December 23, 2018

So… do you notice any difference in this week’s bulletin? Over the past few weeks, people have been asking me if we would be able to place the bulletins from our four parishes at each church (so that, if they attend Mass at any one of our parishes, then they’d be able to pick up the bulletin from their parish). In response to those requests, we’ve merged our bulletins! Beginning with this issue, we will have a single bulletin, and it will contain information for all four of our parishes! Our bulletin will have individual pages devoted to each of our parishes, so that you can keep up to date with parish activities, and it will list all the Masses of our grouping in one place (see the list, above). Our hope is that, by providing the information in a single publication, it will be more convenient for you!

Christmas falls on Tuesday this week, so I’d like to take a moment to wish everyone a blessed and Merry Christmas! It’s been a trying year, on many fronts, but my prayer for you and your loved ones is that the peace of the Christmas season will fill your hearts! As you say a prayer for the health and welfare of your loved ones this holiday season, please join me in praying for all of the parishioners of our four parishes!

December 16, 2018

Each year in October, the diocese asks us to get an idea how many folks are attending our weekend Masses. These “October counts”, as they’re known, help us to plan for the upcoming 12 months.

This year, our counts have also helped us to understand your reaction to the implementation of On Mission for the Church Alive!, which began on October 15. Just the other day, the diocese released the ‘count’ numbers for all groupings across the diocese. As we look at the numbers of folks in the pews, we’ve all noticed that there are more people at each Mass, but the big question is how many folks have decided to stop attending Mass. Over the past two months, we’ve found that there are 9% fewer folks attending weekly Mass, in the diocese as a whole.

Here in our neck of the woods, the number is somewhat less rosy. In our grouping, 19% of our parishioners are no longer coming to Mass. One possible explanation is that they’re going to neighboring parishes, but it doesn’t seem that this is the case – our neighboring groupings are down, too (Churchill/Turtle Creek/Wilmerding is down 20% and Monroeville is down 24%).

One of the more serious implications of this downturn is our parishes’ ability to support themselves. As I mentioned in October, the plan is to become a single parish – not to close buildings. However, if a parish is unable to financially support itself – that is, if its expenses are much greater than its income – then we’re going to have to start asking tough questions about whether the parish community is telling us that they value their parish and wish it to continue to operate. That decision isn’t one for the bishop or even for me – you, as the faithful members of your parish, are the ones who will ‘vote with your wallet.

Every dollar you place in your envelope for the first collection returns to your parish and goes 100% to its support. (For those who I’ve heard saying “well, I’m not giving a single dollar to that diocese” (or “to that bishop”), please recognize that when you withhold your donation on Sunday, the message you’re really sending is “I’m not giving a single dollar to keep my parish open!”)

My hope is that, as we continue to evaluate the situations in our parishes, we will find that you do want your parish building to stay open, and demonstrate that desire by continuing to support it financially. I promise to be honest and open with you about these issues as we proceed!

December 9, 2018

Many have asked how our interim Mass schedule was developed (usually, in the context of asking “why couldn’t my parish keep this Mass or have that Mass time?”).  I thought I’d share with you the thoughts that went into the development of our weekend Mass schedule.

As we prepared for October, the current clergy team (myself, Fr. Mohler, and Fr. Vince) met with Fr. John, Fr. Al, and Fr. Ken, in order to hear their recommendations for the schedule.  Here were the considerations and recommendations we discussed:

• Based on our current Mass attendance and our anticipated future clergy resources, our grouping could handle six weekend Masses.
• Since our grouping consists of three geographic regions (roughly speaking, Braddock/Swissvale/Forest Hills), it was thought that the most equitable schedule would give each region two weekend Masses.
• At most, we could support two Saturday Anticipated Masses.
• The earliest possible time for a Saturday Anticipated Mass is 4:00 PM.  Therefore, the earliest time for the second Mass is 5:30 PM.
• Since the most well-attended Saturday Mass is the 4:00 PM, we were required to schedule it at the church with the greatest capacity in the pews and in their parking lot.
• It was decided that a Mass on noon or later on Sunday wasn’t feasible, since attendance during the Fall would drop off precipitously.

With these constraints in mind, the recommendation from Fr. John, Fr. Al, and Fr. Ken is the schedule that we adopted.  In the January/February timeframe, we’ll provide an opportunity for you to share your thoughts and suggestions for the interim schedule!

Some have asked me “I can’t attend my parish’s Mass time. How can I support my parish?”  The answer is simple: when you attend any Mass in our grouping, and use your parish envelope to make your contribution, your contribution goes solely to the upkeep of your parish, and your attendance is noted as support of your parish.

Please keep your questions coming! I appreciate the opportunity to share information about our plans with you!

December 2, 2018

Anointing is also one of the sacraments that can be received more than once. However, whereas the Eucharist can be received daily, the sacrament of Anointing is normally received much less frequently. The Church instructs us that the anointing of the sick is given to a Catholic who “begins to be in danger due to sickness or old age” and “can be repeated if the sick person, having recovered, again becomes gravely ill or if the condition becomes more grave” (CIC, c.1004).

In our parishes, we had become accustomed to the practice of anointing being administered following our weekend Masses. With the arrival of Fr. Vince as our parish chaplain, we now have the opportunity to offer this sacrament on demand (instead of following Mass), when the need arises in your life. Please contact Fr. Vince at 412-737-3350 if you or a loved
one wishes to receive the sacrament of the anointing of the sick at home!

Over the past three weeks, I’ve spoken briefly at our weekend Masses about the sacrament of anointing. It’s a sacrament that’s often misunderstood, both in terms of what it is and the frequency with which it can be received. For some, it’s simply a ‘blessing’. However, it’s actually one of the seven sacraments that Jesus instituted in order to fill us with His grace. For many, it’s associated with death (as part of the reception of the sacraments of Reconciliation, Eucharist, and Anointing commonly known as ‘Last Rites’). However, Anointing is all about asking the Holy Spirit to bring healing – be it physical, emotional, or spiritual! Anointing is one of the two sacraments of healing with Reconciliation being the other). It is common for the person receiving anointing also to request Reconciliation at the
same time.

In addition, planning is underway for the celebration of periodic “Masses with Anointing” in our grouping. Please keep an eye on the bulletin in the near future for more details!

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