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An E-Newsletter from the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown
December 2015
Volume VII Number 12
Merry Christmas!
Welcome to the December edition of E-vangelist, a monthly E-Newsletter from the Communications Office of the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown. Our Advent preparation is almost complete, and soon we will welcome the most precious gift of Christmas -- Jesus Christ. May the joyful celebration of His birth continue in your heart throughout every day of the new year. On behalf of Bishop Mark, Bishop Joseph, and the clergy and staff of the Diocese, a very Blessed and Merry Christmas! [Photo: Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Altoona decorated for Christmas last year.] 


Ministry Quicklinks


the catholic register
Coming up in the
December 28, 2015, edition of The Catholic Register:

  • In his column, "Another Perspective," Monsignor Tim Stein looks at Saint Joseph and his perfect example.
  • A look back at the impact of Pope Francis' visit to the United States in September.



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



December 27 -- On this Solemnity of the Holy Family, three generations of the King-Sparacino families from Saint Mary (Immaculate Conception) Parish in Altoona, discuss the importance of family in society.



January 3 -- Amy Hill, Communications Director for the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, reviews 2015 and looks ahead to the new year. 

January 10  -- As the Church celebrates a Jubilee Year of Mercy, Sister Margie Monahan, CCW, and Sister Martha Burbulla, CCW, discuss their ministry of mercy through the Diocese's Fulton County Mission. 



Proclaim! airs every Sunday at 10:30 a.m. on WATM ABC 23 and is rebroadcast on the Altoona Public Access Channel (Channel 14 on Atlantic Broadband) at 9:30 p.m. The live Mass from Saint John Gualbert Cathedral in Johnstown airs at 11:00 a.m. on WATM and is rebroadcast at 9:00 p.m. on Atlantic Broadband Channel 9 in the Altoona area.  



microwave dish 
Watch "Answering the Call" every Sunday at 9:00 p.m. on the Altoona Public Access Channel 14 in the Central Blair County area.
Bishop Mark Christmas 2012 Bishop's Christmas Message
In his 2015 Christmas message to the faithful, Bishop Mark wishes to extend a "Mercy" Christmas to all. His comments comes as the Catholic Church begins celebrating a Jubilee Year of Mercy. 

The following is an excerpt of the Bishop's message.

The Lord Jesus has come to show us that the Lord God is kind and merciful (Psalm 103). The ultimate sign of mercy is Christ crucified. And the Lord Jesus born in a stable in Bethlehem shows us that he desires mercy, not sacrifice, for he has not come to call the righteous, but sinners (Matthew 9:13).
Our celebration of the Birth of Jesus Christ should remind us that he calls us to be born anew through repentance and ongoing conversion. He invites us to receive the gift of his mercy and he calls us to become people of mercy who bring others to encounter the person of Jesus Christ. It might be for the first time or to become reacquainted if they have been separated from the love of Christ because of the chaos of their lives.
At Christmas and throughout the Jubilee Year of Mercy, take to heart these first words of Pope Francis in his 2013 Apostolic Exhortation: "The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew."

Click here to read Bishop Mark's entire Christmas message.
Bartchak Coat of Arms Bishop's Christmas Schedule and Mass Broadcast
Bishop Mark will be the celebrant and homilist at the Christmas Midnight Mass at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Altoona and Christmas Day Mass at 11:00 a.m. at Saint John Gualbert Cathedral in Johnstown. The Christmas Day Mass will be broadcast on a delayed basis beginning at Noon on WATM ABC 23 and concluding at 1:30 p.m. 
Year of Mercy
An Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy is underway in the Catholic Church universal and here in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown. Pope Francis proclaimed an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy that began on December 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, and will conclude on November 20, 2016, the Solemnity of Christ the King. Throughout the year, the Diocese will place great emphasis on the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy with a special focus on the Corporal Works of Mercy during the Lenten season. A number of special events are planned, including Days of Prayer reflecting on the Spiritual Works of Mercy. In keeping with the Holy Father's request that all dioceses open "Doors of Mercy," there will be Pilgrimage and Indulgence Prayer opportunities during the summer at three parishes in our Diocese celebrating their 200th anniversary. For more information, and prayer resources, please visit the special Year of Mercy section on the Diocesan website, www.dioceseaj.org. [Photo: The Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown's Year of Mercy poster is framed and positioned in front of the ambo at Saint Joseph Parish in Williamsburg.]
Johnstown Quadrant Announces Regionalization Plan
The Johnstown school quadrant has announced plans to regionalize elementary education in Johnstown beginning with the 2016-2017 academic year. At the end of this current academic year, the four Catholic elementary schools in the city - Cathedral Catholic Academy, Our Mother of Sorrows, Saint Andrew, and Saint Benedict - will close as parish-based schools. A new regional school will open next academic year with three campuses. The current Our Mother of Sorrows and Saint Benedict school buildings will house students in grades pre-k through five. A middle school will be created at the current Saint Andrew building for students in grades six, seven, and eight. The building that currently houses Cathedral Catholic Academy will be repurposed and not be used within the school system. Click here for more.
Altoona Quadrant Moves Forward with Regionalization
The Board of the Altoona school quadrant has announced decisions involving the regionalization of schools in the Altoona, Hollidaysburg, and Newry areas. Pre-registration for the new regional school, scheduled to open in the 2016-2017 academic year, has yielded higher than anticipated numbers. As a result, the Board has voted to house fifth grade students at the new middle school campus, which will be located at the site of the current Saint Rose of Lima School in Altoona. The Board announced that Mrs. Elaine Spencer, the current principal of Hollidaysburg Catholic School, will serve as principal of the new regional school. Click here for more.  
Retreat Opportunity
Father Richard Tomkosky, Pastor of Saint John the Baptist Parish and Retreat Center in New Baltimore, will conduct an overnight weekend retreat at the retreat center from Friday evening, February 5 until Sunday afternoon, February 7. The topic will be "What the Saints can teach us as we prepare for Lent and in daily life throughout the year." Meals and private room lodging are included. Reservations are required by January 29. Space is limited. Please call (814) 733-2210 for cost and more information.
Glory to God in the Highest
"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 Creche at Saint John Gualbert Cathedral in Johnstown.]
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