Monsignor Antonio Cacciapuoti, St. Bede Church's newly installed pastor, has four goals as he begins his new assignment: to preach the Gospel to the people; pray for family and friends; administer the sacraments; and to shepherd his people.
"My job is to bring Christ to other people," Cacciapuoti said. "That's what I am going to focus [on] in my time in La Cañada. To me, that's what basically it's all about, it's to participate in the splendor God has for us."
A native of Naples, Italy, Cacciapuoti began his assignment as pastor of St. Bede's on July 1. He was formally installed Sunday during a Mass celebrated by Bishop Gerald Wilkerson, an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Cacciapuoti takes over for Monsignor Jim Gehl, who left St. Bede in June and is now pastor of St. Euphrasia's Parish in Granada Hills.
"I feel like he's a very traditional priest," said St. Bede parishioner and business manager Diane Boysen of Cacciapuoti. "I think that the people of St. Bede's like tradition. It's such an old parish … we have two generations of families here. He brings backs the warmth that kind of signifies family. That's where we like to be."
On July 4 Cacciapuoti celebrated all of the day's Masses.
"On the Fourth of July he went beyond the call of duty," said parish secretary Connie Martin. "I think the parishioners really, really did appreciate that. He stayed afterward as long as it took to talk to everybody."
For the past 11 years, Cacciapuoti has been pastor of Christ the King Church in Hollywood. With one year to go until his assignment was up, Cacciapuoti received a call from Cardinal Roger Mahony's office asking if he would be willing to transfer to St. Bede after Gehl's departure. Although he could have declined, Cacciapuoti felt an obligation to follow the orders of his bishop.
"This change is going to be wonderful for our parish community," said St. Bede parishioner and development coordinator Lisa Orlandini.
As pastor, Cacciapuoti will have to oversee St. Bede's 78 parish ministries and organizations, manage 24 staff members and be a minister to the church's roughly 1,900 registered households. Those numbers don't concern him, Cacciapuoti said. He has plenty of manpower to get the administrative work done, leaving time to do what he was ordained to do — administer the sacraments.
"The people on the staff help the pastor be spiritually prepared," Cacciapuoti said. "The more people you have, the more freedom you have to dedicate to the people. By delegating people … you free yourself from the technical part of organizing meetings and overseeing things."
So far, Cacciapuoti has no plans for St. Bede as far as new programs or ministries. For now, he just wants to listen.