Bishop David Zubik announces plans for reorganization of the pastoral administration of the Diocese of Pittsburgh

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PITTSBURGH – Bishop David A. Zubik has announced a major reorganization of the pastoral administration of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

In addition, four “Regional Vicariates” will replace the current system of 16 pastor-based deaneries in the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

“Since the day of my installation as your 12th diocesan bishop when I challenged everyone, myself included, with the question ‘Are you excited about your faith?’ I have had a single-minded goal to ensure that the Church of Pittsburgh is the ‘Church Alive,’” Bishop Zubik stated in announcing the changes to pastoral administration staff and the priests and deacons of the Diocese on April 22.

“For me, the best expression of the Church alive as well as the means to make that happen is when we are a Servant Church,” Bishop Zubik said.

In announcing the changes, Bishop Zubik noted the recent appointment by Pope Benedict XVI of Bishop Paul J. Bradley, diocesan General Secretary and Vicar General, as the new bishop of Kalamazoo, Michigan, who he called a “friend, mentor and leader.”

Bishop Zubik announced that he was dividing Bishop Bradley’s responsibilities as General Secretary of the diocesan central administration and Vicar General for the Diocese.

Dr. William Batz, currently Secretary for Social Concerns in the Diocese, will be the new General Secretary effective May 4. Effective June 8, Bishop Bradley’s responsibilities as Vicar General will be assumed by Father Robert F. Guay, currently pastor of Our Lady of Peace Parish, Conway, and Father Joseph M. Mele, Director of Formation at Saint Paul Seminary and Director of Post-ordination Formation.

Dr. Arlene McGannon will continue to serve as Associate General Secretary and Chancellor.

Under the General Secretariat, there will be five secretariats:

In additional to his responsibilities for serving as moderator of central administration, Dr. Batz will head up the Secretariat for Pastoral Administration, which will include such areas of responsibility as canonical and legal services, property planning and business services.

The Secretariat for Education will be renamed the Secretariat for Catholic Education to emphasize the Catholic nature and goal of the educational efforts of this secretariat with Father Kris Stubna as Secretary.

The Secretariat for Parish Life and Ministerial Leadership will be divided into two separate secretariats: The Secretary for Clergy which will be responsible for areas such as clergy personnel, vocations, pre- and post-ordination formation and the diaconate, will be headed by Father Harry Bielewicz as Secretary and Vicar for Clergy. Father Bielewicz will begin his responsibilities on May 11, the same day he is relieved of his responsibilities as pastor of Saint Paul Parish in Butler and as pastor of Saint Wendelin Parish in Carbon Center.

The newly-established Secretariat for Parish Life and Lay Leadership will be responsible for all matters directly related to parishes in such areas as worship, envisioning ministry, lay ministry and ministry to the diverse ethnic and cultural communities of our Diocese. Mr. John Flaherty, who previously served as associate general secretary, will become head of this Secretariat on July 1, 2009.

The Secretariat for Evangelization and Social Concerns will have responsibility for such areas as respect life, legislative advocacy, evangelization and consecrated life. The new Secretary will be announced soon.

Bishop Zubik also announced that Dr. Patrick Joyce, vice president of advancement at Carlow University, will become the Director for the Office of Stewardship and Development of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

The Diocese will also be creating a new Office for Church Relations that will represent the Church of Pittsburgh to the general public throughout our Diocese. That appointment will be announced shortly.

In announcing the creation of Regional Vicariates, Bishop Zubik explained that since “my return in September of 2007 to serve as your bishop, I have sensed the movement of the Holy Spirit in so many people and in so many ways. There is a hunger and a vitality that is waiting to be fed and nurtured so the Church can grow and develop. In short, there is an enthusiasm for the faith that we as Church must capture and spread.

“I believe that by replacing our current deanery system with Regional Vicariates, we will take a bold step in that wonderful direction. I am pleased to announce today that we will have four regional vicariates that will replace the 16 deaneries we now have. These four regional vicariates will cover all six counties of the Diocese,” Bishop Zubik said.

Father Robert F. Guay, as Vicar General, will serve as one of four regional vicars. The three remaining regional vicars will be announced by mid-May. The Regional Vicariates and Regional Vicars will be in place and implemented by October 1.

“There are so many good reasons for moving to this new Regional Vicariate system of pastoral governance. It will allow for better communications all around. We will be more efficient and effective. There will be a greater presence for me in our parishes, a greater ability to help overburdened pastors do their jobs, greater church unity, greater collaboration among parishes, and a much better way for parishioners to get my ear,” Bishop Zubik explained.

“In my first pastoral letter to the Church of Pittsburgh, I wrote of my firm belief that we are in a New Pentecost. These changes are another leg on our pilgrimage together. It is time to take up the challenge to be excited about our faith, to grow the Church of Pittsburgh and most especially, to be ‘the Church Alive!’” Bishop Zubik concluded.


Parish: a community of the faithful established by the bishop of the diocese and placed under a leadership and guidance of a pastor. It is most commonly made up of Catholics within the territorial boundaries of the parish. It is where Catholics celebrate the Eucharist, worship God and hear the word of God, are educated in the faith, and receive the Sacraments.

Envisioning Ministry: From a September, 2004 pastoral letter of Bishop Donald Wuerl entitled, “Envisioning Ministry for the Future,” Envisioning Ministry is a term used in the Diocese of Pittsburgh to describe a number of neighboring parishes working together to determine how they might best serve all the faithful in their area in the years ahead.

Deaneries: Territorial sections of the Diocese made up of a group of parishes and Catholic institutions under the governance of the diocesan bishop. There are currently 16 deaneries in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. They are a means for the Bishop to be informed about the health of his parishes and to see if the requirements of Church law and diocesan policies are being carried out at the parish level.

Deans: A full-time pastor within a deanery, his added responsibility is to review roughly once a year with each pastor or parish administrator the state of his parish. He checks to see that parish sacramental records are in order, that the parish is reasonably sound, and that canonical and diocesan regulations are being followed.

Regional Vicariates: A means of governance where a diocese is divided into a limited number of territorial sections made of parishes and Catholic institutions under a Vicar.

Regional Vicar: A qualified priest appointed by the bishop, a Regional Vicar is a fulltime position of leadership in a Regional Vicariate. He has the authority in that Vicariate to coordinate pastoral care and collaboration among parishes, determine parish and Vicariate needs, resolve problems, serve as the representative of the bishop, and keeps the bishop informed of the life of the Church in his Vicariate.