Father Dan Whalen sees the big picture when it comes to living our faith—it’s all about getting ready.
“Our life on earth is just preparatory. The real life is eternal,” said Father Whalen, pastor of Holy Spirit and St. Nicholas parishes in Millvale. “All we’re doing is getting ready for that.
“God is love, and all you can do with love is to give it away,” he said.
Parishes across our diocese on January 17-18 marked Celebration Weekend in gratitude for the love and blessings flowing through Our Campaign for The Church Alive! On January 25, Bishop Zubik announces the results of the historic initiative after a two-year Solicitation Period in our parishes.
Celebration Weekend is a time to reflect on the all the blessings in our lives.
“Everything we have, and everything we are, is a gift from God,” said Father James Gretz, administrator of All Saints Parish in Etna and director of the diocesan Department for Worship. “We are called to return a portion of those gifts to Him. We see that throughout the Scriptures.
“In the first reading we hear about the call of Samuel,” Father Gretz said. “Three times the Lord calls to Samuel. Finally, Eli tells him to respond to God’s call by saying, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’”
In a similar way, God calls to us. What is our response?
In the campaign, parishioners across our diocese said “Yes!” to the invitation to sacrificially support efforts to invigorate evangelization, revitalize sacramental life, support education and formation in the faith, train pastoral and lay leaders, and serve the poor and marginalized.
Already gifts have been used in our parishes to hire religious education and youth ministers, fund tuition assistance for needy families, and complete many long-deferred maintenance projects.
Diocesan grants have helped expand dental services at the Catholic Charities Free Health Care Center, improve outreach to families of students with special needs, encourage vocations to the priesthood, while supporting many other initiatives.
“Our people really came through,” said Father Bob Miller, pastor of St. Benedict the Abbot Parish in Peters Township. “They’re open to God’s call in their lives and are responding with generous hearts.”
The Campaign, the first of its kind ever conducted in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, has achieved far more than raising much-needed resources for programs, people and places. It’s also raised awareness of the urgent needs facing the Church and has helped engage more Catholics to help meet those needs.
The Campaign has served as a means for evangelization as volunteers met with their fellow parishioners to discuss the priorities in their parishes and helping fulfill their Gospel call to help others in need and be the body of Christ.
As faithful stewards, we are asked to receive God’s gifts gratefully, cultivate them responsibly, share them lovingly, and return them with increase to the Lord.
“Everybody is called to give back, to make a return to the Lord for what He has given,” said Father Michael Caridi, pastor of St. Anne Parish in Castle Shannon. “That includes using our talents for the good of the Church and to help the poor.”
St. Anne Parish, which recently celebrated its 125th anniversary, responded positively to the invitation of the campaign. The church’s stained glass windows were repaired, handicap-accessible restrooms will be built next month, and eventually, the big project—renovating the former convent to create a parish center.
Father Whalen is reminded of the Parable of the Talents.
“God doesn’t want the same talents back,” Father Whalen said. “He wants us to be better people, to support the Church, body, mind and soul, and help others know that God exists.”