Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh


Father Mike Harcarik celebrates Mass during his Golden Jubilee in 2013. Credit: MD Photography


More parishioners are entering the doors these days at Prince of Peace Parish on Pittsburgh’s South Side, and Father Bernard “Mike” Harcarik thought that would be a good place to begin renovations.

Funds from Our Campaign for The Church Alive! are being used to repair doors and paint the vestibules at the parish’s two worship sites, Saint Adalbert and Saint Peter. Other interior improvements are ahead, along with plans to reduce the parish debt.

“We are alive!” said Father Harcarik, who has shepherded Prince of Peace since it was established in 1992 through the merger of seven parishes on the South Side.  Today, former mill sites have given way to new businesses and homes, and the faith community also is growing.

“Our October count was up. Younger professionals and college students are attending Mass, and more baptisms and weddings are being celebrated,” Father Harcarik said.  “The atmosphere here is positive.”

A key objective of the campaign is to strengthen our life in the Eucharist by strengthening our parishes, and as the historic initiative continues, signs of renewal are everywhere.

An informal survey of the 51 parishes that participated in the first two tracks of the campaign shows a majority already have begun investing in badly-needed building repairs, faith formation and outreach programs.

Father Robert Boyle, the longtime spiritual leader of Saint Francis of Assisi Parish in Finleyville, is moving forward on renovations to Finley Hall, which served as the church for nearly four decades. A new roof is being installed and the building will be air-conditioned.

Saint Francis of Assisi parishioners had just completed a capital campaign for a new church and Father Boyle admits he was concerned about asking parishioners for more help.

“I was amazed by their support and generosity,” Father Boyle said. “They love the Church. They’re good, solid Catholic people, faithful at Mass and they stepped forward to say, ‘I’ll help you.’”

Founded as a mission church in 1893, Saint Francis of Assisi Parish outgrew its church building and moved weekend Masses into Finley Hall in 1972. The new, 700-seat church was dedicated in 2010.

“It’s important for us to focus on the parishes in this campaign because that’s where the majority of our faithful most often come together as church,” Bishop David Zubik said. “Every parish has resources coming in to take care of the ordinary day-to-day outreach of the parish, whether in education or social service or in worship.

“This campaign is meant to go beyond all of those things,” Bishop Zubik added. “I’ve asked pastors and parish leaders to take a look at opportunities where the faith community not only can come together, but be excited to show how much life there is within us.”

At Saint Malachy Parish in Kennedy Township, campaign funds allowed the parish school to hire an advancement director and invite alumni, friends and the community to provide more support. The school, which has an enrollment of about 150 students, has begun a pre-school program, according to Father John Hissrich, who recently was installed as pastor.

Campaign funds also will be used for tuition assistance, a handicapped accessible ramp for the parish social hall, as well as for other repairs.

Saint Malachy was founded in 1947 as a mission. A Sunday school was started in two private homes and the first Mass was celebrated in a leased cottage before a church and school were dedicated in 1954.  Rapid growth led to construction of a new church in 1972.

“This campaign is an invitation for people to be part of an effort to do things that parishes otherwise haven’t been able to realize,” Bishop Zubik noted.

“It’s an opportunity to once again reach out through each of us with the hands, the heart and the face of Christ.”

Father Mike Harcarik celebrates Mass during his Golden Jubilee in 2013. Credit: MD Photography

Father Mike Harcarik celebrates Mass during his Golden Jubilee in 2013. Credit: MD Photography