October 14, 2018

There is so much to be thankful for: As I write this last bulletin article I am filled with gratitude for my time being with all of you. You are wonderful people, but more importantly you are wonderful Catholics who truly embody the name Christian. So I say thank you…

  • For your kindness, prayers, and consideration during my illness. You have been wonderful to me. Truly, when I was ill you cared for me.
  • For your unconditional welcome to me during a very challenging time (not only losing a beloved pastor of over 15 years – and a great man in Fr. John, but also upon the dawning of On Mission). Truly, when I was a stranger you welcomed me.
  • For walking with me on the winding road of On Mission. Never did you lose focus on the truth of what Church is or how we are to be Church/Christ to one another.
  • For constantly expanding the social outreach of this parish during my time here. You have continued to build upon the success of the past reaching out to those in need and adjusting ministry to meet the present needs of our community.
  • For your faithfulness during these last few weeks as our diocese was faced with a horrible unveiling of scandal. Our faith in Christ and His True Church remained strong, which not only supported me but aided those whose faith was shaken and tested. You were (are) a light in the darkness for others.
  • For sharing your stories of encounters with the Lord. I have loved hearing how God is alive in your life.
  • For sharing your sorrows and struggles so that I could pray with you and offer sacrifice on your behalf.
  • For your continued welcome and generosity shown to Fr. Daniel, not only a brother priest but a much loved friend.
  • For sharing your talents through the choir, serving at the altar, being a reader or Extraordinary Minister of Holy
    Communion, a greeter, an usher, a sacristan, a money counter, a Welcome Desk attendant, or a church decorator for Easter and/or Christmas. Basically, I just need to say thanks for being a parish where people are so willing to give their time.
  • For the wonderful generosity you have shown the parish, our sister parish and any and every group that has approached us requesting assistance. Not only have you given your time and talent, but you have so often given your treasure, too.

    My list could go on and on. My personal thank-yous are more numerous than I can count. To those of you who have given me gifts and cards in the past week, I thank you and I hope to send you an individual note. I’ll do my best at that but, honestly, it isn’t a strength of mine. Please know, however, you will be in my prayers and I will be forever grateful.

    Thank you all for the love you have shared with me. You have made me a part of the Saint Maurice family and nothing can take that away – – – not time, not distance, not a new assignment. I will be with you and you with me in our hearts and, more importantly, in the Eucharist. Thank you and may God’s love always reign in your hearts.

October 7, 2018

A few months ago I desired to take the final nine bulletins and devote them to the Sacrament of Penance. I envisioned nine different people writing about their experience of the sacrament and the joy it brings. Unfortunately, situations and events arose that prevented this from happening. So
now, with my penultimate bulletin remarks, I leave you with a resource that is posted in the USCCB website to hopefully reignite your desire to encounter our Merciful Lord in this wonderful and healing way.

God’s Gift of Forgiveness: A Pastoral Exhortation on the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ: “Peace be with you!” With these words, the Risen Lord greeted His frightened Apostles in the Upper Room on the day of His Resurrection. They were troubled, anxious, and fearful—much like each one of us at some point in our lives. Christ repeated the words, “Peace be with you.” But then He added, “Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them” (Jn 20:19- 23). What an extraordinary gift! The Risen Lord was proclaiming that all the suffering He had just endured was in order to make available the gifts of salvation and forgiveness. He wanted the Apostles to receive these gifts. He wanted them to become apostles of this forgiveness to others.

In the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, also called confession, we meet the Lord, who wants to grant forgiveness and the grace to live a renewed life in Him. In this sacrament, He prepares us to receive Him free from serious sin, with a lively faith, earnest hope, and sacrificial love in the Eucharist. The Church sees confession as so important that she calls for every Catholic to go at least once a year. The Church also encourages frequent confession in order to grow closer to Christ Jesus and his Body, the Church. By the grace of the Holy Spirit, we seek forgiveness and repentance, let go of patterns of sin, grow in the life of virtue, and witness to a joyful conversion.

Since the graces of the sacrament are so similar to the purpose of the New Evangelization, Pope Benedict XVI has said, “The New Evangelization . . . begins in the confessional!” We bishops and priests are eager to help you if you experience difficulty, hesitation, or uncertainty about approaching the Lord in this sacrament. If you have not received this healing sacrament in a long time, we are ready to welcome you. We, whom Christ has ordained to
minister this forgiveness in His name, are also approaching this sacrament, as both penitents and ministers, throughout our lives.

We pray that, through the work of the Holy Spirit, all Catholics—clergy and laity—will respond to the call of the New Evangelization to encounter Christ in the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation. Come to the Lord and experience the extraordinary grace of His forgiveness!

God is ironic, isn’t He: I am sure that many of you have picked up on the irony of this note. Next weekend, our last Saturday confessions, we find ourselves in need to cancel the sacrament due to conflicts in schedule and an inability to find an available priest to cover. I know that this is not a message from God saying that the sacrament isn’t important, but rather, it is His way to remind us that life doesn’t always go as planned. It is my deep hope that our new Monday night confessional time (which starts October 15) will be more in line with your availability. It is also my hope that you will find healing with God and the Church when life doesn’t go as planned. May the Mercy of God be always upon you.

September 30, 2018

Email Scam Alert: Once again we are being hit by an online/email scam. This time someone has created a google email of revfather890123654 which identifies itself as Rev. Kenneth W. Marlovits. This is NOT me. Most likely, the only people receiving emails from this account are employees with the parish or East Catholic School. However, in today’s information saturated world, this imposter may be able to locate others who have a connection to the parish or school. For this reason I want you to know that I am not contacting you via email. The likelihood that I would do so is very small, but if I were to actually reach out to you it would either be from the email listed in the front of this bulletin or from my @diopitt account. If you have fallen for any online scams involving the parish or my name, please contact the Parish Center Office and I will assist you in resolving any problems that arose due to the scam.

Please do not respond to any email that seems suspicious and never open an attachment unless you are 100% sure it is from a trusted source.

Diaper Bank Update: Matthias Brucker set out to accomplish his Eagle Scout Project of establishing a diaper bank by working with the Interfaith Ministries of Forest Hills, also known as the Forest Hills Ministerium. This Ministerium is a combined approach of service for Christ through the joining efforts and recourse of the churches in Forest Hills. These churches are Forest Hills Presbyterian, Hope Lutheran, Christ Lutheran, and St. Maurice.

In the initial stage of the FHMDB Matthias is speaking at each church informing the congregations about his Eagle Scout Project and the need for diapers. Immediately following his presentation, a diaper drive, lasting one month, is being conducted at each church. As the diapers are collected they are being stored in the rectory of Saint Maurice. Currently Matthias is fixing up two rooms, making them one by tearing down a wall and repairing plaster and the ceiling to create the actual space for the diaper bank.

Currently, the final touches of the chartering document, as well as the organizational structure to oversee the distribution and continuation of the FHMDB, are nearing completion.

If you are interested in being involved in the operation of the diaper bank you are asked to contact Fr. Ken. He will provide you with a copy of the chartering document and walk you through the diaper bank’s organizational structure, operational guidelines, and the vision (and hope) to sustain this wonderful ministry.

September 23, 2018

Saint Maurice Parish Spiritual Bouquet: The following gift of prayers and devotions was offered by members of our parish family for the benefit of the living and deceased victims of clergy sexual abuse here in the diocese of Pittsburgh. We pray that our merciful and just Lord will hear these prayers and apply the graces they obtained to those in most need of our prayerful and heartfelt assistance. Rosary– 117, Our Father– 188, Act of Fasting– 21, Act of Penance– 12, Novena/Litany– 20, Holy Communion– 62, Stations of the Cross– 21, Divine Mercy Chaplet– 50, Spiritual Work of Mercy– 24, Corporal Work of Mercy– 29, Visit to the Blessed Sacrament– 35, Prayer of a Burning Candle– 26, Individual Decade of the Rosary– 40, Individual Mass Intention– 21, Prayer of Saint Michael the Archangel– 90, Other– 26. Total acts/prayers offered for the living and deceased victims of abuse – 782

Bishop Calls for a Year of Repentance: Bishop Zubik recently announced a Year of Repentance to begin with September 19 and conclude on August 15, 2019, the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary, as a sign of hope and healing for victims and for renewal in the Church. The Bishop asked that the clergy collectively fast, abstain and make a holy hour on all the forthcoming Ember Days, which are traditional days of prayer and fasting (specifically, September 19, 21, 22; December 19, 21, 22; March 13, 15, 16; and June 12, 14, and 15). Additionally, Bishop Zubik has extended an invitation to all the faithful to join the clergy in these acts of prayer and penance. Thus, the year of repentance is open to all individuals as we, the Church of Pittsburgh, continue to pray that the Lord will come to our aid and help heal the wounds created by our crimes and sins.

Many will question why we are all called to repentance when the sins and crimes committed were by specific men and not the entire community. I must say that while I understand this question, it is disheartening to me that so many ask it. We are One Faith, One Body, joined together by the One Bread and One Lord. Truly, mystically, we are united as the Body of Christ. I could point to many passages of scripture to highlight this truth, but for now I will offer only Romans 12:4-5, “For as in one body we have many parts, and all the parts do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another.” Also, I offer the words of Saint John Chrysostom, “Yet where I am, there you are too, and where you are, I am. For we are a single body, and the body cannot be separated from the head nor the head from the body. You are my fellow citizens, my fathers, my brothers, my sons, my limbs, my body.”

Our collective healing will only occur when we realize that we are not individuals disconnected from our brothers, but rather we truly are our brother’s keeper. In Romans chapter 12 we learn, “Do not grow slack in zeal, be fervent in spirit, rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer. Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Do not repay anyone evil for evil; be concerned for what is noble in the sight of all. If possible, on your part, live at peace with all. Do not be conquered by evil but conquer evil with good.”

September 16, 2018

The number of Sunday Masses that was scheduled for our grouping: This past weekend the question that I was asked most frequently was about the number of Sunday Masses scheduled for our grouping beginning on October 20/21. You wanted to know why if there are three priests assigned to the grouping (and the diocese allows each priest to celebrate three Sunday Masses) there is not a total of nine Sunday Masses scheduled. There are several answers to this question. However, the one that I feel is most relevant concerns the diocesan policy dealing with seating capacity for each Mass. It has been, and continues to be, the policy that no Sunday Mass should be celebrated with less than 50% capacity within any church. Here, at Saint Maurice, we have not been in compliance with that policy. We average less than 800 people per weekend attending our services. Our church holds 760 people. We do not need more than two Sunday Masses. Although the numbers differ for each church in our grouping the facts remain the same. Our grouping only needs to have six scheduled Sunday Masses. I truly hope that moving forward all our church buildings will be well over 50% full for every service. A fuller church honestly makes for better worship. It does mean fewer options for you to fulfill your Sunday Obligation. But at the same time, our Sunday obligation is an opportunity to attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the source and summit of our faith, and it should not be something that we fit into our busy schedule but, rather, it needs to be our number one priority on the Lord’s day!

Additionally, I remind you that the published schedule is an interim schedule that can and will change if needed.

What if I go to another Parish for Mass but want my contribution to be credited and recorded at Saint Maurice: As is the current practice, anytime you attend a different church than the one at which you are registered and you drop your church envelope into the collection basket, your contribution is sent to your home parish. The only time your contribution remains at the parish you attend is if you give cash or otherwise fail to identify your home parish. Moving forward it would be helpful to always use your church envelope (I’d say even if you don’t contribute any money) so that a clear picture can be derived of where people are attending Mass. This will assist in making modifications to schedules if needed.

A little inspiration recently given to me which I share with you: “How much must I criticize you, my Church. And yet how much I love you! You have made me suffer more than anyone, and yet I owe more to you than to anyone. I should like to see you destroyed and yet I need your presence. You have given me so much scandal and yet you alone have made me understand holiness. Never in this world have I seen anything more compromised, more false, yet never have I touched anything more pure, more beautiful. Countless times I have felt like leaving you, my Church, and yet every night I have prayed that I might die in your warm, loving arms!” – – from Italian writer, Carlo Carretto.

September 9, 2018

On Mission Mass Time Announcement: A while back, the priests of our grouping (both outgoing and incoming) met to discuss what future Mass times might best serve our grouping. In collaboration, Fr. Semler, Fr. Lynam and I helped Fr. Larry understand our Mass schedule, Mass
attendance counts, and the participation rates of the Sacrament of Reconciliation for each of our parishes. Fr. Larry then met with his fellow incoming clergy (priests and deacons) to determine what might be best for On Mission grouping. After prayer and consultation a proposal was submitted to the diocese for weekday, Sunday, and Holy Day Mass times, as well as for confessions. That proposal was reviewed and approved by diocesan officials in light of the Mass/Confession times being offered in neighboring groupings. This weekend those Mass/Confession times are
being announced across the diocese. Next week, the Pittsburgh Catholic will list all the Mass/Confession times for each parish in the diocese.

The new weekday schedule is effective on Monday, October 15, 2018, and the weekend schedule begins with the Vigil Masses on Saturday, October 20, 2018. Please remember that this schedule is interim, which means it will be evaluated and adjusted as necessary, after the clergy team has had sufficient time to celebrate Masses and determine, with your feedback, how it suits the pastoral needs of all the parishioners in our grouping. The schedule accommodates as best as possible the number of priests assigned to our grouping, the seating capacity of the churches, parking availability, accessibility, Sunday religious education schedules, and geography and travel time between churches. Hopefully, this schedule will strengthen our worship and empower us to go into the world spreading the Good News in word and deed!

September 2, 2018

This week I wish to share with you some of my random thoughts from the past few weeks:

• I am called to be a Saint and so are you! I need to step up my game.

• I entered the seminary after the 2002 scandal because I wanted to defend the one I loved – Jesus Christ and His bride the Church. I firmly believe other men will answer the call to the priesthood in this crisis to ensure that the Church is defended and her honor restored.

• It is time for the best-of-the-best to step forward and see that ministry and leadership within the Church is a noble and honorable profession.

• I don’t want to get married or see priestly celibacy removed because I know that my calling to the priesthood is grounded in a love for others that differs from the love of a spouse and family. I have always loved others in a way that was focused on them and not us – – a love that prepared them to go forth to love others and not the beautiful God-given, grace-filled love calling us to marriage and family life. Celibacy is a gift, a grace, and the joy of my love.

• Humility is the path forward and I chose to move forward aligned with the meek and the humble.

• The Church needs to embrace its own poverty as exampled by Saint Francis of Assisi. Our current Pope’s name is not by happenstance but by divine providence showing us the way forward.

• Division and discord are of the Devil and we cannot let it interfere with our charity towards one another.

• Sometimes the only thing I can figure out to do is take my next step in the right direction – – to do what is good and just in the very moment I’m in since most of the time the future is so unknown and frightening.

• God comforts me through the readings at Mass, in the Eucharist and through the Divine Office. He always places the words I need before me and into my heart. God is good!

• The people of Saint Maurice Parish are a beautiful example of the living Church.

August 26, 2018

Excerpts put together from: Letter of His Holiness Pope Francis to the People of God “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it” (1 Cor 12:26). These words of Saint Paul forcefully echo in my heart as I acknowledge once more the suffering endured by many minors due to sexual abuse, the abuse of power and the abuse of conscience perpetrated by a significant number of clerics and consecrated persons. These are crimes that inflict deep wounds of pain and powerlessness, primarily among the victims, but also in their family members and in the larger community of believers and nonbelievers alike. Looking back to the past, no effort to beg pardon and to seek to repair the harm done will ever be sufficient. Looking ahead to the future, no effort must be spared to not only create a culture able to prevent such situations from happening, but also to prevent the possibility of their being covered up and perpetuated. It is essential that we, as a Church, be able to acknowledge and condemn, with sorrow and shame, the atrocities perpetrated by consecrated persons, clerics, and all those entrusted with the mission of watching over and caring for those most vulnerable. We have realized that these wounds never disappear and that they require us forcefully to condemn these atrocities and join forces in uprooting this culture of death.

We feel shame when we realize that our style of life has denied, and continues to deny, the words we recite. With shame and repentance, we acknowledge as an ecclesial community that we were not where we should have been, that we did not act in a timely manner, realizing the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives. Saint Paul’s exhortation to suffer with those who suffer is the best antidote against all our attempts to repeat the words of Cain: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gen 4:9).

Today we are challenged as the People of God to take on the pain of our brothers and sisters wounded in their flesh and in their spirit. It is helpful to remember in salvation history, the Lord saved one people. We are never completely ourselves unless we belong to a people. It is impossible to think of a conversion of our activity as a Church that does not include the active participation of all the members of God’s People. Indeed, whenever we have tried to replace, or silence, or ignore, or reduce the People of God to small elites, we end up creating structures without roots, without bodies and, ultimately, without lives.

While it is important and necessary on every journey of conversion to acknowledge the truth of what has happened, in itself this is not enough. Every one of the baptized should feel involved in the ecclesial and social change that we so greatly need. This change calls for a personal and communal conversion that makes us see things as the Lord does. Without the active participation of all the Church’s members, everything being done to uproot the culture of abuse in our communities will not be successful. I invite the entire holy faithful People of God to a penitential exercise of prayer and fasting, following the Lord’s command: “But this kind of demon does not come out except by prayer and fasting” (Mt 17:21).

An initial step we can make as a people of faith: Spiritual Bouquets are prayers or devotional acts that are offered for someone else. Our parish will embark on a two-week journey offering prayers and devotions for those victimized by the Church of Pittsburgh. Posters have been placed around the church indicating the spiritual gifts we will offer during this time. You are asked to mark down the spiritual gift you have given on one of these posters. At the conclusion of our two weeks we will tally the information and have a final Spiritual Bouquet showing our prayerful commitment to bringing about healing to the victims.

We know that all benefit from prayer. The nicest part of this ministry is that it can be done communally or alone, at church or at home. Our categories for offerings include: Rosary, Our Father, Act of Fasting/Penance, Novenas/Litanies, Holy Communion, Stations of the Cross, The Divine Mercy Chaplet, A Spiritual/Corporal Work of Mercy, Visit to the Blessed Sacrament, Offering of Individual Mass Intention, Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel, and a category identified as Other which you may fill in as appropriate to your gift. We know that many of our homebound parishioners are the best “pray-ers” and we want to recognize your wonderful contribution to this bouquet. Please let the office know of your devotional acts offered for the victims and we will include that in our final bouquet.

August 19, 2018

Moving forward with Holy Mother Church and Holy Mother Mary: In his recent letter to the faithful of Pittsburgh concerning the PA Attorney General Report, Bishop Zubik stated that his prayer is that “the agony of Jesus on the Cross would be our hope.” I in no way wish to deny the
power of praying through this imagery, however, I have been personally moved to find comfort in the story of our Blessed Mother. Specifically, in Luke 2:34-35: “Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ʽBehold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you, yourself, a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.ʼ”

I believe we are experiencing this scripture as … this Catholic Church is destined for the fall and rise of many, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you, a Catholic, a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

The history of the Church shows us that the wheat and weeds truly grow together. Saint Bede (who lived from 672-735) wrote: “But now even down to the close of the present time, the sword of the severest tribulation passes through the soul of the Church, when with bitter sorrow she experiences evil against the sign of faith, when she finds many falling from the faith, when at the revealing of the thoughts of many hearts, in which the good seed of the Gospel has been sown, she sees the tares [an injurious weed resembling wheat when young] of vice overshooting it, spreading beyond it, or growing alone.”

Within this reality, I see our challenge, perhaps even our duty. We must remain faithful, fight for justice, extend mercy, and be humble enough to pray for the conversion of all the world while leaving eternal judgment in the hands of God. We must be like Mary, a people persevering in faith, hope and charity even in the midst of the pain, confusion, hurt and anger of having our hearts pierced by a sword.

The world is going to attack the Church on every front. Perhaps those closest to you will look to see how many walk away from the faith. Our friends/family members will reveal their true colors, some supportive, but tragically many will turn on us who remain faithful. Any abandoning of the Church will, for the world, be a sign that the Church is evil ˗ and that is what the devil wants. Our visible faithfulness will be our participation in the passion of Christ and of Mary.

Fr. Stephen Freeman, in his blog, Glory to God for All Things, states: “It is doubtless the case that in our life a sword may pierce our soul – but that, too, is a communion with Christ. In Christ it is also a communion with Mary. Our souls, pierced by a sword, groan with all creation, awaiting the final triumph of the Kingdom. Our faithfulness is an act of Eucharist (thanksgiving), a transformation of the world into the Kingdom of God. It is the fulfillment of the common priesthood of all the baptized.”

May our prayers increase within us the grace we need to persevere in the true faith. I grieve for thee, O Mary most sorrowful, in the affliction of thy tender heart at the prophecy of the holy and aged Simeon. Dear Mother, by thy heart so afflicted, obtain for me the virtue of humility and the gift of the holy fear of God.

August 12, 2018

New Interim Mass schedule to be released next weekend. For an update on the release of the new Mass schedule, and how to prepare ourselves for the change it will bring, I am going to borrow heavily from what Fr. Kevin Fazio shared with his new grouping of parishes in Butler. Please keep in mind that the one constant to expect with the On Mission initiative is change, more change, and perhaps more change for a number of years, until the On Mission “dust settles,” so to speak. While many of us may not like to hear this, it is a reality of the times that we are living in.

When the interim Mass schedule is published, please be mindful that we (current clergy – Fr. Al Semler, Fr. John Lynam, and I) and the future clergy team considered numerous factors in our proposal to Fr. Fred Cain, our regional vicar, some of which included: the total number of parishioners attending weekend and Holy Day Masses; the church buildings’ seating capacity, access, condition, location, and parking (including campus traffic patterns/concerns); the religious education (CCD) schedules; our region’s demographic and population trends, and the number of funerals celebrated each week. We also gave great consideration to the reality that our grouping of four parishes is slated to have only two priests by year 2025, if not sooner.

We attempted to do our very best in anticipating the needs of our community in light of future realities and to suggest a Mass and Confession schedule that would be stable. Yet, no one can predict the future and this announcement is the INTERIM MASS/CONFESSION TIMES. At what point in the future this might/will change, I cannot say; but change is a real possibility.

Our main objective as clergy (the outgoing and incoming clergy teams) is to serve you, to participate in our community, to listen, to observe, and then to make decisions…one moment at a time. None of us can do everything; we can only do the next thing!

I ask that everyone please be understanding, patient, and flexible with these changes, especially those of you who worship and participate at Mass and in various ministries. Our recent change to our scheduling system was made in the hope that it better prepares us to meet the needs and desires of those who offer a liturgical ministry here at the parish. It is one small step we have taken to help ease this transition. Still, the clergy recognizes and respects that all leaders of liturgical ministries (music directors, cantors, musicians, Lectors, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, ushers, greeters, altar servers, etc.), and all involved in our religious education programs, will be greatly impacted by this change. We will do our best to keep you informed and assist you in the transition. As more information is given to us we will respond in a way that allows all of us to best meet the challenges and opportunities as they become known.

“Be not afraid!” Jesus often-times says to us, when change is necessary. Let us keep this in heart, mind and prayer as we support one another on this journey

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