Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Freedom & New Beginnings

     1776 - It was a time of crisis and frustration that lead to a bold move by many of the leaders of the Colonies in the New World ... a Declaration of Independence.   It took awhile to develop the document, and a bit longer to officially sign and promulgate this declaration, but this is the day on which we celebrate the first pronouncement - July 4th.


     The second paragraph of this momentous document states: "We hold these Truths to be self evident, that all Men are created equal, and they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness."   These powerful words echo the Truth revealed by God to those that he has chosen as his own, and whom he has blessed with the blessings of Life, Freedom and the desire to be fulfilled in love.

     On this Independence Day in the United States, let us continue to celebrate our freedom declare our dependence upon the very source of all things, the Lord God.  Happy July 4th!

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       This past Saturday, June 30th, was a great day for the Diocese of Greensburg as we ordained to the Order of Presbyter (priest) a young man of the diocese who is a member of the Cathedral parish.  Bishop Edward Malesic ordained Daniel Carr in a beautiful ceremony at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral.  Father Dan has been fulfilling his theological studies at the North American College in Rome, and will be returning for a final year of studies this September.   He is a fine young man and we look forward to his ministry as a priest to the Church.  I have enclosed a few pictures of the ordination with gratitude to the Diocesan web site
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 The Litany of the Saints
 Promise of Obedience and Respect
The Laying on of Hands - the Ordination
Anointing of Father Dan's hands with Chrism
 Presentation of the chalice and paten
First blessing given to the bishop
Father Dan's family
 Our diocesan priests
Father Dan Carr with Mom & Dad & Bishop Ed Malesic

     The next day Father Dan celebrated his first Mass of Thanksgiving with family and friends at the Cathedral parish.  He did very well, although a little stiff and nervous, even though he had asked the Director of Liturgy at North American College to preach.  Talk about putting pressure on yourself!  

     I recall my ordination and first Mass forty-five years ago, and was grateful to share these days of joy with Dan and by able to share the "laying on of hands" during the ordination ceremony.  Powerful moments of grace for me and so many others.  Pray for Father Dan Carr as he begins his ministry to the Church.

Monday, June 25, 2018

John the Baptist

     Yesterday marked the Solemnity of the Birth of John the Baptist.  I celebrated the Saturday evening liturgy at the Church of Saint Paul in Greensburg, recorded my Radio program on WAOB later that evening, and yesterday took part in the first Saint John's Fire Celebration in the Diocese of Greensburg - a gathering for Evening Prayer and social time and fellowship gathered around a blazing fire.  This is a common celebration in many parts of the world, and it finally found its way to Greensburg.  Even our beer was appropriately from the All Saints Brewery.  It was fun.

     Our understanding of the importance of John the Baptist is highlighted in the fact that he is one of one three whose birth and death are celebrated by the Church - Jesus, Mary and John.  It is usual for the Church to recognize the entry into heaven that comes with death, since this is the new birth of the saints in glory, but in these three we celebrate both.

     I found that the Preface for this Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist states so well the high regard we have for this saint.  I would like to share these words with you that come from the Roman Missal.

     "It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God,
through Christ our Lord.
      In his Precursor, Saint John the Baptist,
we praise your great glory,
for you consecrated him for a singular honor
among those born of women.
      His birth brought great rejoicing;
even in the womb he leapt for joy
at the coming of human salvation. 
He alone of all the prophets
pointed out the Lamb of redemption.
      And to make holy the flowing waters,
he baptized the very author of Baptism
and was privileged to bear him supreme witness
by the shedding of his blood.
      And so, with the Powers of heaven,
we worship you constantly on earth,
and before your majesty
without end we acclaim ... "

Sunday, June 24, 2018

International events ... local ties

     This past week saw a number of local residents and friends experiencing the Church on an international level.  I would like to share a few thoughts.

     Bishop Edward Malesic of our Greensburg Diocese, along with three of our priests, travelled to the Diocese of Tagum in the Philippines for the Episcopal Ordination of that Diocese's fourth Bishop, Bishop Medil S. Aseo.  Our bishop was one of the ordaining bishops for the new head of that local Church.  The reason he was there was simple: Father Medil, up until the time of his appointment, was serving as a missionary priest in a parish of our diocese as a part of our international priests program.  He had been with us for less than a year, on loan from his home diocese of Tagum, which he now leads.  He is a quiet, learned, friendly man who in a short time endeared himself to our diocese and the local Filipino community.  We wish him well as he embarks upon this new journey of grace as a successor of the Apostles.  I have included some pictures of the ordination.

 Bishop Medil Aseo and Bishop Edward Malesic
 The Laying on of Hands at the Ordination
 The bishops in attendance
 Two views of the Cathedral in Tagum and the crowd of 4,000 in attendance

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     Also this past week I saw some pictures of a very famous and historic church in Paris, Notre Dame.  These pictures were posted on Facebook by a young friend of mine, Sean Newhouse, as he was spending some time in England and touring other parts of Europe.
Sean is the son of very good friends, Mary Ann and Deacon Bill Newhouse, and I had the honor of baptizing Sean at the Church of Saint Paul in Greensburg many years ago as an infant.  He is a student at the University of Dayton, and we are very proud of him.
     Notre Dame has always fascinated me ever since I saw the original "Hunchback of Notre Dame" a long time ago.  Since I will never get to visit, I thank Sean for sharing these pictures from across the pond.  Enjoy.


 You can almost see Quasimodo in the bell towers



Sean at another Paris attraction



Friday, June 8, 2018

Priest Jubilee Celebration

     Every year in the month of June, our diocese celebrates with those priests who are marking significant milestones in ministry.  Some might say that we embrace any opportunity for a party, but this celebration is always a great time of fellowship and gratitude for the years of priestly service.   We gather around the table of the Lord for Eucharist, and then share a social time followed by a great dinner.  The celebration takes place at the Bishop Connare Center in Greensburg.
     Yesterday the vast majority of our priests gathered to celebrate with Bishop Malesic and the following jubilarians (which this year included myself):  celebrating 55 years ... Father Tom Lukac; 50 years ... Benedictine Father Mario Fulgenzi, OSB and our own Father James Petrovsky; 45 years ... Monsignors Paul Fitzmaurice and Roger Statnick and Fathers Peter Peretti and myself; 40 years ... Fathers James Bump and Lawrence Manchas; and 25 years ... Benedictine Fathers Ananias Buccicone, Daniel O'Keefe and John Mary Tompkins as well as our own Fathers Anthony Carbone, Arnel Estrella, Bill Kiel and Dave Nazimek.   These men have given 590 years of service since their ordinations!  And they continue to reflect the love that the Lord has for all of his people.

from the left: Fathers Lawrence Manchas, Roger Statnick, Paul Fitzmaurice, Peter Peretti, Len Stoviak, Bishop Malesic, Jim Petrovsky, Arnel Estrella, Dave Nazimek, James Bump and Anthony Carbone

     On our ordination day, we stood at the altar and looked to the future with rose colored glasses.  These many years later, faced with the challenges of life and the sinfulness of our human condition, we see things more clearly.  What we see is this: at the beginning we sought to bring the joy of the gospel and the love of God to people who were experiencing the cross and blessings through love and joy ... and in this present moment we find that our crosses are easier to bear because of those who over the years have brought joy and love into our lives, enriching and blessing us in awesome ways.  For that we are most grateful.  For you, we are most grateful.
     To all of our jubilarians, and to all who presently share priestly ministry or who have done so in years past, peace and God's blessings.  Ad multos annos ... For many more years!
 

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Koinonia

          The other day the winner of the 2018 Scripps National Spelling Bee was announced.  He was 14 year old Karthik Nemmani of Texas, and the winning word was "koinonia".  So in the headlines this word was often shown, and explained, which provided for a bit of intellectual evangelization.  We congratulate Karthik for his knowledge of the word and his correct spelling.
     Koinonia is a Greek word that is used to describe the spiritual community of Christian believers.  It speaks of communion (union with), of fellowship and of unity.  It is used in Christian churches even today to describe the Church.
     Isn't it funny how a spelling bee can bring Christian fellowship to the attention of the public?  Unfortunately, we do not do enough in the lived expression of our daily walk with the Lord to make that word and the reality that it represents known to the general public.  But we will rejoice in this moment in the limelight.

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     I would like to share the third meditation on the 1st chapter of the 1st Letter of Saint Peter that I shared on WAOB recently.

     "Verses 22 through 25 bring this chapter to a close with reassuring words.  'Since you have purified yourselves by obedience to the truth for sincere mutual love, love one another intensely from a pure heart.  You have been born anew, not from perishable but from imperishable seed, through the living and abiding word of God.'
     We were born in love.  We are reborn in Christ Jesus in God's love.  The one love is beautiful and rich but imperfect.  But the new birth of Christians comes from Christ, the perfect love and imperishable seed that produces a new and lasting existence in those who accept the gospel and embrace the new covenant, accepting the duty and responsibility to love God and one another, as we have loved God.  This perfect love, the Word of God, Jesus Christ, remains with us forever.
     Let us bask in his love and accept our call to be one with him." 

Friday, June 1, 2018

Brother Knights

     Last Friday, May 25th, I was honored to be the guest of and to  join with the Saint Jude Council of the Knights of Columbus at the Annual Bishop's Dinner for the Diocese of Greensburg Chapter  held at the Bishop Connare Center.  This yearly event allows the local Councils of the Knights of Columbus to shine and to celebrate their commitment to fostering and promoting vocations to the priesthood.  Our bishop, Bishop Edward Malesic was the guest of honor, and he was presented with a check for $20,000 from the Diocesan Chapter for the vocation program of the diocese.
     The evening began with a social and culminated with a great dinner in the capacity filled dining hall.
     It has been my privilege to be a part of this great Catholic Fraternal Organization since the mid seventies, and to attain the rank of Fourth Degree.  Their charitable efforts locally, nationally and internationally are most impressive.  I am proud to say that I am a Knight of Columbus.

    ++++++++++++++

     Continuing to share my "lectio" from last Sunday's program on WAOB, my second reflection on the first chapter of the first letter of Saint Peter is as follows:

     "As the 1st chapter of the first letter of Saint Peter continues, beginning in verse 6 he tells them that blessed though they are, they will still have to suffer through various trials.  They will be tried by fire and tested so that they can be made pure and worthy of the covenant, of the promise given.  He says that the trials will come 
' ... so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested in fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor in the revelation of Jesus Christ.'
     It is commonly known that precious metals must be purified through fire and heat, so that all of the impurities and imperfections can be eliminated and that we have purity of heart and mind.  Like Job of old we are tested, tried in the unwanted and sometimes unjust challenges to our very existence.  Yet in those hardships and trials, in that purification process, we are made holy, joined with the very suffering of Christ, and transformed into the perfect, new creation that gives glory to God and in which we rejoice with indescribable and glorious joy, as verse 8 tells us.
     Take a moment to rejoice in that grace."
 

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Encouraging Vocations

     Last Thursday, May 24th, the priests of the Diocese of Greensburg gathered at the Bishop Connare Center for the Spring Clergy Conference.  We gather for prayer, a presentation by a speaker, local concerns and a great dinner.   If I can be honest, these days can, at times, be a little less than exciting or even uplifting (no offense to the planners). 




     Our speaker was last Thursday was Rosemary Sullivan, the Executive Director of the USCCB National Conference of Diocesan Vocation Directors, and her theme was "The Joy of Gospel Sharing".   And I can attest that personally, and from what I heard from many of our priests, this Spring Conference was a hit.   Mrs. Sullivan was clear and concise in her presentation and her very dynamic talks were filled with concrete examples of how we as priests are essential to the vocation issue.   The work of promoting priestly and religious vocations is a total Church concern.  She encouraged us to "tell our story", to use every opportunity to speak of the joy of the call, of the process involved in responding to the call, and to share our experiences of service and ministry.
     I found her comments relevant to our vocation efforts and personally refreshing and inspiring as I reflect upon forty-five years of ministry.
     The day ended with Evening Prayer, a social gathering, and a wonderful dinner provided by our staff here at the Bishop Connare Center, where I reside.  It was a good day filled with encouragement and hope.

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     Allow me to continue to share with you some of the reflections from my radio program of last Sunday evening on WAOB FM.  One of the Scriptures reflected upon was the 1st Chapter of 1st Peter.  What follows is one of three reflections of my "lectio divina" on that reading.
 
     "The author of the first letter of Saint Peter, in this first chapter, introduces himself to the community who were sojourners and aliens (not children of the first Covenant) whom he recognizes now as chosen people, blessed by God and given grace and peace.  In verse 3 through 5 we hear: 'Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you who by the power of God are safeguarded through faith ...'
     This is the deposit of faith shared with all who have been chosen by the Lord for eternal life.  We have been given hope and a new life in the resurrection.  We are wonderfully reassured that our inheritance cannot be destroyed, or defiled, and it will never fade or diminish.  It is a faith that is founded on the rich love of God for us and the promise that the covenant of love brings to us.
     Like the readers of Peter's letter, let us find strength and solace in that assurance."