Some Thoughts About Last Week’s Announcement

As you read this, I have forgotten about all three parishes in our Final Grouping and am enjoying the food and culture of Italy.  Please warmly welcome Fr. Cain, our Regional Vicar, to the 7:30 am and 10:00 am Masses at St. Benedict, where he is filling in for me 

I invite you to read the accompanying letter from Bishop Zubik announcing our Final Grouping of St. Isaac, St. Francis, and St. Benedict, along with the clergy who will be assigned here: Fr. Bud Fulkenhan, Fr. Bob Seeman, Deacon Vic Satter, and yours truly.  These clergy assignments will begin on October 15, 2018.  I congratulate Fr. Richard Tusky, who will begin retirement in October.  The smile grows larger every day on his face.  I am also DEEPLY saddened to have to say goodbye to Fr. Adam Potter, who has brought the lively presence of a young priest to our three parishes.  I wish them only the best as they prepare to move on to the next stages of their lives.

With last week’s announcement I welcome Fr. Bud, and a second Fr. Bob to our parishes.  I’m not sure how we will refer to the two Bobs to keep us separated, but Fr. Bud has already dubbed us the “Killer B’s.”  Maybe the “three B’s” would be more appropriate.  Both Fr. Bud and Fr. Bob Seeman are great pastors with a long track record of great work.  Fr. Bud brings a knowledge of our area and parishes as a longtime pastor in Donora and the former dean of Eastern Washington County.  Fr. Bob has been assigned to several parishes south of Pittsburgh—the most recent of which was St. Thomas a Becket in Jefferson Hills, where he built a brand new church building in 2012.  He comes to us from Slippery Rock where he is both pastor of a parish and a very active college chaplain at Slippery Rock University.  As such, he brings an active knowledge of ministry to young people.  In addition to their experience, both are hard workers and will be missed greatly by their current parishioners whom they leave to come here.  I am ABSOLUTELY DELIGHTED to be working with both of them, as well as Deacon Vic.  The years of pastoral experience on our clergy team will help us greatly in making the right decisions for our parishes in the months ahead.  Besides the experience, I hope you have come to know my own love for you over the past 7 months at St. Issac and St. Francis and over the past 7 years at St. Benedict.  I really have tried to get to know you and care for you.  I have no doubt that all of us clergy will continue to love you in the time ahead.

It’s with this love in mind that I also share with you my initial reaction to the news that I would be staying: two sleepless nights.  As I thought about the On Mission For the Church Alive! Planning Process and the difficult decisions which we priests and deacon will need to make over the next two years in forming one parish from our current three parishes, I couldn’t sleep.  In fact, I was so distraught after the second night that I came very close to calling Bishop Zubik and saying, “Thanks but no thanks.”  Very, very close.

There has been A LOT of anxiety for us clergy over these last weeks and months as we waited ourselves to find out what last week’s announcement would bring.  We clergy have appreciated your prayers and words of encouragement during this time, which has shown the depth of your love for us.  As we move forward, I now beg you to continue to support your priests and deacon.  Remember, the goals of On Mission in the bishop’s letter: to reach out to the lost, to minister in a particular way to the young who are our future, and, ultimately, to energize and grow the church.  To reach these goals will involve some big decisions and changes in all three parishes.  They will be just as difficult for us as they will be for you.  We will try to consult you along the way wherever we are able.  But know that deep down whatever the decisions that we three priests and one deacon will need to make will always be made out of our love for you.  Our love for you will always be a given.