Last Monday evening I attended the Installation Mass of Father Andrew Kawecki as the 11th pastor of the 135 year old Saint John the Baptist Parish in Scottdale and the Administrator of the Partner Parish of Saint Joseph in Everson, following in the footsteps of 16 previous pastors over the past 126 years. Bishop Brandt celebrated the Mass, Father Andrew preached, and Bishop Brandt gives a talk at the end regarding the relationship of parish to diocese and priest to bishop. It is his practice in encouraging prayer for vocations to tell the parish that they are blessed to have him and the diocese assign a priest to them ... and that they owe the diocese a priest in return. It is a cute exchange that usually gets a positive reaction. Monday the bishop added a note that these two parishes gave some priests (I think he said four) and some Religious (he mentioned a small number).
From these two parishes on the Westmoreland/Fayette County boarder, have come a long line of vocations to the priesthood and Religious Life. From Saint Joseph in Everson have come eleven priests, two of whom are still active and functioning. In addition there were at least eighteen women Religious. From Saint John the Baptist in Scottdale there have been twenty-two ordained priests with three Religious Brothers and forty-two women Religious, at least thirty of them members of the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill, including two major superiors. The priests from Saint Joseph are Fathers Michael Szczygiel, Justin Figas, O.F.M. Conv., John Szwed, Msgr. M. J. Orzechowski, Msgr. Aloysius Zwolinski, Aloysius Jezewski, Daniel Szczygiel, Frank Lesniowski, Archabbot Douglas Nowicki of Saint Vincent and Michael Sikon.
The priests from Saint John the Baptist are Fathers Michael Boyle, Patrick Diskin, Vincent Mooney, C.S.C., Msgr Paul Glenn, George Amend, James Alex Byrne, Msgr. Anthony DeSantis, Edward Quinn, Michael O'Shea, Regis Hickey, Francis Hickey, Arthur O'Shea, Francis P. King, Msgr Robert Hanicak, William Dannecker, Armand Baldwin, O.S.B., John Blasick, C.P.P.S., Bryce Joyce, O.S.B., Joseph Minsterman, James Popochock, Donald Hall and Joseph Maddalena. Most are now deceased, Father Popochock is still active, a few have left active ministry and Father Ministerman is retired now in Scottdale. What a legacy. What years of service to the Church given by these men and women and their families who supported their vocations. I think that the Church owes these parishes a good pastor as is found in Father Andrew. I think that they have paid their debt many times over. The ninth pastor of Saint John the Baptist wishes him well.