Sunday, April 26, 2015

A good choice of a good shepherd

     On this Good Shepherd Sunday, it is worth noting that the initial response of the people of the parish and elsewhere to their introduction to Bishop-elect Edward C. Malesic is positive - they are hopeful that our new shepherd will indeed be a "good shepherd": in the model of Jesus.  I was not able to attend the press conference on Friday (because of a funeral) but as I watched it on the diocesan media outlets I was impressed by his simple, pastoral approach, his sense of humor, and his unassuming demeanor.  The fact that he has much parish experience and ministry on four different campus settings will serve him well in this down to earth and faith filled diocese.  I am convinced that the phrase in John's Gospel today that " ...I know mine and mine know me..." will become the hallmark of Bishop-elect Malesic.  His episcopal motto - "Serve the Lord with gladness" - will also bring inspiration to the people of this local church.  The photos that follow are from the press conference held in Greensburg on Friday, April 24th and  from Holy Infant's web site of their pastor preparing to clear the land for the groundbreaking (held March 15th of this year) of their new church.  Again, welcome Bishop-elect Malesic.

Friday, April 24, 2015

The long awaited good news

     After a well attended recognition and fund raising event last evening at the annual Salt and Light dinner sponsored by Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Greensburg, during which Bishop Lawrence Brandt expressed his gratitude for his eleven years as our Diocesan Bishop, it was announced at 6:00 am this morning in Washington (Noon Rome time), that the Holy Father has accepted the resignation of Bishop Brandt at having reached the age limit.  Also announced was the naming of the new bishop-elect, Father Edward C. Malesic, a priest of the Diocese of Harrisburg and pastor of Holy Infant parish in York Haven, PA.  Fifty-four years of age, Bishop-Elect Malesic will be ordained and installed as the fifth bishop of Greensburg on Monday, July 13, 2015 at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Greensburg.  More to come, but for now I have a funeral later this morning that I need to prepare for.

    We are grateful to Bishop Brandt and express a warm welcome to Bishop-elect Malesic.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Invited to the Table

     The past two Saturday's saw twenty-two of our youngsters in the parish receive the Sacrament of the Eucharistic for the first time.  The beauty of the First Holy Communion celebrations is traditionally a high point in the Spring in parishes, and this was no exception here at Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton parish.  The youngsters were wonderful - excited, expectant, a little nervous, handsome and beautiful in their suits and dresses, and ready to step up to the Table with their parents and families to welcome Jesus into their lives in this most special way.

     We celebrate First Communion at two special liturgies on Saturday mornings a week apart.  Over the years I have experienced any number of variations to the procedure, but this works best for us here in the parish.  This year both days were lovely, with sunshine and warmth, and the church, decorated still for Easter, set the stage for a memorable event.  I usually invite the First Communicants to join me at the altar for the Eucharistic Prayer, and to bring them up close and to see the excitement in their eyes, is a joy.  And then the moment - "The Body of Christ" ... "Amen" ~~~ "The Blood of Christ" ... "Amen".  They have joined "the grownups" at the "grownup's table" and they will find nourishment for the journey of their lifetime.

     It is one of the great joys of a priest to share these sacramental moments with those called by the Lord, especially the invitation to the table of the Lord.  I told each group at the beginning of the liturgy that

This is the day that the Lord has made,
let us be glad and rejoice in it!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Easter and beyond - catching up

     My last post was March 30th, and since then much has transpired.  The most important moments were found in the celebration of the Paschal Mysteries of Holy Week and the Triduum.  It is unfortunate that in our parish, at least, these most sacred and blessed of days see a smaller number of the faithful  than usual gather for worship.  Our Chrism Mass was celebrated on the morning of Holy Thursday at the Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Greensburg.  The liturgy was beautiful, full of pomp and gusto, and was led for the twelfth time by our diocesan bishop, Lawrence Brandt. 


     At the luncheon following the Mass, while we awaited the readying of the Holy Oils, I had the honor of sitting with a classmate of mine, Bill Hisker, one of our two permanent deacons and his wife, Vera, as well as three of our "deacons-to-be" and their wives (they are looking forward to ordination to the diaconate in mid June).  One of those men, Jeff Cieslewicz, is a parishioner at our parish and another, Bill Newhouse is a long time friend.  Lunch was delicious, the company enjoyable, and God's blessing manifold.

     The Mass of the Lord's Supper in the parish was simple and prayerful.  We usually follow with a visit to a number of churches in the area (this year two) where about twenty-five travelled to watch and pray.

     Our Good Friday Celebration was also a blessed time.  There was a moment in my early priesthood when I felt this service very disjointed, but a number of years ago I discerned to take my time and pray my way through the three parts of the afternoon service.  The evening saw Tenebrae celebrated in all of its stark simplicity.


     The Vigil began at 8:30 pm according to local dictate, and apart from the difficulty lighting the taper for the lighting of the Easter Candle, it too was a beautiful celebration of faith.  We used all of the readings and responses, which makes it long, but why settle for the Reader's Digest Condensed version when you can listen to the whole story of salvation.  We welcomed a young man, Jared Orth, into the Church and I shared the Sacraments of Confirmation and Eucharist with him.  I received a beautiful letter from his mom and dad today, thanking me and us for welcoming their son and his family into our community.  Our Easter morning masses were jammed.  It was a good but exhausting Easter.


     Last Friday I attend the Vigil Service for the funeral of my classmate, Father Dennis Colamarino of the Pittsburgh Diocese.  I have written about Dennis before, and the outpouring of love and affection felt at his funeral liturgies (Friday night and the funeral on Saturday) was overwhelming.

     I was not able to attend his funeral on Saturday because we had the first of two First Holy Communion Masses that morning - the other is this Saturday.  Again, beautiful Spring weather, great and eager youngsters, proud families, and an awesome occasion made for a wonderful day.

     Throw in a funeral for the mom of one of our priests, Father Tom Federline and Msgr Jim Gaston's mom's funeral this Saturday, and the death of one of our retired priests in Florida, Father Walt Bratus, and it has been a long and tiring few week.  But Spring is here, Easter is being celebrated, life is good, and God's People are very supportive - which makes Life Worth Living!


Today is April 15th:

     150 years ago President Abraham Lincoln died early in the morning after being shot the night before at Ford's theater.
     103 years ago today the H.M.S. Titanic sunk with a tremendous loss of life.
     And today is Income Tax Deadline Day!