A Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education alumna has been appointed the first laywoman parish leader in the diocese of Bridgeport.
Eleanor W. Sauers, PhD, GRE ’07, was appointed by Bishop Frank Caggiano to the role of parish life coordinator at St. Anthony of Padua in Fairfield, Conn. Sauers, who had already taken on a leadership role at St. Anthony’s following the death of its former pastor, will have authority over a team of priests in the parish.
“We are at a very particular moment in the history of our Diocese, and indeed, within our Church,” Bishop Caggiano wrote to parishioners. “As I travel throughout Fairfield County, it has become apparent to me that many lay women and men are seeking new ways to serve their parishes, and, in collaboration with the clergy, to create vibrant and thriving communities.”
He continued: “[Dr. Sauers’] responsibilities, as it is with any priest or deacon appointed as administrator, is to work with the parish community to develop and foster its pastoral vision and mission… Her education, formation, and experience makes her professionally, academically, and spiritually ready for this role.”
He noted that the appointment was the first of its kind in the Bridgeport diocese and that it has support in canon law.
At an event last month in Washington D.C., Bishop Caggiano had hinted that he would soon be appointing the first woman to lead a parish within his diocese. The statement came as the bishop was addressing his role in the Vatican’s Synod on Young People, Faith, and Vocational Discernment in October.
“The absence of women’s voices and points of view impoverishes discussion and the path of the Church, subtracting a precious contribution from discernment,” declared the synod outcome document. “The synod recommends making everyone more aware of the urgency of an inescapable change.”