Zubik, the Vatican, unkind to St. Anthony’s

April 29, 2014

Surely, the most Latin I ever knew was from being an altar boy at St. Anthony’s Church in Monongahela.

The town was vibrant then, as were the steel mills that populated the river up and down the Mon Valley. St. Anthony’s was filled to capacity for each of four Sunday masses. An elementary school was built, as was Mon Valley Catholic High School. Father Joseph Louis Abatte was the visionary who was able to galvanize the city and generate a following at St. Anthony’s, the likes the city had never known.

I’m a senior citizen now, and in the times I return to my hometown, it’s noticeable the town aged. It peaked long ago, just as the steel mills did. The schools are closed and, to my disbelief, Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik closed the church itself, saying it is not viable to have two Catholic churches in Monongahela.

In St. Anthony’s prime, when Franciscan nuns who were teachers resided in their own rectory, the St. Anthony’s playground was alive with children and adults, and the diocese and the Vatican prospered from the city’s vitality. I ask you, where is the church now? Is this the Roman Catholic Church, or a preacher on the back of a wagon of a traveling show? Devotion is the lifeblood of St. Anthony’s. Being such, is this the time for the Catholic Church to turn its back on parishioners who invested their lives in this church? Or is it the diocese’s turn to support the faithful, in the same way the faithful have for so long supported St. Anthony’s?

This is not a time to cut and run, or even to consolidate. It’s a time to revitalize the area and bring in those who wish to hear the teachings of the Gospel.

Is it in Bishop Zubik’s power to close the doors of the church for those who wish to listen to the teachings of the Gospel? Is it not the Gospel and its teachings that are the prime directive of the church to share? Zubik stated at the final mass at St. Anthony’s that the parishioners have been unkind to him. But Zubik, the diocese, and the Vatican have been unkind to those parishioners who have long supported St. Anthony’s and wish to worship God as they always have, at their church.

Tom Zeni



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