Business Forum: ‘It is our responsibility to change the world’

FAIRFIELD—“As believers, we form a community, each of us a living brick held together by mortar that is divine, that is the Holy Spirit in our midst, ” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano at the recent Catholic Business Forum Mass and Brunch held at Fairfield University.

The bishop addressed business leaders and aspiring business leaders representative of the diocesan community and Catholic Schools.

“Every human person is bound together in the community we form, made in the image and likeness of God,” the bishop continued with his analogy of brick and mortar, explaining that “that community also has mortar, that which links us together in our common good, in our common will.”

“We are living in a time when that mortar is beginning to fall apart,” the bishop said. “You can see how our society is fragmenting, dividing, polarizing…”

“As we come here this morning as business leaders and aspiring business leaders, all of us believers, we have come here to recognize the fact that the mortar that should hold humanity together is not something but is Someone. It is He who has called us here, the one who has redeemed us, the one who gives us the power of His Spirit,” said Bishop Caggiano.

He continued, “It is the one who has given us Good News to proclaim to the world. For whether the world knows it or not, it is Christ’s life and teaching, His presence and Spirit that ultimately is the hidden ingredient that is meant to hold all God’s children together in peace, and prosperity and justice and righteousness.”

“We come here as Catholic business leaders to head the great challenge that Jesus tells us,” the bishop said. “He says, ‘you are the light of the world.’”

“And that means we are to bring the light of truth to wherever the mortar that holds us together is fraying,” the bishop explained. “To be able to proclaim that at the heart of what holds us together in our common humanity are the very principles of our social teaching as a faith—the dignity of the human person, the respect for community, the stewardship of God’s creation…all of that that flows through the Good News of Jesus.”

The bishop addressed the gathered, “my friends, we are to bring that truth into the world and we are not only to enlighten minds but we are to enlighten hearts.”

Following the Mass, brunch was served in the Oak Room at Fairfield University, where attendees heard from guest speaker Robert A. Nalewajek, executive vice president of CAPP-USA and past director of FCAPP-Vatican.

“It is our responsibility to change the world through Catholic Social Teaching,” said Nalewajek of the purpose of CAPP (Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice).

Nalewajek explained, “Catholic social teaching is quite useful as a guide for living in and creating a civil society. It is first and foremost Christian teaching.” Quoting Pope St. John Paul II, Nalewajek continued, “It proclaims God in His mystery of salvation in Christ to every human being and for that very reason reveals man to Himself.”

“Catholic social teaching assumes we are inherently social, reflecting our Trinitarian God in whose image we are created,” said the speaker.

“We are in possession of a gift…do we keep it hidden?” Nalewajek proposed a challenge to the gathered—“what’s needed from us Catholic is faith, hope and ingenuity. Faith in our identity as Roman Catholics; hope in the Holy Spirit; and ingenuity to engage, with resolve, the secular world.”

Photos by Amy Mortensen

“We must insist on a vibrant, publicly assertive, moral cultural order. We must demand a dialogue with society. A dialogue unashamedly based on Catholic social teaching,” said Nalewajek.

The speaker addressed the high school students in attendance—“What do we need to do?” he asked of them. “It is our special task to order and throw light upon all the affairs of the world in line with the teachings of Jesus Christ…that is our unique and special mission.”

Attendees were given the opportunity to participate in the mentoring program which is to continue post-event. At each table at the brunch was a place-card, which interested attendees could fill out in order to participate.

The purpose of the forum was threefold: educational-the integration of Catholic social teaching and business, formative-Catholic social teaching in action, and mentoring–students will be mentored by members of the CAPP community post-event.

Students were given pre-read material and were asked to come prepared with questions. Post-event, the facilitators from each school will work with CAPP to assign a mentor to their group.

Students will be encouraged to meet with their facilitator and mentor post-event to discuss potential projects that could be proposed based on what they have learned.  If the facilitator believes a particular project has merit and would like to move forward with implementation, there may be an opportunity for the students to apply to Foundations in Faith for a grant up to $5,000 to help fund their project.

The ultimate goal of the forum was for local business leaders and students to make materially present Catholic social teaching in action within the local community.

(For more information on CAPP visit:

Click here for guest speaker Robert Nalewajek’s presentation.