Sunday, June 9, 2019

Pentecost Sunday - June 9, 2019

I call your attention to this teaching from the bishops at the Second Vatican Council:

Christ, the one Mediator, established and continually sustains here on earth His holy Church, the community of faith, hope and charity, as an entity with visible delineation through which He communicated truth and grace to all. But, the society structured with hierarchical organs and the Mystical Body of Christ, are not to be considered as two realities, nor are the visible assembly and the spiritual community, nor the earthly Church and the Church enriched with heavenly things; rather they form one complex reality which coalesces from a divine and a human element. For this reason, by no weak analogy, it is compared to the mystery of the incarnate Word. As the assumed nature inseparably united to Him, serves the divine Word as a living organ of salvation, so, in a similar
way, does the visible social structure of the Church serve the Spirit of Christ, who vivifies it, in the building up of the body.
                                                                                                                —Lumen gentium 8

In other words: When God became man in Jesus, Jesus’ humanity served his divinity by becoming
the instrument through which God saved the world. Analogously, the Holy Spirit animates the
Church, so that the institution of the Church serves the Holy Spirit as the instrument by which the
Spirit joins us to the Body of Christ.

In the United States, our language and thought are formed by Protestant and often more generally
anti-institutional sentiments. These sentiments can incline us to scorn “the institutional Church.” But
following the analogy, that’s like scorning the humanity of Jesus: It sets us against the Holy Spirit
and his work for our salvation.

Pentecost, fifty days after Easter, marks the holiday when Jesus’ apostles received the gift of the
Holy Spirit. It’s an opportunity for us who follow Jesus to be renewed in his Spirit, and so share more
deeply life in the Church, and be rededicated to our mission.

􀀿Beginning this coming Friday, June 14, the daily Mass schedule changes:
We add a Mass every Friday at 8:30 a.m. at St. Malachy Church;
We remove the Mass every Friday at 8:15 a.m. at Holy Trinity Church.
(We’ll still occasionally have an 8:15 Friday Mass at Holy Trinity, but only when it’s required by the
adoration team or for a school Mass. Plan to check the weekly parish calendar if you’re interested.)

􀀿Next Sunday, June 16, is the feast of the Holy Trinity. It’s the patronal feast for Holy Trinity Parish, the
farewell Sunday for Brendan Barker, director of music at Holy Trinity, and the beginning of our Sundays
saying good-bye also to Fr. Michael Ruffalo, whom the Bishop has reassigned from RocKenRo to the new
shrines of Pittsburgh. Please be sure to express your appreciation for Brendan or Fr. Ruffalo as
opportunity affords you.
                                                                                                                  —Fr. Dave

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Seventh Sunday of Easter - June 2, 2019

“Trigger Warning”

In the 16th century, the Catholic Church was afflicted by extensive episcopal corruption, angry schism in the English and Protestant Reformations, and political entanglements like the Spanish Inquisition.  The Holy Spirit raised up Saint Philip Neri, a priest in Rome, and gave him the gifts of faith, love, good humor, and a lively sense of the ridiculous.  St. Philip’s legendary humor burst the prideful bubbles of pompous clergymen.  When Christians were inclined to take themselves too seriously, indulging in self-congratulatory “reverence” or hand-wringing anxiety about the decline of the Church, Philip’s wry piety helped them find new hope in Christ.

I am delighted to have Holy Trinity Church bring comedian Jeremy McLellan to Pittsburgh on June 21. Here’s the official ad blurb:

Jeremy McLellan is a rising star in the standup comedy world. He was just honored as a "New Face of Comedy" at the prestigious Just for Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal and won the 2015 and 2016 Charleston Standup Comedy Competition and was named Best Local Comic in the Charleston City Paper.
A devout Christian with a passion for social justice, Jeremy is a staple at interfaith events around the world. He recently completed sold-out tours in the United States, UK, and Pakistan.

But let me be clear: Jeremy will be joking about the bumbling and petty selfishness of clergy and laity alike.  If finding humor in the affairs of Catholics offends you, you should probably stay away. But if you’ve got some of the spirit of St. Philip Neri in you, then join me to hear Jeremy McLellan on Friday, June 21, at 7:30.  Tickets are free at:

X Our elementary schools celebrate their baccalaureate Masses for departing 8th graders on Monday, June 3, at 6:00 p.m. (St. Malachy School at St. Malachy Church) and Tuesday, June 4, at 6:30 p.m. (Holy Trinity School at Holy Trinity Church).
X   Holy Trinity Parish hosts a blood drive on June 2.  Call 412-209-7622 for an appointment.
                                                                                                                             —Fr. Dave

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Sixth Sunday of Easter - May 26, 2019

Memorial Day

The first Decoration Day was observed on May 30, 1868, to mark the graves of soldiers of the Grand Army of the Republic—that is, veterans of the Civil War.  Since then, “Decoration Day” has become “Memorial Day” on the last Monday of May, in honor of the U.S. servicemen who died in all our wars and conflicts.  Many take it as an opportunity to commemorate other deceased veterans and family members.
The Church in the U.S. eagerly accepts the responsibility of praying for the dead on this holiday.  It’s especially appropriate to the Easter season, during which we celebrate the promise of eternal life to those who share in the charity of Christ, laying down their lives for others.
At RocKenRo, we observe the occasion with our Masses at each church on Monday, May 27.  Please come and pray for our deceased soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines. Representatives of our communities will also be involved in observances hosted by the American Legion and local municipalities.
X With joy for Fr. Ruffalo's sake, but regret for RocKenRo, I announce that Bishop Zubik has appointed Fr. Ruffalo to team ministry at the parishes of:
Immaculate Heart of Mary, Polish Hill;
Most Holy Name, Troy Hill;
St. Nicholas, Millvale;
St. Patrick/St. Stanislaus Kostka, Strip District;
and at the same time, co-director of the shrines of
St. Anthony Chapel;
St. Nicholas Church;
Immaculate Heart of Mary Church;
St. Patrick Church.
Fr. Ruffalo retains his responsibilities as Curator of the Patrimony of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, but effective July 1, 2019, he is relieved of his assignment to RocKenRo: Holy Trinity, St. John of God, and St. Malachy Parishes. Of course, we all wish Fr. Ruffalo Godspeed as he launches this innovative ministry.  The consequences for RocKenRo will be many, so we'll be discussing these in the weeks to come.  In the meanwhile, thank you for your attention and prayers for Fr. Ruffalo, and please consider taking the last Sundays in June to express to him your appreciation for his ministry.
X Our Lady of the Sacred Heart High School (“OLSH”) celebrates its annual graduation ceremony this Thursday.  Many of the graduates come from Holy Trinity, St. John of God, and St. Malachy Parishes.  Please also say a prayer for these high school graduates now venturing into the world as young adults.
X  Fr. Alan Morris and others have scheduled blood drives for the churches of RocKenRo.  The first is this Sunday, May 26, at St. Malachy; call 412-209-7622 to make an appointment.  Holy Trinity follows on June 2 and St. John of God on June 23.  Thank you for your gift!           
X The Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, Thursday, May 30, is a holy day of obligation. Please see the special Mass schedule elsewhere in the bulletin.                                                                                                              Fr. Dave

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Fifth Sunday of Easter - May 19, 2019

On Mission for The Church Alive!
Recent events suggest that a few have missed important announcements from the Church of Pittsburgh these past three years. I trust, however, that some of you are not entirely oblivious. So I beg your patience as I remind you that we are On Mission for The Church Alive!. That means all Catholic parishes, schools, and other institutions across the Church of Pittsburgh, including even the diocesan administration, are undergoing a dramatic reorganization. Our goal is to turn our increasingly limited resources in priests, volunteers, worshipers, and funds away from the maintenance of a multiplicity of institutions and toward a renewed focus on our mission to proclaim the gospel, administer the sacraments, and care for the people.
First to be affected last year were the clergy, many of whom were reassigned, and almost all of whom received expanded mandates to care for several communities. At RocKenRo, Fr. Bob Zajdel and Dcn. Tim Killmeyer stayed in their current assignments but received new responsibilities for all the parishes of RocKenRo. Meanwhile, Frs. Alan Morris, Michael Ruffalo, and I left our previous pastorates to serve at RocKenRo.
Next at RocKenRo came the schools. I would have preferred to address these later in the process, but deficits at St. Malachy School would have greatly burdened RocKenRo, so I merged the schools for the coming 2019-20 academic year. This represents a special hardship for the teachers, some of whom will lose their jobs, so please at least remember them in your prayers.
I expect that later this year we’ll also undertake to study whether it would be advantageous to consolidate RocKenRo into one parish. The study will be public, involving questions about population, finances, ministries, and other features of our community. It may emerge that we can best fulfill our mission as one parish with several churches and a school.
That won’t be the end. Whether or not we consolidate parishes, but especially if we do, we’ll be consolidating staff positions—either to eliminate redundancy, or to refocus our staff more on mission and less on maintaining, for example, three separate offices, sets of accounts, maintenance programs, and religious education programs. We’ll also have to look at how we use our buildings and properties, and what the best use might be.
But again, all of this is in the service of mission. Emerging from On Mission!, I expect that we’ll be able to devote a lot more time and energy to worship, evangelization, and discipleship. My hope is that we’ll be offering our best in worship and that everyone who comes to our churches will be more aware of themselves as followers of Jesus and better able to share that discipleship with others.
Father of Mercy, as we journey On Mission for The Church Alive! endow us with your gifts of courage, collaboration, and compassion. Help us to fulfill the mission of Jesus and his Church through vibrant parishes and effective ministries. Raise up selfless, energetic leaders to serve the Church in fidelity and with care. May we the Church of Pittsburgh in Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Greene, Lawrence and Washington Counties be sustained and strengthened by your grace. Help us to learn Jesus, to love Jesus and to live Jesus. Hear this prayer and grant it through Jesus Christ our Lord, with the help of our dear Blessed Mother, under the mantle of her love. Amen.
Fr. Dave

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Fourth Sunday of Easter - May 12, 2019

The Good Shepherd

The fourth Sunday of the Easter season is often called “Good Shepherd Sunday,” because the readings for the day always come from the passage in the Gospel of John where Jesus speaks of himself as the “good Shepherd” and his disciples as his sheep.  Shepherds:

  • protect sheep from predators;
  • lead sheep to places where there is sufficient grass and water; and
  • bring sheep to the place of shearing, where their wool is taken and the sheep thus fulfill the purpose for which they have been bred.

That third function of shepherds is often neglected in our thoughts about Christ as the Good Shepherd:  Christ doesn’t care for us merely because we need care, though it’s true that we do need care and that Christ cares for us in part because we need him.  But our Lord also has a purpose for us.  He does not need us, but he intends us to enrich him with our wool—metaphorically speaking, our good deeds and our maturity as followers of Jesus.  The Good Shepherd calls you to become good sheep—that is, to become saints!
                                                                                                                    —Fr. Dave

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Third Sunday of Easter - May 5, 2019

Christ is Alive!

Pope Francis recently published an apostolic exhortation, Christus vivit (“Christ is Alive!”).  I quote here his remarks about Catholic schools—not because all his praises or criticisms necessarily apply to our current schools, but because I want us to consider these things as we envision our future, both for Archangel Gabriel School and for evangelization in the RocKenRo grouping of parishes.  The whole exhortation can easily be found at the Vatican website.
221. Schools are unquestionably a platform for drawing close to children and young people. Precisely because they are such privileged places of personal development, the Christian community has always been concerned to train teachers and administrators, and to found its own schools of various kinds and levels. In this field of educating the young, the Spirit has raised up countless charisms and examples of holiness. Yet schools are in urgent need of self-criticism, if we consider the results of their pastoral outreach, which in many cases focuses on a kind of religious instruction that proves often incapable of nurturing lasting experiences of faith. Some Catholic schools seem to be structured only for the sake of self-preservation. Fear of change makes them entrenched and defensive before the dangers, real or imagined, that any change might bring. A school that becomes a “bunker”, protecting its students from errors “from without” is a caricature of this tendency. Yet this image reflects, in a chilling way, what many young people experience when they graduate from certain educational institutions: an insurmountable disconnect between what they were taught and the world in which they live. The way they were instructed in religious and moral values did not prepare them to uphold those values in a world that holds them up to ridicule, nor did they learn ways of praying and practicing the faith that can be easily sustained amid the fast pace of today’s society. For one of the greatest joys that any educator can have is to see a student turn into a strong, well-integrated person, a leader, someone prepared to give.
222. Catholic schools remain essential places for the evangelization of the young. [G]uiding principles…for the renewal and revival of missionary outreach on the part of schools and universities include a fresh experience of the kerygma, wide-ranging dialogue, interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary approaches, the promotion of a culture of encounter, the urgency of creating networks and an option in favour of those who are least, those whom society discards. Similarly important is the ability to integrate the knowledge of head, heart and hands.
223. On the other hand, we cannot separate spiritual from cultural formation. The Church has always sought to develop ways of providing the young with the best education possible. Nor should she stop now, for young people have a right to it. “Today, above all, the right to a good education means protecting wisdom, that is, knowledge that is human and humanizing. All too often we are conditioned by trivial and fleeting models of life that drive us to pursue success at a low price, discrediting sacrifice and inculcating the idea that education is not necessary unless it immediately provides concrete results. No, education makes us raise questions, keeps us from being anaesthetized by banality, and impels us to pursue meaning in life. We need to reclaim our right not to be sidetracked by the many sirens that nowadays distract from this pursuit. Ulysses, in order not to give in to the siren song that bewitched his sailors and made them crash against the rocks, tied himself to the mast of the ship and had his companions plug their ears. Orpheus, on the other hand, did something else to counter the siren song: he intoned an even more beautiful melody, which enchanted the sirens. This, then, is your great challenge: to respond to the crippling refrains of cultural consumerism with thoughtful and firm decisions, with research, knowledge and sharing”.

Please note an exception to the weekday Mass schedule on Wednesday, May 8:  The usual 6:30 p.m. Mass at Holy Trinity will instead be at 7:00 p.m. to accommodate Holy Trinity School.
Fr. Dave

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Second Sunday of Easter - April 28, 2019

Happy Easter, again!
Today we hear the boast of the apostle Thomas, “I will not believe!” Thomas prefigures all the clever fools who would follow in subsequent centuries—men who boast of their intelligence and cynicism, men who “think rather than blindly trust,” men who “think for themselves,” all the while ignoring the evidence before them, the compulsion of the truth.
Thomas, however, repents. When the Lord appears again among them to offer Thomas the evidence he sought, Thomas realizes his offense. He acclaims Jesus, “My Lord and my God!” Let him be an example for all of us, called to turn from our doubt to belief and trust.
 Please give thanks for and/or to those who helped us celebrate the holy days:
Ÿ musicians and choirs for the extra Easter work;
Ÿ those who decorated the churches for the holy days;
Ÿ RCIA teams who led adult catechumens and candidates to baptism, confirmation, and 1st Communion at the Easter Vigil;
Ÿ worshipers who made way for others in the parking lots and in the pews;
altar servers and their parents for the extra hours, and all the emcees, ushers, readers, and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion for filling the additional assignments;
Ÿ those who adored the Lord in our churches or on the 7-church pilgrimage;
Ÿ the parishes’ staff for completing several behind-the-scenes tasks.
On Holy Thursday, our churches welcomed buses and convoys from many other parishes. Thank you for extending your hospitality to all!
     Brother Casey Cole, OFM, is a Franciscan deacon and something of a celebrity speaker, especially via the internet. He visits RocKenRo in real life May 10-11, with an appearance at Holy Trinity’s “Connect Night,” and then in an unusual event, a “spiritual walk,” on May 11 in McKees Rocks, starting and ending at the church of St. Mary, Help of Christians, of St. John of God Parish. More details will be available in this and the next bulletin, and on the website .
     Hundreds of volunteers keep our RocKenRo parishes operating. Thank you! Just this past holy week, we needed our liturgical ministers (altar servers & parents, ushers, readers, hospitality crews, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, and especially our choirs and musicians), church decorators, fish fry laborers (cooks, cleaners, servers, clerks, etc.), money counters, catechists and catechetical aides, adorers for Holy Thursday, and more. If you’re not a volunteer, please consider becoming one. Check with your parish office about meeting the “Safe Environment” requirements, and we’ll go from there.
Fr. Dave