evangelist header 2011
An E-Newsletter from the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown
December 2011
Volume III  Number  12
Our Lady of Lourdes ChristmasMerry Christmas! 
Welcome to the December edition of E-vangelist, a monthly E-Newsletter from the Communications Office of the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown.  In these final days of Advent preparation, we eagerly await the coming of our Emmanuel, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amid the flurry of activity this time of year, we encourage you to truly make a place for our Lord in your life. May the joy of His birth truly fill your heart and your home, and may that feeling be with you throughout each day of the new year. On behalf of Bishop Mark L. Bartchak and our entire Diocesan staff, Merry Christmas!   [Photo: Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Altoona decorated for Christmas in 2010.]


Ministry Quicklinks

the catholic register
Coming up in the January 2, 2012, edition of The Catholic Register:
  • The story of a local family's tradition of displaying a massive Nativity inside their home.
  • Two more candidates are a step closer to Sainthood.



Bishop Mark Bartchak's upcoming Guests on Keeping the Faith, a weekly segment on Proclaim!: 

  • December 25 -- Bishop Mark shares the story of the Nativity with students from various Catholic elementary schools in the Diocese.
  • January 1 -- On this New Year's Day, Father Mark Begly, Pastor of Our Mother of Sorrows Parish in Johnstown, offers ideas to strengthen your relationship with God in 2012. 
  • January  8 -- Linda Gracey, Religion Editor at the Altoona Mirror, talks about her unique beat and her recent series of articles examining a decline in Church attendance.

Proclaim! airs every Sunday at 5:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. on WWCP TV FOX 8. The live Mass from Saint John Gualbert Cathedral in Johnstown airs at 11:00 a.m. on WWCP and is rebroadcast at 9:00 p.m. on Atlantic Broadband Channel 9 in the Altoona area.




radio maria


Listen to Radio Maria on WHHN 88.1 FM or go to the Diocesan website, www.dioceseaj.org, and click on the Radio Maria button on the right.

WFBG logo

Listen to the live Mass every Sunday morning at 10:00 a.m. from the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Altoona on WFBG 1290 AM.  




ACA 2011 logo 

All of us who serve in Diocesan ministries extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone who made a sacrificial gift through the 2011 Annual Catholic Appeal. Your gift gives hope to the many men, women and children who depend on one of our ministries for spiritual enrichment, ministerial formation, Sacramental preparation or emergency assistance. If you would like to make a charitable gift to support our ministries and your parish on or before December 31, you may do so online at www.dioceseaj.org, or place your gift in the offertory basket. Thank you! 
Bishop's Christmas 2011 MessageBishop's Christmas Message 
Bishop Mark L. Bartchak delivered his Christmas message on December 13 at his residence in Hollidaysburg. The following is a portion of his message. The Bishop's full message is available to read or to watch on the Diocesan website at www.dioceseaj.org. It is also featured in the December 19 edition of The Catholic Register and will air on Proclaim! on Christmas morning on WWCP TV FOX 8.   

What is it about Christmas that draws people together? Why do we always go to Grandma's house for a big dinner, or visit family and friends who we see but once a year to exchange presents? Why do we attend one Christmas party after another with people we don't really know? Whatever the reason, it is often said that no one wants to be alone at Christmas.


One of the most popular Christmas songs of the 20th century captures that sentiment. Many of us even associate it with the voice of Bing Crosby. It has just two verses:


"I'll be home for Christmas, you can plan on me. Please have snow and mistletoe, and presents on the tree. Christmas Eve will find me, where the love light gleams. I'll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams."


The sentimental quality of this song expresses optimism and heartfelt longing. It also conveys a bit of anxiousness or expected disappointment by admitting that the desire to be home for Christmas may not be experienced in reality, but only in a dream.


[Photo: Bishop Mark delivers his Christmas message to the media at his Hollidaysburg residence on December 13. Photo courtesy Roger Vogel/Somerset Daily American.]

Bartchak Coat of ArmsBishop's Christmas Mass Schedule

Bishop Mark L. Bartchak will be the celebrant and homilist of the Midnight Mass at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Altoona. He will also be the celebrant and homilist at  the 11:00 a.m. Mass on Christmas morning at Saint John Gualbert Cathedral in Johnstown. The 11:00 a.m. Mass will be broadcast live on WWCP TV FOX 8 for 90 minutes. Thanks to WWCP TV for their support.

Bishop's Keeping the Faith Christmas 2011Special Christmas Edition of "Keeping the Faith"

A special "Keeping the Faith" segment will air on Proclaim! on Christmas morning at 5:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. on WWCP TV FOX 8. A group of students from various Catholic elementary schools in the Diocese will join Bishop Mark L. Bartchak in front of the Altar at Saint John Gualbert Cathedral in Johnstown as the Bishop shares with them the story of the Nativity. As you are spending time with your family around the tree on Christmas morning, don't miss this special presentation. [Photo: Bishop Mark poses with the students who will join him to hear the story of the Nativity on Proclaim! on Christmas morning.]


Bishop and Pope December 2011Bishop Returns from Ad Limina Visit
Bishop Mark L. Bartchak is back from his first ad limina visit to Rome. All bishops are required to make an ad limina visit every five years. The trip included various meetings and  a one-on-one meeting with the Pope.  "When we were seated, Pope Benedict gave some remarks, for no more than two to three minutes," Bishop Mark said. "He then said that he was interested in hearing things about the challenges that we face. I was the second to be asked, and I told him about the concern among bishops in Pennsylvania and across the United States about religious liberty that is often challenged by the government of our country when there is no respect for matters of faith or matters of conscience; for example in regard to health care regulations, which do not respect Church teaching about contraception and abortifacients by requiring the Catholic Church to provide these things in health care coverage. Lots of other topics were brought up for discussion. The Holy Father responded to each of us with a few words and, at the end of the session, he summarized the points that were raised by all of the bishops." Bishops from various other Pennsylvania dioceses were with Bishop Mark during the meeting with the Pope. A complete recap of the Bishop's ad limina visit is in the December 19 edition of The Catholic Register[Photo courtesy L'Osservatore Romano.]
Theology on TapAltoona Theology on Tap Series Continues
A monthly Altoona-based Theology on Tap series  continues. Theology on Tap is a casual speaker/discussion series for young adults ages 18-39. The sessions are usually held at a restaurant or tavern as a way of reaching young adults at the places where they gather. The Altoona series is being held on the second Monday of each month at 7:00 p.m. throughout the fall and winter at Joe's Bar, adjacent to Zach's Sports and Spirits, 5820 Sixth Avenue, Altoona. Complimentary appetizers are served. The next session is scheduled for January 9.  Mr. Andre McCarville, campus minister at Penn State Altoona, will present "Sin and Tonic."

School Choice SignsSchool Choice Update

Lawmakers in the Pennsylvania House failed to act on school choice legislation before Christmas. The Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, in partnership with the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, has advocated for school choice legislation that includes vouchers and increased funding for the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC). This fall, the state Senate passed Senate Bill 1, which provides vouchers for low-income students living in the attendance zones of the lowest-performing five percent of schools in the state, and increased EITC funding. The House is expected to revisit school choice legislation in the new year. Supporters of school choice are urged to contact their Representative and urge him to vote in favor of vouchers and increased EITC funding. For more information on school choice, visit the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference website at www.pacatholic.org.

News and Notes


Christian musician Matt Maher will hold a concert on January 20, 2012, at 7:30 p.m., at the Mishler Theatre in Altoona,  sponsored by the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown Youth Ministry Office and the Altoona Curve. Tickets are available by contacting the Altoona Curve Box Office at (814) 283-3126.  

The Praise and Worship Eucharistic Adoration Day for teens, originally scheduled for November 27, 2011, has been moved to February 25, 2012, at 11:00 a.m., at the Basilica of Saint Michael the Archangel in Loretto. Bishop Mark L. Bartchak will preside over the day. Teens must pre-register by February 17 by contacting Mrs. Francine Swope at fswope@dioceseaj.org or (814) 693-1401. 



microwave dishDon't miss two new television programs sponsored by the Diocese on the Altoona Cable Access Channel. "Answering the Call" airs Sundays at 9:00 p.m. The show spotlights vocation opportunities in the Diocese and features interviews with Priests, Religious and Permanent Deacons regarding their path to their vocation and the rewards of their choice. "Faith Alive: A Teen Perspective" airs Sundays at 9:30 p.m. The show features teens from around the Diocese discussing their Catholic Faith and sharing the various ways they are active in Diocesan Ministry. The Altoona Cable Access Channel is available on Channel 14 in the Altoona/Blair County area.



Saint Andrew school visit 12-15-11Bishop Mark L. Bartchak continues his visits to the Catholic schools of the Diocese. Most recently, he visited Saint Andrew School in Johnstown and Saint Thomas School in Bedford. Bishop Mark plans to visit all 24 Catholic schools before the end of the school year. His tour will resume after Christmas.  [Photo: Bishop Mark poses with the Kindergarten class at Saint Andrew School during his visit on December 15.]




Upcoming Events 

December 23-26
Christmas Holiday
Diocesan Offices Closed


January 1

Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God


January 2
New Year's Holiday
Diocesan Offices Closed


January 16
Martin Luther King, Jr., Holiday

Diocesan Offices Closed


January 20; 7:30 p.m.
Matt Maher Concert
Mishler Theatre, Altoona

January 23
March for Life
Washington, D.C.


January 29-February 4
Catholic Schools Week


Saint Rose of Lima ChristmasChristmas Blessings 

"...For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly  host with the angel, praising God and saying: 'Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.'"       --Luke 2:11-14

[Photo: The Nativity at Saint Rose of Lima Parish in Altoona, Christmas 2010.]
Contact Information
E-vangelist is published by the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown Office of Communications
Mr. Tony DeGol
Secretary for Communications
925 S. Logan Boulevard
Hollidaysburg, PA  16648
(814) 695-5579