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

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord - April 21, 2019

Victory and More!
Jesus won his victory on the cross: Despite torture, mockery, and malice, Jesus persevered in loving obedience to God and in loving mercy toward us. From mankind’s first awakening, we failed to answer God’s call to love, but at Jesus’ death we at last fulfill God’s purpose for us.
Jesus’ victory for us is awesome, but the God goes further by raising Jesus from the dead and restoring him to his human body—glorified in divine life, beauty, and power. Follow Jesus on the way of suffering and death, and you also follow him on the way of glory and resurrection.
Jesus intends his followers to respond through life in his Church. His dying command was, “Love one another, as I have loved you.” And after his resurrection, he bound his disciples to the shared life of the Church and her mission to bring his good news to the ends of the Earth.
So we’re On Mission for The Church Alive! At RocKenRo—the three parishes of St. John of God, McKees ROCks, St. Malachy, KENnedy Township, and Holy Trinity, Robinson—we’re reorienting our institutions, personnel, and resources toward a contemporary expression of our mission:
On February 23, the Diocese of Pittsburgh announced the merger of our two elementary schools, Holy Trinity and St. Malachy, into the new Archangel Gabriel School, with K to 8 at the Robinson campus and the pre-school at the Kennedy campus. The merger will save RocKenRo a great deal of money and, if we can sustain enrollment, will facilitate a broader and better range of programming for the students.
Jacob Williamson joins us May 6 as our new director of engagement, responsible for evangelization, communications, youth ministry, and religious education. Jacob writes:
Happy Easter! I am excited to begin as the new Director for Engagement for the parishes of Holy Trinity, Saint John of God, and Saint Malachy. I was raised in West Kittanning and graduated Kittanning Senior High School in 2006. I have an older brother who lives with his growing family in Bakersfield California and I have an older sister who lives with her daughter in Raleigh, North Carolina. My mom and the rest of my extended family still live in Kittanning. Unfortunately, my dad passed away in 2014.
After high school, I entered Saint Mark Seminary as a seminarian for the Diocese of Greensburg and began my studies at Gannon University. In 2010, I graduated with my B.A. in philosophy and discerned out of seminary formation.
Since college and seminary, I have worked in both business and ministerial roles. Right after college, I worked in administration at Macy’s in the South Hills while, at the same, I volunteered at Saint Anne’s in Castle Shannon on their youth ministry core team. After a lot of consideration, I decided to pursue a career in youth ministry and was hired in 2011 at Holy Sepulcher Parish in South Butler County as the Director for Youth and Young Adult Ministry. During those five years, I encountered God in amazing ways as I was privileged to accompany teens and young adults through some of their most profound joys and sufferings. 
In 2016, I ventured to Denver, Colorado to more diligently pursue a graduate degree in theology that I had been working on from the Augustine Institute. While in Denver, I also worked with a small Catholic non-profit called Christ in the City. My time in Denver was short because some people from the Diocese of Pittsburgh and I began talking about the possibility of me moving back home to take on a new role in the Diocese as the Director for Young Adult Outreach, which I did in early 2017. For the last two years I have worked for the Diocese of Pittsburgh assisting leaders in our parishes to re-vision what ministry for people in their 20s and 30s could be and help them to effectively implement that vision. This work manifested itself not only in that consultative work but also through creating leadership development experiences, facilitating large outreach events, leading international pilgrimages, and raising volunteer teams to minister directly to young adults.
Now, I am excited to begin working here with you. I look forward to meeting you, listening to your ideas and stories, praying with one another, and making this parish grouping an authentic place of encounter where strangers do not exist and all grow as disciples of Jesus Christ. Peace,                 —Jacob R. Williamson

Brendan Barker, director of music at Holy Trinity, departs June 16. Brendan writes:

Beginning this August, I have accepted a position in the graduate program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign under the instruction of Dr. Andrew Megill. There I will work toward a Doctor of Music Arts degree in Choral Conducting, made possible by a teaching assistantship in the choral division. It has long been a dream of mine to have a career as a collegiate conductor, and this is the next step in that long process. My time at Holy Trinity has been an integral part in that development. It has been a privilege to direct the choir here and refine my real-word choral techniques with an amazing group of people. Walking beside the music ministry as it progressed to excellence has been my proudest life achievement thus far, and I will take with me many of the lessons I learned during that process. I knew from the start that this was an outstanding community from the great vigor with which you sing together during the Mass. I hope that this will only continue to grow with my successor. My last weekend at Holy Trinity will be June 16th; it seemed appropriate for me to end on Holy Trinity Sunday as that was my first weekend on the job in 2016. I wish to express my sincere gratitude to the countless people who have approached me after liturgies with kind words of encouragement and appreciation over the past three years.  —Brendan
Brendan is a genial man of great talent, and his departure is a loss for RocKenRo, but even so it’s a joy to see him advance and prepare to make even more effective use of his gifts.
Jacob Gruber joins us July 1. Jacob is a seminarian for the Diocese of Pittsburgh and has reached the point (usually three years before priestly ordination) where he is expected to spend an internship year in a parish. It’s an honor for us to be entrusted with a portion of Jacob’s preparation for priesthood. We’ll be looking for ways to provide him with helpful experiences.
I expect to adjust the daily Mass schedule (but not yet the Sunday Mass schedule). Beginning mid-June, I’ll drop the Friday 8:15 a.m. Mass at Holy Trinity Church (except when it is required for the future Archangel Gabriel School). For those who want a Friday morning Mass, I will schedule an 8:30 a.m. Mass at St. Malachy Church, thus extending the Monday-to-Thursday Mass to all weekdays. Watch for future announcements.
Meanwhile, the work of Christ in his Church continues. We worship our Lord and share Holy Communion. We repent of our sins and forgive sinners. We baptize new followers of Jesus, marry those who pledge themselves as signs of Jesus’ love, anoint the sick as signs of Jesus’ loving suffering, and we bury the dead in hope of resurrection. We aid those who appeal to us for comfort, and in all things we proclaim the good news of Jesus, who died and rose from the dead.
Through all these transitions, we hope to sustain the good work of Christ and his Church. We also hope to shift our habits of thought and behavior until all of us are newly and deeply aware of ourselves as followers of Jesus, and newly and deeply committed to helping others follow Jesus, too.
—Fr. Dave

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord - Sunday, April 14, 2019

Holy Week
Today we celebrate Passion (Palm) Sunday, commemorating Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem.  Then:
Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday, April 15-17
8:30 a.m.                 Mass at St. Malachy
9:30 a.m.                 Mass at St. Mary Help of Christians
5:30 p.m.                 Confessions & Adoration at Holy Trinity
6:30 p.m.                 Mass at Holy Trinity
Holy Thursday, April 21
7:00 p.m.:                Mass of the Lord’s Supper at St. Malachy (Bus pick-up from St. John of God c. 6:30 p.m.)
The Easter Triduum begins with this Mass commemorating the Lord’s institution of the sacraments of the Eucharist and Holy Orders. I’ve asked Fr. Ruffalo to celebrate this Mass in a traditional manner.  This will include the priest facing the altar from the same side as the people, signifying that both the ordained priesthood and the baptismal priesthood together exist to serve Jesus Christ, present in the Blessed Sacrament.
After Mass: Seven Church Pilgrimage (Bus departs from St. Malachy lot)
Dcn. Len Thomas and others will lead a bus tour of seven local churches, stopping to adore the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament at each site.
Until 11:00: Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at Holy Trinity, St. Mary Help of Christians, and St. Malachy Churches
Good Friday, April 22: Paschal fast & abstinence
(St. Malachy Parish Fish Fry – Limited Menu & Hours)
9:00 a.m. Street procession of the Cross beginning at St. Mary Help of Christians, walking to 1st Baptist Church, McKees Rocks
1:30 p.m. Liturgy of the Passion and Death of the Lord at St. Mary Help of Christians
(Bus departs from Holy Trinity lot at 12:45 p.m.)
On Good Friday, the only day of the year without a Mass, the Cross is adored as an image of Jesus, Savior of the World.
7:00 p.m. Stations of the Cross at St. Malachy
8:00 p.m. Tenebrae Service at Holy Trinity
Holy Saturday, April 23: Paschal fast & abstinence as far as possible until 8:30
Holy Saturday marks the Lord’s bodily rest in the tomb, while his soul descended to the “Purgatory of the Patriarchs” to free souls who, from the time of Adam, waited for salvation from God.
11:00 a.m. Confessions at St. Malachy
12:00 noon: Blessing of Easter foods at St. Malachy
8:30 p.m.: Easter Vigil at Holy Trinity
This once-a-year Mass includes the blessing of the year’s Paschal Candle, representing the Lord’s resurrection, and the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation as administered to adults.  There will be no other Masses on Holy Saturday.
Easter Sunday, April 24
Masses follow the usual Sunday schedule.  The Easter Triduum concludes with Easter Sunday Masses.  Through the entire Easter season, we celebrate the bodily resurrection of Jesus.
—Fr. Dave

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Fifth Sunday of Lent - April 7, 2019

The Resurrection and the Life

While most of you this Sunday will be hearing the story of the woman caught in adultery, those at the 10:00 a.m. Mass at Holy Trinity will be hearing the gospel about Lazarus.  After Jesus delays his visit long enough for Lazarus to die, we twice hear the protest, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Hear the ache in the sisters’ hearts! They grieve the death of their brother. They know that Jesus—already famous for his healing miracles—could have saved Lazarus, but he didn’t. Maybe God did impressive things in times past, but when it really counts for Mary and Martha, God appears to have failed them.

Is theirs also your story? Does your heart protest against God? Perhaps you lost a beloved friend or relative to premature death. Perhaps you or a loved one suffer from sickness or disability. Maybe you face a seemingly unrecoverable loss, and now in your heart of hearts, you suspect God failed you. If so, you’re in good company, for Martha and Mary felt the same way.

But Jesus is more than just a miracle worker. God is doing more than just twiddling his thumbs while he waits around for the Last Day. God has come to us in Jesus, and Jesus has revealed himself as “the resurrection and the life”: He is the Resurrection and therefore the promise of life after death, but he is also the Life of God already, beginning now, even before death, and never dying. Those who live in Christ may die according to the flesh, as Jesus did, but they never really die in the Spirit: Life in Christ is life forever.

Martha and Mary discover that they and their brother Lazarus were all alive in Christ. Like them we discover and trust that our worldly failures are nothing compared to the Lord’s power to vindicate us. All that you think you missed in this life, all you think you were deprived of, all you could possibly hope for—and much, much more—is fulfilled in Christ and given to you through him.

I’ll be away this week. From time to time I help other dioceses with the development of their clergy and other ministers, and this week I make my debut in the Diocese of Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Next Sunday is (Palm) Sunday of the Passion of the Lord. In some of our churches it was customary for the assembly to share in the reading of the Passion narrative by reciting those lines presented as quotes of multiple speakers. This year, I’m changing that custom, and instead asking just the clergy and liturgical readers to proclaim the Passion. So please participate simply by listening attentively and devoutly: Hear in the spoken word the story of Jesus’ fulfillment of God’s will and your salvation in him.
Last week I received some complaints and suggestions for the confessionals at St. Malachy Church. Unfortunately, I don’t fully understand the complaints, and they’re anonymous, so I can’t check with the plaintiffs. All this to say: As a matter of policy, I don’t usually respond to anonymous messages, and it’s best to identify yourself and provide contact information if you have complaints or suggestions.
                                                                                                                                    —Fr. Dave

Monday, April 1, 2019

Fourth Sunday of Lent - March 31, 2019

“Rejoice, O Jerusalem!”

The fourth Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday, falls roughly at the midpoint of our season of diligent fasting, prayer, and almsgiving.  It’s the traditional day for temporarily relaxing our discipline and indulging in more joyous activity, as signified by the option for rose-colored vestments at Mass.

The readings for the day capture that spirit of joy. In the first reading, the long suffering Hebrews at last enter the Promised Land and for the first time eat of its crops. In the Gospel, the compassionate father twice demands joy in almost identical words:

To the servants:
To the older son:
“Then let us celebrate with a feast,
because this son of mine was dead,
and has come to life again;
he was lost and has been found.”
“But now we must celebrate and rejoice,
because your brother was dead
and has come to life again;
he was lost and has been found.”

(At the 10:00 Mass at Holy Trinity, we get different readings, because that Mass is set aside for the scrutinies, preparing the catechumens for baptism at the Easter Vigil.)

So today’s a good day to allow yourself a little extra joy, shared with family, friends, neighbors, or especially your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Please note that full participation in the Safe Environment program is required for parish volunteers. I am grateful for your help,
but keeping your documents updated is not optional. Please renew them in a timely fashion, in advance of their expiration, or you
must withdraw from your work or ministry until you are newly compliant.  If you wish to begin the process for volunteering, or
have other questions, please call your parish office.

Holy Trinity Church features a choral concert this Sunday, March 31, at 4:00.

Laurie Lanz, the music director at St. Malachy, informs me that the organ at that church is not functioning. I am unwilling
to replace it now, before we know more about parish consolidation and the future of our shared mission. I have asked
the finance council at St. Malachy to explore temporary accommodations. (I am proceeding with some improvements at
Holy Trinity only with monies long ago earmarked for specific projects. By proceeding with these, I am complying with the
earmarks and not rendering judgments about whether those improvements will serve our new mission.)
Fr. Dave

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Third Sunday of Lent - March 24, 2019

Gratitude and Co-Responsibility

In this Sunday’s readings, Saint Paul applies an Exodus lesson to the Church of Corinth.  After they escaped Egypt by the power of God, Moses’ people murmured complaints about the difficulty of the journey: “We remember the fish we ate in Egypt—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic.”  Paul instructs the Corinthian Christians, “Do not grumble as some of them did!”  For we, too, often lose our gratitude for God’s work, and instead complain.

Our Lord Jesus also responds to gossip about murdered Galileans, as if God allowed the grizzly murders because the victims were worse sinners than everyone else.  Jesus rebukes the gossipers, “Do you think that these Galileans suffered in this way because they were greater sinners?  If you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!”  Jesus seem to mean that we are all under God’s judgment; rather than compare ourselves to others, we ought instead “bear fruit,” become the people of love and obedience that we’ve been commanded to be.

So let me be among those who take this lesson to heart, and express my gratitude for a few of those whose labors have recently borne fruit:
Confirmation:  First, credit goes to parents, sponsors, and catechists for shepherding the youth of RocKenRo to their reception of the sacrament of Confirmation on March 14. I also thank key staff and volunteers such as Lisa & Tim Davis, Wayne Madden, Steve Swank, and others who were able to make St. Malachy Church into a host for the grand affair.  The RocKenRo music directors integrated the music and choirs for a lovely ceremony.  The Knights of Columbus from both parishes coordinated parking (and defended the lots from those who were less than eagerly cooperative!).  And finally, we’re in debt to Kennedy Township, McDermott Funeral Home, Dr. Harkins & Butler Dental, the Allegheny Valley School, the Kennedy Fire Department, and other neighbors for all the additional parking they donated for the special occasion.
Decision-Making:  An administrator is expected to make a lot of decisions for his parishes, but he’s supposed to do so in consultation with a lot of people.  At RocKenRo, some of key persons who coordinate the consultations are the facilitators of the pastoral councils: Linda Gomulka at Holy Trinity, Alice Kilonsky at St. John of God, and Patty Beasock at St. Malachy.  Linda was chosen for this role by Fr. Keene, but I retained her and since then she’s heroically organized consultations on many different and weighty matters.  Patty, too, assisted Fr. Hissrich at St. Malachy, and Patty’s shown remarkable agility at adapting to the new operating procedure I’ve created for that pastoral council.  Alice has trailblazed bravely, serving on the newly revived council at St. John of God.  I am grateful for these three women and so many other persons who have been assisting me On Mission for The Church Alive!
                                                                                                                      —Fr. Dave

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Second Sunday of Lent - March 17, 2019

                                   Hang in There!

The internet is nearly full of pictures of cats and kittens being adorable. One popular motif is the
feline predicament of a cat who has climbed too high or into too awkward a place, and can now no longer extract itself.

If we’re following Jesus, we can feel like such a cat. Last year almost all priests received brand new or at least greatly expanded responsibilities covering multiple parishes. Here at RocKenRo, we’re already in the process of consolidating our schools. We’ve taken some big steps following Jesus, and now we’re outside our “comfort zone,” into situations where we cannot fully control the challenges coming our way.

Most of us were baptized as infants, and it was our parents who spoke for us: We didn’t even have a say in the matter. At our confirmation, like the RocKenRo youth confirmed last week, we were young and only dimly aware of the obligations we assumed. As adults, many of us received the sacraments of marriage (or holy orders!), but how many of us fully understood just how difficult the vocation to family or ministry would be?

That’s one of the Lord’s purposes in his Transfiguration: “Hang in there.” We’re now in the second week of Lent, and if you’re doing it right, you’re starting to feel the pressure of your fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. You may feel like the cat, barely hanging on, waiting for help, and wondering how long you can last until it does.

But following Jesus on the way of the cross is worth the pain and deprivation. We may compound our hard feelings with doubt, fear, or resentment, but the Lord encourages us to persevere in our shared life and mission despite it all. At his Transfiguration, the Lord revealed his Divinity even through his human flesh. Our humanity is the same stuff, and so we can hope that one day, we who share Jesus’ humanity may also share his divine Life.

X  March 17: Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!  March 19: Happy St. Joseph’s Day!
                                                                                                                                       —Fr. Dave