Bishop Conlon Aug 05

Comments by Bishop Conlon to Parishioners of merging parishes July/August 2005

I appreciate this opportunity to speak with you about some important decisions that will deeply affect your life as parishioners. Between this weekend and next I will speak before or after all the Masses at Holy Name Cathedral, including Servants of Christ the King, and Holy Rosary, St. Anthony, St. Pius X and St. Stanislaus churches. Although the pastoral plan recommended by the Steubenville Task Force involves much more than the creation of a new parish, it is that aspect of the plan that I would like to address today. As you know, the plan calls for the merging of six parishes, including yours, into one new parish, called Triumph of the Cross, and the building of a new church to house that parish. During my three years as your bishop, I have come to love and respect you. You are wonderful, faith-filled people. As a result, I am sensitive to the pain the plan for a new parish and church may cause you. Some of you are upset with the decision or at least question its wisdom. As your pastor, though, I plead with you not to let Satan use your feelings to undermine your faith or your communion with the Church. No matter what your feelings may be, take them to God in prayer. As you probably also know by now, Father Tim McGuire will be the founding pastor of Triumph of the Cross Parish. I am grateful for his enthusiasm for this assignment, and I am confident of his abilities. I have told him that he has two main responsibilities. One of these, obviously, is to lead you in building a new church. The other task, which I consider more important and even more challenging, is to build a parish community. Each of the six parishes involved in the merger has a proud history. Your personal histories are intertwined with those parish histories. Allowing all of that past to be blended into a new and quite different future will require much sacrifice. You already know many of the members of the other parishes. In fact, many of you are related to them or live on the same street! Now you will need to work with them in mutual respect, combining your gifts and talents to accomplish a common good. Letting go of what is good, which your parish certainly is, in the hope of achieving something better is exactly the story of the cross and resurrection. “Unless the grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat.” Sometimes these words of Jesus apply to parishes. Then, there is the other task, building a new church for your parish, which will also serve as the cathedral for our diocese. So far, the only settled matter is the general location: somewhere on the property occupied by Catholic Central High School and Holy Rosary Church, and the seating capacity: about 800. Father McGuire plans to set up a committee very soon to assist with the design work and the selection of an architect. The intent is to build as fitting a church as we can manage, one that is easily recognizable as a church, that inspires people to pray and that conforms to current liturgical norms. Insofar as practical and artistically sound, artifacts from the five existing churches will be used. In some way all six parishes will be memorialized in the new church. The goal, and it is a challenging one, is to dedicate the church on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, September 14, 2007. I have prayed a lot about all this, especially during the past few months, as the planning process came toward an end. I have asked the Lord for guidance and strength, not just for the Task Force and myself, but for all the Catholics in Steubenville. I can’t force God to do anything. And I can’t force you. All I can do is ask I have asked for God’s help. Now I ask for yours.