Bridgeport, Conn., Jul 31, 2013 / 05:03 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis has selected Auxiliary Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of Brooklyn to be the next Bishop of Bridgeport, Conn.
“My friends, I come to you 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 at a July 31 press conference in Bridgeport.
“I ask for your prayers, help and support. Let us work together, inviting one another to a deeper love of the Lord Jesus and His People and to bring the Good News of salvation to all who are willing to listen.”
“It is 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,” the bishop added.
Noting the “challenges” of the ministry, he said “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.”
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn said that Bishop Caggiano had “faithfully served” the Catholics of Brooklyn and Queens for 26 years.
“I can attest that he is an outstanding priest. He has been one of my closest collaborators,” Bishop DiMarzio added. “I can unequivocally state that he will be an outstanding pastor to the faithful of Bridgeport.”
Bishop Caggiano, 54, was born in the Gravesend section of Brooklyn on Easter Sunday in 1959. His parents, Arnaldo and Gennarina Caggiano, had emigrated to the U.S. in 1958 from the town of Caggiano in Italy’s southern Salerno province.
The bishop told Wednesday’s press conference that growing up he was particularly influenced by J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy trilogy “The Lord of the Rings,” the Hartford Courant reports.
“I think it’s a brilliant parable of the basic themes of the Christian life,” he said. “It also opened up my imagination. Imagination is an underutilized road to faith.”
The future Bishop Caggiano graduated from the Jesuits’ Regis High School in Manhattan in 1977. He entered Yale University as a political science major but transferred to the Cathedral College of the Immaculate Conception, a seminary preparatory school, in January 1978. He graduated from there in June 1981, a backgrounder from the Diocese of Bridgeport says.
He worked as a sales associate for McGraw Hill Publishing Company in the New York City area before beginning his studies at Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington, New York.
He was ordained to the priesthood in May 1987 and served as a parochial vicar at two Brooklyn parishes before going to Gregorian University in Rome, where he received a doctorate in sacred dogma in May 1996.
After returning to Brooklyn, he served as a parochial vicar at another Brooklyn parish and the dean of formation of the diocese’s permanent diaconate program, which he later served as director.
In December 1998 then-Father Caggiano was named pastor of St. Dominic’s Church in the Bensonhurst region of Brooklyn. He also taught many courses in theology at St. Joseph’s College and the Staten Island campus of St. John’s University.
Pope John Paul II named the priest a papal chaplain in 2003. Bishop DiMarzio named him Vicar for Evangelization and Pastoral Life in 2004 and ordained him a bishop in August 2006.
Monsignor Jerald A. Doyle, administrator of the Bridgeport diocese since May 2012, said the diocese welcomed the appointment.
“The Holy Father has blessed us with a priest, pastor and teacher with extensive experience at every level of diocesan ministries,” he said July 31. “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.”
Bishop DiMarzio said Bishop Caggiano led the reorganization of Catholic schools and academies to make them more sustainable. He also helped guide all the diocese’s parishes to a “firm financial footing.”
“Bishop Caggiano embodies the best of the vision that Pope Francis has for those who are called to be shepherds in the Church,” the bishop said. “I offer my prayers for Bishop Caggiano as he undertakes this new ministry in his Episcopacy.”
The bishop’s installation Mass is scheduled for Sept. 19.
The Diocese of Bridgeport has a population of over 925,000 people, of whom almost 411,000 are Catholic, the U.S. bishops’ conference reports.
The previous Bishop of Bridgeport was Archbishop William Edward Lori, who now heads the Archdiocese of Baltimore.