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.

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