Advanced mathematics books are arranged closer to the mammoth desk than theological texts on the stately office’s wall-to-wall bookshelves.
A math whiz and daredevil, the Rev. Andrew J. Deskevich may well have found a career in the world of calculus and trigonometry if God hadn’t previously called his number for the priesthood.
The new pastor of SS. Peter and Paul Byzantine Rite Catholic Church, 3415 Wallace St., Deskevich left behind familiar territory and close friends in the Pittsburgh area to come to Erie in May.
His assignment: Take on a dwindling congregation of a little-known part of the Roman Catholic Church in the far corner of an enormous diocese.
The challenging odds of revitalizing and growing the church don’t faze Deskevich, 33, because the faithful are so excited about his arrival.
“Any transition is difficult, but it’s easier here because the people are so welcoming and enthusiastic,” Deskevich said. “This is a very good move for me. The people are wonderful and eager to move into the future.”
As a bonus, instead of some far-flung spot in the 71-church eparchy, or diocese, this new flock is within driving distance of familiar skydiving and roller coaster sites whenever Deskevich feels in need of an adrenaline fix.
…”Father Andrew has a lot of great ideas to move the church forward into this century,” Adams said. “He doesn’t just tell us what to do, he gets his hands dirty. He’s right in the middle of everything and involved.”
…The new priest is “absolutely breathtaking,” said Pauline Kowalski, a member for 27 years and president of the altar society for 20 years. “Even my 86-year-old father said he’s ‘absolutely awesome.’ And my youngest daughter left her first confession with him and said she just loves him.”
The praise is sweet music for the bearded Deskevich, who wants to evangelize and strengthen the church.
“I’ll do everything we can to make it grow,” he said. “We have entrusted to us a very small part of God’s kingdom to build up. If we don’t, we answer to him, so I’m jumping in feet first and face forward.”
I thought the transition of these two paragraphs were funny since the reporter mentions the priest is bearded and the next line says “I’ll do everything we can to make it grow.”
…Services are heavy on formal ritual meant to inspire awe with the help of incense, candles, icons and chanting. “It’s more traditional and more spiritual,” said Kowalski, a former Roman Catholic. “You feel closer to God there. With the whole atmosphere you feel so lifted, so close to God. It’s truly a very spiritual and fulfilling rite.”
…Specific plans are still being formed, but some changes are already in place. Bingo is gone, and discussion has begun on how to re-emphasize Byzantine, or Eastern, elements of the church.
Former Roman Catholic? Shouldn’t that be a Catholic formerly of the Roman Rite. That is why use of the term Roman Catholic is so misleading and actually it was a termed first coined by Anglicans to separate themselves and to be distinct from Rome.