“Bridging the Gap”
By Bishop David A. Zubik
In one of my previous “Bridging the Gap” columns, I shared with you, my readers, that one of my hobbies is an interest in cars. This hobby began when I was a young boy, even before I started school. I knew the makes and models of most cars. I collected miniature replicas of cars well through the seventh grade. I loved it when my dad took me to the annual “Auto Show” held in Pittsburgh. Whenever the new models arrived each fall, I enjoyed the commercials about them on television and especially appreciated the chance to go to the dealers on the “unveiling day” to catch a glimpse firsthand. Whenever we as a family took our weekly Sunday drive, I would become so excited when I saw a new model on the highways.
To this day my interest in cars still remains. I keep up on what is happening in the automotive industry by reading for relaxation several different magazines on automobiles. And while I am not able to be as precise about makes, models and years now as I used to be able to do as a youngster, I have a general informed idea about the world of cars.
In addition, and since the age of seventeen when I began driving, I have found being behind the wheel to be most often a relaxing experience. When on my way to an event in one of our parishes or driving to the local supermarket, I enjoy driving.
Being prone to “pet peeves” as all of us are, I must admit that one of the small and minor irritations of driving for me happens when drivers in the left hand lane do not use the lane for that which it is intended. The intended purpose of the left hand lane is to “pass” the driver in the right hand lane within the prescribed speed limit. Drivers in the “left hand lane” should have the opportunity to “move forward” with quicker determination than a driver in the right hand lane.
As all of you are aware, back in April 2015 I shared with you that we would embark on an initiative entitled On Mission for The Church Alive! The purpose of this initiative was first and foremost to draw us all together—all of us as members of the Church of Pittsburgh—to a much closer relationship with Jesus and with each other. The second purpose of the initiative was to use more wisely all of our resources—personnel, finances, buildings and each other—to better become the Church which is the Body of Christ.
Over the course of all of these years since I introduced all of you to On Mission for The Church Alive!, the majority of our parish groupings have come together to form new parishes. Next weekend, I will announce the formation of three more groupings into three new parishes. I am excited about that announcement, and I am hopeful that the faithful in those parish groupings will be excited as well.
As we look forward, it is my hope that this first phase of On Mission for The Church Alive! will come to a successful completion in July of 2023, with the last of the parish groupings to become new parishes. My dream for what On Mission would do for all of us shows signs of fruitfulness in so many of our new parishes. Credit goes to all of you—to the faithful of our parishes, to our priests and deacons, to Dr. Linda Lee Ritzer, Secretary of our Secretariat for Parish Services, and her staff—but most importantly to the Holy Spirit Who guides us along the way.
As I reflect on all that we are doing together, I can’t help but think that in so doing we are “driving in the left hand lane” as we seek to move the Church of Pittsburgh forward to be an even more vibrant Church than we have been in the past.
When we arrive at July 2023 and mark the conclusion of the first phase of On Mission for The Church Alive!, in earnest we will begin a second phase in which we seek how we can best further move forward in the important work of pastoral planning, which will promote vibrant parishes with effective ministries, and evangelization, celebrating the Good News amongst us as the Church of Pittsburgh and with the larger community of which we are a part.
On another note, but certainly related, is all the work that we have done in being involved in the Synod in which Pope Francis has invited the entire Church throughout the world to be engaged. I am so proud of the ways in which so many of you have engaged in the important art of listening to each other in our diocesan synodal process, guided by Ms. Ellen Mady, our diocesan Chancellor, and Father Michael Sedor, one of our diocesan canonists. People from all various walks of life with lots of different perspectives have spoken freely about where and how they see the Church needing to move forward. Once again, I am grateful that we are “driving in the left hand lane” to help Pope Francis help the Church move forward.
In several weeks, we will celebrate the Feast of Pentecost. More than just remembering an event that took place many centuries ago in an Upper Room with the Apostles gathered, we as Church note that Pentecost continues through On Mission, through the Synod and in so many other ways in which you, the faithful of the Church of Pittsburgh and our faith communities, seek to put faith into action. As you allow me to once again use the image of “driving in the left hand lane,” I believe that all of these initiatives give us the chance now and well into the future to help our Church “move forward” in being the hands, the heart and the face of Christ to so many who look to us to be exactly that.
Thank you. Thanks for joining me in the leadership of this Church by “driving in the left hand lane” toward God’s Kingdom, driving with a determination to help each other ultimately move forward to become citizens of God’s Kingdom in heaven.
Thanks for making the dream of Jesus become ever more real in His Church, our Church, this Church of Pittsburgh, and do his work—to “move forward” His Gospel.