The Bishop of Bridgeport, the most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano, shared his dreams for the future of his diocese in a lecture at the Regina A. Quick Center on Tuesday evening.

In the lecture titled “On Calling a Diocesan Synod: Hopes and Dreams,” Caggiano invited attendees to participate in a tradition that has dated back to the earliest years of the Catholic Church: the Synod.

Described by Caggiano as “a sacred journey of God’s people to discern his will,” Tuesday’s lecture was part of a four-year process that involves him and all pastors, clerical religious administrators and clergy within the diocese assembling to deal with matters facing the modern-day Church.

“What is it that you and I dream for the Church that we love so deeply?” asked Caggiano of a room of mostly non-students.

At the top of this list for Caggiano is a restructuring of the Catholic education system, an issue that he described as being “very near to my heart.”

Caggiano called attention to the fact that in today’s economy, many parents struggle to meet the ever-rising tuition costs of private schools.

In the coming months, Caggiano revealed that he will be finalizing plans for a Bishop’s Scholarship, to be awarded to students who want, yet cannot afford a Catholic education.

Despite the work still ahead, Caggiano is optimistic that his plans will succeed. In the next few years he predicted, “not only will we be able to achieve full enrollment, but we may be able to reopen some schools.”

“I dare to dream of the day when every Catholic child will have the opportunity to go to the Catholic school of his or her choice,” he said.

Although he and his fellow clergymen will be at the forefront of the Synod, Caggiano emphasized that every Catholic should play an active role in the evolving Church.

“Tomorrow morning when we drag ourselves out of bed and look at ourselves in the mirror, we must see the renewal of the Church looking back at us,” he said.

After he concluded his remarks, Caggiano opened the floor to questions from audience members, several of whom did not hesitate to ask him for his opinions regarding sensitive issues such as abortion and contraceptives.

Despite the Church’s official stance, Caggiano said that those who might feel that they have sinned in the eyes of the Church should never be afraid to rejoin the community: “We need to make them understand that their sin is not loved but they are loved,” he said.

Caggiano compared the relationship between the Church and those who have engaged in behavior commonly considered to be “sinful,” to that of himself and his father during his childhood.

“My father was tougher than any nail I’ve ever met,” Caggiano said, explaining that while he did not always understand his father’s strict disciplinary measures when he was young, he understands now that his father acted out of a place of love.

“It is through love that we ask them to change,” he said.

The next question posed to Caggiano regarded the clergy’s infamous sex abuse scandals. After sharing that her son-in-law had suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a clergy member when he was young, a female audience member asked Caggiano his opinions on the matter.

“Terrible mistakes were made,” said Caggiano regarding the way in which Church leaders handled the issue, adding “I cannot speak to the intentions of those individuals.

“It’s a wound in the life of the Church,” he concluded.

Freshman Robert McDonough attended the lecture to get extra credit in his religion class. “It was a good talk,” he said.” I liked that he wasn’t afraid to talk about the tough issues.”

Senior Caitlin Delorey agreed. “It was definitely interesting,” she said. “But some of the wording was confusing. I don’t understand what a Synod is.”

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