Holy Ghost Orthodox Church
Orthodox Church in America (OCA)
210 Maplewood Avenue, Ambridge, PA 15003

Your Parish Family Connected - August 11, 2022

 

SCHEDULE OF SERVICES:

* Saturday, August 13 - 4:30 PM - Vespers // Confessions - 4 PM to 4:20 PM

* Sunday, August 14 - 9:30 AM - Divine Liturgy: “Forefeast of the Dormition of the Theotokos”

* Sunday, August 14 - 4:30 PM - Vespers (with Litiya): “The Dormition (Falling Asleep) of the Theotokos”

* Monday, August 15 - 9:30 AM - Divine Liturgy (with blessing of flowers & cooking spices): “The Dormition (Falling Asleep) of the Theotokos”

* Saturday, August 20 - 4:30 PM - Vespers // Confessions - 4 PM to 4:20 PM

* Sunday, August 21 - 9:30 AM - Divine Liturgy: “Dormition of the Theotokos Post-Feast” // Prayers for the Departed (Birthday): +Dorothy Evansky

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SUNDAY LITURGY LAITY FUNCTIONS:

* AUGUST 14 THIRD HOUR: T. Evansky

* AUGUST 14 EPISTLE: (Deacon)

* AUGUST 14 COLLECTION: P. Evans / R. Grano

* AUGUST 21 THIRD HOUR: T. Zehnder

* AUGUST 21 EPISTLE: (Deacon)

* AUGUST 21 COLLECTION: A. Lauer / P. McKeown

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*          Attached to this e-bulletin are the LITURGY SCRIPTURE READINGS for this Sunday’s Liturgy - please review them prior to attending this Liturgy to be better prepared spiritually to receive God’s message to you for the week. (Also - please remember to pick up the weekly Scripture readings sheet from the vestibule candle desk each Sunday to use during the Liturgy.) Also attached here are brief highlights concerning the recently completed ORTHODOX CHURCH IN AMERICA ALL-AMERICAN COUNCIL. Please take the time to review this info to “stay in the loop.”

*          After MANY years of waiting, we are pleased to announce that the Borough of Ambridge is currently REPAVING SECOND STREET (between Merchant St. and Maplewood Avenue). This is an in-depth paving project with the removal of the bricks/concrete patch and “re-building” the street from the base. There is a possibility that this project may NOT be completed in time for Second Street to be used for parking this Sunday - - please allow a few extra minutes to find a parking place on Maplewood Avenue, Park Road, or the lower part of Second Street between Maplewood and Park Road where parking IS amply available.

*          COFFEE HOUR follows this Sunday’s Liturgy (August 14) - - this is a “bonus” coffee hour not previously on the schedule. Please join us!

*          A SHARED COFFEE HOUR will follow the August 21 Liturgy - please bring a snack to share that day if possible.

*          The DORMTION FAST is continuing until the celebration of the Dormition Holyday Liturgy this coming Monday (August 15). Please observe this fasting season - one of four such seasons annually in the Orthodox Church. The Dormition Fast is also an excellent time to return for a Private Confession - while not “mandatory,” it IS surely personally beneficial!

*          We will bless flowers during the AUGUST 15 (9:30 AM) DORMITION HOLYDAY LITURGY. Each attendee is encouraged to bring a flower arrangement to the special blessing table that will be set up in the front left of the church that morning so the flowers can be blessed during the Liturgy. Parents with young children are encouraged to prepare a small flower bouquet for each child to present to Christ as well. Attendees at this August 15th Liturgy will also receive a container with blessed cooking spices to be taken home and used - - the parish will provide these spices. (Reminder: Holyday Vespers - Sunday, August 14 - 4:30 PM.)

*          I will be AWAY FROM THE PARISH for a few days next week for a brief vacation with Matushka Debbie. We will leave following the celebration of the August 15 (9:30 AM) Dormition Holyday Liturgy and return to my office on Friday, August 19. As is always the case, please call/text my cell phone in the event of an emergency requiring immediate pastoral attention. (Please leave a voice mail; I WILL return your message as promptly as possible.)

*          The parish gratefully acknowledges the DONATIONS recently received in honor of the newly departed servant of God +Joanne Bitsko as well as for +Jeanette-Frank Markvan and +Harry Zwatykonich+MEMORY ETERNAL!+

*          Anyone in the parish wishing to add an agenda item for discussion at the AUGUST 29 (6:30 PM) PARISH COUNCIL MEETING should forward that item to either Tom Zelesnik or me soon. This will be an in-person meeting downstairs in the church hall.

*          We offer our CONGRATULATIONS to Danielle Ilchuk who was reelected to the National Executive Board of the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians in America (FOCA) as Recording Secretary during the recent national convention in Baltimore.

*          We’ll need YOUR HELP! We are going to put more effort into our parish participation at the SEPTEMBER 24TH AMBRIDGE FESTIVAL OF CHURCHES this year. This event will take place at the PJ Caul Park in the borough. In addition to partnering with an area restaurant for food, we plan to double the size our booth and (possibly) include some homemade baked goods, halushki, and bread provided by our parish members. (We’re not doing pierogis since at least three other churches are doing so.) We also hope to participate in the parade that begins at 10:30 AM that day. I also plan on participating in the formal opening ceremony in the park at 11:30 AM along with other Ambridge clergy. With the help of project chair Mary Wagner, I will begin publicizing all of this to you next week.

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THE DORMITION (FALLING-ASLEEP) OF THE THEOTOKOS (VIRGIN MARY)

            We will gather as God’s spiritual family this Sunday (4:30 PM) and Monday (9:30 AM) with special services honoring the Theotokos on the Holyday of “The Dormition.” The Holyday commemorates the death, resurrection, and glorification of Christ’s Mother. The Holy Tradition of the Orthodox Church teaches that Mary died as all humans die since Mary, like all people, needed to be saved by the Passion and Resurrection of Her Beloved Son. However, the Theotokos was raised up bodily by her Son to His Heavenly Kingdom after her death since she is the “Mother of Life” and already participates in the eternal life of paradise which is ultimately prepared and promised for all who “hear the word of God and keep it.”

            The services of the Holyday repeat the main theme - that the Mother of Life has “passed over into the heavenly joy; into the divine gladness and unending delight of the Kingdom of her Son.” An important note to ponder about this Holyday is this - - through this Feast, we celebrate the fact that ALL believers are given the opportunity to experience what Mary has already experienced - physical citizenship in God’s Kingdom! Mary is not “above” us; she LEADS us as the first to fully experience Christ’s post-death love. What happened to the Theotokos will happen to all who imitate her holy life of humility, obedience, and love of God. With her, all people will be “blessed” if they follow her example. ALL will have Christ born in them by the Holy Spirit. ALL will become temples of the living God. ALL will share in the fullness of eternal life in Christ’s Kingdom IF they live the life of faith that Mary showed. It is the custom of the Church to bless flowers and herbs on the Holyday of the Dormition - - bring some fresh flowers with you to Liturgy on August 15 so they can be blessed and taken home. Those present at that Liturgy will also receive a small container with blessed cooking spices to use at home.

+ COME AND EXPERIENCE WHAT GOD OFFERS - LIVE YOUR AWE-INSPIRING ORTHODOX FAITH TO THE “MAX” - NOT “MINIMALLY!”+

+ COME AND HONOR THE THEOTOKOS AT HER DORMITION - - VESPERS - SUNDAY (4:30 PM) // LITURGY - MONDAY (9:30 AM)! +

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Fr. Bill


Monthly Newsletter - August 2022

 

Laity Liturgy Functions

 

DATE                   THIRD HOUR                EPISTLE___        COLLECTION_______

AUGUST   7                C. Stahoviak                            N. Domitrovic             N. Domitrovic – I. Yakich

AUGUST 14                T. Evansky                               (Deacon)                    P. Evans – R. Grano

AUGUST 21                T. Zehnder                              (Deacon)                    A. Lauer – P. McKeown

AUGUST 28                N. Yakich                                 (Deacon)                    O. Mycyk – B. Nelko

 

^  Please notify Fr. Bill in advance if you are unable to perform your assignment so that a substitute can be found in an orderly manner. Please mark your calendar since we cannot send individualized reminders.

^ Please contact Fr. Bill if you have any questions about these ministries. New participants are encouraged as well!

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Pastoral Reminders from Fr. Bill

~ All Wednesdays and Fridays during this month are days on which we abstain from eating meat at our meals.

~ The General Confession service scheduled for August 7th (9 AM) is only for parish members who have participated in Private Confession since beginning of Lent 2022 – all others wishing to receive Holy Communion should  come to Private Confession before receiving the Eucharist. Any communicant unable to attend General Confession should come for a Private Confession before approaching the chalice to receive (unless you have come to Private Confession during the past 30 days).

~ The reception of the Holy Mysteries of Private Confession and Holy Eucharist (Communion) at least annually is required to be considered a member of the Orthodox Church and this parish. Please contact Fr. Bill privately if you have any questions about your important sacramental standing.

~ Eucharist participation general guideline for the parish - - individuals who do not participate in Holy Eucharist for more than three consecutive Sunday Liturgies should return for a Private Confession before approaching the Holy Chalice. Please contact Fr. Bill about this since there is always the possibility of an extenuating circumstance.

~ Please honor the DORMITION FAST by adjusting your diet accordingly. The Fast begins on August 1 and concludes with the celebration of the Dormition Holyday Liturgy on August 15.

~ August 29 (The somber Holyday of “The Beheading of St. John the Baptist”) is a STRICT FAST DAY as we abstain from eating meats or dairy products.

 

By Baptism and Holy Communion, we have received the “mind of Christ.” We must

remain vigilant that the circumstances of life (or other people) do not define us otherwise.

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^          Please forward your preferred email address to Fr. Bill if you are not receiving the parish E-BULLETINS but would like to receive them. Please note that email addresses are not shared. A limited number of copies of each week’s electronic bulletin are put in the vestibule wall pamphlet rack for those individuals wanting a paper copy with the same being true for the monthly newsletter. This e-bulletin is prepared in lieu of a Sunday paper bulletin.

^          Please contact Fr. Bill (Email: frbill158@verizon.net, call or text) if you, or someone you know in the parish, would like a PASTORAL VISIT during August to receive the Holy Sacraments if unable to attend the Divine Liturgy and receive the Body and Blood of our Savior from the Holy Chalice due to infirmity or physical impairment. Fr. Bill continues to contact the members on his visitation list but please always feel free to reach out to him for a visit!

^          Fr. Bill will be AWAY FROM THE PARISH for a few days during August for a vacation with Matushka Debbie. He will leave following the celebration of the August 15 (9:30 AM) Dormition Holyday Liturgy and return to his office on Friday, August 19. As is always the case, please call/text his cell phone in the event of a problem requiring his pastoral attention.

^          The month of August brings us two beautiful Holydays with special observances – the Holyday of the TRANSFIGURATION on August 6 includes the blessing of fruit while we will bless flowers and herbs on the Holyday of the DORMITION OF THE THEOTOKOS on August 15. You are encouraged to bring fruit and flowers to church for blessing on these Holydays, respectively.

^          You are encouraged to attend a UKRAINIAN RELIEF DINNER & PRAYER SERVICE sponsored by the International Orthodox Christian Charities, Pittsburgh Committee. This will take place on Sunday, September 25, at the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral located in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh at 419 South Dithridge Street. A prayer service will begin the event at 4 PM; dinner will be served at 5 PM. RSVP’s for the $50 dinner must be received by September 20. Contact Zelfa at 412-417-4706 / zkhalil1@live.com for information. Please make checks payable to “IOCC” with “Ukrainian Relief” on the memo line. Tickets will be held at the door, not mailed.

^          Mother Christophora and the sisters of the HOLY TRANSFIGURATON MONASTERY warmly invite you to be part of the annual pilgrimage and patronal feast. The Vigil Service for the Transfiguration will be celebrated on Friday, August 5 (6 PM). The day of the Feast (August 6) will include an Akathist and procession at 9:30 AM, Hierarchical Liturgy at 10 AM, and Holy Unction at 2:30 PM. A catered picnic lunch will follow the Liturgy. The monastery is in Ellwood City at 321 Monastery Lane.

^          You are invited to attend a LECTURE given by Pittsburgh area iconographer Michael Kapeluck at the St. John the Baptist Church located at 601 Boone Avenue in Canonsburg. He will explain many of the steps involved in painting or “writing” an icon with an opportunity for questions. A Supplication of the Theotokos Service will begin the August 9th event at 5:30 PM; refreshments at 6:30 PM; lecture at 7 PM.

 

 

The Christian Ethic

The Sermon delivered by our Savior on the Mount was preceded by two significant meetings, one with His secret disciple, Nicodemus (John 3:1-21), and the other with the Samaritan Woman (John 4:4-42). In His conversation with Nicodemus, Christ spoke of being born again, born of the Spirit of God, and in Samaria He taught of God as Spirit and of the worship of the Father in spirit and truth.

Nicodemus had not known of spiritual birth before his meeting with the Lord. What interested him was the same question that troubled many other men: was this Teacher and Miracle-Worker an ordinary prophet, or was He the Christ, the promised Messiah? His desire to find the answer to this question is evident in the words with which he addressed Christ: “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do, unless God is with him (John 3:2).”

Aware of Nicodemus' inner state and aware of his spiritual blindness and fundamental unreadiness to receive the Truth, our Lord spoke to him of the necessity of spiritual birth: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the Kingdom of God (John 3:3).” Nicodemus misunderstood these words and took them to mean a second birth from the womb. Christ, in His mercy, was patient with Nicodemus and explained to him: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit (John 3:5-6).”

According to St. John Chrysostom, what is meant here is not birth in fact, but birth in dignity and grace. Birth in dignity is the spiritual rebirth of the man who strives constantly for the spiritual, heavenly, and eternal; for man, as the Image of God, is called to live continuously with God and in God. Birth through grace is the part played by the Holy Spirit's grace in man's birth, in his regeneration, justification, and sanctification.

All of this was difficult for Nicodemus to understand, for in the last words spoken by the Savior, he saw a fresh mystery, and that is why he asked: “How can this be? (John 3:9)” Jesus explained that He was teaching not of worldly, but of heavenly things, that He was the Christ, the Son of God come down from Heaven, and that as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life (John 3:14-15).

Our salvation contains many hidden mysteries and ineffable spiritual blessings linked with them. The greatest and most fundamental mystery, along with the greatest blessing, lies in the fact that …”God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).” Man should respond to this saving love of God first and foremost with faith in it and in Christ, as the Son of God and the Savior of mankind, Who came, not to judge, but to save those who believed in Him, Who came as the Light to illumine those who were in darkness and sought God's Truth, so that they should live and find salvation through it.

St. John the Evangelist, speaking of the Logos the Word of God and of those who did not accept Him, wrote: “To all who received Him, who believed in His name, He gave power to become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:12-13).” In these words, the Evangelist points out two unfathomable mysteries, that of birth from God and that of the power to become the sons of God.

Children inherit from their parents their nature and their attributes. And what do God's spiritual sons inherit from Him? First and foremost, they inherit such attributes of God's grace as love, holiness, goodness, light, kindness, peace, truth, righteousness, and purity. The gifts of God are received through the Sacraments of Baptism and Chrismation, and they develop and grow throughout the Christian's life.

In our Lord's conversation with the Samaritan Woman by Jacob's Well, He revealed to her the truth of the living water, welling up to eternal life (John 4:14). Then, speaking of the worship of God, He said that the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, [because] God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24). Here, when He states that God is Spirit, Jesus is saying, according to St. John Chrysostom, that God is incorporeal and that for this reason those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.

And what does worship in Truth mean? According to St. John Chrysostom: Earlier rites, like circumcision, burnt offerings, sacrifices and the burning of incense, were merely symbols, whereas new Truth has come. Now it is not flesh that we must circumcise, but evil thoughts; now we must crucify ourselves, and exterminate and mortify our unreasonable desires. It is this that is meant by worshiping in truth. But only one who is born in the spirit can worship in this way.

The Savior's conversations with Nicodemus and with the Samaritan Woman revealed His teaching about God as Spirit and about the spiritual worship of God by those who believe. In this way He established the concepts of spirituality, of spiritual feeling, the spiritual man as compared with the non-spiritual, the natural man, the man of this world, and the man of the flesh. Thus our Lord's summons to beatitude (or blessedness) is addressed to the man who has passed through or who is passing through the process of spiritual birth, and who already partakes in the effects of the summoning and illumining grace of God, leading to faith in Christ, the Son of God and the Savior of the World. Therefore, in the Beatitudes (Matt. 5:1-12), which are sung at the Divine Liturgy, are to be found the basis for Christian Morals.

(Excerpt from “These Truths We Hold – The Holy Orthodox Church: Her Life and Teachings”, St. Tikhon’s Seminary Press.)

 



Parish History

Today, as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Holy Ghost Orthodox Church in Ambridge, we should pause in our festivities and reflect thoughtfully on its beginnings.

Shortly after the turn of the century, many Europeans sought to escape the religious and cultural persecutions of the Austro-Hungarian rulers by sailing to America.

Approximately 14 families, including those of John Bowan Sr., Wasil Blishak, Constantine Dzubinsky, Samuel Evans Sr., Daniel Holovach, A. Kohan, Nicholas Kraynak, Theodore Kushnir, Wasil Kuhta, Wasil Towcimak, Michael Turko, and John Zawoysky, settled in the North Side and South Side of Pittsburgh, where they attended St. Alexander Nevsky and St. Michael's Orthodox Churches.

However, these pioneers soon moved on to Ambridge where employment opportunities were greater. The American Bridge Company, which erected its first plant in Ambridge in 1902, offered such security.

Although settled in Ambridge, they continued to attend church in Pittsburgh. Each Sunday morning they walked the railroad tracks, more accessible than the unpaved roads, to Leetsdale, where they boarded a train to Pittsburgh. This continued until the group established a makeshift altar in May's Hall, Third and Merchant Streets, Ambridge. There, under the guidance of the Rev. J. Sechinsky, they continued their religious devotions. A little later, services were conducted in the residence of Samuel Evans, Sr., and still later in a little shelter on a vacant lot near Third and Merchant Streets. The reverends J. Sechinsky, P. Kohanik and Nicholas Koshevich were among the early pastors.

In October of 1907, guided by Fr. Nicholas Koshevich, this determined group purchased two lots at Second and Maplewood Avenue for $1,650. With their hands, they laid the foundation of their long-awaited church. It took them two months and cost approximately $6,000 -- lots, construction and materials included. The American Bridge Co donated steel for the foundation. This contribution so overwhelmed the group that they gathered on the grounds of the American Bridge plant with their icons and glorified the donors with prayers and singing.

On November 27, 1907, the first Divine Liturgy was served in the newly built church basement. Named trustees of the fledgling church were Wasil Blishak, John Bowan Sr. Samuel Evans Sr. and Daniel Holovach. Others who contributed their services were families of Timko Romanov, Paul Romanov, Dimitri Skomsky, Theodore Lapihuska, Timko Guch, Harry Kohanik, Stephen Felk, John Evans Sr., A. Zbigley, Nicholas Kuhta, Theodore Fecik, Wasil Liseyko, Joseph Hafiez, Anton Shpak, Nicholas Kulavchik, N. Polovischak, E. Polovischak, Timko Blishko, Harry Shepella, Michael Roman, John Towcimak, Wasil Zawoysky Sr., Wasil Guch, Michael Psinka and Wasil Hritzik.

On August 21, 1911, the parish was incorporated as the Russian Orthodox Church of the Holy Ghost. The congregation adopted as its patron, the Descent of the Holy Ghost (Spirit) upon the Apostles.

The first recorded christening was that of Nicholas Kuhta on October 27, 1907. The first marriage solemnized in the church was that of Theodore Hopta and Anna Hnath on February 8, 1908.

The parish grew steadily, and soon plans were being formulated for completion of the church. In 1912 a building committee was established. The church was completed in December 1914 at a cost of $14,000. The Rev. Andrew Ivanishin officiated at the first Divine Liturgy in the new edifice. The cornerstone, donated by Samuel Evans Sr., and the newly built church were consecrated by the Most Rev. Archbishop Alexander, assisted by Fr. Ivanishin and visiting clergy. The dream had become a reality. Just one year later, a parish home next to the new church was purchased for $5,100.

Now thoughts turned to the church interior. In 1927, led by the Rev. Damian Krehel, the church commissioned Michael Kupetz, a parishioner, to paint the murals for $2,200.

Two years later the present three bells were purchased. Metropolitan Platon blessed them.

The Great Depression ruled out further improvements until November 27, 1941, when, under the leadership of the Rev. Emilian Skuby, a new iconostas and newly renovated church interior were blessed by the Rt. Rev. Benjamin, Bishop of Pittsburgh and West Virginia. The new iconostas was designed and erected by the famous architect-artist Gennady Gordeyev.

That same year saw the outbreak of World War II, and 1950 brought with it the Korean conflict. Twelve young men of the parish were killed in those wars: Michael Chaykowsky, Edward Chumak, Peter Dudenich, Paul Durniak, John Kucer, Michael Kucer, Frank Pastrick, Steve Pastrick, Nicholas Sapovchak, Michael Sudik, George Torhan and Dimitri Wrobleski.

On November 21, 1954, a crystal chandelier was installed and dedicated to the memory of twelve young men from the parish that gave their lives to the service of their country in World War II and the Korean conflict.

In July 1974 a new parish home was purchased on Pilgrim Drive, Leet Township. The old parish home next to the church was converted into an educational center. There the church school organization, which was initiated by the Senior R Club (FROC) during the presidency of Mildred Erdelyn Mitcheil in 1947, continues to meet.

In February 1975 a fire started in the front of the church, severely damaging one corner of the interior. Fr. Vladimir Soroka and Church Council President Irene Bell led the ensuing restoration.

In 1975 The Holy Ghost Orthodox Youth Center began as a gift. The merged Russian Community Society and Russian Society of St. Michael donated the empty building at 405 Maplewood Avenue that formerly housed the Russian Community Society. A building committee was appointed, led by co-chairmen Frank Markvan and Ted Hritsko. The former building was mostly razed and a new structure erected under the guidance of architect George Ruscitto and builder Jerry Steinmetz Construction Corporation. In 1977, two years after the ownership was transferred to the congregation, the transformed building was opened as a center for both parochial events and public events. Today the Center is a hub our Annual Slavic Festival and other church related activities.

In the early 1990's, the parishioners of St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Aliquippa were welcomed as members of the Holy Ghost congregation when their parish was closed.

In November 1996 the congregation undertook one of the most ambitious renovation projects since the founding of the church in 1907. Cupolas of reinforced gold fiberglass replaced the four deteriorating copper cupolas. This project was the centerpiece of a series of renovation projects that included the complete repainting of the interior of the church, enhanced internal and external lighting, and re-pointing the brick exterior of the church. All of these major projects were completed prior to the congregation's celebration of its 90th anniversary in 1997.

The congregation has just completed a 10-year capital improvements plan in time for the parish's 100th anniversary. These projects included all new iconography in the altar, including a new Platitera icon in the apse over the sanctuary, the total refurbishment of the chandelier, renovated restrooms in the church basement, new wall-to-wall carpeting, and new iconography on the proscenium arch above the iconostas.

From the original 14 families the parish has grown to over 200 adults and 30 children.

From those hard working immigrant families who formed the nucleus, to the present pastor, V. Rev. William Evansky, church council, church organizations and congregation, we are deeply indebted. To those now deceased -- May God grant them eternal rest. To those still in our midst--thank you for a job well done! God bless you and guide you in your continued efforts.


Archdiocese of Pittsburgh and Western PA