On Mission for The Church Alive!
On Mission for The Church Alive!
invites us to spread the love of Jesus to every person we meet.
We are called to work together to help our parishes, schools and all faith communities be alive in faith.
October 21, 2018
Whoever Wishes to Be Great Among You Will Be Your Servant –
The request of the sons of Zebedee, James and John, to be seated one on each side of Jesus when He reigns in glory, sets off a firestorm among the Apostles. They argue about who is the greatest and are quickly focused on who has more power and authority than the others. Jesus reminds them that, while this may be the way of the world, they must be different. Whatever power and authority is theirs is given to them by God and must be used for the service of others. As the implementation of On Mission for The Church Alive! begins, we will be looking to discover what our parish groupings need to best serve the faithful of our parishes and the communities where we live. We all love our parishes, but our love of Christ and the Church as a whole is even stronger. It may be a challenge to put aside what we are familiar with for the sake of the good of all, but we are called to trust in God’s guidance as he works to build up the Church. Visit onmissionchurchalive.org to learn more and to stay informed.
October 14, 2018
Things Are Possible for God –
This Sunday’s Gospel brings us back to the basics. The young man with whom Jesus is conversing strives to live the commandments, yet when Jesus asks him to do more, he goes away sad.
What Jesus asks of him is not unreasonable, yet it is not what the young man expected. The disciples are in shock and Jesus’ response is to encourage them that, with faith, all things are possible for God. There is no better message for us in the Church of Pittsburgh as the implementation of On Mission for The Church Alive! begins on Monday, October 15. We strive to follow the commandments and be faithful to the will of God. Yet we, too, are challenged when faced with something we never expected. New parish groupings, new clergy teams and new Mass times can be a challenge for many, but they can also provide new opportunities for the grace of God to be at work in the church for our good and the good of others. Visit onmissionchurchalive.org to learn more and to stay informed.
October 7, 2018
He Is Not Ashamed To Call Them Brothers –
This Sunday’s second reading from the Letter to the Hebrews, in reminding us how God humbled Himself by choosing to become one like us in Jesus Christ, also highlights for us that Christ chooses to call us his sisters and brothers. Through His Spirit in baptism, God the Father adopts us as His beloved children and unites us with each other through His Son, Jesus. If Christ Jesus considers us His sisters and brothers and is willing to sacrifice for us, then we, who strive to love with the heart of Jesus, should do the same. As the new parish groupings take effect and the interim Mass schedules begin as part of the On Mission for The Church Alive! initiative on October 15, we will likely encounter new sisters and brothers in Christ. May the love of God at work in us be extended to them in our words and deeds, and may we receive the love of God from them as we seek each day to build up His kingdom. Visit onmissionchurchalive.org to learn more and to stay informed.
September 29, 2018
Do Not Prevent Him – In this weekend’s Gospel, the Apostles are worried when they see someone who is not one of them driving out demons in Jesus’ name. Jesus could have responded with frustration or anger that someone was stealing His thunder. Instead, however, He welcomed this man’s ministry, responding, “do not prevent him. For whoever is not against us is for us.” It highlights an openness to the sharing of gifts and talents to support the work of Jesus in the world and He seeks to heal, strengthen, forgive and empower others. On Mission for The Church Alive! provides an opportunity for the faithful to look for new opportunities to do good in Jesus’ name. While there are many things our parishes provide for our communities, there are always new ways to inspire faith and serve others. If you’re already involved, welcome the good things others are seeking to do to build up the Church. If you’re not involved, don’t be afraid to think outside the box and be open to where God might be inviting you to be a source of light to others. Visit onmissionchurchalive.org to learn more and to stay informed.
September 23, 2018
Be the Last of All and the Servant of All –
Jesus offers this command connected with the announcement of His passion and death to His disciples. They didn’t understand what Jesus meant when He said that He would suffer and die, and instead argued about who was the greatest among them. Yet, the Lord continues to work to prepare their hearts so that they might be ready for the suffering of the cross, and ultimately the glory of the resurrection. By putting others first and being the servant of all, we are called to sacrifice, to be compassionate, literally to suffer with, and to open ourselves to others who will seek to do the same for us. All of this is rooted in the call to love others as IF THEY are Christ and to love others as IF WE are Christ. The On Mission for the Church Alive! initiative as a whole, and the implementation of the Interim Mass Schedule on October 15, in particular, are opportunities for us to welcome and serve others with whom we are united in faith, hope and love. It may take sacrifice and a change of routine, but it can also bring about an increase of the love of Christ at work in us. Visit onmissionchurchalive.org to learn more and to stay informed.
September 16, 2018
Who Do You Say That I Am? – Faith is not lived in a vacuum. In fact, so much about our faith seeks to unite us as a community of believers. The celebrations of the Sacraments, for instance, are an opportunity for gathering as people of faith to share in the life of Christ that draws us together as His sisters and brothers. Even a Sacrament that is celebrated alone, like reconciliation, restores unity among the people of God which is broken by our sinfulness. Yet, while we support each other in faith, we can speak to others about our desire to follow God. At Mass we announce, “I confess to almighty God,” and we profess, “I believe in one God,” in order to make manifest the faith in our hearts. Thankfully, these words echo with all those gathered around us to remind us that we are never alone in this journey and ever closer to God. On Mission for The Church Alive! is an opportunity for us to be confirmed in our faith so that we can confidently proclaim that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. At the same time, it is a call to unite us more closely to God and others to strengthen and grow the Church. Visit onmissionchurchalive.org to learn more and to stay informed.
September 9, 2018
Ephphatha! Be Opened! – Even as we read the accounts of the miracles Jesus worked, like the healing of the deaf and mute man in today’s Gospel, we are amazed at the powerful love of God at work to heal and strengthen us. In particular,
Jesus’ cry of Ephphatha! (be opened!), is not simply so that the deaf man’s ears would be open and that his tongue would be freed, it is also a call for his heart to be opened in faith and trust in God. The Lord cries out Ephphatha! for us, too, that we might be opened to His powerful love at work for and in and through us. This is not only for our benefit, but for the benefit of our parishes, our communities, the Church and the world. As we prepare for the implementation of the On Mission for The Church Alive! initiative, the Lord invites us to be opened to the work of the Spirit so that we can be strengthened for the work of building the Church. If we can be amazed by what God works for those in the Scriptures, we can certainly be amazed by what God can work through us. Visit onmissionchurchalive.org to learn more and to stay informed.
September 2, 2018
Ask the Master of the Harvest to Send Out Laborers for His Harvest –
As a nation, we pause this weekend to celebrate Labor Day and as Christians we are invited to give thanks and praise to God for the gift of human labor that enriches us. In our daily lives, our work is that which we do to make a living, to provide for our families and to share the gifts that God has given us. Our labor involves our hands and minds and hearts and truly becomes a reflection of the work of God in creating and sustaining the world. Yet, our labor does not end when the work day is over. The Lord also invites us, as people of faith, to labor in His vineyard. Our life of faith cannot be a passive endeavor. To sit back and simply let God do good for us does nothing when it comes to sharing faith and truth and making new disciples. Instead, our faith, like our work, is an active sharing of the gifts of will, intellect, strength and love that we have been given. On Mission for The Church Alive! invites us to labor on behalf of the church so that the seeds of faith can be planted in the hearts of others through word and deed. And as we invite others to follow God and enter into caring relationships with them, God can reap a bountiful harvest of the fruits of His Love. Visit onmissionchurchalive.org to learn more and to stay informed.
August 26, 2018
It Is the Spirit Who Gives Life – Bishop Zubik often refers to On Mission for The Church Alive! as a new Pentecost for the Church of Pittsburgh. This journey is a time for us to open our hearts to the movement of the Holy Spirit as He pours forth His gifts so that we might follow His promptings to share our faith with others and grow the Church. As we reflect upon the effects of that first Pentecost in the lives of the Apostles, we see that their hearts were transformed in order that they might fulfill God’s will. The Acts of the Apostles show us how the gifts of the Spirit brought forth confidence and wisdom in the Apostles so that they could go out to all the world and tell the Good News. This same Spirit of God gives us life as we are called to go into our communities and share the same faith as we invite others to trust in God. At times, we may not feel equipped for this task. Yet relying on the grace of God, we can renew the Church through the power of the Holy Spirit. Visit onmissionchurchalive.org to learn more and to stay informed.
August 19, 2018
The One Who Feeds on Me Will Have Life Because of Me –
The Gospel readings these weeks focus our hearts and minds on the Eucharist, the source and summit of the life and mission of the Church and the central mystery of our faith. The Eucharist as the source of life is true both for us as individuals who are fed by Jesus in Holy Communion and strengthened for the work to which God calls us, as well as for the Church as the Body of Christ as together we reflect the love of God in the world. There would be no Catholic Church without the Eucharist, nor would we be able to share in the life of God without His real and true presence in our lives. Our efforts On Mission for The Church Alive! are meant to draw us ever deeper into the mystery of the Eucharist so that we may be built up as the Body of Christ in the world. May our lives and our faith be nourished through our participation in this most wonderful sacrament. Visit onmissionchurchalive.org to learn more and to stay informed.
August 05, 2018
Do Not Work for Food that Perishes
….but for the Food that Endures for Eternal Life
God, in His providence, created the world and everything in it. He made it all very good and as He sets us forth into the world to enjoy the beauty and substance of His creation. However, the created world is not meant to be a distraction from God, but rather that which draws us ever deeper into the mystery of His Fatherly love for us. His greatest gift to us, and that which unites us most fully to Him, is the gift of Himself in the Eucharist. Under the appearance of humble bread and wine, Jesus comes to us as nourishment and strength. However, this food not only nurtures our bodies, but our souls as well, enlivening us as we make our pilgrim journey to heaven. From the Eucharist flows the life and mission of the Church. As united in Holy Communion, we are formed as the Body of Christ to do His will on earth. As the implementation of the On Mission for The Church Alive! initiative draws near, may we not be distracted by the things of this world that will ultimately pass away, but instead focus on the Eucharist as we are united in faith and walk together to eternal life. Visit onmissionchurchalive.org to learn more and to stay informed.
July 29, 2018
Preserve the Unity of the Spirit through the Bond of Peace – Saint Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, from which the second reading at Mass this weekend is taken, emphasizes the unity of the Church. It is not written wholly to the Christian community in Ephesus, but to the worldwide Church united to Jesus Christ her head and shepherd. Yet this focus on unity is not out of concern for the Church herself, but instead as the means for making God’s plan of salvation known throughout the world. Some ask how the changes the On Mission for The Church Alive! initiative is bringing about can lead to growth and strength for the Church of Pittsburgh. The answer is that we are being invited to work hard and pray even harder to be united in faith as we come together to form new parish communities. There will be challenges ahead, but let us listen to the wisdom of Saint Paul as we “bear with one another through love” and focus our hearts on what unites us in faith: “one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” Visit Preserve the Unity of the Spirit through the Bond of Peace – Saint Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, from which the second reading at Mass this weekend is taken, emphasizes the unity of the Church. It is not written wholly to the Christian community in Ephesus, but to the worldwide Church united to Jesus Christ her head and shepherd. Yet this focus on unity is not out of concern for the Church herself, but instead as the means for making God’s plan of salvation known throughout the world. Some ask how the changes the On Mission for The Church Alive! initiative is bringing about can lead to growth and strength for the Church of Pittsburgh. The answer is that we are being invited to work hard and pray even harder to be united in faith as we come together to form new parish communities. There will be challenges ahead, but let us listen to the wisdom of Saint Paul as we “bear with one another through love” and focus our hearts on what unites us in faith: “one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” Visit onmissionchurchalive.org to learn more and to stay informed.
July 22, 2018
The Lord Is My Shepherd, There Is Nothing I Shall Want
One of the most tender images we have of Jesus is that of the Good Shepherd. Just as a shepherd guides the flock, so Jesus leads us, His flock, keeping us safe, encouraging us, placing us on His shoulders when we have strayed as He draws us back into the fold. The Lord’s work as shepherd of our hearts is not limited to a time of trial or need in our lives, Jesus is always, actively leading us and it is the responsibility of each of us as Christians to listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd and follow Him on the path of life. Not only does Jesus lead us individually as His sisters and brothers, but also wholly as the Church. The shepherd keeps the flock moving together as one and goes in search of the lost in order that they may be one with the church again. As we journey On Mission for The Church Alive! we trust in the guidance of Christ the Good Shepherd to lead us and the Church through this time of change. The Lord does not abandon His flock and will strengthen us as we draw closer to Him in faith and to each other as the Church. Visit onmissionchurchalive.org to learn more and to stay informed.
July 15, 2018
He Sent Them Out Two by Two –
A Christian is not called to “go it alone” in this life, no matter the circumstances. While sometimes we are tempted to just do it ourselves, in reality, Jesus encourages us to invite others into our lives through faith and trust in God and with love. In today’s Gospel, we learn of the amazing things the apostles are able to do as they go out in pairs, trusting in the Lord to provide for their needs and for the needs of others through them. They are able to drive out demons and heal the sick, and they invite others to follow Jesus through their words and deeds. We are called to share in the mission of Christ and His Church today, yet we are not individually committed to this task. As members of the Body of Christ, we work together to make Jesus present in the world. On Mission for The Church Alive! is an opportunity for us to grow in faith and friendship so that together we can form vibrant communities that share God’s life with others. Visit onmissionchurchalive.org to learn more and to stay informed.
July 01, 2018
Your abundance at the present time should supply their needs, so that their abundance may also supply your needs.
– These words, taken from today’s second reading, highlight the true nature of the On Mission for The Church Alive! initiative. All of us, individually and in our parishes, are abundantly gifted. We each bring to the table a variety of unique characteristics and talents that are used to spread the Good News of the Gospel and bring Christ to others. As our parishes prepare to come together as parish groupings, and as we seek to form and strengthen relationships with our sisters and brothers in the Church, the goal is not for these gifts to be trimmed away and wasted. Instead, we are called to work to unite the many ways we seek to do good in the world so that everyone, youth and adults of all ages, can be supported in faith and in life. What can you do to help make your parish grouping The Church Alive!? What can others do to help make your parish grouping The Church Alive!? Let us be willing to both give and receive to make our parishes on fire with the love and goodness of God. Visit onmissionchurchalive.org to learn more and to stay informed.
June 10, 2018
Whoever Does the Will of God is My brother and sister and mother –
It should be no surprise that we refer to the relationships within our church or parish in terms of family.
The roots of faith run deep and the bonds that we form with those we pray and serve with grow stronger with each encounter. Saint Paul reminds us in his letter to the Romans, “The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:16–17). By virtue of our baptism we share in the life of God and are welcomed into His family, the Church. Yet, this relationship of love is not passive or stagnant. We are called to live to the fullest the life and purpose the Spirit inspires within us. As we seek to form new relationships both within and among our parishes as part of the On Mission for The Church Alive! initiative, may our efforts bring about the strengthening of our faith family. As we grow in love for Jesus and each other, may we vibrantly fulfill our mission as sons and daughters of God and seek to do His will. Visit onmissionchurchalive.org to learn more and to stay informed.
June 03, 2018
The Body and Blood of Christ
Faith has many important facets that are effective in our lives. Prayer and worship connect us to the God who created us and who daily gives us purpose and provides for us. Times of community and fellowship unite us with our family in faith to realize that we are not alone on our journey of love with God. Outreach and charity put our faith into action so that we can be the hands and heart of Jesus in the world and provide for the needs of others. Yet, at the heart of our faith, its essential foundation is the gift of God Himself to His people, the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the memorial of God’s great act of love for us, the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus. The Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ made truly present so that we might be nourished to do the work of God in the world. The Eucharist is the source of our life as people of faith and that to which we return all that we have received in thanksgiving to God. Inspired by this Feast of Corpus Christi and as we journey On Mission for The Church Alive!, may our love for the Eucharist increase so that our faith may remain strong in the midst of change. Visit onmissionchurchalive.org to learn more and to stay informed.
May 27, 2018
Go, Therefore, and Make Disciples of All Nations
The history of missionary activity in the church is vibrant and fascinating. From the Apostles who first heeded the call of Jesus to “Go and make disciples of all nations” to famous missionaries like Saint Francis Xavier and the Jesuits or Saint Teresa of Calcutta and the Missionaries of Charity, there is a long tradition of those who have traveled far from home to bring the good news of Jesus to every corner of the world, even at the cost of their own lives. Today, the missionary work of the Church doesn’t have to take us to the ends of the world, but just to the neighbors, co-workers and strangers as we seek to continue the work of Jesus in the world today. At its heart, On Mission for The Church Alive! is an opportunity for us to be renewed in faith and sent forth to make new disciples in our parishes, our neighborhoods and throughout the whole world. Ask God for an abundance of His gifts to make this a reality in your life each day. Visit onmissionchurchalive.org to learn more and to stay informed.
May 20, 2018
Receive the Holy Spirit – After His resurrection from the dead, Jesus appears to His anxious Apostles and, knowing their fear and uncertainty, pours forth the Holy Spirit upon them and bestows the gift of peace.
For the next forty days, He promises that he will be with them always and that He will send the Advocate to be with them as they will be called to continue His work in the world. Finally, after ascending to heaven, Jesus sends forth His Spirit at Pentecost to fill the Apostles with confidence and courage in order to go out to all the world to tell the Good News and grow the church. As the On Mission for The Church Alive! initiative continues to unfold, we are called to pray for a new Pentecost in the Church of Pittsburgh. This new outpouring of the Holy Spirit can bestow the peace we seek in the midst of change and planning for the future. God’s Spirit can also fill us with the confidence and courage that all of us – clergy and faithful alike – will need to do our part to build up the Church and make it ever more alive! Visit onmissionchurchalive.org to learn more and to stay informed.
May 13, 2018
As You Sent Me into the World, So I Sent Them into the World.
In the creation story we are told that God made human beings “in His image”. This doesn’t mean that we are exact clones or identical twins of God, but rather that each of us, in light of our unique gifts and characteristics, are created to reflect the vibrant life and loving face of God to others. God’s hand in our lives doesn’t end in creating us. Throughout our lives, God gives us purpose and fills us with the gifts we need to fulfill that purpose. The challenge for us is to know ourselves as God knows us. Through prayer and in humility, we are invited to see clearly God’s will for our lives and all He has provided so that His will and our lives may be complete. God hasn’t randomly or thoughtlessly placed us in this world to create a reality for ourselves. He has sent us into the world with a specific task in mind that we might love others and build up His kingdom in the church, making it evermore Alive! Visit onmissionchurchalive.org to learn more and to stay informed.
Love One Another: The Call to Build Relationships –
As the On Mission for The Church Alive! announcements continue to sink in, we hear Jesus’ call in today’s Gospel to “love one another”. It’s a simple command, without condition or rationalization. To love one another is the call of the Christian life and is at the heart of the On Mission! initiative. In the coming months the parishes in our grouping will begin to work together to build relationships rooted in faith, hope and love. These relationships should not be forced or fake but should recognize that we are one in our Catholic faith and that nothing should divide us. With our common faith and love for one another as our foundation, we will be able to form parishes that are truly alive as we share our resources, efforts and energies. It can be easy to love what is familiar to us. As we journey On Mission for The church Alive!, let us seek new ways to heed Jesus’ call to love one another. Visit onmissionchurchalive.org to learn more and to stay informed.
This Weekend: On Mission Announcements –
Today at Mass you will hear about the On Mission for The Church Alive! decisions for your parish. In the announcement you will learn: (1) the final Parish Grouping that your parish will be in; (2) the clergy team assigned to serve the grouping; and (3) the maximum number of Masses for the grouping beginning October 15. With these announcements, there are still many tasks ahead to bring about the vision for vibrant parishes in our communities. The first task over the coming weeks and months is to build relationships, especially between the parish communities in the grouping and with the clergy teams who are eager to begin serving you. As we continue to share in the joy of the resurrection of Jesus during the Easter season, we must not be discouraged by the challenges that may come. Instead, we are called to go forward with hope for the good of our parishes and for the good of our own lives with God. The information about your grouping and all the groupings is available online at onmissionchurchalive.org and will be shared in your parish bulletin and the Pittsburgh Catholic next weekend. May God bless the Church of Pittsburgh, our parish communities and each of us.
I Am the Good Shepherd
The image of God as Shepherd and His promise to lead His people in safety appears throughout the Bible. It is one of the most tender images of God that we can have as He assures us of His constant care and protection in
our lives. This care applies not only to us individually as His children, with the Shepherd carrying us in His arms, but also to us collectively as the church, with God leading His flock in safety. This repeated promise to shepherd His people is our guarantee that God is in charge of His Church and that He leads us no matter the circumstances. As we journey On Mission for The Church Alive! we may wonder where the Lord is leading us. While it is natural for us to resist change, it is also an opportunity for us to grow in trust of God, our Shepherd and guide, that He may transform us and His Church. As we learn the decisions regarding Parish Groupings and Clergy Teams next week, may we call upon our Good Shepherd to lead us and our parishes in the years ahead. Visit onmissionchurchalive.org to stay informed.
You Are The Witnesses of These Things
To be a witness to something can have a double meaning. On the one hand, a witness is someone who sees something occur in order that they might tell others about it. On the other hand, a witness is one who testifies to something neither seen nor heard, yet nonetheless true. Unless we are nearly 2,000 years old, we are not witnesses in the first sense to the life, passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. Yet, by faith, we are witnesses in the second sense. By our baptism we are called to witness to the love of God through our words and actions which are to be reflections of the love of Jesus. In the coming weeks and months, the On Mission for The Church Alive! initiative will ask us to build new relationships with nearby parishes, an opportunity to witness to the love of God alive in our hearts. While this may seem like a burden to some, it is at the heart of the Christian life as we build up the Body of Christ, the Church. As we grow in love of others, may we treat them as if THEY are Christ, and treat them as if WE are Christ. Visit onmissionchurchalive.org to learn more.
Peace Be With You – When Jesus appears to His Apostles after His resurrection from the dead, He bestowed upon them the gift they needed most: His Peace. The Apostles were afraid. Their Master and Teacher, Jesus, had been betrayed by one of them, arrested and brutally killed by crucifixion and they were terrified that they would meet the same fate, and soon. Yet, this peace was not an invitation to sit back and relax. Instead, this peace is followed by the request of Jesus, “As the Father has sent Me, so I send you,” and the sharing of the gift of the Holy Spirit so that the apostles can begin to go out and continue the mission of Christ in the world. As we continue to celebrate Easter and the gift of new life in the resurrection, we are at peace knowing that we need no longer fear sin or death. At the same time, we are called, like the Apostles, to fulfill the mission of Jesus through the Church. This is the call of On Mission for The Church Alive! that will continue in earnest with the announcements of the Parish Groupings and Clergy Teams on April 28. May the Lord bestow His grace and peace upon us so that we may be willing to work hard to enliven our parishes and grow the Church. Visit onmissionchurchalive.org to learn more and to stay informed.
Blessed is He Who Comes in the Name of the Lord –
Today we celebrate the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. The crowds waved palm and olive branches as Jesus rode into the city on a colt. They welcomed Him as royalty, so moved were their hearts in faith and trust of God. Yet, while Christ’s procession into the city is a moment of joy, the joy is ﬂeeting as the coming days lead to the passion and death of Jesus. The central mysteries of our faith that we celebrate this week, highlight for us the lengths to which God will go out of love for us. It is appropriate to ask ourselves, then, what lengths will we go to for God. As we journey On Mission for The Church Alive!, it is not just our parishes that we hope will be transformed. We should also hope that our hearts are transformed in love and service of God and others. How are we called to be ambassadors of Christ, coming in His name to share the life and light of God with everyone we meet? As we await the On Mission announcements one month from now, may we prepare our hearts to share the love of God in all we say and do. Visit onmissionchurchalive.org to learn more and to stay informed.
We Would Like to See Jesus:
Our ultimate goal in life. Yes, there are many ways that Jesus shows himself to us: in the Eucharist and the other sacraments, in the hearts of those who love and serve in His name. What we desire most is to meet Him in heaven. Each day, not just during Lent, we should seek to follow the path that leads to Him by living virtuous lives and drawing near to God in prayer. Yet, we know that we can’t do this alone. In fact, it is the Church that Christ Himself established that is to be our support on this journey through life to the glory of heaven. As the Church of Pittsburgh is On Mission for The Church Alive!, we pray that this initiative will result in a stronger, more vibrant church. And while we may wonder if that will mean a difference in our lives, we should be assured that it will! A stronger local Church means that we will be better supported on our journey with Jesus to eternal life. Whether it’s inspiring celebrations of the sacraments or ministries that provide for the spiritual and temporal needs of us all, a stronger Church will allow us to see Jesus more clearly in our midst and will give us greater hope as we prepare to see Him in heaven. Visit onmissionchurchalive.org to learn more and to stay informed.
ON MISSION FOR THE CHURCH ALIVE!
For God So Loved the World – God the Father’s great act of love for us, His children, was sending His only Son, Jesus, into the world. By coming to earth, Christ humbles himself by taking on human flesh, yet He is able to show us a new and vibrant way of life by teaching love without condition and mercy in all circumstances. The ultimate sign of this love comes as Jesus takes our sins, the sins of all the world upon Himself and reconciles us to the Father as He suffers and dies on the cross, then follows the light of the resurrection in which the gates of heaven are flung open so that we can live with God for ever. While these moments happened once and for all some 2,000 years ago, God’s love for us did not end with the death of His Son. As Christ remains with us in the sacraments, so the love of God is alive and active for us in the same, powerful way. The love of God endures forever! As we prepare for the changes to come as part of the “On Mission for the Church Alive!” initiative, we are called to remember that God is always at work for us and through us. While we may face challenges, it is God who will strengthen the Church, so great is His love for us. Let us cooperate with Him in the days to come to help the Church grow. Visit onmissionchurchalive.org to learn more and to stay informed.
ON MISSION FOR THE CHURCH ALIVE!
Zeal for Your House Will Consume Me – Jesus reacts passionately upon seeing the money changers and vendors in the temple area taking advantage of those who were coming to worship. After all, the temple was to be a house of prayer and sacrifice, not a place to make a proﬁt oﬀ of the unsuspecting faithful. Jesus does not just sit back after witnessing such injustice. Instead, he acts confidently to bring about needed change. We can all think about things in the Church that are in need of change. Some may wonder why there are so many empty pews and why there are seemingly few young people and families active in the Church. Others may ask why the same people seem to be the ones who always do everything for the parish. Still others may feel that there are no opportunities for them to share their gifts and get involved. On Mission for The Church Alive! is an opportunity for us to be inspired, to be consumed with zeal for the Church and the house and family of God, so that we may act with confidence in sharing our lives for the good of the Church. We all have a part to play in strengthening the Church of Pittsburgh. Visit onmissionchurchalive.org to learn more and to stay informed.
03a-On Mission Pre-Lent Timeline Color
The Holy Family –
The Bible tells us very little about the family life of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph as they formed their home in Nazareth. We know that Jesus was presented in the Temple in accordance with the custom of the law. He grew strong and was filled with wisdom, and He stayed behind at the temple in Jerusalem to discourse with the elders and scholars of the law. Much else is left to the tradition of our faith and to our imagination. The Holy Family was certainly unconventional, composed of a virgin mother, a child conceived by the Holy Spirit who is the Son of God, and a foster father who loved the child as if He was his own. Yet, we hold them up as the example of family life for us who seek to love those God has placed in our lives. The Holy Family also becomes our inspiration as we form a family of faith in our parishes. While our faith communities will undergo change as part of the On Mission for The Church Alive! initiative, the work of building up the family of the Church will continue in earnest. May the example and intercession of the Holy Family support us in this important work. More info at onmissionchurchalive.org.
In All Circumstances Give Thanks – For people of faith, Thanksgiving is not just a day in November when we gather with family and loved ones to eat turkey and stuffing and watch football. Instead, thankfulness is one of the foundational virtues of our lives. In our prayer we give thanks as we recognize the many ways God is at work. In the Eucharist, which itself means “to give thanks,” we offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving to God from the multitude of gifts He provides. It is easy to give thanks to God for what we consider the joys and blessings of our lives. Yet, are we thankful for the difficulties and challenges? In today’s readings, Saint Paul exhorts us to give thanks in all circumstances, recognizing the constant work of the Holy Spirit within and among us. As we journey On Mission for The Church Alive! we reflect with thankful hearts on how our parishes have supported and inspired our faith. As we prepare for the changes to come, may our gratitude for God’s constant work in our lives encourage us as we build up new communities of faith. More info at onmissionchurchalive.org.
Prepare the Way of the Lord – Advent is our annual time of anticipation and expectation for the coming of Jesus at Christmas and, ultimately, at the end of time. During this season, we make many preparations so that we can be ready to meet the Lord. We prepare our hearts through prayer and reconciliation to be a fitting place of welcome for Jesus to dwell. We also prepare our homes as places of warm hospitality to welcome neighbors and strangers alike with a loving and generous heart. This Advent, we also find ourselves anticipating the changes that will soon be upon us as part of the On Mission for The Church Alive! initiative. How are you preparing for the new realities in our parishes? Will your heart meet these changes with resistance or with the resolve to do what it takes to foster new life in your community and help grow the Church? Take some time this Advent to prepare the way of the Lord as He comes to make us and our Church ever more alive! More info at onmissionchurchalive.org
The Work of God’s Hands – Today we begin the season of Advent, our annual time of joyful expectation as we await the coming of Jesus Christ. Our waiting is two-fold. More immediately, we anticipate the celebration of Christmas and the anniversary of the Son of God coming as one like us to love us and to set an example for us to follow. At the same time, we actively await the time when Christ will come again in glory and call all people to Himself. Throughout the Advent season, as in today’s Gospel, we will hear the call to be alert and ready for the Lord’s coming that we might not be caught off guard. That readiness includes allowing the God who created us in His image to continue to form our hearts and lives to be more like His own, for “we are the clay and [He] the potter.” As we also anticipate the changes coming in our parishes as part of the On Mission for The Church Alive! initiative we place our trust in God as He continues to form us and our parishes. May our hearts be formed in patience and peace as we work to build up new communities of faith. May our parishes be formed in vibrancy and unity as places of warm welcome and firm faith.
ON MISSION FOR THE CHURCH ALIVE! Christ, the Unconventional King –
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. What a magnificent title for the God who created us and loves us to the end. Of course, Christ is the most unconventional King. Instead of being born in a palace, He was born among the animals in a manger. Instead of the security of soldiers and guards, He was accompanied by twelve simple men. Instead of being crowned with gold and jewels, He was crowned with thorns. And, as today’s Gospel reminds us, He did not want His face etched on coins or framed on walls, but instead, wanted to be seen in the faces of those most in need. While Christ’s Kingship is unconventional, His reign over us is effective as He lovingly shepherds us towards the Kingdom. On Mission for The Church Alive! invites us to seek new and, at times, unconventional ways to reach out to our sisters and brothers and strengthen our relationships with each other and with our Lord and King. As Christ reigns in our hearts and in the world, may He shepherd us as we work to fulfill His mission of Love. Visit onmissionchurchalive.org to learn more and to stay informed.
ON MISSION FOR THE CHURCH ALIVE!
Don’t Bury Your Talents – No one should be surprised that the master in today’s Gospel chastises the servant who returns his talent without gaining any interest on it. We all are happy to receive a return on our investments. What do we do with the gifts and talents that God invests in us as His beloved sons and daughters? How do we make a return to Him and others in love by the things we say and do? In support of the On Mission for The Church Alive! initiative we can’t bury our talents in the sand. Instead, each of us as followers of Christ are called to look for ways to share our gifts with others through the Church. Gifts of service, teaching, relationships and expertise, among others, all work to build up the Kingdom of God and allow it to flourish in our communities. Discern the gifts that God has given you. Talk to your pastor about ways you can share your talents with the Church. Look for unmet needs around you and offer ideas about how they can be fulfilled. Visit onmissionchurchalive.org to learn more and to stay informed.
ON MISSION FOR THE CHURCH ALIVE!
Be Prepared or Be Foolish – In today’s Gospel, five of the virgins were ready to meet their master upon his arrival, while five were not. It is a reminder, like so many others in the Gospels, to be prepared for when the Lord comes to call us to Himself. Will our hearts and lives be ready to meet the Lord and dwell with Him, or will we be caught off guard and our salvation be affected? In a more temporal way, have we been preparing ourselves for the changes that are coming as part of the On Mission for The church Alive! initiative? Have we taken the time to educate ourselves about what will happen (Bishop Zubik’s announcements on April 26, building relationships, new clergy assignments, new Mass schedules) and what will not happen (no immediate parish mergers, no immediate church closings) over the next 12 months? Don’t be caught off guard by On Mission. Be prepared and be an agent of growth and support in the church as a disciple of Jesus. Visit onmissionchurchalive.org to learn more and to stay informed.
ON MISSION FOR THE CHURCH ALIVE!
Practice What You Preach – The Pharisees and the Scribes are called to task in the Gospel today because of the void in their hearts. They expect others to do as they say, often placing great burdens on them, while they themselves fail to live by the same expectations. As Christians, we seek to guard against falling into this same trap of hypocrisy. Our words should be consistent with our actions. If we say we love God above all, it doesn’t mean only when we’re at church or when He’s doing good things for us. If we say we love others, it doesn’t mean except for when they anger us or do us wrong. God’s love is without condition and we strive to love unconditionally. On Mission for The Church Alive! seeks to expand our hearts to love all, whether it’s convenient or not. Maybe we will be called upon to welcome others to a new spiritual home or maybe we will be the one seeking welcome. Let our actions not betray our words as we strive to be vibrant witnesses of the love of Jesus. Visit onmissionchurchalive.org to learn more and to stay informed.
October 29, 2017
ON MISSION FOR THE CHURCH ALIVE!
The Greatest Commandment – In Today’s Gospel, Jesus makes His command of love succinct: Love God with all your heart, mind and soul and love your neighbor as yourself. While succinct, this command is not always simple. Sure, it may not be hard for many to not kill and to keep holy the Sabbath, but how about getting frustrated with God or others, or fulfilling our needs before what God or others expect of us. It can be hard to set aside our desires or what’s convenient for us. Yet, we must be willing to do what honors God and builds up our sisters and brothers, no matter the personal cost involved. As On Mission for the Church Alive! unfolds, our normal time or place of worshipping God may change and be less convenient, and that will be hard for us. That doesn’t mean, however, that we give up on God or neglect our family of faith. On Mission seeks to make our worship of God more vibrant and our opportunities to build up the Body of Christ more effective. Prepare now for the changes ahead so that you can be ready to participate in the life of the church in new and exciting ways. Visit onmissionchurchalive.org to learn more and to stay informed.
October 22, 2017
ON MISSION FOR THE CHURCH ALIVE! Called by Name – At Baptism, we are given a name by which we are known, not only to our family and friends, but also to God. Like Cyrus in today’s first reading, throughout our lives God calls us by name as He asks us to follow Him and to be His instrument in the world. As God calls us by our name and we call out to Him as Abba (Father), we recognize how intimately God loves us. It also reveals that we are all sisters and brothers in the family of faith and heirs to the Kingdom of God. On Mission for The church Alive! is our opportunity to build up and strengthen the family of faith in the Diocese of Pittsburgh as we look for ways to extend our hearts to each other as God extends His heart to us. Of course, family relationships aren’t always perfect and can take hard work to grow stronger. We will have to work hard to strengthen the family of faith in our parishes, but it will be worth it as we journey together towards God’s kingdom. Get to know those who sit near you at Mass, who gather in fellowship after Mass or even people from churches near you and allow your heart to expand in love. Visit onmissionchurchalive.org to learn more and to stay informed.
October 15, 2017
ON MISSION FOR THE CHURCH ALIVE! Come to the Feast!
In today’s Gospel, the invitation of the king to “come to the feast” is extended far and wide so that the banquet hall would be full for the wedding feast of his son. Likewise, God’s invitation to partake in the feast of faith is shared far and wide as he calls us to follow Him to the Kingdom. In both instances, however, something is required of those who are invited. While there is an expectation that the Lord will feed and nourish us, there is also an expectation that we will be properly attired. For us, that means that we are to put on Christ and share His love with others as we take the responsibility of faith seriously. On Mission for The Church Alive! is an opportunity for us to build up the Church of Pittsburgh as a tangible witness of Jesus present in the world. Not only are we charged as individuals to answer the call to love God above all and our neighbor as ourselves, but to gather as one in worship and in work and give greater effectiveness to the Body of Christ, the Church. As On Mission unfolds, more will be asked of us as we come to the feast at a new place or time or with new people. We can trust that God will provide more for us, to strengthen us and through us, to strengthen others. Visit onmissionchurchalive.org to learn more and to stay informed.
October 08, 2017
October 01, 2017
ON MISSION FOR THE CHURCH ALIVE!
Complete Joy-As we read in his letter to the Philippians today, Saint Paul shares that his joy is complete when they are “united in heart”. To be united in heart and one as the Body of Christ is always our mission as the Church. This task becomes even more essential as we journey On Mission for the Church Alive! The challenge is to place our focus not on ourselves, but on our neighbors and our new communities. Visit onmissionchurchalive.org to learn more and to stay informed.
September 03, 2017
ON MISSION: The Cost of Discipleship – In today’s Gospel Jesus reminds His disciples that in following Him they are to become like Him. While this will ultimately mean a share in His glory in heaven, Jesus reminds them that it will also require them to be prepared for the challenges that will come when they must carry their crosses in life. Our call to discipleship is no different. As we follow Jesus, our hearts are made more and more like His in love. That love, in turn, is to be shared with our brothers and sisters as we become the hands and the heart of Jesus in the world. While we might be anxious about the changes that are going to happen in our parishes, we can be confident that our mission to love God above all and our neighbor as our self will never change. As we answer the call to be disciples, let us take up our crosses and follow Jesus with generous, loving and welcoming hearts. Visit onmissionchurchalive.org to learn more and to stay informed.
Pope Francis and Bishop Zubik need your advice! The Holy Father has called a SYNOD OF BISHOPS TO STUDY “Young People, Faith, and Vocational Discernment” in October 2018. To prepare for the Synod, we are asking for all young people (ages 14-39) to give their advice to Pope Francis and Bishop Zubik via this survey: https:// www.surveymonkey.com/r/PittSnyod. The survey is open to any young person now through September 8, 2017.
August 27, 2017
ON MISSION: You Are the Christ – Are you prepared, like Saint Peter, to profess with your lips that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God? How about to profess it with your life, by the quality of your words and deeds? Are you willing to place your trust in Jesus in the midst of trials, or is it only for when things are going well? We are all called to set our lives firmly on the foundation of Jesus so to stand firm and share His life with others no matter the circumstances of our lives. Join Bishop David Zubik in prayer and worship at one of the On Mission for the Church Alive! Summer Sessions. We can continue to prepare our hearts to share the life and love of God with others even as we await the big changes that are about to take place in our own parishes and throughout the Diocese of Pittsburgh. The uncertainty may challenge us, but we trust in the work of the Holy Spirit to provide the gifts and resources for the Church to grow and thrive. The Summer Sessions will be held from 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. on the following days: Tuesday, August 29 at St. Margaret Mary, Moon Township or Wednesday, August 30, at St. Kilian, Cranberry Township. Visit onmissionchurchalive.org to learn more and to stay informed.
August 20, 2017
ON MISSION: The Lord Provides Even when we strive to be close with God, we can wonder if He’s really listening to us or if He really cares for us with an unquenchable love. This is especially true in moments of trial or challenge. Yet, we know that when we focus our eyes and ears and hearts on the things of God, we can see His love at work for us in all things. In His letter to the Romans, Saint Paul reminds us that “the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable,” that nothing can separate us from His love. Are you challenged by the changes that will soon take place in your parish and throughout the Diocese of Pittsburgh? Join Bishop David Zubik in prayer and worship at one of the On Mission for the Church Alive! Summer Sessions and be renewed in God’s love for His people. The changes may challenge us, but we trust in the work of the Holy Spirit to provide the gifts and resources for the Church to grow and thrive. The Summer Sessions will be held from 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. on the following days: Tuesday, August 29 at St. Margaret Mary, Moon Township or Wednesday, August 30, at St. Kilian, Cranberry Township. Visit onmissionchurchalive.org to learn more and to stay informed.
August 13, 2017
ON MISSION: The Lord Is With Us The winds were blowing, the waves were crashing, the boat was being tossed about and the disciples were afraid. In today’s Gospel, Jesus comes to the aid of His followers and tells them not to be afraid. Even more, He reminds them that if they trust in Him, they cannot fail. Are you nervous or afraid about the big changes that will soon take place in the Diocese of Pittsburgh? Join Bishop David Zubik in prayer and worship at one of the On Mission for The Church Alive! Summer Sessions and continue to prepare your heart and grow in trust that God is with us and will not let us fail. The changes may challenge us, but we trust in the work of the Holy Spirit to provide the gifts and resources for the Church to grow and thrive. The Summer Sessions will be held from 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. on the following days: Tuesday, August 29 at St. Margaret Mary, Moon Township or Wednesday, August 30, at St. Kilian, Cranberry Township.
Parish Consultation Survey Results
Three key concerns and three primary hopes surfaced during the Parish Consultation Sessions held between October 10 and December 1.
The more than 27,000 parishioners who attended the meetings were most concerned about three topics:
- The 40 percent decline in participation in the sacraments diocesan-wide from 2000-15
- The aging population in our parishes
- Increasing demands on clergy and lay staff
Attendees’ primary hopes:
- Evangelizing and engaging young people in the faith
- Reaching out to inactive Catholics
- Caring for the elderly
Substantive suggestions for model revisions and potential new models are being reviewed.
Detailed feedback from each parish’s consultation sessions is being shared with your pastor and On Mission Parish Team for the Cluster Meetings, which are now underway.
Click here to learn more about the survey results. Thank you for your input!
Next for On Mission
The On Mission Commission will submit recommendations for new parish models to Bishop Zubik by the end of 2017. He is expected to announce his decisions by the end of the first quarter of 2018.
Thank you so much for your engagement in On Mission for the Church Alive!, and your desire to continue staying updated about the process. We will be holding a Lenten Morning of Reflection, “Back to the Font”, at multiple locations around the diocese on March 4, 2017, from 9:00 AM – Noon. More information is available in the attached flyer. It is our hope that “Back to the Font” can foster prayer and reflection on our baptismal calling, what it means to be a disciple, and the responsibility we share for the mission of the Church. This is what it means to be On Mission!. We hope you can make it and look forward to seeing you there. Please also help us get the word out, so as many people as possible know about the opportunity and feel welcome to join us. As indicated on the flyer, there is no fee for this event; registration (online link and phone number provided on the flyer) is encouraged, but walk-ins are also welcome.
Thank you again for your continued support and participation throughout the On Mission for the Church Alive! process.
Linda Lee Ritzer, D.Min
Linda Lee Ritzer, D.Min
Secretariat for Parish Services
Diocese of Pittsburgh, St. Paul Seminary
2900 Noblestown Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15205
Prayer for On Mission for The Church Alive!
Father of Mercy,
we ask you for your guidance
as we journey On Mission for The Church Alive!
Endow us with your gifts of courage, collaboration, and compassion
so that we can continue to fulfill the mission of Christ and his Church
through vibrant parishes, dynamic schools,
religious education programs, and effective ministries.
Raise up selfless, energetic leaders
– lay, religious, deacons and priests,
to serve the Church in fidelity and with care.
May we the Church of Pittsburgh in
Allegheny, Beaver, Butler,
Greene, Lawrence and Washington Counties
all be sustained and strengthened by your grace.
Help us to learn Jesus, love Jesus and live Jesus.
Hear this prayer and grant it through Jesus Christ our Lord,
with the help of our Blessed Mother,
who protects us under the mantle of her love.