The announcement from the diocese:
As a follow-up to a listening session on February 23, 2020, Bishop David Zubik is pleased to announce the establishment of a personal parish for the black Catholic Community in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, under the title of Saint Benedict the Moor Parish, effective July 13, 2020. Clergy assignments for the new parish will be forthcoming.
A personal parish is a parish that responds to specific spiritual needs often related to a particular culture or an extraordinary need. In the case of a personal parish, anyone who desires to be a part of that Catholic community is welcome to join.
When Bishop Zubik visited Saint Benedict the Moor Church in February, he celebrated Mass with parishioners, then listened as they shared the importance of their 130-year history of presence and ministry to black Catholics in the Hill District and throughout the Diocese, while also navigating the same systems of disadvantages that black Americans faced in the Pittsburgh region, the nation, and the Catholic Church.
“Along with their sincere enthusiasm and passion for their Catholic faith, I heard and felt their desire to have their unique spiritual and cultural needs met,” said Bishop Zubik. “I want to raise awareness of the need to walk with our black sisters and brothers as they continue to enrich and be an integral part of the Diocese of Pittsburgh and the Catholic Church Universal.”
Bishop Zubik called for the formation of a small Task force of clergy and parishioners who worship at Saint Benedict the Moor to develop and present recommendations to him that addressed their concerns.
In submitting the proposal for a personal parish, the Task Force report stated, “This is not a call for separatism but instead for a pledge of commitment to the Church and to share in her witnessing to the love of Christ.”
Since then, all Canon Law requirements to advance the proposal have been satisfied, including the presentation of a formal petition by the Pastor and members of the Parish Finance Council, and approval by the Diocesan Priest Council and Vicars General.
“I am committed to the needs of black Catholics in our community. I invite everyone to join me in this effort. We need to work together to make sure that black citizens from all walks of life are treated with the same respect that God intends all of us to have,” said Bishop Zubik.
Barring any COVID-19 restrictions, Bishop Zubik plans to celebrate Mass at Saint Benedict the Moor Church on Sunday, July 12, 2020.
You can read more at the parish website.
Readers have wondered: just what is a “personal parish”? Good question. Some answers:
Per canon 518, a bishop may also erect non-territorial parishes, or personal parishes, within his see.Personal parishes are created to better serve Catholics of a particular rite, language, nationality, or other commonality which make them a distinct community. Such parishes include the following:
National parishes, established to serve the faithful of a certain ethnic group or national origin, offering services and activities in their native language.
Parishes established to serve university students.
Parishes established in accordance with the 7 July 2007 motu proprio Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum “for celebrations according to the older form of the Roman rite”, i.e., the form in use in 1962
Anglican Use parishes established by the Pastoral Provision or other dispensations for former members of the Episcopal Church in the United States. By nature, communities belonging to the personal ordinariates for Anglicans as established by Anglicanorum Coetibus of 4 November 2009 are also personal parishes.
And there’s this, from Peter Feuerherd in NCR:
Catholic bishops … are increasingly willing to designate “personal parishes,” communities formally recognized by bishops for particular groups of Catholics versus traditional parishes which minister to Catholics in a geographic territory.
That’s the conclusion of sociologist Tricia Bruce, author of Parish and Place: Making Room for Diversity in the American Catholic Church (2017, Oxford University Press) and the forthcoming work she co-edited, American Parishes: Remaking Local Catholicism (Fordham University Press). Bruce, a professor at Maryville College in Tennessee, lives in Knoxville where she is a member of the Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. She has studied a dozen parishes around the country recognized as personal parishes and written studies on Asian Catholics and polarization in the church.
Parishes, she said, remain “one of the few remaining brick and mortar institutions where people gather.” The result is a “gold mine” for sociologists willing to dig into how community is lived.
As a result of the 1983 Code of Canon Law revisions, bishops are empowered to create “personal parishes,” or intentional communities where Catholics gather, bypassing the territorial parishes where they live. The designation has been used to serve the cultural and language needs of Vietnamese and Korean Catholics and those who seek out the Latin Tridentine Mass (replaced by Mass in English in most U.S. parishes after the Second Vatican Council) and St. Cronan and Sts. Peter and Paul parishes in St. Louis, designated to mission among the urban poor.