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  • Writer's pictureFather George

From Father George's Desk 10/8/23

This week, the clergy of the diocese will be gathering for the Diocesan Clergy Convocation at the Kovalchick Convocation Center at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. This annual gathering of the clergy of the diocese with our bishop is an opportunity for discussion of issues important to the diocese and our ministry within it. Since retired priests are not required to attend, Father John will be available to celebrate Mass at Holy Family on Wednesday and Thursday morning. Everything else around the parish should be operating as usual this week. These are very challenging times for our diocese so please pray for the priests and deacons of the diocese as we gather with Bishop Kulick this week.

Many parishes focus on stewardship during the month of October. In the weeks ahead all parishioners will be receiving more information in the mail about stewardship in our parish, including a brief summary of our parish’s annual financial report and opportunities for getting involved in our parish’s many ministries. In that spirit, I share a thought for your reflection from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ 2003 letter, Stewardship and Young Adults: “Our Catholic tradition teaches us that with so many blessings come great challenges. At all times in our lives, we have an opportunity—and a responsibility—to share what we have been given. It begins with remembering our baptism, when we became followers of Jesus Christ. From this call flows the commitment to Christ that makes stewardship possible—and deeply rewarding. However, this is a commitment to a lifetime of action, and it requires sacrifice. Through following Christ, we have the benefit of the role model of sacrifice for the greater good, a model of self-giving and loving service.”

With the month of October underway, we are conducting the annual October Count each weekend. Every year, during the month of October, all the parishes in the diocese do a literal “head count” of how many people are attending Mass. These counts are important in statistical reporting, especially in helping the diocese and parishes determine long-term trends in Mass attendance, which aid greatly in planning for the future. The month of October is chosen because there are no major Church feasts or holydays during the month, vacation season is over, school is in session, and the weather is generally still good...all factors which lead to “normal” Mass attendance.

On Wednesday the Church honors Pope St. John XXIII. Angelo Roncalli was born—one of 13 children of sharecropper parents—in Northern Italy in 1881. He was ordained in 1904 and, like most young Italian men of the time, was drafted into the army during World War I, where young Father Angelo served as a stretcher-bearer and chaplain. After the war, Pope Benedict XV appointed him to head the Society for the Propagation of the Faith in Italy. In the 1930s, entering the Vatican diplomatic corps, as Nazi and fascist persecutions began, Roncalli was posted in Bulgaria and Turkey where he helped thousands of Jewish refugees in Europe. In 1953 he was named Patriarch of Venice. The Papal Conclave of October 1958 thought they were electing “caretaker pope” when they selected Cardinal Roncalli—at age 76—to succeed Pope Pius XII but Good Pope John, as he would be frequently called, surprised the world by calling for the Second Vatican Council just months after his election. Vatican II is, undoubtedly, the most influential event in the life of the Church in the 20th century; more than a half century later we are still trying to understand the true theological import of the council. But Pope John’s influence extended beyond the “New Pentecost” of the council. He took major steps to advance the Church’s relationship with Judaism (John Paul II would build on these steps a few decades later) and worked tirelessly for peace in the world; he offered to personally mediate between President Kennedy and Soviet leader Nikita Khruschev to peacefully end the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 and authored the papal encyclical, Pacem in Terris, in the last months of his life. He died on June 3, 1963, and was canonized, along with Pope John Paul II, by Pope Francis in 2014. His feast day of October 11 is the anniversary of the convening of the Second Vatican Council in 1962.


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