Guiding the future of the Church

From the Office of the Metropolitan

Glory to Jesus Christ!

Dear Clergy, Religious, and Faithful of the Archeparchy,

June is usually a time of better weather and the beginning of the season of vacations. Ironically, while many are on vacation, it is a time of meetings for bishops. In the Catholic Church in the United States, Eastern Catholic Synods for the Maronites, Ukrainians, and Melkites; and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops gather for meetings each June.

It is a historic year. The Orthodox Church planned a meeting of fourteen Patriarchal churches in Crete this June. Not all Orthodox Churches may actually attend, but it is a hopeful start in the process of our sister churches to respond to the problems of our world today. The meeting of all Orthodox Patriarchs would be the first time that they will have gathered in almost one thousand years. Even though it is difficult, the Synod of Catholic Bishops gathers for an entire month every few years. The commitment to gather the synods of the world is a marvel of organization.

Since the Apostles’ first meeting in Jerusalem, the apostles and bishops have met continuously. Through the millennia, the great councils, synods, and eparchial gatherings have continued dealing with most important teachings of the Church. However, if you read the canons and decisions of the councils and meetings, most of the time is spent with the practical issues which deal with the everyday life of the churches and the struggles with the other churches and civil authorities.

At the recent June meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, a staff member of one of the bishops calculated how much time a bishop spends in meetings. He concluded that his bishop spends forty hours in meetings each month. In one year, he spent three months sitting at meetings. As a Metropolitan Archbishop, it is significantly more time.

A wise person once posed a question to a gathering of religious leaders. The question was, “If you could choose to wear a penitential hair shirt of the desert fathers for the rest of your life if it meant you would never have to attend another meeting, would you choose?” All attending the meeting asked where they could purchase a shirt.

Even though it is difficult and it is the normal response to not attend meetings and instead to go to the beach, we are called to attend the meetings. In failing to attend a parish, eparchial, or other church meeting, you give up your ability to guide the future of the church.
We pray for all who need and for all who lead the Church today.

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend William C. Skurla, D.D.
Metropolitan Archbishop of Pittsburgh