Letter on the reorganization of the pastoral administration of the Diocese of Pittsburgh

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Bishop David A. Zubik

My dear sisters and brothers of the Church 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!”

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. Over these past 18 months, there has been an ongoing discussion and study of making changes in how the Diocese and our parishes are organized pastorally and practically so that we can be a better Servant Church in support of the Church Alive.

Before I detail the changes we will be implementing in Pastoral Administration, I must thank Bishop Paul J. Bradley, our General Secretary and Vicar General of the Diocese. As you know, the Holy Father has honored us and honored Bishop Bradley by appointing him as Bishop of Kalamazoo, Michigan. Without his leadership, what we have accomplished over these many months of study and discussion would have never taken place.

In implementing this new vision of our work together, one of my immediate concerns was to find a worthy successor to Bishop Bradley in this reorganization. In doing so, I have decided to divide his responsibilities as General Secretary of the diocesan central administration and Vicar General for the Diocese. Dr. William Batz, currently our Secretary for Social Concerns, will be our new General Secretary effective May 4th. Effective June 8, 2009, Bishop Bradley’s responsibilities as Vicar General will be assumed by Father Robert F. Guay, currently pastor of Our Lady of Peace Parish, Conway, who will conclude his pastorate in June when he takes up residence as Chaplain of the Sisters of the Holy Spirit in Ross Township; and Father Joseph M. Mele, Director of Spiritual 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, we then will have five secretariats:

In addition to his general responsibilities for serving as moderator of central administration, Dr. Batz will head up the secretariat for pastoral administration, which will oversee 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. I have appointed Father Kris Stubna to continue as Secretary.

The Secretariat for Parish life and Ministerial Leadership will be divided into two separate secretariats: The Secretariat for Parish Life and Lay Leadership, and the Secretariat for Clergy.

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. Fr. Bielewicz will begin his responsibilities on May 11, 2009, 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 will become head of this Secretariat on July 1, 2009 and at the same time will be relieved of his responsibilities as Associate General Secretary.

The Secretariat for Evangelization and Social Concerns, which will have responsibility for such areas as evangelization efforts, respect life, legislative advocacy and consecrated life, is being established. The new Secretary of this Secretariat will be identified soon.

I am also happy to announce that Dr. Patrick Joyce, vice president of advancement at Carlow University, will be joining us as the Director for the Office of Stewardship and Development. Moreover and closely related to the Development office, I am also creating a new Office for Church Relations that will represent the Church of Pittsburgh to the general public throughout the Diocese. I will also announce that appointment shortly.

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 that among the options studied, I have elected to establish four regional vicariates that will replace the 16 deaneries we now have. These four regional vicariates will cover all six counties of the Diocese.

Father Robert Guay, whom I previously mentioned will become a Vicar General on June 8th, will also serve as one of our four regional vicars. I plan to announce our remaining three regional vicars by mid-May. Our plan remains to have Regional Vicariates and Regional Vicars in place and implemented by October 1st.

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.

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 that I have shared with you are another leg on our pilgrimage together. It is our 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!” Thanks for being part of that journey with the assurance of your prayers and positive support.

And in all this, be grateful for our belief that “Nothing is impossible with God.”

Your brother in Christ,

Most Reverend David A. Zubik
Bishop of Pittsburgh