The challenge of Pittsburgh: one priest to run four parishes

He’s be assisted by a parochial vicar and three deacons.

From The Pittsburgh Catholic: 

On the door of Father Stephen Kresak’s refrigerator in the rectory of Corpus Christi Parish in McKeesport is a decorative magnet that a parishioner gave him. He keeps it where he will see it each morning as a reminder that “I don’t know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future.”

On April 28, Father Kresak is slated to become pastor of four parishes: St. Basil and St. Wendelin in Pittsburgh’s Carrick neighborhood, St. Norbert in the city’s Overbrook neighborhood and St. Albert the Great in Baldwin.

He knows that their parishioners are aware that he oversaw a merger of three McKeesport parishes to create Corpus Christi in 2010, and they might assume that his assignment is to repeat that. But Bishop David Zubik asked him to lead four parishes in revitalizing Catholic ministry in the neighborhoods, he said, which means helping the parishioners discern God’s will for how that is to be done.

“What we did here in McKeesport was done with a great deal of consultation. I tried to show them and share with them what I believe can be possible if we are all rowing in the same direction. When everyone is rowing on a boat in the same direction you can get where you are going much faster and with less strain on all the individuals. So often we are all stressed out, overwhelmed and burned out because we were so few trying to do so much, when what we need is to work together to share in our common mission,” he said.

Along with Father Kresak, the four parishes will share a parochial vicar, Father Michael Roche, and three permanent deacons.

The parishes face major challenges. Weekly Mass attendance had fallen 41 percent to just 1,900 over the past decade, while various buildings are projected to require a total of $2.3 million in repairs within five years. But the announcement letter from Bishop Zubik also cited a history of shared ministries and the fact that the current churches are within two miles of each other, with the vast majority of parishioners living within their boundaries. That’s a foundation for building “vibrant parish life and effective neighborhood ministry,” Bishop Zubik wrote.

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