Preparations continue for Assembly 2018 in September
“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.” — Saint Teresa of Calcutta
Saint Teresa’s words are among the first you see on a brochure announcing the Byzantine Catholic Archeparchy
of Pittsburgh’s Assembly 2018, which is set for Sept. 16 to 18 at St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Munhall, Pa.
The words are a guiding force for this assembly of the faithful, which aims to develop a strategic plan of action to grow the Church and ensure its vitality into the 21st century.
Assembly 2018 will be attended by priests, deacons and faithful of the Archeparchy. Each parish is expected to send
two representatives, ideally a man and woman. The theme of Assembly 2018 is “Concern for Our Future:
Renew, Revitalize, Rejuvenate.” The meetings — examining themes of diversity, education and social activities — intend to address the needs of the church through developing and implementing an action plan.
Scheduled speakers include Father Jason Charron, pastor of Holy Trinity Ukrainian Catholic Church in Carnegie, Pa.; and Very Rev. Father Lawrence Di Nardo, vicar general and general secretary of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh.
Parameters of the Assembly are being worked on by a committee comprised of lay persons from various parishes:
Emily Frye, Sue Snyder, Marjorie and Michelle Glaid, Cathy Crawford, Tom Prestash, Jeremy Manno and Joan Walker. They devised the following mission statement, which appears on a flyer announcing Assembly 2018: “As the needs of
our church continue to evolve, the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh is calling upon the members of each parish to help develop a plan for our future. This call to action will take place in the format of an Assembly of Parish Representatives. The presenters will provide information on current statistics, results of the 2017 Parish Survey, and areas of focus for continued growth.
In turn, the participants will be asked to assist in developing and implementing a strategic plan for rejuvenating our parishes. Please prayerfully consider joining the event and offering your input!”
Registration packets will be distributed to parish priests. Among the topics to be addressed include: technology and social media; social activities; mixed marriages and diversity; education for children, adults and new parishioners; and formalized outreach to members who have left the church.
Jeremy Manno, committee member, said the word “diversity” has received special attention during the planning process. “We would like to emphasize that diversity is in reference to welcoming visitors, including
people from other cultures, backgrounds, and non-Catholics who are interested in what Byzantine Catholicism has to
The Archeparchy’s Commission for Renewal and Revitalization was established by Metropolitan Judson Procyk in
2002. Metropolitan Archbishop William Skurla, who chairs the Commission, directed it to organize the Assembly for the 75 parishes in the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh. Very Rev. Andrew Deskevich, Very Reverend Ronald Larko, Helen Kennedy, Deacon Dennis Prestash and Deacon Raymond Zadzilko serve as members.
In June 2004, Archbishop Basil Schott reached out to parishioners of the Byzantine Catholic Metropolitan Archeparchy of Pittsburgh asking them to complete a five-page Revitalization Survey asking about various aspects of parish life and soliciting their concerns and suggestions. The survey disclosed a Church population of almost one-half above the age of 70. Over the years since this survey was conducted, the population has continued to decline.
The current Commission reviewed the 2004 Revitalization Survey; the results of the Parish Census and Financial Reports Analysis of October 2011; the results of a Questionnaire for the Synod of October 2015; and comments from the Pittsburgh Archeparchy returned with the Questionnaire. Upon review of all of the data from 2004 to 2017, the Commission identified six topics that could be addressed at the Assembly.