Seton Collaborative can be ‘transformative’

FAIRFIELD—The Seton Collaborative was officially launched with a mission to help grow and renew the Church by unlocking the talents and skills of people within the diocese and beyond.

“For the Church to grow, we need to collaborate,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano at the launch event, held October 26 on the Fairfield University campus. “Everyone gathered around a single vision will lead the Church forward. What excites me is the transformation!”

The bishop spoke to a group of about 65 benefactors and supporters who attended a special evening that began with Mass in the Egan Chapel of St. Ignatius Loyola, followed by dinner in the Dogwood Room in the Barone Student Center.

The group gathered to celebrate the launch of the Seton Collaborative, learn more about the mission of the new innovative non-profit organization and share their thoughts on how best to engage with the initiative.

“We live in a time of many challenges,” the bishop said during his homily. “We live in a world that thrives on competition and division. You and I have come here to affirm a better way, to build on what we have and to work on initiatives that are collaborative.”

Those Seton Collaborative initiatives include partnering with both diocesan schools and parishes to provide them with financial, operational and other support and expertise and promote greater collaboration and support among them.

The bishop said the valuable resources within the diocese are not being used to their full potential.

“At this moment in our life, we have talents and gifts that are hidden because of the structure we have,” he said, referring to the duplication and redundancy of services each parish and school must employ. “For the Church to be renewed, we must unlock the talents that have been given to us. And for the Church to grow, we need to collaborate.

The bishop noted many parishes have already begun to collaborate on formation efforts, youth services and other projects.

The Seton Collaborative is named after St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, founder of the first Catholic schools in the United States. She is the patron saint of Catholic education.

Kevin Lawlor, executive director of the Seton Collaborative, explained during a presentation following dinner that utilizing resources efficiently throughout the diocese will enable schools and parishes to focus on what they do best—ministering to children and parishioners, not being distracted by day-to-day business requirements.

“Each school and each parish is a small business,” he said, noting principals and pastors might not have the time or expertise needed for the demands and nuances of running one. “As an organization built from the ground up to be a service organization, Seton will offer the best in school finances, IT and other services.”

In fact, the Collaborative has already begun working with schools to streamline payroll and accounting systems and provided additional training and support to ensure stronger financial systems.

This fall, some schools are being supported with the first-ever IT Help Desk. Lawlor said as the Seton Collaborative expands, parishes will also be able to take advantage of additional shared services.

Lawlor said streamlined services can give back time—a precious commodity—back to these organizations. And that time can be better utilized ministering to God’s people.

“We are not effectively passing the faith onto our children, who are leaving the Church,” Bishop Caggiano said. “My mission with the pastors is to help them imagine what could be.”

The savings realized by not duplicating activities at every parish affords the Collaborative the opportunity not only to compete with the secular world to recruit and retain top-notch talent, but also gives families the opportunity to work within the diocese to satisfy both their financial and spiritual needs—using their talents and gifts to work for God.

“We want to make the best of the best available to all our parishes and schools,” the bishop said. “If we don’t work together, we’re not going to survive together. The potential here is transformative.”

The bishop said as important as this initiative is for the survival of the Church, it is just as important that the people who make up the church are provided opportunities to evolve with the changes. For instance, the Collaborative is working to provide training for those affected by any of the potential changes.

Leading with compassion to preserve the character of the parishes and schools, the bishop said, is a top priority. And those in attendance agreed.

“The vision is spot-on, and I think the Collaborative will bring even … more value than the original intention of tactical operations,” said James O’Rourke, who attended the event with his wife Measi—the founder of St. Joseph Parenting Center. “The most important thing is that it will be done with compassion and in a way that is governed by God. It will be a benefit to the community.”

The bishop urged those gathered to support the Seton Collaborative efforts in any way they can.

“This is an opportunity for collaboration among all parishes and schools for the renewal of the whole church,” he said.

For information on the Seton Collaborative visit: or email:

By Brian D. Wallace