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February 8, 2008

What do you remember about Lent? Depending on your age and your perspective, Lent can mean a host of different things: hot-cross buns, leaving school for Friday Stations, ashes, meatless Fridays and parish fish fries, fast and abstinence regulations that you might have needed a lawyer to interpret in the old days, paczki, pierogies and palms, giving up candy, giving up movies, giving up television (or giving up radio!) ... the list goes on and on.

We all know that Lent is much more than all these collective memories and traditions.

January 25, 2008

On Jan. 22, 1973, when the U.S. Supreme Court issued its landmark decisions erasing centuries of protection for innocent human life, I was not yet a priest. I was studying theology at St. Mary Seminary in Baltimore. It would be two more years before I would be ordained by Bishop Vincent Leonard.

I can still remember where I was when I heard the news.

January 11, 2008

When my predecessor, Bishop Michael O’Connor, came to Pittsburgh as its first bishop, seven Sisters of Mercy from Carlow, Ireland, accompanied him on this important journey. In those days, Pittsburgh was still a rowdy river town, decades from the glory years of the steel industry.

Led by Mother Frances Warde, these dedicated women set about putting the city into shape. One of their earliest and most important contributions was Mercy Hospital, which opened in 1847.

December 28, 2007

"In the gym, at the computer, during the workout ..."

But I’d still like to suggest a New Year’s resolution for all of us. The best part is that it doesn’t mean we have to push away too soon from the dinner table or get on the treadmill.

December 14, 2007

Just as Advent began, Pope Benedict XVI issued his second encyclical, “Spe Salvi” — on the Christian virtue of hope. True hope, the Holy Father reminds us, is based on God’s unconditional love found in Jesus Christ, whose birth we prepare to celebrate during the Advent season.

In this encyclical, the Holy Father defines for us a “hopeful” person: “The one who has hope lives differently; the one who hopes has been granted the gift of a new life.” The hopeful person looks at the world through the eyes of eternity, not through the fads of the moment.

November 30, 2007

As a sixth-grade youngster, my teacher, Felician Sister Mary Charitas, taught us what we call the “marks” of the church, those four terms that define how we are the church of Christ. The church is one, holy, catholic and apostolic.

November 16, 2007

‘Give me a call’

A couple of weeks ago while out at a restaurant for breakfast with two very fine priests, a woman introduced herself and told me that I had confirmed her grandson right after I became a bishop 10 years ago. I asked her if her grandson was still practicing the faith. She was quick to point out he wasn’t. I gave his mom, who was also there, my business card. I asked that she give the card to her son so he could call me. In turn, the mom said: “This is my son’s girlfriend.” She turned to the young lady next to her.

October 26, 2007

Pittsburgh has often been called the “City of Bridges.” In gaining access and egress to and from the city of Pittsburgh alone, there are any number of bridges.

Because of the major main arteries that the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio rivers provide to our area, there are also many bridges that connect with the smaller communities of our diocese.

October 9, 2007

The fact is that there are amazing stories every day of good people doing wonderful things. Since these people don’t seem to make the news as often as they should, maybe that is good news in and of itself. Their extraordinary service is ordinary.

I am touched by this in my travels around the diocese. I have spent my first six weeks traveling to all kinds of events, from installing pastors to confirmations. Everywhere I go, I encounter wonderful people doing wonderful things in service for others.