Concern, Hope

I think it’s human nature to believe you’re the only person who has ever endured a troubling situation, whether it be at home, school, or work. As I listened to priests, deacons and faithful from the Archeparchy’s 73 churches for three days during Assembly 2018 at St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Munhall, Pa., I had the feeling I distinctly heard this bubble of isolation burst.

Everyone recognized they weren’t the only church dealing with issues of declining membership and other struggles. But, as Helen Kennedy remarked, there is never “concern” without “hope.” I think Assembly 2018 can galvanize a new sense of mission, hope and strength needed to tackle the effort to renew and revitalize the Byzantine Catholic Church head-on — and not a half-hearted tackle such as we’ve seen far too often this season from the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Many parish representatives detailed action plans to jumpstart ECF and adult education classes, reach out to wayward parishioners and get their church’s name out in their community through events and the internet. “We’re going parishioner hunting,” Mike Lashinsky, of St. John the Baptist in Scottdale, Pa., told those gathered at the Assembly. “We don’t care why you left. We want you back.” During his closing remarks of the Assembly, Deacon Denny Prestash asked: How does a priest guard Holy Communion and the Church?

“Does he put walls around it? Does he hide it? No, he shares it with the people. He offers it to the people so the people can grow, develop and connect with God,” he said. “This is just not the job for the clergy. Christ told us we are the light of the world, each and every one of us, and that light can’t help anybody if it’s put under a basket. “The Church can’t help people if we hide it from them… Now it’s your turn, to take your action plans and share them with your church and with the world.”