Now is the time to study our future.
Letter from Bishop Zubik to the Faithful
April 8, 2016
My dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
“They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers” (Acts of the Apostles 2:42).
In that one sentence, St. Luke describes the infant church in her earliest days after being born at Pentecost.
We are that church born at Pentecost; we are that church 2,000 years later in our mission today. We are The Church Alive! in Jesus, guided by the Holy Spirit.
Last April, I wrote to you on Divine Mercy Sunday formally announcing On Mission for The Church Alive! This is our diocesan-wide planning initiative involving all the clergy, religious and laity of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. Our goal is to make our parishes, our schools, our religious education programs — in a word, every aspect of the life of our church — ever more vibrant in worship and service! Ever more The Church Alive!
As The Church Alive!, we are able to take up the task that our beloved Pope Francis calls us to take up: to seek out and welcome back those who have left the church; to seek out and welcome all those who do not know God in their lives; to seek out and support all those trying very hard to live their faith.
Yes, we are “on mission.” We are on mission to be Catholic in the truest sense — a church universal, a church without borders, a church that always invites and never rejects. We want to become more a church of mercy, offering divine mercy, divine friendship.
That is the message we want to convey to the world. That is the message we want to live.
In the months since I wrote that letter to you, we have been engaged together in prayer. We know that prayer is the foundation of all we do. Without prayer, our work is simply “busyness.” With prayer, we stay On Mission for The Church Alive!
Our prayer cannot stop. But it’s time that we couple our prayer with some important study — much as did the infant church! We need to learn as the early Christian community learned.
We need to study the issues that define the church today in southwestern Pennsylvania in Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Greene, Lawrence and Washington counties. We need to look honestly at the facts — our Catholic population, our aging clergy, our sacramental trends, our finances. We need to look — parish by parish — at the condition of our buildings and facilities, our school enrollments and our projections for population trends five to 10 years from now just for starters. We need to study to have an accurate picture of where we are now so as to have a clearer picture of where we need to be.
We have to engage in this study at every level. Our study needs to be done together. It must be done by all of us together.
- We need to study what it means to be the church, what it means to be parish, what it means to be excited about our faith, what it means to be Catholic.
- We need to study in consultation, working closely together with each other and out of love for the church.
- We need to study with courage, open to the providence and guidance of the Holy Spirit.
- We need to study with compassion, never forgetting the expectation of Jesus that, as church, we must serve each other, especially those most in need.
- We need to study how to use wisely the invaluable and indispensable resource of our clergy.
- We need to study how to use well our resources to grow the church in our six counties.
- We need to study how to use responsibly our resources to ensure financial health for our parishes, schools and institutions.
- We need to study how to apply the findings of our studies as we move forward to important next steps.
- We also need to continue to pray like the early church. We have to continue to learn like the early church. We must be open to the Holy Spirit and each other, just as they were in the early church.
Thank you for your prayers. Thank you for your openness. Thank you for your trust as we move forward together On Mission for The Church Alive!
Grateful for our belief that “Nothing is Impossible with God,” I amYour brother in Christ, Most Reverend David A. Zubik Bishop of Pittsburgh