Catholic bishop to speak at town’s Holocaust commemoration
FAIRFIELD — In contrast to the past 32 Holocaust commemorations organized by the town, this year’s keynote speaker has no direct connection to the Nazi campaign to exterminate Jews during the World War II era.
The speaker is not a survivor, or the child of a survivor. He’s not a historian. He’s not even, like one year’s keynoter, the child of an SS officer.
“I learned that many of our survivors had heard the bishop speak at B’nai Israel” congregation in Bridgeport, said Josh Zabin, a captain in the Police Department and co-chairman, along with the Rev. Charles Allen, of the Holocaust Commemoration Committee. “They were overwhelmed, and they thought he would be a wonderful, dynamic speaker.”
The Holocaust Commemoration will be held at 7:30 p.m. May 5 at First Church Congregational, 148 Beach Road.
Allen himself was at that presentation by the bishop at Congregation B’Nai Israel, which marked the 50th anniversary of Nostra aetate — Latin for “In our time” — the declaration on the relationship of the Catholic church with non-Christian faiths adopted by second Vatican Council in 1965.
“If you know Bishop Caggiano, he’s a wonderful public speaker, and he did a superb job,” Allen said. After the talk, he said, Caggiano and Rabbi James Prosnit held a question-and-answer session with the audience. “They worked together so beautifully,” he said.
Zabin said as the committee was considering who to invite to speak at this year’s program, it was after Ciaggano spoke at the synagogue that he began to hear committee members suggest that the bishop would be an excellent choice.
Even with Jewish and Catholic co-chairmen, Zabin said, having a Catholic bishop as the keynote speaker for a Holocaust commemoration “is very unique.”
“We’ve had all these different types, all these diverse speakers,” Zabin said. “This really is going to be the most diverse. We all look forward to hearing his reflections.”
Allen said the choice of Caggiano fits nicely into what he said he has always considered a town commemoration that strives to include everyone. Not only are he and Zabin of different faiths, he noted, the event itself has traditionally been hosted by First Church Congregational.
The topic of Caggiano’s address will be, “We Must Never Forget.” The event, which is free and open to the public, will include musical selections performed by the Fairfield Warde High School Ensemble and the Fairfield County Children’s Choir. A reception will follow.