With wonderful humor and great humility and authenticity, The Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano, the Fifth Bishop of the Catholic diocese of Bridgeport, CT, shares the incredible twists and turns of his lifelong faith journey, as well as three lessons learned along the path.
Caggiano describes with tremendous transparency life growing up in a closely-knit Brooklyn community as an Italian-American son of immigrant parents. He talks about his father’s extreme pride when he was accepted into Yale and his father’s heart-wrenching disappointment when he announced he was going to seminary.
Caggiano explains the two calls that have been on his life. First, the call to step up and be a man of faith–letting his life be claimed by Jesus–which he humbly admits is a project still underway. Second, his call to leadership and the challenges in discerning, understanding and finally accepting that call.
With extraordinary vulnerability, Caggiano then shares three life lessons from his faith journey, including the difficult ways in which some were learned:
- Caggiano tells how, in choosing to pursue his call to the priesthood, he learned that the things you want in life are not always the things you need in life. He describes how he left seminary to pursue the material comfort he wanted, how God gave him everything he wanted in a lucrative business career, how he came to reorient his heart toward the one thing we need–Jesus, and how that reoriented his entire universe to see everything as a blessing.
- Caggiano shares how, through his stubborn resistance to his call to the priesthood and God’s relentless pursuit, he learned to appreciate God’s gracious love, accept the call as a blessing, and finally surrender to Jesus as his master.
- Caggiano explains how, through the death of a young priest and the wisdom of a mentor, he learned that his life would not be measured by its length or accomplishments but by the quality of life he shared with others in faithful witness through presence, authenticity and honesty. In sharing that what allows us to persevere is the assurance that the Holy Spirit can give us the courage to be disciples wherever we are and to stand with Christ regardless of what the world says or how it reacts, Caggiano humbly admits that this is a lesson he is still learning.
Bishop Caggiano ends with a wonderful word of encouragement about the blessing and importance of men being able to meet in the spirit of the New Canaan Society–a safe place where men can remove their masks, support each other and share the life lessons learned in our journey with Jesus.
So, let me just end by saying this. You are very blessed to have this gathering. For me, coming as a brother and witnessing what you are–don’t ever take it for granted. There are not many safe spaces where we can gather and drop our masks and be who we are called to be and to share whatever life lessons we have learned in the grace of Jesus Christ. So, I must tell you I am very grateful to have shared this morning with you, and perhaps, if time permits, I may be able to join you not as a speaker but just as a brother in faith.
Following Bishop Caggiano’s talk is an extended Q&A covering topics such as the faith implications of being a Mets fan and the important role of fathers.