Bridgeport, Conn. (CNS) – On the morning after he was appointed to lead the Diocese of Bridgeport, Conn., Bishop Frank Caggiano was being praised in Connecticut newspapers as “a breath of fresh air” for his “all-inclusive style of leadership.”
The bishop, who has served in the Brooklyn Diocese as vicar general and auxiliary bishop since 2006, met the press in Bridgeport’s Catholic Center July 31, the day he was appointed as the fifth bishop of the diocese.
The appointment was announced in Washington, D.C., by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the U.S.
Bishop Caggiano, 54, succeeds then-Bishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, who was named archbishop of Baltimore in March, 2012.
Msgr. Jerald A. Doyle has been an administrator of the diocese since May, 2012, and he will continue to serve in the post until Bishop Caggiano is installed.
The installation has been scheduled for Sept. 19 at a yet-to-be-determined site. The date is the Feast of St. Gennaro, patron of his ancestral home in Italy, as well as his late mother’s birth date.
At the morning news conference, Bishop Caggiano said being Bridgeport’s new bishop will be “an awesome and exciting ministry that will bring with it wonderful opportunities to gather people in prayer and to invite everyone to grow in holiness of life.”
“There are always challenges in such ministry, but I have every confidence that the Lord always provides us whatever we need to meet those challenges and through the struggles we share to deepen our faith and love for him and one another,” he added.
He told Bridgeport’s Catholics that he comes to them “as a fellow pilgrim on the journey of faith, eager to learn about the good work done each day throughout our diocese.”
Bishop Caggiano said he is “ready to listen to the needs of God’s people and committed to collaborate with all who serve in pastoral leadership in our parishes, schools, colleges and charitable institutions that serve the poor and needy, most especially my brother priests, deacons and women and men in consecrated life. I ask for your prayers, help and support.”
On a personal note, the diocese learned its new bishop is an avid New York Mets fan and enjoys gardening, reading and carpentry work.
Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio said that “first and foremost, Bishop Caggiano is an outstanding teacher, as is evidenced by the Holy See selecting him twice to offer catechesis to the young people at World Youth Days both in Madrid 2011 and just recently in Rio de Janeiro.”
Bishop Caggiano mentioned the Rio gathering at the news conference, saying he had returned from it “filled with a renewed sense of hope and excitement that the Church is alive in the hearts of our young people. Many stand ready to share their enthusiasm, energy and joy with the entire Church.”
To young Catholics, in Bridgeport and elsewhere, “who may be wondering about the direction of their lives,” he said: “I will do whatever I can to serve you and walk with you in your journey of faith.”
Msgr. Doyle said in a statement that Bishop Caggiano’s appointment was welcome news. “The Holy Father has blessed us with a priest, pastor and teacher with extensive experience at every level of diocesan ministries,” he said.
“Most importantly, he is a man of deep faith, love for the Church and commitment to the Gospel. On behalf of the clergy, religious and laity, we welcome him with open arms and with our prayers that God will bless him as the shepherd of our diocese,” the priest said.
Ordained a priest in 1987 for the Diocese of Brooklyn, Bishop Caggiano has served in a number of pastoral and administrative positions. He has been both a pastor (St. Dominic’s, Bensonhurst) and also responsible for the formation of men for the permanent diaconate. In 2006, Bishop Caggiano was named an auxiliary bishop for Brooklyn and since then has served as vicar general and moderator of the curia.
Bishop Caggiano was born in the Gravesend neighborhood of Brooklyn on March 29, 1959. He holds a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy from Cathedral College, Douglaston; a master of divinity from Immaculate Conception Seminary, Huntington, L.I.; and a licentiate and doctorate in theology from Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University.
Before beginning his studies for the priesthood, he studied for a year at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., and worked for a year and a half for a book publisher.
The Bridgeport Diocese covers a 633-square-mile area. Out of a total population of about 926,000, close to 411,000 people, or 44 percent, are Catholic.
Jesuit Father Jeffrey P. von Arx, president of Fairfield University, in the Bridgeport Diocese, congratulated Bishop Caggiano on his appointment.
He called it “a particularly auspicious announcement for our Jesuit university on this day – July 31st – the feast day of St. Ignatius, the founder of the Society of Jesus.”
He noted the bishop’s Jesuit education, as a graduate of Regis H.S. in Manhattan and the Jesuit-founded Pontifical Gregorian University.
“He brings to our diocese a reputation for great warmth, love of the Church, strength of leadership, and pastoral compassion,” Father von Arx said. “His experience as the auxiliary bishop in Brooklyn makes him ideally suited to lead our diverse and vibrant diocese.”