BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – Thousands of Catholics from around Fairfield County will gather at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport on Saturday to celebrates the Closing Mass of the Diocese of Bridgeport’s fourth diocesan synod .
A synod is a gathering of officials and leaders within the diocese. Bishop Frank Caggiano called the fourth synod a year ago to bring leaders from the clergy and laity together to discuss issues and challenges facing the diocese, and to create a roadmap for moving forward.
“It’s been a wonderful experience. I think the 380 delegates, the vast majority of whom are lay leaders, found it to be a very positive, invigorating experience. And I did, too, I must confess,” Caggiano said.
Caggiano said it is important for the Catholic church to be open to change. He pointed to a phrase from St. Augustine: Ever ancient, ever new.
“There’s something perennial, enduring and unchanging in our church: it’s the truth of who Jesus is, the truth of his revelation, that which he teaches us about how one can live a fulfilled life in this world and eternal life to come. That does not change,” Caggiano said in an interview with the Daily Voice.
“That which endures, which will always endure, also demands that we respond pastorally to the circumstances of our time. So this synod is an attempt to address the circumstances of our time. That’s why I think it’s an obligation for the church in every age to take stock f the world in which we live, to challenge what we face and what people are experience in their lives, and to respond to it as best we can.”
Among the goals of the synod are finding ways to empower youth in the church, building communities of faith, promoting outreach, and promoting works of charity and justice.
Through a year of meetings, the participants have laid out a number of initiatives that the diocese will seek to implement. Caggiano said the closing Mass celebrates the end of the first phase. The next phase — implementation — will take place over the next few years.
One initiative is the Diocesan Leadership Institute, which will offer support for current church leaders and help other members of the church come into leadership. Another initiative is the Catholic Service Corps, which Caggiano likens to the Peace Corps. He said it will be geared towards young people and offer them opportunities to come together to serve the needy.
Bringing nearly 9,000 people together to pray will be like gathering a family for a wedding and getting to see where everyone is in their lives, Caggiano said.
“It’s a snapshot of who the family is, and it’s exactly what’s going to happen on Saturday, because those 9,000 people come from every parish, every school, every institution,” he said. “It’s who we are as the Catholic Church in Fairfield County. And just getting together to pray and look at all the different faces, languages spoken, ethnic backgrounds, economic backgrounds, personal histories, just being in one room is a moment of grace. And when you consider everyone in the room is worshipping the Lord, then it’s a unique and singular blessing.”
The synod will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday and will be available to live stream on the diocese’s website.
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