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.
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.