TRUMBULL – Archbishop Henry J. Mansell of Hartford installed Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, 54, as the fifth bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport during a joyous Mass of Installation on Sept. 19 at St. Theresa Church.
Bishop Caggiano, who previously served as Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Brooklyn, succeeds Bishop William E. Lori, who was named Archbishop of Baltimore in March 2012. Archbishop Lori also attended the installation.
"We gather, so happy to welcome Bishop Frank Caggiano here to the Diocese of Bridgeport," said Archbishop Mansell, who praised him for his experience, reputation and way of bringing people more closely to Christ. "We are profoundly grateful for your willingness to be here and for the service you will be giving" to the diocese, he said.
Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganó, papal nuncio to the United States, read the apostolic letter of appointment from Pope Francis announcing, on the feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola in July, the diocese’s new "shepherd and spiritual leader."
Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York and Cardinal Edward M. Egan, now retired, who was the third bishop of Bridgeport, also were among the prelates in attendance.
Archbishop Mansell then escorted Bishop Caggiano to the cathedra, or chair used by a bishop in a cathedral, which was borrowed from Bridgeport’s St. Augustine Cathedral for the ceremony in the larger, 1,200-seat church. At that point, Bishop Caggiano assumed his role as bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport and principal celebrant of the Mass.
In his lively yet deeply spiritual homily, Bishop Caggiano spoke about building spiritual bridges, challenging those present to reach out to different people in their different needs.
Bishop Caggiano used the metaphor of the iconic and transformative Brooklyn Bridge, completed in 1883, as an example of physical bridges that help to create a larger community. Similarly, he noted that Bridgeport was named for the first drawbridge over the Housatonic River ("See, I did do my homework," he said, drawing laughter). "It allowed the city of Bridgeport to grow and prosper; and it all began with the creation of a single bridge.
"The life of every Christian is about building bridges…not made by hand," he said, but through "the grace and love of God."
He invited the priests gathered to join him "in two great tasks: to strengthen the spiritual bridges that already exist…and to have the courage to build new bridges to all who have left our community of faith and to all who sincerely seek the face of God.
"I ask you to join me, hand in hand, heart to heart, to become builders of spiritual bridges with the help and grace of the Lord and his Holy Spirit," he said.
Along with Archbishop Mansell, principal concelebrants of the Mass were Archbishop Vigano, Archbishop Lori and Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn.
Thanks to archbishop
Bishop Caggiano thanked Archbishop Mansell, "first of all for installing me," but also "for your leadership in this state and for being a man of great courage and great faith. Thank you for all you have done for us."
Clearly enjoying the celebration, held on a sunny, late-summer day, were bishops, priests, deacons, seminarians and women religious from Connecticut as well as New York, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island.
Before the ceremony, the new bishop of Bridgeport walked casually outside of the church, shaking hands with the faithful and talking easily with school children.
He told The Catholic Transcript that in his new post, "My hope is to be able to spend time with the people of God" and "invite them to a new sense of enthusiasm, a new sense of mission and purpose."
"I have every confidence the Church is on the path of true and great renewal," he said, noting that he was accepting his new call in "this Year of Faith."
Born in Brooklyn
Bishop Caggiano was born in the largely Italian Gravesend section of Brooklyn, the second of two children of Arnaldo and Gennarina Caggiano, both of whom came to this country in 1958 from the province of Salerno, Italy. His father died in 2002 and his mother in 2011.
Noting that his day of installation was the birthday of his mother, Bishop Caggiano pointed to heaven and wished his mother "happy birthday, Mom."
He entered Yale University in 1977 as a political science major before further discernment led him to enter Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington, N.Y. He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Brooklyn in 1987. He has been a pastor and was also responsible for the formation of men for the permanent diaconate.
In 2006, he was named an auxiliary bishop for Brooklyn and since then has served as vicar general and moderator of the curia. He has written for two Catholic newspapers, including Brooklyn’s The Tablet and The Catholic Transcript.
Bishop Caggiano had the Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi, his patron saint, printed on his installation cards; and he chose the words "Jesus Christ is Lord" as his episcopal motto.
Family on hand
Making the trip from Brooklyn to attend the ceremony were Bishop Caggiano’s sister Antonia and her two children, Pasqualina Espejo and Dominick.
"We extend our happiness and gratitude to almighty God that he has blessed my brother with this assignment," she said, adding that her brother has been "like a second father" to her children since her husband died five years ago.
Among those participating in the ceremony from Connecticut were Archbishop Emeritus Daniel A. Cronin and Auxiliary Bishop Christie A. Macaluso of the Archdiocese of Hartford; Msgr. John J. McCarthy, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Hartford; Bishop Michael R. Cote of Norwich; and Bishop Paul P. Chomnycky and Bishop Emeritus Basil H. Losten of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Stamford. Archbishop Emeritus Peter L. Gerety of Newark, N.J., at age 101, also attended the ceremony.
Among other dignitaries in attendance were state and town officials; Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight Carl Anderson; and delegations of Knights of Columbus, Knights of Malta and Knights of the Holy Sepulchre.