Bishop: Holy Spirit Still at Work, Renewing and Purifying Church

BRIDGEPORT — Bishop Frank J. Caggiano said the same Holy Spirit who came in tongues of fire on the first Pentecost and “transformed ordinary men into extraordinary martyrs and witnesses of faith who traveled to the ends of the Earth” is still coming today to renew and purify the Church.

In his homily at the Vigil of Pentecost Mass at St. Augustine Cathedral, he told several hundred people, “In our age, segments of our body need healing and renewal, need purification and new life. We have seen that before, and we have grown and been renewed before, and we will be renewed and purified again. It is not our work, it is the work of the Holy Spirit who binds us, unites us, empowers us, enlightens us, invigorates us, allows us to forgive one another and sends us on mission and allows us to be fed the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus so that there is no challenge we cannot face when the Holy Spirit is alive in our hearts.”

During the Mass, which celebrated the 38 international Ecclesial Movements and Communities in the Diocese, Bishop Caggiano also held a commitment ceremony for the newly formed Society of Saint Stephen, an association of deacons and their wives with the mission of deepening personal holiness by fostering spirituality centered on the Eucharist.

The Bishop told the deacons that Jesus Christ in the Eucharist must be central to their lives and ministries.

The society is similar to the Confraternity of St. John Vianney for priests, which was inaugurated on the feast of the Immaculate Conception. He also announced that in the autumn, another association centered on Eucharistic spirituality will be formed for the laity.

Photos by Amy Mortensen

In his homily, the Bishop recalled the first time he visited the upper room, where Jesus instituted the Eucharist and Holy Orders and where 53 days later the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles and Our Lady.

“When I entered into that room for the very first time, I was vividly disappointed for I did not know what to expect … and what I saw was what I never expected to see,” he recalled. “After many years of prayer and imagining, I was in the upper room, the room in which the great mysteries of our faith were given to us — the same room you and I in the mystery of grace have entered tonight in vigil — and it was filled with tourists chewing gum, taking selfies, and not having a clue as to what happened there.”

He told the congregation they were fortunate to understand that what occurred in that room was the invitation to salvation.

“In that room on the night before Jesus died, he took the elements of the Passover and made them for us the food that would give us eternal life,” Bishop Caggiano said. “He took ordinary bread and wine and made it the heart of who we are, the heart of every single one of us.”

He told the representatives of the various Ecclesial Movements and communities who had gathered for the Vigil Mass that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on that first Pentecost continues today in their groups and is as profound as what occurred 1000 years ago with the formation of other venerable religious orders and organizations.

“In that upper room was a group of men as different as you could imagine and yet the Mystical Body was formed in that room through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and through the ages it has gone to every continent and speaks every language and has so many different states of life,” he said. “And in our recent age, we have seen an outpouring of communities and movements as a sign that the Spirit is stirring the Church to greater life and renewal — movements and communities that have joined the more venerable orders, some of which have existed for over a thousand years.”

During the commitment ceremony, some 20 deacons and wives made promises to live according to the rules of the Society of St. Stephen, which was announced earlier this year at the annual convocation of the diaconate.

The goal of the Society is to deepen reverence for the Blessed Sacrament through prayer and adoration, to foster ongoing spiritual renewal and fraternal bonds among its members, and to encourage works of charity and acts of reparation for the sins of deacons, priests and bishops. Members commit themselves to weekly Eucharistic adoration, daily silent prayer, weekday Mass, monthly confession and other duties.

Addressing the group of deacons and wives gathered before him, Bishop Caggiano said, “I thank you all for taking these great promises and allowing the fire of the Holy Spirit — without which there could not be a Eucharist — to mold you so you can become a living sacrifice. And soon the third great piece will be unveiled in the fall when everyone will be able to join a great society dedicated to the mystery of the Eucharist, the heart of the Mystical Body.”

Music for the Mass was provided by members of the St. Charles Church Spanish Choir, musicians of the Neocatechumenal Way, and the Vietnamese Choir. Dr. John Michniewicz, Director of Music at St. Aloysius Parish in New Canaan, served as organist, and Erick Sanchez as cantor.

Father Peter Towsley, pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Danbury, serves as Vicar for Evangelization for the diocese. The following are the Ecclesial Movements of the Diocese of Bridgeport:

  • Ain Karim
  • Alpha
  • Catholic Charismatic Renewal
  • Catholic Daughters of the Americas
  • Catholic War Veterans of the USA
  • Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice (CAPP)
  • Christ Renews His Parish (CRHP)
  • Columbian Squires
  • Columbiettes
  • Communion and Liberation
  • Cursillos in Christianity Movement
  • Domestic Church Families
  • Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem
  • Focolare
  • Heart’s Home
  • Knights of Columbus
  • Lay Fraternity of Saint Dominic
  • Lay Missionaries of Charity
  • Legion of Mary / Legionis Mariae
  • Lumen Institute
  • Magnificat: A Ministry to Catholic Women
  • Marian Community of Reconciliation
  • Missionaries de Jesus
  • National Council of Catholic Women
  • Neocatechumenal Way
  • Our Mother of Sorrows Secular Discalced Carmelite Community
  • Regnum Christi Movement
  • Serra Club of Bridgeport
  • Schoenstatt Apostolic Movement
  • Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta
  • The Order of Secular Franciscans
  • The Third Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mt. Carmel
  • Voluntus Dei
  • Walking with Purpose

By Joe Pisani