They came by bus and bicycle, in cars and on foot to the Mother Church of the Diocese of Pittsburgh to hear Bishop David Zubik’s call to go forth and grow The Church Alive!
The faithful filled St. Paul Cathedral on August 12 for a Festival of Praise with Sacred Music.
“We need festivals in our lives, don’t we?” Bishop Zubik asked. “They don’t happen every day; they happen in moments so that people can be lifted up from the common and see where there is new life, new hope, new possibilities.”
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Preaching on the evening of the day that his beloved father died, Bishop Zubik recalled recently visiting his hometown of Ambridge, a once-bustling place of about 17,000 people, seven steel mills and seven Catholic churches.
Today, the local population is under 7,000, all the mills are gone and one parish remains.
“So much has changed. Our communities have changed. To be perfectly honest, so has our Church,” Bishop Zubik said.
“But the Church in Ambridge is more alive today than in was in the 1950s,” Bishop Zubik continued. “The Church is still here and always will be. The promise of Jesus endures, ‘I will be with you until the end of all time.’”
The prayer service was part of On Mission for The Church Alive!, a dynamic planning initiative focused on growth through evangelization. Laity, religious and clergy are called to engage in prayer, study and consultation with the goal to provide more vibrant liturgies, invigorate faith formation, strengthen school and parish partnerships, and increase participation of the faithful in the life of the church.
All are asked to make use of seven “foundation stones” as part of the planning process — prayer, study, collaboration, teamwork, openness, listening and trust.
“We are called to learn the meaning of the word ‘trust,’” Bishop Zubik said. “To be a people who must come to trust, and go forth and create The Church Alive.”
The first year of On Mission for The Church Alive! focuses on prayer and will continue in all 200 parishes through next spring.
“We must drop to our knees in prayer and let the Spirit speak to us about the new life that the Spirit wants to give us as the Body of Christ,” Bishop Zubik said.
“Over the course of next year and the year after that, and the year after that, we’re going to be challenged,” Bishop Zubik said. “We will be studying, taking a look at the facts and figures of who we are as a people, and how we can best use our resources.
“We’re going to learn what it means to collaborate, to really work together and figure out the challenges of the future,” Bishop Zubik said.
“In the midst of the ups and downs of each one of our personal lives, there are the seeds of hope, the seeds of life, the seeds of love, all given to us by the Spirit to help us go forth and create The Church Alive!” he said.