Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport

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Diocese of Bridgeport

Dioecesis Bridgeportensis
St. Augustine Cathedral - Bridgeport, Connecticut 01.jpg
Cathedral of St. Augustine
Diocese of Bridgeport-TF.svg
Coat of arms
Country United States
TerritoryFairfield County, Connecticut
Ecclesiastical provinceHartford
DeaneriesQueen of Peace, Mystical Rose, Queen of Martyrs, Our Lady, Queen of Confessors, Seat of Wisdom, Queen Assumed into Heaven, Mother of Divine Grace, Cause of our Joy, Mary, Mother of the Church
Area626 sq mi (1,620 km2)
- Total
- Catholics (including non-members)
(as of 2015)
939,904 [1]
420,000 [1] (44.7 [1]%)
Parishes82 [1]
Sui iuris churchLatin Church
RiteRoman Rite
EstablishedAugust 6, 1953
CathedralCathedral of Saint Augustine
Patron saintSt. Augustine
Current leadership
BishopFrank J. Caggiano
Metropolitan ArchbishopLeonard Paul Blair
Vicar GeneralThomas W. Powers
Judicial VicarArthur C. Mollenhauer
Diocese of Bridgeport map 1.png

The Diocese of Bridgeport is a Latin Church ecclesiastical jurisdiction or diocese of the Catholic Church 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 Cathedral in Bridgeport. The Diocese of Bridgeport is a suffragan diocese within the ecclesiastical province of the metropolitan Archdiocese of Hartford.

As of September 19, 2013, 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.[2] 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.[3][4]


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.

The church with the greatest capacity in the diocese is St. Mary's Church on Elm Street in Stamford, built in 1928.

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.)[5]


The diocese has more than 410,304 registered Catholics in Fairfield County, 44 percent of the total population.[6]

Other statistics:[7]

  • 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:[7]

  • 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.[8]

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[edit]

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.[9]

"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."[10] 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."[11] On June 26, 1881, St. Peter's parish, Hartford, celebrated "the centenary of the first Mass in Connecticut."[12]

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.[13]

Nineteenth century[edit]

The first Catholic church in the state was started in 1829, in Hartford. In 1830, Rev. James Fitton celebrated Mass in Bridgeport in the home of James McCullough on Middle Street. From 1832 to 1837 Rev. James McDermot visited from New Haven. He said Mass at the Farrell residence, also on Middle Street.[14] 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.[15] McDermot was followed by Rev. James Smyth, also from New Haven.

On July 24, 1842, St. James the Apostle Church (Irish) 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.[15] In 1844, Rev. Michael Lynch, former pastor in Waltham, Massachusetts, became the first resident priest in Bridgeport. His responsibilities included missions in Norwalk, Stamford, Danbury, Wolcottville, and Norfolk.

Rev. Thomas Synnott, pastor of St. James, established St. Mary's Parish (Irish) in East Bridgeport in 1854; and the Church of St. Augustine (Irish) in Bridgeport in 1869. Sacred Heart Parish (Irish) was organized in 1883; until the church was ready for services, Mass was held at the Opera House. In 1890, Rev. James Nihil purchased the Eli Thompson estate; the Board of Education allowed the use of the Grand Street School until St. Patrick's Church was ready for services. St. Michael's "Chapel of Ease" (funded and administered by Sacred Heart Church) was constructed in the West Side of Bridgeport in 1895; the Sisters of Mercy operated a school in the rear portion of the building. A number of national parishes were also established: St. Joseph's (German), St. Anthony of Padua (French), St. Stephen's (Hungarian), closed to make way for construction of I-95, and the first Slovak church in New England, St. John Nepomucene in 1891(Slovak) which was closed and merged with Holy Name of Jesus Slovak Church after celebrating its 100th anniversary in 1991.[16]

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).[17]

Twentieth century[edit]

The diocese was established August 6, 1953, from the Diocese of Hartford.[18]

Reports of sex abuse[edit]

In 1993, 23 lawsuits were filed against the diocese, alleging sexual abuse by priests.[19] The 23 claims were settled in 2001.[19] Five priests were evicted from the ministry.[19] Two Diocese of Bridgeport priests, Kieran Ahearn and John Castaldo, were convicted on sex abuse charges respectively in 1993 and 2001.[20] However, many other accused priests have also died without facing trial.[20] In November 2014, the Diocese revealed a list of accused clergy.[21] In 2016, Bishop Caggiano removed accused priest John Stronkowski from active ministry in the Diocese of Bridgeport.[22] In October 2018, the Diocese released a report of financial settlements with abuse victims. The majority of the cost of settlements (approximately 92%) was provided through the sale of diocesan property, insurance recoveries and other co-defendants.[23] The Diocese paid approximately $52.5 million to settle 156 abuse cases dating back to 1953.[24] In March 2019, ten additional names were later added to the original 2014 list.[24]

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.[25] Holzberg found that former Bishop Edward Egan, who served as the Bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport between 1988 and 2000,[26] took a "dismissive, uncaring, and at times threatening attitude toward survivors"; he characterized Egan's behavior as "profoundly unsympathetic, inadequate, and inflammatory".[25] Holzberg's report, which stemmed from a year-long investigation,[27] accused 71 priests of sexually abusing 300 children since 1953.[25] 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."[27]

On January 3, 2020, accused Danbury priest Jaime Marin-Cordona was arrested and released on bond four weeks later after agreeing to wear a tracking device.[28] He was charged with three counts of fourth-degree sexual assault, three counts of risk of injury to child and three counts of illegal sexual contact.[29] He has pled not guilty to all nine charges.[29] In March 2020, it was announced that the pre-trial hearing for Marin-Cardona would begin March 27, 2020 and conclude April 21, 2020.[29] Marin-Cardona has been officially charged with three counts of fourth-degree sexual assault, three counts of risk of injury to child and three counts of illegal sexual contact.[29]


Bishops of Bridgeport[edit]

  1. Lawrence Shehan (1953–1961), appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of Baltimore and subsequently succeeded to that see, later created Cardinal in 1965
  2. Walter William Curtis (1961–1988)
  3. Edward Egan (1988–2000), appointed Archbishop of New York and subsequently created Cardinal in 2001
  4. William E. Lori (2001–2012), appointed Archbishop of Baltimore
  5. Frank J. Caggiano (2013–Present)


Primary and secondary level[edit]

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).[7]

High schools[edit]

*Independently operated with blessing of Diocese.

Higher education[edit]

These three Roman Catholic schools in the diocese have more than 11,000 students:

Social services[edit]

For the elderly[edit]

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.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d [1], "Diocese of Bridgeport" page from the database, accessed June 10, 2018.
  2. ^ "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.
  3. ^ "Msgr. Doyle named Administrator of Diocese of Bridgeport". Diocese of Bridgeport. May 22, 2012. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
  4. ^ "Bishop Caggiano to Head Bridgport". The Tablet. 8 August 2013. Retrieved 17 August 2013.
  5. ^ Fitzgerald, Robert, "Introduction," p. xiv, "Everything That Rises Must Converge," (Farrar, Straus & Giroux: New York), nineteenth printing, 1978
  6. ^ a b [2] "Who We Are" page on Diocese Web site, accessed July 18, 2006
  7. ^ a b c [3] "At a Glance" Web page of the official Diocese of Bridgeport Web site
  8. ^ "Mass Times". Diocese of Bridgeport.
  9. ^ 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
  10. ^ [4] 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
  11. ^ Right Rev. Thomas S. Duggan, D.D., The Catholic Church in Connecticut, 1930, p. 13
  12. ^ Duggan, p. 14
  13. ^ DiGiovanni, p. xxiv
  14. ^ O'Donnell, James H. (December 15, 1900). "History of the diocese of Hartford". Boston : D.H. Hurd Co. – via Internet Archive.
  15. ^ a b DiGiovanni, p. xxviii
  16. ^ O'Donnell, p. 264.
  17. ^ DiGiovanni, pp. xxvii–xxviii
  18. ^ Racial Justice Among Top Goals of Cardinal-Designate; Archbishop Shehan Called Well-Read, Energetic, Priestly, Scholarly, Tactful, Toledo Blade, January 25, 1965. Page 22.
  19. ^ a b c "Diocese of Bridgeport". August 10, 2011. Archived from the original on 10 August 2011.
  20. ^ a b Blair, Russell. "The Bridgeport Diocese has released names of priests accused of sexual abuse. Here's who they are and where they served".
  21. ^ Shanabrough, Erik. "List Of Credibly Accused Diocesan Priests & Accused Religious Order Priests Who Served In The Diocese Of Bridgeport". Diocese of Bridgeport.
  22. ^ "Statement of Bishop Caggiano, June 25, 2016" (PDF).
  23. ^ "Financial Report, Diocese of Bridgeport" (PDF).
  24. ^ a b "Bridgeport Diocese Shares Names of Accused Priests and Financial Data of Settlements on Church Sex Abuse Claims".
  25. ^ a b c 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.
  26. ^ "Edward Egan becomes the ninth archbishop of New York in 2000".
  27. ^ a b White, Christopher (1 October 2019). "Bridgeport abuse report blasts Egan for 'clear message of unconcern'". Crux. Retrieved 2 October 2019.
  28. ^ Baker, Kendra (January 31, 2020). "Former Danbury priest accused of sexual abuse released on bond". NewsTimes.
  29. ^ a b c d Baker, Kendra (March 23, 2020). "Danbury clergy sexual abuse case continued to April". NewsTimes.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°12′42″N 73°12′55″W / 41.21167°N 73.21528°W / 41.21167; -73.21528