Missions draw parishes closer

Monday, May 20, 2019 - Updated: 10:39 am

By Bob De Witt Correspondent

From Butler County’s countryside to Pittsburgh’s urban neighborhoods to the suburban South Hills, parish missions held during Lent brought the faithful closer to one another and to Jesus.

“Our mission helped people get to know each other,” said Capuchin Father Ward Stakem, administrator of the parishes of St. Joseph in Cabot, St. Mary of the Assumption in Herman and St. John the Evangelist in Coylesville. “Previously we had held separate parish missions.”

The mission April 1-3 at St. Joseph Church was led by Capuchin Father John Petrikovic, who explored the theme “Disciples in the Real World: Finding the Footprints to Follow.”

“I was pleased with the attendance and response,” Father Ward said. “There was a mix of people from all three parishes.”

Father Lawrence DiNardo, diocesan general secretary and administrator of six parishes on Pittsburgh’s North Side, pointed to a strong turnout for lay evangelist Paul Koleske’s preaching and music, presented April 1-3 at St. Boniface Church of Holy Wisdom Parish. The subject was “Igniting the Light of Christ with You.”

“People came from all our parishes,” Father DiNardo said. “Koleske is a wonderful preacher, and parishioners expressed their appreciation.”

In the South Hills, Sister Briege McKenna, known worldwide for her ministry to priests and those in need of healing, spoke April 8-11 at St. Louise de Marillac Parish in Upper St. Clair. The mission was well-attended, with many parishioners from St. Joan of Arc in South Park Township present, according to Father Joseph Sioli, administrator of the grouping.

“I’m taking On Mission for The Church Alive! very seriously,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to reinvigorate our parishes and engage younger families.”

The goal of the revitalization initiative is to offer a deeper relationship with Jesus and the church to practicing and inactive Catholics, as well as those who have never been baptized.

“We need to share and mobilize our resources to draw people deeper into the faith, seek the lost and serve those in need,” Bishop David Zubik wrote parishioners in May 2018, announcing parish groupings and clergy teams.

A parish mission in the Neighbors North Catholic Community of St. Athanasius, Incarnation of the Lord, St. Sebastian and St. Teresa of Avila brought in new people, according to administrator Father John Rushofsky.

“People came from all four parishes, but also from the North Hills community,” he said. Father Rushofsky credited Father Michael Zavage, parochial vicar, for his efforts to plan and promote the mission held March 10-12. Third Order Franciscan Father Dave Pivonka presented on the topic “Spiritual Freedom Through the Holy Spirit.”

The entire Lenten schedule was built around the theme of “Be Free, Follow Me.”

Father Ward is grateful that they came together for their parish mission in Butler County.

“We need a broader sense of who we are as a Christian community,” he said. “We’re moving in a positive direction.”

For ongoing opportunities to grow in faith, see the Pittsburgh Catholic’s weekly Around the Diocese and Calendar listings.

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