Sunday, May 28, 2017

Seventh Sunday of Easter - May 28, 2017

Perhaps the most famous speech in American history is Abraham Lincoln’s address at the dedication of the military cemetery in Gettysburg on November 19, 1863. In part, Lincoln said, “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Lincoln understood that the best way to honor the soldiers who had fallen in battle was to carry on the task for which they had sacrificed their lives. As we now prepare to celebrate Memorial Day, we ask ourselves if we are ready to live out the ideals upon which our nation was founded. We frequently take our way of life for granted. This holiday is for more than just cookouts and ballgames (and the famous Kennedy Township parade). It is a time for us to remind ourselves of what we have to live up to.

In a similar vein, our school students are getting ready to put their books on the shelf and begin their summer vacation. Our eighth graders graduate this Wednesday evening, and the rest of the school finishes the year on Thursday morning. Our students will take a break so that they may return in the fall to another year of learning and of growing in God’s love. Our eighth graders will take what they learned at St. Malachy and will move on to the next stage of their education, whether at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Bishop Canevin, Montour or elsewhere. And as the summer begins, we remember that God never takes a vacation. He has promised to be with us always. It is up to us to remember and to continue to grow in His grace.

Finally, permit me to tie the two themes of this column (Memorial Day and the end of the school year) together with my opening reference to President Lincoln’s remarks at Gettysburg. There is an old joke about a nun who was discussing the Civil War with her class. She called on one student and asked, “Billy, what can you tell us about Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address?” Billy replied, “I don’t know his Gettysburg Address, Sister. But I know he lived at the White House.”

                                                                                               Father H                  

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Sixth Sunday of Easter - May 21, 2017

I would like to offer my thoughts today in two parts. It shouldn’t be too hard to tie them together.
First of all, I want to thank everyone who stayed after the Masses last week for the discussions concerning the diocesan initiative On Mission for the Church Alive. About seventy-five people stayed for the discussions if you add the three Masses together. Thank you for your participation, and thank you to the members of the On Mission team who helped me at the meetings and who took notes on what we said.

As a brief summary, I started by giving a brief overview at each Mass and expanded it slightly after the Mass. I also gave the summary in last week’s column, but it is worth repeating. The current proposal would have a new parish in our area formed from the merger of St. Malachy, St. John of God and St. Philip. Remember that St. Philip is a recent merger of the four West End parishes of Guardian Angels, Holy Innocents, St. Philip, and Ascension. Two “campuses” would remain open as part of the new parish. This is not final, which is why we were meeting last weekend. We are currently giving feedback to the diocese concerning the proposal. I have to give the parish’s feedback in early June. Bishop Zubik will announce the final decision in March of next year, along with priest assignments. He will also help set a timetable for when the merger would be finalized. Once the grouping becomes official, the pastor and other priests will work with the current parishes. There will be a blueprint, developed by the diocese but adapted for each individual situation, to help determine what staff will be needed, what the Mass schedule would be like, and so forth.

The reaction at the meetings was overwhelmingly positive. Practically everyone felt that this was the best grouping we could hope for. We have a good relationship with the people from the other neighborhoods, and our parish has worked with St. John of God in supporting the school and other endeavors. We also hope that the new parish will offer more volunteers for things such as our Festival and our Fish Fry. But essentially, everyone was pleased with the grouping.

One point that someone made at one meeting is that we need to work on evangelization, bringing our faith to more people. I commended that parishioner for reminding us of what has been a common theme from St. John Paul, Pope Benedict and Pope Francis. For us to evangelize, we have to be renewed in our own faith. Let me remind you of the wonderful opportunity we are offering this Monday night. Fr. Joe Freedy will lead Awaken, a powerful evening of prayer, reflection and Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Please come and join us for this wonderful evening.
                                                                                          Father H                  

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Fifth Sunday of Easter - May 14, 2017

         I think I was in junior high when I had to do a project on family budgets. At the time, I thought of my father as the most mathematical person in our family. He was a COBOL programmer and was the one I went to when I needed help with my math homework. But for this project, I sat down with my mother and asked about planning meals for a course of a week. She took the budget that my teacher had given and then developed a menu. I was amazed at how quickly she could bring up all the prices of any of the items on her menu.

That story allows me to take this column in two directions. First of all, I want to take the opportunity to offer a “happy Mothers Day” to all mothers out there. Like my mother, you do so much for your families than they even realize. I hope that your children have an insight as I did into what you do for them. But one way or another, I hope you realize that God knows how important you are to your family.

The other point from my story of my mother is the importance of planning. As my mother knew what the family needed and was able to plan for our care, so Bishop Zubik is now trying to plan for what the Diocese of Pittsburgh needs. At the Masses this weekend I am talking about the update on the initiative On Mission for the Church Alive. Some months ago, we had meetings led by the diocese on the “models” that had been proposed. The models proposed various different options for the mergers of each parish in the diocese. Now we are talking about “groupings.” The diocese has taken the feedback from all the meetings and all other sources and has now come up with “groupings.” Each parish is now in one particular proposal. The groupings are not a final decision, and diocese wants us to offer more feedback.

As it stands now, as I am expressing at the Masses, St. Malachy is in a grouping with St. Philip and St. John of God. In the original models, we were also in with St. Margaret of Scotland, but just about all the feedback we received indicated that St. Margaret did not belong with us. One of the models also had us in with Holy Trinity, but again the feedback put them elsewhere. So we are left with St. John of God and St. Philip as our partners.

As proposed currently, the new parish will have two “campuses,” a term which refers to the church building as well as all the buildings and grounds. In short, it means that two churches will be available for celebrating Mass and all the other parish activities. The determination of which buildings will be open has not yet been made, but I have hope that St. Malachy will remain as one of the churches.

Again, the diocese still wants more feedback. If you read this column before Mass, I invite you to stay after Mass (whichever Mass you attend) to take part in a brief meeting to discuss the current proposal. Otherwise, you are welcome to offer any thoughts you have, and I will be sure to include them in preparing the parish’s final feedback.
                                                                                        Father H                  

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Fourth Sunday of Easter - May 7, 2017

    One hundred years ago, the Blessed Mother appeared to three young children in the Portuguese town of Fatima. Beginning on May 13, 1917, Mary appeared to Lucia Santos and her cousins, Jacinta and Francisco Marto. Jacinta and Francisco both died in the international flu pandemic that began in 1918. Both were beatified by Pope St. John Paul in 2000. Lucia lived to adulthood, dying at the age of 97 in 2005 after living for years in a cloistered convent.

While Fatima is a “private revelation,” meaning that it is not necessary for our salvation, we see it as an important devotion at this time in our history. Mary’s message at Fatima was one of prayer for peace. The great “weapon” of Fatima is prayer, particularly the Rosary. As we approach the centennial of Fatima, we know that prayer for peace is more vital than ever. The Rosary count that has been going on in our parish since last summer has reached over 12,000 Rosaries prayed, and we can do even more in preparation for the anniversary.

Here at St. Malachy, you will notice two features for the anniversary. First of all, our statue of Our Lady of Fatima has moved from its position by the candles to a place of honor in the center of the narthex, right where the window makes it visible to all who pass by. In addition, Frank DeChellis has donated his artistic talent to renovate the statues of the three children seers. The statues of the children had been stored in our loft after fading badly over the years, and we thank Frank for fixing them up. Now, during the month of May, this statue of Our Lady can be a more present reminder of our need to pray for peace.

And as we do each year, we recognize May as the month of the Blessed Mother by praying the Rosary before each Sunday Mass and after each weekday Mass. Most of us grew up praying the Rosary with a prayer that was added at the end of each decade (after the “Glory Be”), which goes, “O my Jesus, forgive us our sins. Save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy.” We will also include a liturgical prayer from the memorial of Our Lady of Fatima after the “Hail, Holy Queen” as part of the Rosary throughout the month.

Pope Francis has granted a plenary indulgence to all who take part in devotions to Our Lady in prayer before an image of Our Lady of Fatima. The ordinary requirements for a plenary indulgence include going to Confession and receiving Communion, being interiorly detached from all sin and praying for the intentions of the Holy Father. In this special instance, then, you can make a visit to our statue of Our Lady of Fatima and then come to join us for the Rosary before Mass. Of course a particularly good time to do that would be at the Rosary before the Mass next Saturday, which is the anniversary of the first apparition.
                                                                                      Father H