Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport
Diocese of Bridgeport
|Territory||Fairfield County, Connecticut|
|Ecclesiastical province||Province of Hartford|
|Metropolitan||Leonard Paul Blair|
|Area||626 sq mi (1,620 km2)|
|(as of 2015)|
420,000  (44.7 %)
|Established||August 6, 1953|
|Cathedral||Cathedral of Saint Augustine|
|Patron saint||St. Augustine|
|Bishop||Frank J. Caggiano|
|Vicar General||Thomas W. Powers|
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport is located in the southwestern part of the state of Connecticut, and its boundaries are the same as that of Fairfield County, Connecticut. There are 82 parishes in the diocese. Its cathedral is St. Augustine in Bridgeport.
As of September 19, 2013[update], the diocese is led by Bishop Frank Joseph Caggiano. He succeeds William E. Lori, appointed March 19, 2001, who served until 2012, when he was installed as Archbishop of Baltimore. The diocese was led by Msgr. Jerald A. Doyle as Diocesan Administrator until Caggiano, named by Pope Francis on July 31, 2013, was installed as bishop on September 19, 2013.
- 1 Description
- 2 Demographics
- 3 History
- 4 Bishops
- 5 Parishes
- 6 Education
- 7 Social services
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
The diocese is one of 195 Roman Catholic dioceses in the United States. It is one of four dioceses in the Ecclesiastical Province of Hartford—the others are the Archdiocese of Hartford, the Diocese of Norwich and the Diocese of Providence.
Sacred Heart in Georgetown is where Catholic writers Flannery O'Connor and Robert Fitzgerald worshipped in 1949–1952 when O'Connor was living in Ridgefield as a boarder with the Fitzgeralds. ("The working day as we set it up that fall began with early Mass in Georgetown, four miles away," Fitzgerald wrote.)
The diocese has more than 410,304 registered Catholics in Fairfield County, 44 percent of the total population.
- Baptisms: 4,343
- First Communions: 4,907
- Marriages: 981
- Funerals: 3,334
Leadership: These figures from the Diocese are said to be accurate as of 2011:
- Diocesan Priests: 240
- Permanent Deacons: 103
- Religious Sisters: 330
- Seminarians for Priesthood: 35
- Priests Ordained in 2011: 1
While all parishes offer mass in English, other languages are offered depending on the needs of a particular congregation. These include Brazilian, Creole, French, Igbo/Nigerian, Italian, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Lithuanian, Spanish, and Vietnamese.
Several parishes also offer mass in Latin, particularly Sts. Cyril and Methodius Church (Bridgeport, Connecticut) which offers mass in no other language.
The Church in Fairfield County, in Connecticut and in America faced ongoing challenges through much of its history as diverse immigrant groups struggled to acclimate themselves to American culture. Another early challenge came from deep suspicions among many (although not all) Protestants.
Seventeenth and eighteenth centuries
In the seventeenth and much of the eighteenth century, Connecticut Puritan divines were vociferously anti-Catholic in their writings and preaching. Suspicion of the Church as a foreign political power and of Catholics as having loyalty to that power remained widespread into the 20th century.
"In the summer of 1781, Rochambeau and his army marched through Connecticut, encamping in the Ridgebury section of Ridgefield, where the first Catholic Mass [in Fairfield County] was offered. His troops were mostly Catholic and were ministered to by priests whom history proudly remembers: Reverend Fathers Robin, Gluson, Lacy, and Saint Pierre." In 1780–1781, the small town of Lebanon had the distinction of being the place in which the Catholic "Mass was first celebrated, continuously and for a long period, within the limits of the State of Connecticut." On June 26, 1881, St. Peter's parish, Hartford, celebrated "the centenary of the first Mass in Connecticut." 
Connecticut passed an act of toleration in 1784, allowing any Protestant to avoid taxes supporting the local Congregational Church who could show authorities a document proving membership and regular attendance at another church. In 1791 the same right was extended to all Christians. The act had little practical effect for Catholics, however, since there was no Catholic parish in the state.
The first Catholic church in the state was started in 1829, in Hartford, the second began in 1832 in New Haven. By 1835 the rector of the New Haven church estimated there were 720 Catholics in Fairfield County, with Bridgeport the home of the biggest community—about 100 people.
On July 24, 1842, St. James the Apostle Church was dedicated by Bishop Fenwick at the corner of Washington Avenue and Arch Street in Bridgeport, which by then had a population of about 250 Catholics. The rector of the church was given responsibility for small Catholic communities of Derby and Norwalk. Catholics in Stamford, Greenwich and some other towns were ministered to by the Bridgeport rector and by Jesuit priests based at Fordham College in New York City.
The Diocese of Hartford was split off from the Diocese of Boston (which had covered all of New England) on November 28, 1843. The new diocese covered all of Connecticut and Rhode Island (which wasn't split off from the Hartford Diocese until decades later).
Reports of sex abuse
In 1993, 23 lawsuits were filed against the diocese, alleging sexual abuse by priests. The 23 claims were settled in 2001. Five priests were evicted from the ministry. In November 2014, the Diocese revealed the list of accused clergy. In 2016, Bishop Caggiano banned accused priest Fr. John Stronkowski from active ministry in the Diocese of Bridgeport. In October 2018, the Diocese unveiled its secret history of financial settlements with other abuse victims. The Diocese secretly paid approximately $52.5 million to settle 156 abuse cases, with claims being made as early as 1953. 10 names which were not mentioned when the list was released in 2014 were later added in March 2019.
In October 2019, former Connecticut Superior Court Judge Robert Holzberg released the results of his investigation, commissioned by Bridgeport Bishop Frank Caggiano, into the Diocese's handling of accusations of sexual abuse by its priests. Holzberg found that all three of Bridgeport's bishops over forty years had consistently failed to fulfill their moral and legal responsibilities. Holzberg found that former Bishop Edward Egan took a "dismissive, uncaring, and at times threatening attitude toward survivors"; he characterized Egan's behavior as "profoundly unsympathetic, inadequate, and inflammatory". Holzberg's report, which stemmed from a year-long investigation, accused 71 priests of sexually abusing 300 children since 1953. However, it also praised the reforms which were made by Egan's successors William Lori and Frank Caggiano to combat sex abuse and compared their tenure to that of their predecessors as "a tale of two cities."
- Lawrence Shehan (1953–1961), appointed Coadjutor Archbishop and later Archbishop of Baltimore (elevated to Cardinal in 1965)
- Walter William Curtis (1961–1988)
- Edward Egan (1988–2000), appointed Archbishop of New York (elevated to Cardinal in 2001)
- William E. Lori (2001–2012), appointed Archbishop of Baltimore
- Frank J. Caggiano (2013–Present)
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The following is a sortable list of parishes which are currently functioning in the Diocese of Bridgeport. For example, to see the parishes listed alphabetically by town, click on the box at the top of the "Town" column. To find mass times and other information about a parish, click on the parish name. All information is taken from the records of the Diocese.
Primary and secondary level
The diocese sponsors 32 regional elementary schools (with 9,974 students) including All Saints Catholic School in Norwalk and five diocesan high schools (with 2627 students). Two other Catholic high schools are directed by religious communities. Altogether, these schools educate nearly 14,000 youth (2,500 of whom are minorities and 1,700 are non-Catholics).
- Convent of the Sacred Heart*, Greenwich
- Fairfield College Preparatory School*, Fairfield
- Immaculate High School, Danbury
- Kolbe Cathedral High School, Bridgeport
- Notre Dame Catholic High School, Fairfield
- St. Joseph High School, Trumbull
- Trinity Catholic High School, Stamford
- *Independently operated with blessing of Diocese.
These three Roman Catholic schools in the diocese have more than 11,000 students:
For the elderly
The Diocese also sponsors nursing homes in Danbury, Stamford, and Trumbull; and eight "Bishop Curtis Homes" for the elderly in Bethel, Danbury, Greenwich, Stamford, Fairfield, and Bridgeport.
"Catholic Charities of Fairfield County, with 25 program offices throughout the county, provides the largest private network of social services in southwestern Connecticut," according to the diocese.
- Catholic Church by country
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- List of the Catholic dioceses of the United States
- , "Diocese of Bridgeport" page from the Catholic-Hierarchy.org database, accessed June 10, 2018.
- "NOMINA DELL'ARCIVESCOVO DI BALTIMORE (U.S.A.)" (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 2012-03-20. Archived from the original on 2013-09-21.
- "Msgr. Doyle named Administrator of Diocese of Bridgeport". Diocese of Bridgeport. May 22, 2012. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
- "Bishop Caggiano to Head Bridgport". The Tablet. Retrieved 17 August 2013.
- Fitzgerald, Robert, "Introduction," p. xiv, "Everything That Rises Must Converge," (Farrar, Straus & Giroux: New York), nineteenth printing, 1978
-  "Who We Are" page on Diocese Web site, accessed July 18, 2006
-  "At a Glance" Web page of the official Diocese of Bridgeport Web site
- DiGiovanni, the Rev. (now Monsignor) Stephen M., The Catholic Church in Fairfield County: 1666–1961, 1987, William Mulvey Inc., New Canaan, Introduction: Catholic Roots in Fairfield County, page xxiv, hereafter DiGiovanni
-  Lori, Bishop William E., "Happy Birthday, General Rochambeau!" article (part of Lori's regular column) Fairfield County Catholic, July 15, 2006, accessed July 27, 2006
- Right Rev. Thomas S. Duggan, D.D., The Catholic Church in Connecticut, 1930, p. 13
- Duggan, p. 14
- DiGiovanni, p. xxiv
- DiGiovanni, p. xxviii
- DiGiovanni, pp. xxvii–xxviii
- Racial Justice Among Top Goals of Cardinal-Designate; Archbishop Shehan Called Well-Read, Energetic, Priestly, Scholarly, Tactful, Toledo Blade, January 25, 1965. Page 22.
- Altimari, Dave; Blanco, Amanda (October 1, 2019). "Bridgeport Diocese report on sex abuse among priests blames former Archbishop Edward Egan; nearly 300 individuals allegedly abused by 71 priests since 1953". Hartford Courant. Retrieved October 2, 2019.
- White, Christopher (1 October 2019). "Bridgeport abuse report blasts Egan for 'clear message of unconcern'". Crux. Retrieved 2 October 2019.
- Diocese of Bridgeport Parish Locater
- Diocesan website
- Fairfield County Catholic, the official diocesan newspaper
- St. John Fisher Seminary, the diocese seminary