“Things are changing, and so are we,” said Reverend Michael J. Stumpf, Pastor of Saint Mary of the Mount Church on Mount Washington.
The pastor is referring to the recent acceptance of a proposal presented to Bishop Zubik that will merge Saint Justin with Saint Mary of the Mount Church. The final Mass for Saint Justin will take place on February 10 at 11 a.m.
The official Inaugural Mass for the renewed Saint Mary of the Mount Church will take place on February 16 at 5 p.m., the first weekend of Lent. The merged churches will create a new, Catholic community on Mount Washington, and Reverend Stumpf will remain as pastor.
“Our community demographics and needs have changed, and it is time for us to change with them and to better respond to the sign of the times, “said Father Walt Rydzon, current pastor of Saint Justin Parish and pastor to the deaf community.
Both parishes are merging to adapt and to better fit into the declining demographics of the city neighborhoods of Duquesne Heights and Mount Washington, as well as to make better use of available present and future temporal and spiritual resources.
In addition to the merging of Pastoral Councils, Finance Councils, and ministries that will either join together or renew, Saint Mary of the Mount will now become a bi-lingual parish for the hearing and the deaf. Father Rydzon’s new assignment will be as Senior Parochial Vicar for the deaf community who has chosen Saint Mary of the Mount Parish as their new home.
“The consolidation has been a three year process,” said Father Michael Stumpf. “We realize some will experience feelings of loss and deep sadness as we celebrate life, death and a new life in a new parish community. We want to welcome those from Saint Justin, including those from the deaf community, with open and consoling arms to their new reality.”
Saint Justin will offer a week long “holy hour” of prayer and memory beginning Monday, Feb. 4 through Friday, Feb. 8 from 7-8 p.m. At that time, past and present parishioners can pray, and share stories and memorabilia. A “people-oriented” ceremony on February 10 will focus on the history and faith of the people of St. Justin since the church’s inception.
Items of great emotional and faith significance will leave St. Justin in the closing procession and enter into St. Mary of the Mount during the Inauguration mass the following week.
As a time of transition and renewal, Father Michael believes many parishioners will see these changes as an exciting opportunity to come together as a stronger faith community.
“We must take up the challenge of reverencing the past traditions of each parish while asking where God is leading us now,” said Fr. Stumpf. “‘The Church Alive’ is here and always has been on Mount Washington. We will just be worshipping together. It’s about the Eucharist and the community. Always has been. Still is.”