Bishop David Zubik of the Diocese of Pittsburgh is leading his local Church to be “The Church Alive!”. As part of becoming The Church Alive!, he has focused on evangelization. He has spent countless hours meeting with his flock, published a pastoral letter titled The Church Evangelizing!, created media including videos and a special web site, and placed an emphasis on leadership development.
On Saturday, September 24, the Diocese of Pittsburgh’s Secretariat for Leadership Development and Evangelization invited all young adults in the diocese to have breakfast with the Bishop. At the event, Bishop Zubik spent time personally greeting each attendee and holding casual conversations over breakfast. Following breakfast, the Bishop called for young adults to pay attention to Jesus’ voice in their lives, and he invited young adults to be leaders in the Church.
“As [the] Church Alive! we are able to take up the task to which our beloved Pope Francis calls us: to heal the wounded, and to seek out and welcome all those who do not know God in their lives. To accomplish our missions, we must have leadership from every part of the Church – clergy, religious and laity, men and women, young and old,” Bishop Zubik said.
“That’s what I see in you today. I see leaders of the Church of Pittsburgh – not leaders of tomorrow, but leaders of today. The Church needs the gifts, talents, wisdom, and wit of the people in this room. We need you serving on pastoral councils, as deacons, as religious, as faithful married people, as priests, as lay ecclesial ministers,” he said.
Young Adult Ministry has flourished in the Diocese of Pittsburgh under the leadership of Bishop Zubik. He was installed as the twelfth Bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh in 2007 and since that time, young adult ministry has developed from an events-based ministry to one that offers over 60 (and counting) different young adult ministries across the diocese.
This change was spearheaded by the Diocesan Young Adult Leadership Team that established a mission to empower and equip young adults to lead ministries in their own parishes as well as among people with shared interests. The result was that young adult ministry served as a springboard for young adults to engage in other areas of Church life.
The contributions of young adults are valued, but the Church still has a need for more people to get involved and carry the faith forward.
“Now, more than ever, the young Church needs to be courageous and step into leadership roles,” Holly Joy McIlwain, Coordinator for Parish Leadership Teams and Director for Lay Apostolate Leadership Development in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, said.
“That also means that some members of the Church who have enjoyed leadership roles for many years must begin discerning who they are called to mentor and support. Leadership is not so much about standing over people, rather, it is very much about standing under people and watching them thrive and grow,” she said.
The breakfast event was an opportunity for young adults to be invited to leadership and encouraged to be a part of The Church Evangelizing!.
“What is courageous leadership? It means recognizing that the Church needs you and your gifts. It means committing yourself, dedicating your time and talent,” Bishop Zubik said.
In addition to the leadership breakfast, Bishop Zubik has hosted roundtable discussions with a diverse group of young adults across the diocese to discuss their experiences of living the faith, their ideas for engaging others with the Good News, and their concerns.
In every gathering with young adults, he begins by greeting each person with a warm handshake and embracing attentiveness, and he concludes by giving affirming and encouraging personal messages to as many people as possible before they depart.
This kind of attention from the Bishop goes a long way to build bridges that will lead to a renewed Church that has a place for all people.
“We need you. The future needs you. And please know that nothing, absolutely nothing, is impossible with God,” Bishop Zubik said.