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!

November 25, 2018

You’ve heard of ‘Black Friday’, right? The day after Thanksgiving? Big sales? The day of the year when retailers expect to make enough sales in order to “go into the black” for the year?

What about ‘Cyber Monday’? That’s a newer one – it’s the day that on-line retailers offer big discounts, hoping to insert themselves into the holiday sales frenzy.

Here’s one for you, though: have you ever heard of Giving Tuesday? It’s the Tuesday after Thanksgiving (this year, it falls on November 27). ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Cyber Monday’ kick off the holiday buying season, but ‘Giving Tuesday’ kicks off the holiday giving season. After spending time with friends and family, and stuffing ourselves full of good food, and then going out and buying lots of gifts… it might just be time to think about sharing our resources with those who don’t have the blessings that we enjoy.

There are many ways to help those who are less fortunate, and who need our help in this holiday season! One way that immediately comes to mind are the St. Vincent de Paul Society chapters of our four parishes. Some of our parishes already take up a collection on behalf of them, on months that have five Sundays. I’ve asked that all our four parishes do so. (The next one falls on December 30.) But, why wait until then? Call them today (412-321-1071) or visit their website (www.svdppitt.org/donate/donate) and offer your assistance.

Please consider making a donation to one of the many groups who are helping those in need this holiday season. This Tuesday – Giving Tuesday – is a great time to enter into the holiday spirit by sharing our resources with those who are most vulnerable and in need!

November 18, 2018

Every year, we gather with friends and loved ones and celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. Whether it’s a meal, the football games, or shopping that is the focus of our celebration, we gather and celebrate in a way that’s meaningful to us.

As Thanksgiving approaches, do you mind if I offer a challenge for us all? This year, focus in on the people in your life, rather than on the activity. Instead of talking to Aunt Betty about her awesome pumpkin pie, spend time asking how she’s doing and what’s new in her life! Instead of focusing on the football game, ask your buddies how their kids and grandkids are doing! Instead of just plotting a strategy with your shopping buddies for hitting the best bargains, plot a strategy for how you’ll spend time together over the next few months!

Thanksgiving gives us an opportunity to thank God for the blessings that He’s given us over the past year. Yes, those blessings include food, clothing, and recreation. More importantly, though, those blessings include the people with whom we share our lives. Give thanks to God for them this year, by spending time caring for them!

November 11, 2018

Ninety-nine years ago this weekend, the first celebration of “Veterans Day” took place. (Back then, it was called “Armistice Day.”) It was instituted so that we might have the opportunity to pay tribute to those veterans of military service who served their country in the “Great War” – World War I.
These days, we honor all those who have served in our military, whether at home or abroad, in war and in peacetime.

Sometimes, though, we forget the service – and the hardship – that families of veterans face. Long separations from loved ones, anxiety over safety, financial hardships faced in the absence of their family members – to put it mildly, families of service members are beset by challenges that non-military families routinely do not face.

This year, as you celebrate Veterans Day, please thank a veteran (and offer prayers of thanksgiving to God for their selfless service!) – but also, please remember to thank their families (and offer prayers to God for them, too)! To paraphrase the often-quoted line from Milton: “they also serve, who stand and wait.”

Blessings,
Fr. Larry

November 4, 2018

This week, we tried out our interim holy day schedule for the first time, for All Saints day. I just wanted to spend a little time explaining what some of the thoughts were behind the holyday schedule.

Our daily schedules always attempt to allow us to have the ability to celebrate one or more funeral Masses. With this in mind, our holy day schedule attempts to allow us to celebrate two Vigil Masses, two holy day Masses, and also keep the normally scheduled Mass of the day. (In that way, Fr. Mohler or I would still be able to schedule a funeral if necessary.)

We decided to celebrate an early Mass on the holy day itself at Madonna del Castello, since those who want to go to Mass before work on a holy day of obligation would be able to do so, and then jump on the Parkway to go to work. We also decided to place an evening Mass at St. Maurice.

For some holy days, we’ll alter the schedule. (For instance, I’m thinking that if I offer a 7:00 AM Mass on New Year’s Day, I’m not going to get many people interested in getting up early on a day off; so we’re thinking of pushing that Mass to later in the morning.)

No schedule will be perfect, but we’re trying to take into account as many concerns as possible. As always, if you have any questions, please ask me!

Blessings,
Fr. Larry

October 28, 2018

Whew! Our first weekend of the On Mission for the Church Alive! implementation is in the books! And, by and large, it was very successful!

As we observed the events of the weekend, we noticed a few things, and we’ll be taking steps over the next few weeks to address some of the issues we observed. Parking at the 10:00 AM Mass at St. Maurice and the 11:00 AM Mass at Sacred Heart was pretty hectic. We’re going to need to find ways to provide parking and access for those who have mobility concerns. (Please be patient as we think through the issues and try to find solutions!)

Naturally, Fr. Mohler, Fr. Vince, and I are trying to learn the patterns and the particular traits of our various parish liturgies (just as, I’m sure, you’re noticing that we might do certain things a bit differently than Fr. Al, or Fr. Ken, or Fr. John did!). To my mind, it feels like new dance partners learning to dance with one another. We’ll step on each others’ toes a bit, but soon we’ll be dancing in harmony!

One last note: we’ve begun our planning for All Souls Day (Friday, November 2). See the article in this bulletin that describes our plan. If we held a funeral Mass or blessing service for a loved one of yours over the past 12 months, then we’ve already mailed you a letter, asking you to participate in one of our Masses of Remembrance on All Souls Day. Please consider filling out the invitation and getting it to one of our parish offices! If you didn’t receive a letter, please call one of our offices, and we’ll find out why we missed sending it to you, and we’ll get your loved one on the list for our Mass!

Most importantly, keep our four parishes in your prayers as we begin this process of transition!

Blessings,
Fr. Larry

October 21, 2018

After years of planning and months of anticipation, the implementation of On Mission for the Church Alive! has begun! I’m really excited to be here, “back home” as it were, and ministering in our communities!

As we get to know one another, we’ll have the opportunity to talk about what the upcoming months and years might have in store for us. At this point, however, I think it’s important to share an understanding and set an expectation for the near future: over the next 12 months, I’m going to try, as much as possible, not to make changes in our parishes. (It’s difficult enough dealing with the impact of the Mass schedule changes!)

If you get a chance to come up and say ‘hi’ to me or Fr. Mohler or Fr. Vince, please do! We’ll be happy to begin to get to know you!

Blessings, Fr. Larry

 

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