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