Thursday, july 13, 2017 The Official Newspaper of the Diocese of Greensburg Volume 57, No . 4 CHLOE JAKIELA THE CATHOLIC ACCENT YOUNG PEOPLE HONORED: Bishop Edward C. Malesic congratulates young people who were honored at the annual Youth Ministry Honors and Recognition Mass July 9 at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral, Greensburg. See story and list of honorees on page 12 . Bishop Malesic paints stark reality of opioid crisis during press conference By Elizabeth Fazzini Managing Editor GREENSBURG — With a drug crisis that’s far beyond looming, Bishop Edward C. Malesic told nearly a dozen reporters that people addicted to drugs are fighting for their lives and their loved ones and the church must never give up on them. “I’ve been hearing the cries of many people who’ve been affected by this opi-oid scourge in our midst,” the bishop said at a press conference held at the Diocese of Greensburg’s Pastoral Center June 29. Last year, 319 people died of opioid overdoses in the four counties (Westmo-reland, Armstrong, Indiana and Fayette) of the diocese, the bishop said. “That is a staggering figure, and all indications point that the numbers will rise this year,” Bishop Malesic said. Acknowledging he felt called by the Holy Spirit, Bishop Malesic officially re-leased his first pastoral letter, “A Pastoral Letter on the Drug Abuse Crisis: From Death and Despair to Life and Hope,” and announced a new, critical initiative in the diocese at the press conference. This high priority initiative is designed to combat the drug epidemic now upon Southwest-ern Pennsylvania while giving hope to people and communities. He said his pastoral letter, which can be located on the diocesan website at www.dioceseofgreensburg.org, is both a call to action and encouragement for everyone to engage in this fight. “We simply cannot give up and let this evil win,” the bishop said, adding that God wants people to use their God-given talents to help one another. The bishop said the implications of addiction reach far beyond the addict. Mothers and fathers are anguished, fami-lies are torn apart, emergency responders are working amid dangerous conditions, and priests are dealing with the difficult reality of burying the lost loved ones. To this end, Bishop Malesic has formed an advisory group composed of experts in drug addiction who are advising him on ways the church can pastorally re-spond, adding that the ongoing effort will be organic. “Prayer and education” is the primary focus of this initiative, the bishop said. Acknowledging that he’s not “naïve,” Bishop Malesic said he recognizes the Continued on page 3 16TH ANNUAL PAUL R. SMIY MEMORIAL GOLF OUTING MONDAY, AUG. 21 LIGONIER COUNTRY CLUB For tickets and advertising/ sponsorship information, contact Heather Rady, 724-837-1840, ext. 1504, or email@example.com. LISTEN UP: YOUNG PEOPLE INVITED Young people are invited to participate in listening sessions with Bishop Edward C. Malesic to discuss “Youth, Faith and Vocational Discernment,” Pope Francis’ theme for the 15th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in October 2018. The first session is July 25 at 6:30 p.m. at St. Paul Parish, Greensburg. To register, visit goo.gl/tzQNir.