By Joyce Rothermel
The Association of Pittsburgh Priests is announcing its 2019 Fall Speakers Series. You will want to read about them and then mark those that interest you on your calendar now.
The first speaker and panel will be on Monday, Sept. 9 at 7 PM. Rev. Jack Bendik will come to speak on “Creating Vibrant Faith Communities amid Changing Realities.”
As 188 Pittsburgh parishes struggle to merge into 56 faith communities and the pain of loss prevails for many, hope arrives in the person of a pastor who led and journeyed with four parishes in Pittston, PA in the Scranton diocese until they came together as one vibrant faith community!
The Parish Community of St. John the Evangelist is now considered one of the premier “servant churches” in the country, primarily due to Fr. Jack’s passion for the poor, a passion which eventually resulted in Care and Concern Ministries, an astounding full-service response to the needs of the struggling local community. To date, the Ministry’s Free Health Clinic has served over 4000 people without insurance. Its volunteers include doctors, nurses, podiatrists, dentists, pharmacists, and social workers from both Catholic and Protestant churches.
Other Care and Concern ministries– food pantry, pediatric clinic, kids’ clothes closet, toy and book corner- are all staffed by parishioners eager to share their time and talents with the community. “God bless the laity,” Fr. Jack comments, adding “We proclaim the Gospel by our significant ministry to the poor.”
Rev. Jack Bendik is a retired priest of the Scranton Diocese who studied theology during Vatican Council ll. The campus ministry program he developed at East Stroudsburg State College won the Charles Forsyth Award from the Catholic Campus Ministry Association. And for so successfully surmounting the challenges of combining four parishes into one vibrant faith community, he was named Pittston’s “Person of the Year”.
Following his talk, a panel of Pittsburghers will share their experiences and wisdom: Fr. Frank Almade, now administrator of the parishes in Swissvale, Forest Hills, Braddock, Turtle Creek and Wilmerding; Lois Campbell, President of the Pastoral Council of the Catholic Community of the East End of Pittsburgh; and Mary Swindal, Pastoral Associate of the Pittsburgh North Side Parish Grouping.
Come and be encouraged by Fr. Jack’s story, as well as to hear local folks who are working to build new faith communities in the midst of change. Other speakers in this year’s series will be Beverly Tatum, who will speak on, “Can We Talk About Race?” on Wednesday, Oct. 2, and Rev. Carolyn Helsel, PhD, to speak on, “How to Have Anti-racist Conversations in Your Community” on Monday, Nov. 4.
The fee for the upcoming talks is $20 each. Participants can register at the door the evening of the talks. For more information and questions, contact Fr. John Oesterle at 412-232- 7512 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You are also invited to visit www. associationofpittsburghpriests.com Pre-registrations can be made to the Association of Pittsburgh Priests, P.O. Box 2106, Pittsburgh, PA 15230.
The Association of Pittsburgh Priests is a diocesan-wide organization of ordained and non-ordained women and men who act on our baptismal call to be priests and prophets. Its mission, rooted in the Gospel and the Spirit of Vatican II, is to carry out a ministry of justice and renewal in ourselves, the Church and the world. The association is an organizational member of the Thomas Merton Center.
Joyce Rothermel chairs of the Church Renewal Committee of the Association of Pittsburgh Priests.