1. What do people need today?
2. What do people need from me?
3. What am I willing to give?
My response to all three questions was the same:
ACCEPTANCE - WELCOME - MERCY - HOPE
People need to be accepted where they are ... they need to know and feel that they are welcome ... they need to be shown mercy first ... and this will lead to a faith filled with hope. As a priest, these are gifts that I can and have tried to share with those who share the journey with me.
Our liturgy that afternoon was the annual Mass for the deceased bishops and priests who have served in the Diocese of Greensburg. This year we were fortunate to have only lost one diocesan priest to death - retired Bishop Anthony G. Bosco on July 2nd. We prayed for him as well as for Bishops Hugh L. Lamb (our first bishop), William G. Connare (second bishop), and the 188 other priests who have died in the 62 year history of this diocese. Of those, 138 have died since I was ordained in May of 1973. This does not include our brothers from the Religious Orders - Benedictines, Carmelites, Franciscans, Paulines and others who have also served this local Church. Some of these men are not remembered by those of us still here. Some are remembered with loving affection and some with interesting stories that do not always bring back fond memories. But all served the People of God in this Diocese to the best of their abilities. I thought of the years of service represented in this list, and the impact that these men had on the faithful. We must be grateful to God for the gift that they have been - the blessing or the challenge found in their ministry. We must also be grateful to those who are presently serving this local Church. We must be grateful for the service and talents of the many who have left active ministry for a variety of reasons (most recently Father Joe Trupkovich).
Priesthood today is not like it was sixty-two years ago, or forty years ago, or even as it was just a few years ago ... and yet IT IS the same. Your priests need your prayers and support, your love and acceptance. I have included our group photo taken following the Mass on Tuesday in Blairsville (picture courtesy of Mary Seaman of the Diocesan Communications Office). We are a smaller yet still mighty presbyterate here in the Diocese of Greensburg. I am glad to have them as my brothers.