One wild ride: Catholics worship at Kennywood

Friday, July 27, 2018 - Updated: 9:54 am

By Theresa Sullivan Correspondent

In the shadow of the Racer roller coaster, more than 400 people gathered at a pavilion for Mass July 23 as part of Catholic Kennywood Day at Kennywood Park in West Mifflin. The event was hosted by the diocese’s Vocations Office, which sold more than 650 tickets and included a festival of praise.

“I wanted to give Catholics an opportunity to come together and celebrate faith,” said Father Michael Ackerman, vocations director. “Faith isn’t just for Sunday. Faith is for every day, and we have to be a witness to faith as Catholics.”

Father Michael Zavage, parochial vicar at St. Sebastian Parish in Ross Township, concelebrated the Mass with Father Ackerman, Father Levi Hartle, Father Thomas Lewandowski, Father Jeremy Mohler and Father Thomas Sparacino of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, and Father Michael McCormick of the Diocese of Scranton. John Trabbic and his band led worship music during Mass and the festival of praise.

During his homily, Father Zavage spoke about developing a personal relationship with Jesus by talking with him about everything going on in one’s life. The priest said he began this practice when he was the last child remaining on his school bus during the ride home.

“That’s when my faith really started to develop: when I realized that God wanted to be my best friend and to walk with me,” Father Zavage said.

Father Ackerman and Father Zavage encouraged the young people present at Mass to prayerfully discern their vocations and to be open to the priesthood or religious life.

“We have all been standing in lines all day, but the most beautiful one you stood in was the one for Communion,” Father Zavage said at the conclusion of Mass.

Julianne Bartko, parishioner at St. Angela Merici Parish in White Oak, enjoyed the high energy at the liturgy.

“It’s great to see so many Pittsburgh Catholics come together to celebrate God at Kennywood,” she said.

As he led music during the festival of praise, Trabbic compared the distractions of the surrounding amusement park to the everyday distractions that obstruct us from prayer. He encouraged those attending to unite together, even amid distractions, to praise God and prepare their hearts for him.

Alec Scheuer, youth minister at Immaculate Conception Parish in Washington, enjoyed the opportunity the event gave his teens to witness their faith.

“I hope this event shows my teens that they are not alone in their faith and that they can show that faith to the world,” he said.

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