Fr. Pribonic Arrives

Father Pribonic Arrives

Father Pribonic recalls the first words spoken to him by the office staff when he arrived: “We have no money and the church roof is leaking.” He also recalls introducing the Parish Share Program in 1987 with the statement: “If we do not meet our goal, the Lord may call me home!” His sense of humor notwithstanding, he also recalled with fondness the ringing of bells for Mass. Serving the parish with Father Pribonic were the following parochial vicars: Fathers John H. Mulhern (July 5, 1977 – June 13, 1988), Barley S. Sorenson (February 1, 1985 – June 11, 1990, John L. McKenna (June 13, 1988 – January 17, 1991), Raymond A. Gualtieri (June 18, 1990 – July 18, 1994), Mark A. Eckman (January 17, 1991 – August 31, 1992), David D. Dewitt (August 31, 1992 – June 16, 1997), and F. Raymond Trance (July 18, 1994 – April 20, 1998).

During his pastorate, Father Pribonic instituted Epiphany dinners, hired the first business manager, and started the Bethany Group. Mildred Pfeifer acted as coordinator, and women and men of the parish began visiting and sending cards to the elderly. They delivered flowers at Easter and homemade cookies for St. Valentine Day. One member designed a card with a drawing of St. Valentine Church. This card continues to be sent by Bethany to families who had a member buried from the parish. At the same time, the Bethany Group also began reaching out to the residents of the newly opened Woodcliffe Personal Care Home (now Woodcliffe Manor Assisted Living Facility). Eucharistic ministers began taking communion to the Catholic residents every Sunday and the parochial vicar would celebrate Mass once a month. This continues today. Over the years, groups of children from the school and religious education program have visited, made cards, helped with activities, and performed programs for the residents.

On Wednesday evening, February 14, 1990, survivors of the 1942 fire that destroyed the original church were honored at the church. The Most Reverend Donald W. Wuerl, Bishop of Pittsburgh, presided over this service that also launched a parish renewal. An unfortunate event that marked these years was the Sisters of St. Francis leaving St. Valentine’s. The Sisters in the convent, due to advancing age and declining health, moved back to their motherhouse. The convent did, however, serve as temporary home to many of the Sisters during extensive renovations at their motherhouse.

The assignment of Father Mark Eckman as parochial vicar to St. Valentine Church was a cause of rejoicing for the parish. Father Mark, a “parish son,” had attended St. Valentine School and was eagerly welcomed back. Father Ray Gualtieri, who served during Father Pribonic’s pastorate, was assigned as spiritual director for the St. Valentine’s Senior Citizens Club and for the St. Vincent de Paul Society during his years at St. Valentine Church. Father David D. DeWitt, parochial vicar from August 1992 to June 1997, served with both Father Pribonic and, after Father Pribonic was reassigned, with Father John A. Harvey, the sixth pastor of St. Valentine Church.