Discover the Diocese of Bridgeport

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, 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 asDiocesan Administrator until Caggiano, named by Pope Francis on July 31, 2013, was installed as bishop on September 19, 2013.

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 inStamford, 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.)

Size

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

Other statistics:

Priests, sisters, etc.

These figures from the Diocese are said to be accurate as of 2011:

History

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, Connecticut, 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.

Nineteenth century

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).

Twentieth Century

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

Bishops

  1. Lawrence Shehan, 1953–1961
  2. Walter William Curtis, 1961–1988
  3. Edward Egan, 1988–2000
  4. William E. Lori, 2001–2012
  5. Frank J. Caggiano, 2013–present

Education

Primary and secondary level

The diocese sponsors 32 regional elementary schools (with 9,974 students) including All Saints Catholic School in NorwalkSt. Aloysius School in New Canaan; 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).

High Schools

*Independently operated with blessing of Diocese.

Higher education

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

Social services

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.

Other

"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.

 

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