by Msgr. Guy Massie
According to the Book of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, which is part of the Wisdom Literature in the Hebrew Texts, there is a time for every thing under the heavens. “There is time to be born and a time to die, a time to laugh and a time to cry…”
As I listened to Bishop Frank Caggiano speak at his “Farewell” Mass in the chapel at Immaculate Conception Center, Douglaston, I was reminded of this passage.
I have known Bishop Frank since his days in the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception, Huntington, L.I. Over the past 35 years, we have become close friends.
Bishop Frank is blessed with many talents. He is bright, smart and creative. If we had theological surgeons, he would be one of the top-10. His theological and philosophical thinking is sharp and to the point, and he makes needed distinctions, which are clarifying and challenging.
His greatest gift, however, is his humanity. Bishop Frank has a heart. He has a pastoral heart. That heart feels, listens, acts and suffers. He comes to serve, not to be served. I cannot express the compassion and consolation I received from him when both my parents died just a few years ago.
We have shared theological ideas. We have argued about Church issues, and we have learned from each other. I am thankful for having received his guidance and his insights. For this priest and friend in my life, I praise God. He strives to live his episcopal motto: “Jesus is Lord.”
While Bishop Caggiano, at his going away liturgy, refused to say the word “goodbye,” the reality of the situation is that the time has come to do so. My personal feelings are mixed. I am happy, and I am sad. Many of us feel the same way. I am happy to see him come into his own. It is time for Bishop Frank to be an Ordinary Bishop who will guide a diocese. His time of preparation is now complete. The Diocese of Brooklyn has prepared him for this moment. It is time for seeds, which the Holy Spirit planted deep in his heart and mind and which Brooklyn cultivated, to begin to bloom.
While we will see Bishop Frank from to time-to-time (70 miles is not that far away), his relationship to us has changed. While Bishop Frank will always be part of the Diocese of Brooklyn, he is no longer part of the Diocese of Brooklyn in the same way he was prior to this assignment to Bridgeport, Conn. There has been a change. Change can be difficult, but it also produces great fruit.
Bishop Frank says goodbye to all that is familiar. He says goodbye to all his comfort zones. He says goodbye to the diocese where his vocation was born and where it was nurtured. He says goodbye to us.
It’s not unlike Abraham in Genesis 12:1 who was told by God, “Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk from your Father’s house to a land I will show you.” Abraham left in faith and proceeds on his journey, not knowing what lay before him, yet trusting in God. So, Bishop Frank sets out to continue his baptismal journey which led to priesthood, to the episcopacy and now to Bridgeport.
As Bishop Frank and Brooklyn dies to the past and moves on to the future, we keep in mind the Gospel quote “…unless the grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain but if it dies it produces much fruit” (Jn 12:24).
Since the Lord has orchestrated all that has happened, all will be well. There will be the new life for Bishop Frank and for Bridgeport and even for Brooklyn.
Bishop Frank, Brooklyn loves you. We will miss you. Be at peace, assured of Christ’s presence and our love and loyalty. Remember what has often been said about Brooklyn people: “You can take the kid out of Brooklyn, but you cannot take Brooklyn out of the kid.”
Wherever you are, you are part of us, and we are part of you. Go now my friend and set Bridgeport on fire with the love of Christ. Hello Bridgeport!
[hr]Msgr. Guy Massie is the pastor of Sacred Hearts-St. Stephen parish in Carroll Gardens.[hr]