, nurses and emergency medical personnel who risk their lives to serve the sick; police, firefighters and first responders who go wherever they are needed; grocery workers and gas attendants who help provide us with the necessities of life. They deserve our deep gratitude, respect and prayerful support.

Added to these heroes are the chaplains in our local hospitals and nursing homes who are serving the most vulnerable, including those infected by the virus; our teachers who continue to teach our children online despite the tremendous workload this creates; our pastors who have reached out in creative ways to connect people to the Lord and one another in a time when faith and hope are needed to help us to persevere.

I ask that you join the efforts of these heroes and heroines in responding to this emergency appeal. Your contribution will help to allow the Church’s mission to endure so that we can respond effectively to the spiritual, psychological and physical needs of our people.

Please make a donation online to this year’s Appeal as generously as your means allow at www.2020ACABridgeport.com or text the word APPEAL to 475-241-7849. All donations of whatever amount will help us to help those in need.

As your bishop, I have seen first-hand your extraordinary generosity and I remain deeply grateful. Every time I have asked, you have responded with compassion, with sacrificial giving, and with deep and abiding faith in the Lord and the work of his Church. In this hour of need, let us together become the living stones of the Church by loving and serving one another by building a bridge that will carry our sisters and brothers safely through this crisis. And let us do so joyfully in the name of the Risen Lord who has triumphed over sin and death and will never abandon us.

With every best wish and prayer this Easter, I am

Sincerely yours in Christ,


Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano
Bishop of Bridgeport

P.S. If you have already made a gift to the 2020 Annual Catholic Appeal, thank you, your steadfast support is truly a blessing in this time of need.

Click here for Bishop’s live-streamed Holy Week Masses

BRIDGEPORT—Please join us for live-stream of Bishop Frank’s Holy Week liturgies.

Easter Sunday

Livestream of the Easter Vigil

Mass of the Passion of the Lord  on Good Friday

View Stations of the Cross  on Good Friday

Mass of the Lord’s Supper on this Holy Thursday

Chrism Mass


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I invite you to join me online as I celebrate Holy Week and Triduum liturgies from Saint Augustine Cathedral. All the liturgies will be live-streamed on the Diocesan website (www.bridgeportdiocese.com). This is a wonderful opportunity to gather with me in prayer as we ask the Lord’s blessing during these trying times. The schedule is as follows:

Chrism Mass: Thursday, April 9 at 10 am
Mass of the Lord’s Supper: Thursday, April 9 at 7 pm
Stations of the Cross: Friday, April 10 at 12 noon
The Passion of the Lord: Friday, April 10 at 3 pm
Easter Vigil in the Holy Night: Saturday, April 11 at 7 pm
Easter Sunday: Sunday, April 12 at 8 am

Sincerely yours in Christ,


Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano
Bishop of Bridgeport

Bishop’s live-streamed Holy Week Schedule

BRIDGEPORT—Please join us for the first live-stream of Bishop Frank’s Holy Week liturgies.

Livestream of the Passion of the Lord
Join us live for Stations of the Cross
Holy Week Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper
Live-stream of this year’s Chrism Mass.


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As you are aware, I recently had to make the very difficult decision to suspend all public Masses during Holy Week, given the continuing spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) and the health restrictions requested by state and local authorities.

The inability for us to gather together in our parishes and for diocesan liturgies has been a great hardship and loss for priests and laity, particularly as we enter the most sacred and solemn mysteries of the Church during Holy Week and Easter. In that absence, I have urged all to deepen their private and family prayer and seek out ways to be in spiritual communion when we cannot receive the sacraments. The response throughout the diocese to Nine Days of Prayer, live-streamed Masses, and other resources has been overwhelmingly positive and encouraging.

For this reason, I invite you to join me online as I celebrate Holy Week and Triduum liturgies from Saint Augustine Cathedral. All the liturgies will be live-streamed on the Diocesan website (www.bridgeportdiocese.com). This is a wonderful opportunity to gather with me in prayer as we ask the Lord’s blessing during these trying times. The schedule is as follows:

Chrism Mass: Thursday, April 9 at 10 am
Mass of the Lord’s Supper: Thursday, April 9 at 7 pm
Stations of the Cross: Friday, April 10 at 12 noon
The Passion of the Lord: Friday, April 10 at 3 pm
Easter Vigil in the Holy Night: Saturday, April 11 at 7 pm
Easter Sunday: Sunday, April 12 at 8 am

During this period of “Eucharistic fast,” it is my hope that we will more than ever be united in solidarity with each other and the universal Church. Please know that I will continue to pray for you and your family. I also hope that you find consolation in knowing that your continued support for the Annual Catholic Appeal (ACA) has enabled core diocesan ministries to bring the mercy and love of the Church to so many during this crisis.

Knowing “that all things work for good for those who love God” (Rom. 8:28), we daily entrust ourselves to the care of the Lord and the protection of our Blessed Mother. At the same time, we eagerly await the day when the doors of our churches are open again and we are able to worship at Mass together in person.

May the Lord grant us the grace we need to persevere, to remain steadfast and to grow in faith, hope and love.

Sincerely yours in Christ,


Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano
Bishop of Bridgeport

No public Liturgical Celebrations during Holy Week

BRIDGEPORT—Bishop Frank J. Caggiano announced today that there will be no public Liturgical Celebrations for Holy Week, the Triduum and Easter.

The Bishop said he made the decision based on the restrictions and recommendations issued by public authorities and the need to safeguard the lives of those who are most vulnerable.

“Unfortunately, given the continuing spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and the restrictions placed upon all of us by State and local authorities, I am sorry to inform you that there will be no liturgical celebrations in the presence of the lay faithful for Holy Week, the Triduum and Easter this year,”

In his memo issued to pastors and priests today, the bishop recommended live-streamed Masses and liturgies during Holy Week, and he issued a set of guidelines for the private celebration of Mass by priests.

Earlier this month the bishop temporarily suspended all weekday and Sunday public Masses celebrated in the presence of the lay faithful in the Diocese of Bridgeport through Friday, April 3. That date has now been extended to April 30.

“At that time, it was my deep hope that the suspension could be lifted before Palm Sunday,’ the bishop said, noting that the health crisis continue to persist.

The bishop is encouraging all pastors to celebrate the Easter Triduum liturgies this year, even though the lay faithful will not be able to physically gather for the Masses.

“To the extent possible, all liturgies should be live-streamed so that the lay faithful can participate in real time,” he said.

In order to observe social distancing, no more than five priests, deacons and musicians will be present at the taping of each Mass.

Noting that parishes will be unable to distribute palms on Palm Sunday, the bishop instructed pastors that palms should be blessed at the private Mass they celebrate.

“Blessed palms can be distributed at a later date that will be designated; tentatively Pentecost Sunday, so all parishes can distribute blessed palms on the same day,” he said.

The celebration of the Chrism Mass will take place as scheduled on Holy Thursday, April 9, at 10 am at Saint Augustine Cathedral. It will be celebrated only in the presence of the Vicar General, the priests who live at the Cathedral Parish, as well as a Master of Ceremonies and a musician

The Chrism Mass will also be live-streamed so that the clergy, consecrated men and women and lay faithful throughout the diocese can participate electronically.

The Blessing of Oils will take place during the C hrism Mass, and the sacred oils will be maintained for safe-keeping and made available to parishes at a later date when they can be safely distributed, the bishop said.

In response to the Coronavirus crisis, priests will add the following petition for the end of the pandemic to the Special Intentions: “Let us pray, dearly beloved, for a swift end to the coronavirus pandemic that afflicts our world, that our God and Father will heal the sick, strengthen those who care for them, and help us all to persevere in faith…

The priest will then pray, “Almighty and merciful God, source of all life, health and healing, look with compassion on our world, brought low by disease; protect us in the midst of the grave challenges that assail us and in your fatherly providence grant recovery to the stricken, strength to those who care for them, and success to those working to eradicate this scourge. Through Christ our Lord.”

All Easter Vigil Masses will also be celebrated in private this year, and the diocese and most parishes will live-stream them to the faithful. Parishioners should visit their parish websites for more information in the coming days.

Regarding the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), which is completed at the Easter Vigil, the celebration of the Easter sacraments for the Elect and Candidates will be postponed throughout the Diocese to a later date, most likely during a celebration of the extended version of the Vigil of Pentecost.

Baptized candidates who were to be Confirmed, receive First Holy Communion and make a Profession of Faith at the Easter Vigil will be received into the Church at any time after public Masses resume in the Diocese and candidates are ready, he said.

The bishop thanked pastors and priests for all that they are doing to reach out to people and to bring creative solutions forward at a time when people cannot gather publicly for Mass.

“Please know how deeply grateful I am to all of you for your continued cooperation and leadership during this extraordinary time in the life of the Church and the world, and be assured of my daily prayers,” the bishop said.

(In the interest of public health and safety, all Masses will be celebrated in private with only priests and deacons in attendance. Please visit the diocesan website for live-streaming and later viewing:  www.bridgeportdiocese.org)

Bishop Frank’s Letter to the Faithful

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Who among us could have imagined just a few months ago that our global society would be confronting such a crisis as the Coronavirus pandemic? In these days, who does not feel our collective vulnerability and personal frailty? This is a time when fear and even panic can overtake us, in part because we have far more questions than answers.  As Christians, we must resist such fears. Rather, we must respond with prudent actions rooted in charity for our neighbor, seeking to protect the most vulnerable among us, heeding the recommendations that have been mandated by civil authorities and to plead for God’s mercy that this scourge will end quickly and that the lives of our sisters and brothers throughout the world will be spared.

In Matthew 8:23-27, we recall the day when the apostles sailing in their boat were suddenly caught in the middle of a great storm that threatened their survival. Their immediate reaction was one of fear and panic. Yet, when they called upon the Lord, He heard their pleas and commanded the winds and the waves to be still. My friends, this is our time, in the middle of a great storm, to cast away our fears, turn to the Lord and to ask for His grace.

In order to protect the lives of the faithful and our priests, I took the extraordinary measure to temporarily suspend public Masses in our diocese. I understand the deep spiritual hardship that this absence has created in the minds and hearts of many. Yet, recognizing that our Churches have served as places of refuge in times of need, we will do all that is possible to see that our Churches remain safely open for private prayer, for Exposition of the Eucharist, and to serve as places to seek solace with the Lord.

I also invite you to use this time we now spend at home to prepare more diligently for the celebration of the Easter Mysteries.  Personally, I have begun to pray the Stations of the Cross each day, since they powerfully remind me that the Lord always walks with us, helping us to carry our own personal crosses.

In my conversations with our priests and people in the past weeks, I am humbled to see their resolve, goodness and readiness to help all those in need. Please be assured that you are remembered in my prayers as I ask for your prayers during this difficult time. We will get through this together and continue the work of renewal in our lives.

As Christians we know that suffering will always be a part of our life. We understand and accept this mystery at the foot of the Cross of Christ. Yet we also know that the Lord suffered and died so that we might live and share in His victory over fear, suffering, and death itself. We are never alone in our sufferings. Christ is here to lead us along paths unknown to victory and life.

This is the time to do as Jesus commanded: to be brave despite fear, to be sensitive and responsive to the needs of others, and to pray. Especially pray. The health and life of so many now hang in the balance. Pray for miracles both medical and spiritual. Pray for the conversion of many hearts. Pray for an end to this scourge in our midst. Pray that the Lord will see us to safety and renewed life. In Him.

Entrusting each one of you to the loving care of our Blessed Mother, I am

Sincerely Yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano

Bishop of Bridgeport

 

Bishop suspends all public Masses until Friday 4/3

BRIDGEPORT—Effective this evening at 8 pm, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano has mandated that all weekday and Sunday public Masses celebrated in the presence of the lay faithful are temporarily suspended in the Diocese of Bridgeport.

The temporary suspension will remain in effect until Friday, April 3. You will receive a confirmation or revision of that date on Monday, March 30.

Beginning this Sunday, Sunday Mass celebrated by Bishop Caggiano or Monsignor Thomas Powers, Vicar General,  will be available on our Diocesan Website (www.bridgeportdiocese.org) or on diocesan social media channels (www.bridgeportdiocese.org/dobsocial/home).

The bishop’s decision was made in response to the March 15, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendation that, for the next 8 weeks, any in-person gatherings of 50 people or more throughout the United States be cancelled or postponed. Governor Lamont today followed that directive and has limited crowds to less than 50 in the State of Connecticut.

“With those standards now in place, out of concern for the common good of ending the spread of the Coronavirus and for the wellbeing of the clergy (many of whom are older and at greater risk) and the lay faithful of the Diocese of Bridgeport, I would like to inform you of some important new directives that will be binding throughout the diocese,” the bishop said today in a letter to all priests and diocesan officials.

“Please know that I do not make this decision easily. However, this is an extraordinary—and, in some ways, unprecedented—time in the life of the Church, the country and the world, and it requires extraordinary action to ensure the safety of those whom we serve. I appreciate greatly the cooperation of our pastors in communicating this decision to parishioners in a clear and pastoral manner. May we continue to place our trust in Jesus, the Divine Physician, through the loving hands of Our Blessed Mother, the bishop said.

Churches may remain open for private prayer at the discretion of the Pastor. Some parishes will also begin live streaming of Masses, and the diocese will publish that information on its website. The diocese will continue to provide updates and the latest news on its website: www.bridgeportdiocese.com and on Facebook and other social media.

Bishop temporarily suspends Sunday Mass obligation

BRIDGEPORT—Bishop Frank J. Caggiano has temporarily suspended the obligation to attend Sunday Mass in response to the Coronavirus crisis. However the public Mass schedule of parishes will continue throughout the diocese.

In a letter issued today (printed below) to all clergy and diocesan officials, the Bishop indicates he has taken the action of “so that anyone who may be fearful of becoming ill or of spreading illness, especially healthcare workers, caregivers to the elderly or infirmed or parents with young children, may have peace of mind in knowing that, with this provision, they do not commit mortal sin if they choose not to attend Sunday Mass”

The Bishop requests that those who decide to refrain from attending Mass on the Sundays during the next three weeks “treat the Lord’s Day with the honor it deserves and try, to the best of their ability, to view Mass online or to make time to read the Scriptures for the day.”

In brief, the Bishop’s letter contains the following directives: (Click for Spanish version)

  • Beginning this Third Sunday of Lent (March 14-15) through the Fifth Sunday of Lent (March 28-29), the bishop is temporarily dispensing all Catholics of the Diocese of Bridgeport from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass.
  • PLEASE NOTE: Although the Bishop has suspended the Sunday Mass obligation for the next three weeks, the public Mass schedule of parishes will continue. As we move forward, Pastors, administrators, and lay parish coordinators will be required to follow any ordinances or mandates published by legitimate local authorities, who have been entrusted to protect the community at large. If you have any questions about parish events or liturgies, please contact your parish directly.
  • The bishop repeated his strong suggestion that non-liturgical, social events scheduled to take place in the immediate weeks ahead at parishes or diocesan institutions, especially those at which the elderly may be inclined to participate, be postponed or cancelled.
  • Beginning today, Friday, March 13, 2020, all diocesan schools and academies will be closed for a period of two weeks.
  • All parish Confirmations that are scheduled to take place before Easter Sunday will be rescheduled to a later date.