By Melanie Sisinni

         On December 2, Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish, Sykesville; St. Bernard Parish, Falls Creek; St. Catherine of Siena Parish, DuBois; St. Mary Parish, Reynoldsville; and St. Michael the Archangel Parish, DuBois, officially merged into Holy Spirit Parish. The first Mass at the parish church, St. Catherine of Siena, was held on Sunday, December 2, with Bishop Lawrence Persico presiding and Msgr. Richard Siefer, pastor, concelebrating.

         The pastoral planning decisions that led to this moment began in 2019, with a committee led by Msgr Siefer, who has been pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Parish since 1991. He was later appointed pastor of St. Michael the Archangel Parish in 2017, as well as St. Bernard, St. Mary and Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary parishes in 2022. 

A screengrab from the livestream of the first Mass for Holy
Spirit Parish at St. Catherine of Siena Church, DuBois.
Photo/Holy Spirit Parish

         “Developing this plan has not been without challenges,” Msgr. Siefer said, “But the people have worked very hard to balance the realities we face with the desire to strengthen our community. We honor those who came before us and want to ensure a Catholic presence in our region well into the future.”

         The day was met with mixed emotions from parishioners, which Bishop Persico addressed in his homily.

         “For some, this is a day of joy that the task is completed; for others, this is a day of loss with feelings of anger for what is perceived as lost,” he said. “All of these emotions are all part of the human experience. Yet, as followers of Christ, we bring these emotions to the altar of sacrifice on which we celebrate the Eucharist so that the Eucharist can transform our lives as it does every time we celebrate Mass, realizing that this day is also a new beginning for all of us — letting the Holy Spirit renew us in a new birth.”

         Bishop Persico said there was no better name to direct this new parish family in their faith journey.

         “The Holy Spirit or Advocate is the person that Jesus and the Father sent to guide and lead the Church when Jesus ascended to the Father,” said Bishop Persico. “Jesus knew that when he was no longer physically present, the Church would need direction and guidance. It is the role of the Holy Spirit to help the Church prepare for its mission.”

         Bishop Persico prayed for the intercession of the Holy Spirit to infuse Holy Spirit parish with its gifts: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord. He also mentioned the appropriateness of the parish’s new beginning on the first Sunday of Advent, the beginning of the new year in the Catholic Church.

         Bishop Persico encouraged the Holy Spirit Parish community to embody the message of Advent.

         “Advent is a call to pay attention: to pay attention to the voice of God, the love of God in every joy and sorrow, in every pain and trauma, in every victory and setback before us,” he said. “Jesus urges us to watch this Advent, to be alert to the signs of God’s presence in every moment of our lives.”

         Throughout his homily, Bishop Persico acknowledged the validity of the feelings of those in attendance but continued to encourage parishioners to have faith in their new parish family.

         “We must be active in our pursuit of the Lord,” said Bishop Persico. “We must be a people of hope."