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September 29, 2012

Rev. Frank Almade appears to be making history as pastor of four parishes

NEW CASTLE — It’s probably a record neither he nor the Diocese of Pittsburgh would like to have.

Nevertheless, the Rev. Frank Almade is believed to be making history.

Yesterday, Almade was ceremonially installed by Bishop David Zubik as the pastor of St. Vitus and St. Vincent de Paul parishes in New Castle. The previous weekend, the bishop visited Lawrence County to install Almade as pastor of St. Joseph the Worker and Mary, Mother of  Hope parishes.

If you’re keeping a scorecard, that’s a total of four parishes with a single pastor.

“We’ve been a diocese for 169 years,” said Almade, who officially became pastor of the four parishes July 30 by appointment of the bishop. “This is the first time to our knowledge that any priest has been named the pastor of four parishes at the same time.

“There’s always the ideal, and the real. The ideal is that every parish would have a full-time priest. That’s often not able to be done. Now we have a number of priests who are pastors of two parishes, and a colleague of mine is pastor of three parishes in Butler. This just seems to be the direction in which we are going.”

Almade isn’t completely on his own. For starters, the bishop also has given him two parochial vicars, or assistant pastors, in Father Nicholas Vaskov and Father Bill Siple.

He’s also counting on some resources that already in place and others that he hopes to develop.

“When people say, ‘How are you going to do it?,’ ” Almade said of his four-parish responsibility, “I say, ‘How are WE going to do it?’ I can’t do it alone.

“With the two priests that I have, with the lay leadership in all four parishes — and I hope to invite more and more people in as active volunteers in terms of a variety of ministries — I think we can do it. It’s a matter of having a good vision and being able to work together.”

In addition to be installed yesterday as pastor at St. Vitus and St. Vincent de Paul, Almade also celebrated his 34th anniversary in the priesthood. During that time, and prior to arriving in New Castle, he’s been the pastor in three Allegheny County parishes; the diocese’s secretary for social concerns for 7 1/2 years; and the bishop’s vicar for clergy between the time that Bishop Donald Wuerl was assigned to Washington, D.C., and Bishop Zubik arrived in Pittsburgh.

“One of the nice things is that I’ve had a chance to see the church from the level of the parish and from the diocescan level, working with our bishops,” Almade said. “That’s a good perspective. It gives you different insights into what is going on the trajectories of where we’re going.”

One such direction, Almade said,  is a Vatican initiative known as The New Evangelism. It’s the idea that “the Catholic church just can’t stay still, just open its doors and hope somebody shows up.”

“We have to be, first of all, faithful witness of our belief  in Christ and our membership in the church,” Almade went on. “And secondly, we must be willing to reach out to people who formerly were part of us, people who maybe never heard the name of Jesus, and also to be really good neighbors to the people in the community.

“I’m hoping that with our pastoral council, finance council and my two fine associate priests we can begin plans to do those very things.”

(Email: d_irwin@ncnewsonline.com)

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