Video report by Jeevan Vittal, Fox CT
Text by Daniela Altimari, The Hartford Courant
TRUMBULL – Frank J. Caggiano became the fifth bishop of Bridgeport Thursday in a ceremony rich with tradition and imbued with hope.
The Brooklyn-born son of Italian immigrants who once studied at Yale University delivered a message of inclusion to the more than 460,000 Catholics who live in Fairfield County, especially those who have fallen away from, or become disillusioned with, the church.
“We must remember this day and resolve to leave no one behind,” Caggiano told the hundreds of people who packed into the elegant wooden sanctuary of St. Theresa Roman Catholic Church, “to leave no one to fend for themselves, to leave no one to be tossed into the shadows of our parishes, schools, neighborhoods and homes. All have been called, all must serve, all must be strengthened in faith, hope and love.”
Crowds began arriving at the handsome stone church just off the Merritt Parkway more than an hour before the 1:30 service. Among them was Regina Berardino, a parishioner at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Fairfield. She said she was touched that Caggiano chose a date for his installation that is both his mother’s birthday and the Feast of San Gennaro,the patron saint of Naples, Italy.
“He’s honoring his family and he’s honoring his heritage as an Italian,” Berardino said. “Somebody who pays that kind of attention to tradition … how can you not love him?”
Berardino attended the vespers service Wednesday night with Caggiano and came away impressed. “He’s soft-spoken but strong,” she said. “He wasn’t waving his finger at us. He was just so hopeful. He told us he’s going to be with us for weeks, months and years ahead.”
Caggiano succeeds William E. Lori, who left Bridgeport last year to become the archbishop of Baltimore. Lori was in attendance Thursday, as were other prominent church leaders, both past and present, including Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York and his predecessor, Edward Egan, who was also a former bishop of Bridgeport and archbishop of New York. Henry J. Mansell, archbishop of Hartford, presided over the service.