Regarding the Jan. 30 Focus feature “Mass change sparks criticism at St. Anthony’s.”
If the Rev. Kevin G. Poecking truly started these plans four years ago, as he claims, why were the parishioners of St. Anthony’s not made aware of it at the time? He states that parishioners knew of this for at least two years. What parishioners? We only found out the end of June, when he decided to inform us of the capital campaign he was launching to raise the money.
He had already hired a firm to do a feasibility study and this firm was telling us how much we would have to raise to build this $7.5 million church with all the amenities. This firm was charging approximately $30,000. In addition to that, it was approximately another $10,000 for the architect to draw up the plans. He did not need to waste parish money on something that was financially impossible. He then declared we could cut costs down to $3 million if it was built with no amenities.
If plans were in the making, as he said, why did he bother to enlarge the parking lot at St. Anthony’s and pave it? Why have air conditioning installed? Why did he have the pine trees cut down and then turn around and have new ones planted? With all of this being done, he proceeded to discontinue Sunday Mass at St. Anthony’s. Why?
I attended Catholic school in Pittsburgh before moving here. I was an altar boy and sang in the choir. I joined St. Anthony’s and have been a member for 40-plus years, and a practicing member of the choir. My children were baptized, made their First Holy Communion and their Confirmation in this church. My daughter was married at St. Anthony’s — a beautiful wedding in a beautiful church.
For the past eight months I have seen the worst of organized religion. Jesus and his disciples prayed under the stars, not in a Taj Mahal. As a result of this, I have ceased going to Mass. I have no desire to return to the church that I love, as long as he is there. Others have left the religion entirely and have gone to another religion.
Father Poecking claims he is saying too many masses on Sunday, so he took away the Sunday Mass at St. Anthony’s. But he is still saying the same amount, only they are at St. Peter’s and the Parish Center. If this is not revenge, I don’t know what is.
This is what happens when you oppose a $7.5 million construction.
In May, he claims he will say Sunday Mass at St. Anthony’s for the campers. Why do they take preference over the parishioners who are there 365 days a year? Are they going to sing in the choir, are they going to cook and serve for funerals and volunteer to raise money? Why is it so important to accommodate them over longtime members?
The really sad part is that the Pittsburgh Diocese has turned a blind eye to all of this and has been of no help. If Pope Francis were aware of what’s going on, he would agree with me.