Jeannette church building to re-open for worship

Jeannette church building to re-open for worship

Jeannette, Pa – The Most Reverend Larry J. Kulick, Bishop of the Diocese of Greensburg made a series of announcements today that will assist Sacred Heart Parish, Jeannette, to re-open their Parish church building for weekend Mass, Weddings, Funerals, Baptisms and other liturgies beginning the weekend of June 26-27.   

Water damage has plagued the Sacred Heart church since 2012.  Attempts have been made over the last eight years to repair the interior, exterior and underground drains of the building.  In mid-May of 2021, Bishop Kulick received word that, despite the cosmetic appearance of the inside of the church, it is now safe to reopen for Worship.  

Bishop Kulick is extremely thankful for the leadership that parish Pastor, Father Michael Sikon, has provided to the faith community during this challenging time.  

“Compounding the devastation of this water damage was its timing.  When the rest of us began to emerge from the isolation of the pandemic to resume in-person worship inside the churches we know and love, parishioners of Sacred Heart Parish had to worship elsewhere.  My prayers have been with Father Sikon, Father Alvin Aberion, Deacon Bill Newhouse and the staff and parishioners of Sacred Heart Parish.  I thank them for their patience, understanding and cooperation.  They have remained a parish, even without a church building.” Bishop Kulick said. 

With the re-opening of Sacred Heart Church, Bishop Kulick is calling upon the parish pastoral and finance councils of both parishes to create a viability plan for their respective parishes.  This is anticipated to be a long-term expectation for both parishes in Jeannette.  The reinvigorating of both Sacred Heart and Ascension parish communities and the assessment of their needs for the future is the goal that is being set forth.   

Bishop Kulick is entrusting this important task to the parish communities and its leadership and he will be seeking their recommendations for a long-term pastoral plan that ensures a strong and lasting Catholic presence in the City of Jeannette.  This will be a top priority as both faith communities move into the future.  

As this process begins, both Bishop Kulick and Father Sikon agree this is an optimal time to transition parish leadership in both parishes in an effort to provide continuity and stability for the entire Jeannette community.  To that end, Bishop Kulick also made the following announcements: 

  • Effective with the summer clergy appointments, Father Michael Sikon will resign as pastor of both Sacred Heart Parish, Jeannette and Ascension Parish, Jeannette, while remaining Pastor at St. Barbara Parish, Harrison City and Director of Worship for the Diocese of Greensburg.  
  • Father Alvin B. Aberion, who is currently serving as Parochial Vicar of both parishes, will also be reassigned with the summer clergy appointments.  
  • Bishop Kulick has appointed Deacon Bill Newhouse as Administrator of both Sacred Heart Parish and Ascension Parish in Jeannette, effective with the summer clergy appointments.  With this assignment, for the first time in the history of the Diocese of Greensburg, a Deacon has been appointed Administrator.  This assignment will allow both parishes to have onsite administrative supervision and guidance as Sacred Heart Parish works to make decisions about the Sacred Heart Church building and both parishes begin to operate effectively as partner parishes looking to the future.  Bishop Kulick is confident that Deacon Newhouse’s familiarity and knowledge of the community and his historic interaction with both parishes will serve the parishes well in this time of visioning and reinvigoration.  Deacon Newhouse will continue to serve the needs of both parishes sacramentally and liturgically in his role as Deacon.  
  • To provide for the Liturgical and other Sacramental needs of both parishes, especially those reserved to a priest, the Bishop has, at the recommendation of Archabbot Martin Bartel, O.S.B., appointed Father Job Foote, O.S.B, to serve as the Parochial Vicar of both parishes effective with the summer clergy appointments.  

“There has been a long historical presence of Benedictines in the Jeannette community.  On behalf of St. Vincent Archabbey, we are thankful to be able to assist the Diocese of Greensburg and excited to be represented in the faith community of Jeannette once again,” said Archabbot Bartel.  

In addition to the assistance provided by Saint Vincent Archabbey, the Diocese will subsidize the position of Director of Faith Formation and Evangelization for the partner parishes of Jeannette for the next two years. 

During this time, the new parish leadership will work alongside parishioners of both parishes to revitalize the Catholic presence in Jeannette.  In addition, and with the help of pastoral and finance council members, Deacon Newhouse will lead the process to further evaluate the needs of the Sacred Heart Church building and assist in developing a plan for moving forward. 

The need to make repairs to Sacred Heart Church came to a head in 2017, when a large section of plaster fell from the wall in the transept of the church on the parking lot side of the building.  Work to repair that section began last year, but the porous stone of the building was relentlessly infiltrated by water.  

“The more we repaired, the more damage we found, including asbestos in the plaster walls which we’ve been mitigating since August of 2020.” said Jim Garvin, Director of Engineering and Facilities Management Office said.  I want to assure parishioners that hundreds of hours have been dedicated to the repair of brick, stone and plaster, but much of the plaster has fallen off the walls.” 

Mr. Garvin cautions that the appearance of the inside of the church will not be what parishioners remember.  However, the building is safe and the course of future repair work needs to be determined with the parish’s net assets of approximately $400,000 in mind. 

Initial restoration efforts are expected to cost nearly $150,000.  Additional work to be completed within the next years is expected to exceed $600,000. This will include the repointing of the Church exterior, lighting improvements, altar area improvements, HVAC improvements, and other facility maintenance items.  The Diocese continues to work with the insurance carriers to assure that Sacred Heart Parish is fairly and strongly represented in the insurance claims process.  However, recent insurance claims related to the restoration the inside plaster and the standardization the coloration of the inside brick have been denied.  

Since being ordained and installed as the Sixth Bishop of the Diocese of Greensburg on February 11, 2021, Bishop Larry J. Kulick has employed a model of gathering input by engaging the faithful in conversations in order to better understand the unique needs in each parish community. 

At a meeting with the faithful held on Sunday, May 23, 2021, Bishop Kulick invited input and asked parishioners under the direction of Deacon Bill Newhouse to take ownership of the future of their faith community: 

“I am asking the people of Sacred Heart and Ascension Parishes, their staff, and in particular their pastoral and finance councils, to work together.  I hope in this effort they are able to share both staffing and resources.  I ask you today to create a plan going forward that allows both Sacred Heart and Ascension Parishes to be pastorally engaged, community centered, evangelically motivated and financially viable.”  Bishop Kulick said.


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