Why the name?

"Holy Conversation" does sound like an exceptionally pious name, even for a parish blog. And we can't guarantee that everything here will meet the high standard the name implies. But the phrase comes from the story of our patron saint, and we think it fits. Here's why.

St. Scholastica was a sixth-century abbess who, according to the Dialogues of Pope Gregory I, used to meet once a year with her brother, St. Benedict. On the last occasion they were together, they spent their time "satisfying each other's hunger for holy conversation about the spiritual life."

We hope that this blog can become a place where the members of our parish can find a taste of the companionship and conversation that Scholastica and Benedict enjoyed so much. Welcome!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Welcome Home!

Our Appalachia Mission Crew returned on Saturday!

Once again, Meredith and Jamie take the cake for leading the mission trip!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

At Prayer in West Virginia

Scenes from a student-led prayer service on Wednesday evening during the mission trip.

Thanks to Jamie Dillon for the pics!

Appalachia 2015 Begins!

Here are some pictures from packing the vans on Saturday, June 20.

 And some from the departure on Sunday morning!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Youth Ministry Leadership on the Move!

     Our Youth Ministry leadership team went pedaling around Pittsburgh together on June 9!

Vacation Bible School 2015

     More than 90 young students, teenage helpers, adult volunteers, and staff members participated in Vacation Bible School from June 8-12.  Young people aged 5 to 9 years participated in games, crafts, and other activities to introduce them to stories from the Bible. 
Hungry hippos game recalls Noah and the ark.

Making crafts in Crafts!
Becoming fishers of men

Special thanks to Jamie Dillon and Meredith Troyan of our religious education staff for their planning and leadership of the event!

Trappist Ales Event

     About forty parish members and guests gathered on June 4 for “Tapping Our Monastic Heritage.”  After an opening prayer, the group heard a brief overview of the tradition of monastic brewing from Brian Balonick of our parish. The Trappists are an offshoot of the Cistercian religious order, itself an offshoot of the Benedictine order begun by St. Scholastica's brother, St. Benedict.  In the Middle Ages, Cistercian monasteries were started in many unsettled areas of Europe, and they brought large tracts of European land under cultivation.  As water supplies were not always healthy, monasteries usually made wine or, in more northern areas of Europe, brewed beer.  We sampled eight ales brewed by Trappists in Europe or in the United States.  The lineup appears in the picture below.
The ales along with guest barkeep Chuck Wallander (left) and speaker (and pourer) Brian Balonick (right).
Meeting people and sampling beers.
     After sampling the ales, we tried another legacy of monasticism-- lectio divina, the prayerful reading of the Scriptures. Led by staff member Andrew Bechman, the group reflected on a passage from Isaiah about God's generous promises, and looked for a message in the passage for each of us.

Waiting for the next round!
     Many participants commented on how they enjoyed meeting people they had not known before.  “It was fun to have a cross section of people,” one said.  Another noted that it “was very interesting to hear the historical background and religious connection of an enjoyable item.”  “The beer tasting was very interesting and educational,” another participant wrote, “but the prayers were better!”

         Thanks to all who took part, and extra thanks to those whose generous donations covered the costs of the event!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Helping a Neighbor

The St. Scholastica Youth Ministry Roamin' Catholics were at it again over the Memorial Day weekend.  They got some practice for the Appalachia mission trip by helping a neighbor in need in Millvale, making various improvements including building a railing.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Building Better Blocks

Members and adult supporters of our Youth Ministry helped at the "Build a Better Block Day" event in New Kensington on Saturday.

Thanks to everyone who participated!
Thanks, as usual, to Jamie Dillon for providing the pictures.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


Congratulations to the young people who were confirmed last Sunday!  We look forward to seeing how you grow in your faith and as members of our parish community in the years to come!  Congratulations as well to the parents and sponsors of the newly confirmed.  Thanks to Jamie Dillon, Meredith Troyan, and Gina Musser and their dedicated catechists for their work in coordinating the preparation of our young people.

Bishop William Waltersheid meets with the candidates before the rite.

A Feast at the Table of the Word

 Thanks to the lively group of parish members and guests who participated in our five week Spring Bible Study on “The Eucharist in Scripture”!  There was little room to spare in Marsico Library in the Ministry Center when all the members of the group gathered.  We read passages from the Scriptures on “great moments in Biblical eating,” including prophecies of God’s people feasting with the Lord, the remarkable table hospitality of Jesus, the Last Supper, meals that the disciples shared with the Risen Lord, and the development of our eucharist from these meals.  We shared prayer and lively discussion, and enjoyed each other’s company and (especially at the last session) some food as well!  Look for our next Bible study in the fall.

Enjoying each other's company (and some Easter treats) at our last session.

Living Stations

On Good Friday evening, our young people once again presented Living Stations.  The event was conducted with the dignity and devotion that have been its hallmark at St. Scholastica.  Thanks to all the young people who took part, and to the leaders of our Youth Ministry who guided them!

Thanks to Jamie Dillon for the photos!

Lenten Reflections

We were blessed to have two memorable Lenten evenings of reflection in the parish this year.  The Aquinas Guild sponsored Fr. Joe Freedy's presentation on Monday, March 9.  Fr. Joe had preached at the weekend masses, and people must have liked what they heard.  The parish hall was filled on Monday evening to hear Fr. Joe's challenge to deeper discipleship.  After the talk, most of the listeners bacame pray-ers as we moved to the church for eucharistic adoration to music provided by some of Fr. Joe's friends.

Unfortunately, we have no photos of the Aquinas Guild event.  We do have some for the second Lenten evening of reflection, sponsored by our Hope for Haiti Committee on Wednesday, March 18.  A group of parish members and guests listened to a presentation by Linda Kincel and Janice Marco, Passionist associates and ambassadors for the Saint Luke Foundation.

The Saint Luke Foundation for Haiti was founded by Fr. Rick Frechette, a Passionist priest and doctor.  The foundation provides education, healthcare, and dignified humanitarian outreach to over 150,000 people each year while employing more than 1,000 Haitian staff.  While Fr. Rick remains a mentor, young Haitians provide the leadership of the foundation.

Linda Kincel and Jan Marco

Linda and Jan spoke of their experience visiting Haiti to participate in the work of the foundation.  They visited an orphanage and worked as support staff for medical clinics staffed by health workers from the United States who were giving their time to the foundation.  The women shared their experiences with us through YouTube videos, photographs, their own recollections, and some written summaries.

Jan wrote: "The reality of my experience in Haiti was one of profound awe.  Each day brought new experiences which gave way to a heightened awareness that we, as God's creations, are created equal and yet socioeconomic status affects our lives in vastly different ways."

Linda remembered seeing a blind man at one of the clinics, and being told that his blindness may have been a result of cataracts, a condition routinely handled with surgery in the U.S.  Both women were deeply impressed with the medical volunteers.  Linda wrote: "When these doctors and nurses were out in the field surrounded by so much suffering, they became present to each individual as if they were the only person who existed in time and space."

Both women agreed that they were "challenged forever" by their experiences, challenged especially to act in ways that would allow Jesus to work through them in every area of their lives.

Linda and Jan brought some Haitian crafts and other items.
We used the candles in our final prayer.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

They just keep roamin' along . . .

Our Youth Ministry Roamin' Catholics went caroling at the VA hospital after the Youth Liturgy last Saturday.  Thanks to Mrs. Jamie Dillon for the photo!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Advent by Candlelight

The Aquinas Guild sponsored "Advent by Candlelight" in early December.  The Parish Hall was full of women gathered to pray, spend social time with each other, and hear music and spiritual reflections from their guest, singer, songwriter, and novelist Bill Deasy.

Thanks to Bernadine Bonessa for these photos of the event!

Young Catholics Roamin' During Advent

Our Youth ministry sponsored another meal at Family House in December, and also helped with the Christmas party at Harmar Village.

at Family House

Harmar Village

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Posing with Pope Francis

As our religious education students returned to class, they had a surprise visitor--Pope Francis!  Well, yes, it was a life-size photograph, but his presence still seemed to lift everyone's spirits!

Thanks to Meredith Troyan for forwarding the photos!