Bishop Frank Caggiano of Bridgeport has been appointed chairman of the board of directors for Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the agency announced Monday.
Caggiano was appointed by Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. He assumes the role of chairman immediately, and his term will last until November 2022.
“It’s a great honor to lead an organization that is such a bright light for all of our brothers and sisters overseas who don’t have enough to eat or a place to sleep because of entrenched poverty,” Caggiano said in a statement.
“All of God’s children have the right to live in just and peaceful societies, and for more than 75 years CRS has worked toward making that a reality. I look forward to joining forces to build on all of the organization’s substantial achievements, and to tackling the challenges that affect so many members of God’s family.”
CRS was founded in 1943 and is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States.
Present in more than 100 countries throughout the world, the agency responds to emergencies and natural disasters, works to fight poverty and disease, and promotes peacebuilding and reconciliation efforts.
“It is a privilege to have Bishop Caggiano serve as our new board chair,” said CRS’ president & CEO Sean Callahan. “He has been actively engaged and supportive of CRS in the Diocese of Bridgeport, and he has sent several of his priests on visits to CRS programs overseas.”
The position of chairman was previously held by Bishop Gregory Mansour of the Eparchy of Saint Maron of Brooklyn. He has been in the role since 2016.
Mansour said Caggiano will be “a hands-on leader who will roll up his sleeves and get to work while inspiring others to do the same. He speaks with clarity and is laser focused on renewing the Church and tending to its needs. His love and commitment to our Lord Jesus is truly remarkable.”
Caggiano’s episcopate has been marked by work with youth, Mansour noted. The Bridgeport bishop has frequently given talks and catechesis at World Youth Day events, and he was elected by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops as one of five U.S. delegates for the Synod on Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment in 2018.
He has also served on USCCB committees dealing with evangelization and catechesis; the catechism; and laity, marriage, family life, and youth.
“Young people want to see a Church that is very close to the poor and a Church that is doing works of justice,” Mansour said. “Bishop Caggiano understands these values and is committed to making sure that youth have a seat at the table in the Church’s outreach to the poor. That’s why he’s a perfect fit for CRS.”
Caggiano was born on March 29, 1959, the second of two children born to Italian immigrants. He graduated summa cum laude from Cathedral College of the Immaculate Conception with a philosophy degree in 1981.
He then worked briefly as a sales representative for McGraw Hill Publishing Company before starting major seminary studies at the Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington, New York.
Caggiano was ordained a priest in Queens on May 16, 1987. He served as parochial vicar at two parishes before going to Gregorian University in Rome, where he received a doctorate in sacred dogma in May 1996.
He then served in Brooklyn in parishes, directed formation for permanent deacons in the diocese, and taught theology at local colleges.
Caggiano was named Auxiliary Bishop of Brooklyn by Pope Benedict XVI on June 6, 2006. He was appointed Bishop of Bridgeport by Pope Francis on July 31, 2013.
At the 2018 Vatican synod on youth and vocational discernment, Caggiano spoke about the importance of discussing the Church sex abuse crisis openly if the Church is to regain the trust of the faithful. In his own diocese, the bishop has reconstituted a review board to oversee safe environment policies and has published annual financial statements and audits. Last year, the bishop commissioned an investigation into sexual abuse by clergy in the diocese. That report was released last month.
In 2014, Caggiano convoked a diocesan synod, aimed at evangelizing, engaging youth, building community, and fostering charitable works.