Sunday, February 10, 2019

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time - February 10, 2019

Volunteers On Mission!

Last week I announced a volunteer appreciation event for March 3.  I neglected to mention this event is for volunteers over 21 years of age: Young volunteers receive alternative expressions of appreciation.  Again, if you’re a volunteer and haven’t received an invitation by email, please advise your parish receptionist.  If you wish to volunteer, check also with your parish office concerning the Safe Environment program.

Meanwhile, I’m in need of specialized help from people in the social sciences or with the relevant training and experience.  If you’re familiar with interviews oriented toward narrative analysis or appreciative inquiry, or you know someone who is, please alert me.  My hope is to develop a team of people to conduct a series of such interviews at each parish and then synthesize a narrative reflecting the results.  The emerging narratives will be included in the parish profiles used to frame our common mission.

As always, as we strive to implement On Mission for The Church Alive!, I welcome feedback.  If there’s something you think I and my advisors need to know, please speak up by writing a note or sending an email to me, my staff, or my councilors. Please don’t see me before or after Mass about anything of long term importance: It may seem convenient for you, but odds are I won’t be able to mount an appropriate response on those occasions.

Next week, February 21 to 24, Pope Francis will be meeting with representatives of the bishops’ conferences from around the world.  The goal of the meeting seems to be to help the Pope and bishops come to a common understanding of the problem.  It’s a neuralgic matter for us in the Church of Pittsburgh, who last year experienced the simultaneous crises of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report and the scandals surrounding Archbishop McCarrick and his colleagues.  So let’s remember in prayer all affected persons and the bishops at a Holy Hour on Sunday, February 17, at 5:00 p.m. at Holy Trinity Parish.
Fr. Dave

Monday, February 4, 2019

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time - February 3, 2019


Volunteer Appreciation

Sunday offerings are not the only gift that fuels the mission of the Church, though of course these are gratefully received and used to the best of our abilities.  But volunteers are also essential to the life of the parish.  At Sunday Mass, most of the people who make it happen are volunteer altar servers (and parents!), choristers, Communion ministers, readers, sacristans, ushers, and more.  Volunteers also drive our social outreach and most of our catechetical programs.  Still others assist me and the other clergy in the governance of the parishes.

In recognition of this important work, I am happy to host a volunteer appreciation event on March 3.  (If you’re a volunteer, please mark your calendars!)  Invitations are going out via various ministry and organization coordinators.  But given the hundreds of volunteers we enjoy, invitations are a herculean task, and I’m sure to miss someone.  If you’re a parish volunteer and you don’t get an invitation by February 16, please alert your parish receptionist and we’ll try to correct the failure.  Thank you for your support of the mission of Christ and his Church!

If you’re not a parish volunteer, please consider becoming one.  The first step is always to complete the Safe Environment program.  In addition to the diligent background checks, the SE program also trains volunteers to recognize best practices and unacceptable risks in the protection of children and youth.  These include how doors are locked or unlocked, how meetings and events are arranged, and how certain types of activities might blur the lines between wholesome and abusive contact.  Our hope is that if every volunteer knows the best practices, then we can eliminate the conditions under which the young might be at risk.

Although the memorial of St. Blase is this year displaced by Sunday, the clergy of RocKenRo will be blessing throats after Masses on February 3.

Bp. Zubik will administer the Sacrament of Confirmation to the youth and other candidates from RocKenRo on Thursday, March 14.  In order to prepare, the youth of Holy Trinity are on retreat this coming Saturday. Please pray for them!
                                                                                                       —Fr. Dave

Monday, January 28, 2019

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time - January 27, 2019


In place of my column for this week, I present to you a note from Helen Stamatakis, who coordinated our participation in the March for Life last week.
                                                                                                                                              --Fr. Dave

God blessed us with a beautiful day yesterday at the 2019 March for Life in Washington DC.   The theme of the March was “Unique from Day One: Pro-Life is Pro-Science”.  With some last minute cancellations, 37 people made the 1 day pilgrimage.  We prayed as a group on the way to the March (4 Pro-Life Rosaries) and watched 2 Christian movies – I Can Only Imagine and a movie on St. Theresa of Lisieux (and did a Divine Mercy Chaplet) on the way home.  Mass was inspiring as we joined the North Carolina contingent of pro-lifers in a Mass celebrated by the Bishops and Priests of their diocese.  We saw a busload from Illinois at the rest stop and numerous groups from our half of the country.  Most of the marchers are in their teens and 20’s which continues to give hope.  My non-Catholic husband (Greek Orthodox) enjoyed his first March and could not get over the friendly (loving) “vibe” given from the marchers who were so enthusiastically supporting life.

Equally inspiring were the number of people that wanted to come to the March but were unable to but took special time to pray and fast for the unborn.  This was truly a team effort from the people that brought the videos, Jim Berry who orders the food and bus, the donated Pro-Life Prayers books we used (put together by the Joan Brandimarti) along with the donuts they brought and those who donated extra money so that others could join the march in their place.  One of the wise people on the bus (after I mentioned we didn’t have a priest or deacon on the bus this year) corrected me saying “yes we do….Father Ken is on the bus!”  She went on to say that Father Ken could intercede for us now in more ways than he could when he was with us here on earth.  It’s a good reminder and we thank God for the trip that ran smoothly.

In reviewing various news reports, it’s generally believed 200,000-300,000 attended the March.

Thank you,
Helen Stamatakis

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Second Sunday of Ordinary Time - January 20, 2019

Progress at RocKenRo

We clergymen new to RocKenRo have made efforts to get to know you and help you get to know us and to know each other better.  We’ve found ways to meet our routine duties to provide the sacraments and care for souls.  We’ve been listening to you to come to a better qualitative understanding of how you see yourselves and your mission as disciples of Jesus Christ in the context of his Church.  You have helped us and continue to help us in these endeavors.

Meanwhile, we’ve begun a somewhat more quantitative analysis of RockenRo:

People:  What staff positions does each parish have? What are the abilities of each staff member? What are they accomplishing? Where are they headed in their ministries and careers? What organizations are active at each parish? What do they do and what more might they do? What about volunteers and hitherto untapped talent?

Money:  What are our assets and liabilities?  Where does the money come from and where is it going? What’s the future in planned giving and estate bequests?  How can we cut costs or otherwise control loss? Do we need to expand revenue to fuel any expansion of our mission?

Property: What is the condition of our land and buildings?  How do we use them?  How do we need to adapt our usage to better serve our mission?  Are we maintaining these for future use or deferring maintenance to the next generation?  Have we addressed basic safety and security concerns?  What about furnishings and other aspects of the parishes’ patrimony?

Programming: Above all, what happens at Sunday Mass: attendance, music, ministers, preaching, hospitality, bulletins? What about daily Mass? How many people receive how many sacraments through the year? What else happens: religious education and faith formation, care for the bereaved, outreach and social ministry, social events,

As with the qualitative, so with the quantitative: If you have information you think I should have, please email me or convey the information to the pastoral and finance councilors at your parish.

Fr. Dave

Holy Trinity
St. John of God
St. Malachy
Andrew Carr
Linda Gomulka
Joe Maggi
Susan Ruscoe
Rich Murray
Bonnie Pendergast
Ken Zern
Tom Adams
Ron Amity
Victoria Diehl
Sandy Horgan
Alice Kilonsky
Joanne Lorenz
Jennifer Meyers
Patty Beasock
Sharon Cercone
Pat Daily
Zach Hayes
Amy Maxin
Don Murphy
Lisa Worms
Tom Garbin
David Hess
Greg Leininger
Dennis Minzer
Brian Peluso
Claudia Van
Joe Horgan
Doug Nolfi
Steve Sibenik
Bill Stropkaj
Dan Angell
Joyce Chezosky
Joe Colucci
Lisa Polar
Mike Slattery

Sunday, January 13, 2019

The Baptism of the Lord - January 13, 2019

Rev. Fr. Ken Keene, requiescat in pace

In what appears to be a combination of an accident with both recent and chronic health challenges, Fr. Ken Keene died suddenly on January 1, the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. Fr. Ken pastored Holy Trinity Parish for nine years and left only this past October as part of the transitions On Mission for The Church Alive! Fr. Ken also happened to be a native son of Holy Trinity Parish and a graduate of our elementary school. Just these past three months, I’ve already met Fr. Ken’s mother Alvera and his brother Dave, who are both very active at Holy Trinity. Fr. Ken has other family, as well. Please pray for those closest to him who are grieving his death, all too early at the age of 60.

Please remember Holy Trinity Parish in your prayers as well. The faithful there are also grieving and wrestling with the difficult mix of feelings that come with grief. Moreover, in my limited experience, a pastor’s death in office can make it hard in the following years for the parish to continue to adapt and grow. Though technically Fr. Ken had left Holy Trinity, his departure was very recent, and we at RocKenRo need to adapt and grow in the near future. God grant that his death not freeze us in grief, but become an occasion for us all the more to trust God’s Providence and the leadership of the Holy Spirit.

Speaking of adaptation and the Spirit’s leadership: By the time you read this, I will have met with the pastoral and finance councils of each parish of RocKenRo. I thank you all for your patience as we’ve put these advisory bodies into place over the past three months. One early agendum is how each parish should respond to the request that we consider consolidating the parishes of RocKenRo. A consolidated parish would inherit everything from the predecessor parishes: Churches, schools, rectories, social halls, parking lots, bank accounts, debts, programming, furnishings, donations, bequests, etc.
There’ve been a few last-minute changes at St. John of God: Jennifer Meyers joins the pastoral council. Tee Amity withdraws from the finance council (for reasons unrelated to the parish). Doug Nolfi joins the finance council.
Next Sunday, January 20, we take up the annual second collection for the St. Anthony Program and the De Paul School. These institutions do extraordinary work on behalf of learning-disabled and hearing-impaired children, respectively. Moreover, contributions via the second collection count also towards our parish share, so they benefit the parish even more than gifts in the first collection.
My friend, David Mills, speaks at St. Malachy Church on Tuesday, January 15, at 7:00, as part of that parish’s speaker series. David writes regularly for the Pittsburgh Catholic. He understands the Church unusually well and will speak on distinctively Catholic practices such as holy cards, candles, and the like. Please come and listen.
                                                                                                —Fr. Dave

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

The Epiphany of the Lord - January 6, 2019

The Manifestation of God in Jesus Christ

Addressing the Church in Ephesus, Saint Paul describes a “mystery now revealed.”  For the ancients, a “mystery” was not merely something unknown, but something destined to be made known according to a ritual process.  The ancient meaning survives in our reference to “murder mysteries,” a genre which is not just about people dealing with a murder by person(s) unknown.  Instead, the murder-mystery genre typically has a sleuth, specially gifted with skills of observation, wisdom, or some other virtue empowering him (or her) progressively to see past the lies, deceptions, and delusions of the many suspects and so ultimately reveal the whole truth and restore justice.

A mystery is being revealed among us.  What is our Lord doing with us?  Who among us are still trying to deceive him, pretending to be devoted to the truth while in fact serving our own interests? Who is paying attention to the clues and helping our sleuth to bring us to truth and justice?  The magi found our Savior by following the intricate rules of astronomy and astrology, and then by sacrificing their science and careers for the opportunity to follow the star to Jesus.

In fact, lots of people are helping.  Pastoral and finance councilors have been advising the clergy on the affairs of our community.  Others have contributed their thoughts and concerns.  Still others forge a path of revival, extending hospitality to strangers or strengthening the faith and trust of those around them. 

Do you get it yet?   Do you see how the mystery is being revealed?  Are you grateful for what others have done for you?  Have you yet responded by assuming responsibility for the health and welfare of the Church?  By gratitude and co-responsibility, our Lord prepares us for the shared life of the communion of the saints, and the communion of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  The mystery is revealed in Jesus Christ.
                                                                                                               —Fr. Dave

Sunday, December 30, 2018

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary & Joseph - December 30, 2018

New Habits for the New Year
Big changes are coming:
Parishes are consolidating.  At Holy Trinity, St. John of God, and St. Malachy Parishes, we’re actively considering how we should proceed as the RocKenRo grouping. We’ll need to adjust to thinking of ourselves as part of a much broader population than we’re accustomed to.
Mass schedules are changing.  Around the Diocese, a quarter of all Sunday Masses have been cut out. Many churches no longer have Saturday afternoon Masses or Sunday mid-morning Masses.  At RocKenRo, we haven’t yet changed our Sunday Mass schedule, but the changes are coming.  A lot of us will have to re-learn our Mass attendance habits.
Catholic elementary schools will reorganize over the coming years, becoming regional schools.  If we follow examples thus far, in the North Hills, we’ll likely see some close, some merge, and some change the grades they serve.  Others will swell with new populations.

These changes can seem to threaten cherished goods. Nostalgia for our favorite churches enriches us. We rely on fellowship with the familiar worshipers at our usual Mass.  Changes can also inconvenience us:  I’ve heard more than one Catholic from other parishes exclaim, “They took away the X:00 Mass, but I used to go to breakfast [or coffee, or dinner] after that Mass!”

We can sympathize with our Blessed Mother, who endured “great anxiety” when she learned that her boy Jesus had gone missing.  Imagine her distress!  But note also her faithfulness: When she hears Jesus’ explanation, she refrains from scolding him, but instead “kept all these things in her heart.”  Our Lord Jesus himself is also able to remain faithful to both his heavenly Father and his earthly father: He goes to God’s Temple to contemplate God’s Law and instruct the teachers.  But he also goes to Nazareth to be obedient to Joseph.

So let’s imitate the Holy Family.  Let’s imitate Joseph’s diligent labor in seeking his lost boy.  Let’s imitate Mary’s contemplative, prayerful effort to understand how God revealed himself in Jesus.  And let’s imitate Jesus, who perseveres in loving obedience to the Father and in loving service to Joseph, fulfilling the duties of love for both God and man.

Carl Stuvek, the young adult minister at Holy Trinity Parish, resigned effective December 31.  Please thank Carl for his past service.  I am currently in consultation with advisers at all three RocKenRo parishes and with young adults to discern whether and how to replace Carl.
Last week, I wrongly named Pat Kulak as one of my advisers at St. Malachy. I since learned she prefers evangelization to the pastoral council.  Sorry!  But thank you, Pat, for your help.
Tuesday, January 1, is the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, and a holy day of obligation.  The special Mass schedule is published elsewhere in this bulletin.

Happy new year!
                                                                                                              —Fr. Dave