The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh was amid a massive reorganization when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
As a result, members of churches that were merged didn’t have much of an opportunity to get to know other folks in newly formed parishes.
One example is St. Michael the Archangel Parish, combining the congregations of St. Bernard in Mt. Lebanon and Our Lady of Grace in Scott Township.
During Lent, St. Michael parishioners from both churches joined to continue their annual traditions of fish fries. Held at Our Lady of Grace, the events were planned with safety as the prime consideration, as high school volunteers delivered meals to customers who pulled into the parking lot.
“That was kind of our first go-ahead with trying to merge volunteers together,” said Molly Jesso, St. Michael director of development and stewardship. “To sum it up, it was better than we could have ever expected. So now, we are looking ahead to the summer and trying to do the same, to gather safely with the ultimate goal of creating St. Michael the Archangel Parish as one.”
With the easing of COVID-19 related restrictions, the parish has planned a “Spectacular Summer of Events,” kicking off with a rummage sale June 10-12. The sale will take place throughout the cafeteria and gymnasium of the former Our Lady of Grace School.
The Our Lady of Grace Women’s Guild traditionally has organized the sale.
“They’ve been doing this for 50 years,” Jesso said, with the proceeds going to a variety of worthy causes, including educational and safety materials at the former Our Lady of Grace School, and clothes for needy families. New for 2021 is a free summer concert series starting at 6 p.m. the second Saturday of June through September, featuring food trucks and grilled goodies for the youngsters. Jim Lamb will launch the series June 12 with a performance of Irish music.
The third week of June marks the return of vacation Bible School for kindergartners through fifth-graders, with “Wilderness Adventure” as the theme. Plenty of alumni from St. Bernard and Our Lady of Grace schools also are returning, as counselors.
From July 29-31 is the Michaelmas Festival, three days of celebration as a prelude to the Sept. 29 feast honoring Archangel Michael, providing a strong opportunity for fellowship and evangelism on behalf of the Roman Catholic faith.
“Let’s bring people together,” Jesso said. “Let’s get to know who’s within our parish, and just gather safely now, because all of that was taken away from us last summer.”