Fr. Tony Gargotta, pastor of St. Bernadette Church in Monroeville, PA, in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, said the idea for a FIRE rally was “an answer to my prayer.”
FIRE stands for Faith, Intercession, Repentance and Evangelization.
“I had been praying for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit and a sort of New Pentecost like the first Pentecost, and also like the birth of the Charismatic movement in the Catholic Church in the 1960s,” Fr. Tony said. “I longed for the days again when we would be set on fire for God. I longed for the days of the Charismatic movement to increase in prayer groups, at Masses, and in the lives of individuals. I longed for the days when I was young when I felt the Holy Spirit was moving in people and leading their hearts.
“At the same time, one of my parishioners, Santos Hernandes, approached me and asked me how I would feel about a FIRE rally. I was so excited. We thought it would be best to have both Catholic Churches in Monroeville sponsor it together, and that is when we asked Fr. Joe Luisi.”
Fr. Joe Luisi is the pastor of North American Martyrs Church, in Monroeville, PA.
That partnership began three years ago, and on Saturday, November 5, St. Bernadette Church and North American Martyrs Church co-sponsored their third-annual evangelization event titled, The New Evangelization for the New Millennium Conference.
As reported in the Pittsburgh Catholic, the local Catholic newspaper, approximately 600 people attended the half-day conference to hear from local and national speakers, experience fellowship, and worship at Mass celebrated by Bishop David Zubik.
Conference presenters included Dr. Ralph Martin, Dr. Mary Healy, Pete Burak, Fr. Joe Freedy, and Greg Capozzi.
Bishop Zubik’s pastoral letter, The Church Evangelizing!, has people aware of and excited about evangelization in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. People of all ages were welcome to attend the conference and learn ways to renew and strengthen their Catholic faith. Most people in attendance were middle aged and senior citizens, though some young adults and youth were present.
One of the young adults who attended, Christina Aquilina, said, “Having talks on all four (FIRE) components of our call as Catholics was powerful. Having our Bishop of Pittsburgh, David Zubik, celebrate Mass and send us forth in our call as disciples was powerful. He really cares deeply about the mission of the Church, and I believe people are encouraged by that.”
Christina and her husband, Mike Aquilina III, are involved in the Church of Pittsburgh and have contributed their gifts in countless ways, especially with young adult ministry, website development, and communications projects. They care deeply about drawing other young adults to the faith.
Christina said that now is the time for the Church to reach out to young adults. “Attending events like this makes me want to share my faith more,” she said. “I think that now, more than ever, we really need to reach out to young adults and bring them back to the Church. We need to encourage them to be involved and help them see the true life that comes from a relationship with our Savior. We need to break through the distractions, darkness and noise of society and be a light that guides them to Jesus and His Church.”
Under the leadership of the Most Reverend Bishop Zubik, and with the service of good and dedicated priests, committed volunteers, and gifted speakers, the Church is working to evangelize the faithful in the pews, people who have fallen away, and everyone in our communities.
“As a Church, I think we need to have more events like this where Catholics can gather together and get energized in our faith so we can go forth, live our faith and bring others back to Jesus,” Christina said. “Our world is desperately in need of the truth and love of Jesus!”
That’s exactly Bishop Zubik’s focus for the Church of Pittsburgh as we journey On Mission for the Church Alive!.