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Bishop Brandt 

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“The role of a bishop is to teach, to shepherd and to sanctify.”

Bishop Lawrence E. Brandt has said it repeatedly over the past 10 years, and it continues to be a sincere, heartfelt sentiment.


"I am blessed to be your bishop!"


Reflecting recently on his decade of service as the fourth bishop of the Diocese of Greensburg, Bishop Brandt cited some of those nearly countless blessings.


The priests of the diocese have been one of those many blessings, and he knew that would be the case before he arrived in Greensburg for the Jan. 2, 2004, announcement of his appointment.


While serving as chancellor for the Diocese of Erie, Bishop Brandt remembered then Bishop Donald W. Trautman’s remarks after leading a retreat for the priests of the Diocese of Greensburg.


"Bishop Trautman said they were a group of hard-working, dedicated priests," Bishop Brandt recalled. "It’s been great to find that true."


He praised the many religious communities serving in the diocese, especially the Benedictines at Saint Vincent Archabbey, Latrobe, and the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill, Greensburg.


Full name: Lawrence Eugene Brandt

March 27, 1939, Charleston, W. Va.

Dec. 19, 1969, St. Peter's Basilica, Rome

Appointed bishop of Greensburg:
Jan. 2, 2004, by Pope John Paul II

Ordained and installed as bishop of Greensburg:
March 4, 2004, Blessed Sacrament Cathedral, Greensburg

Languages spoken:
German, French, Italian and Spanish


"They provide wonderful support of diocesan work and are a blessing for me," he said, especially through their institutions of higher education, Saint Vincent College and Seminary and Seton Hill University.

Of course, then, there are the faithful of the diocese.


"There are so many dedicated, good, good people here," he said. "There are so many committed Catholic people. They are a real morale boost for any priest or bishop."

That includes members of the diocesan staff, whom he called "wonderfully dedicated people who stay here and believe in what they do."

Bishop Brandt takes time twice a year — at Thanksgiving and on his March 27 birthday — to perform a spiritual exercise in reflecting on and counting those blessings.


"I’d rather count my blessings than my years," he said. "And I find that I have so many reasons to be grateful."


Meditating on the Scriptures is for him an endless source of consolation, comfort, encouragement and inspiration, he said.



His family — mother, Priscilla, and sisters, Marilyn and Dolores — have been a source of strength over the years.


"My family has always been there for me, as have many dear friends," he said. "They help you get through challenges and help you keep your perspective. Joy shared is joy doubled."


That is why every priest needs longtime friends who can share his joys and help him through challenges, he added, noting he has stayed in touch with good friends he has had for more than 50 years.


Bishop Brandt has addressed many challenges in the past 10 years, through the painful process of restructuring parishes and the exhilarating process of the successful financial capital campaign, "Today’s Challenge ~ Tomorrow’s Hope."


Two of the biggest ongoing challenges in the diocese are the need for faith formation and evangelization, he said.


"We cannot assume someone knows the Catholic faith because a person has been well educated for a career," Bishop Brandt said.


Evangelization is critical because the Catholic Church in the U.S. needs to recover from having lost many people in the past two generations, he said.


Bishop Brandt hopes that some of his decisions will be blessings for the diocese in the future.


"The strategic plan has been a benefit because it identified and analyzed our needs," he said. The planning process led then to the financial capital campaign that "put financial legs to the priorities identified in the strategic planning process."


While clergy vocations recruitment is challenging, in part because of the aging and decreasing population in the diocese, Bishop Brandt said the vocations prayer that he promulgated in 2004 and the three vocations prayer chapels that he established in Latrobe, Indiana and Uniontown are helping raise awareness of the need for prayer to help increase vocations.


The permanent diaconate program initiated in 2005 is, and will be, a blessing, too, he said.


Bishop Brandt is proud of the Diocesan Poverty Relief Fund he established in 2010. It has directed more than $154,000 in assistance to people in need in the diocese’s four counties.


He hopes the Bishop’s Tuition Transfer Grants program, which he recently established, and the $100,000 marketing grant the diocese has received will help Catholic schools increase enrollment.


It is always a great experience to meet young people at diocesan events, including the annual youth honors ceremony, he added. "I am rejuvenated by our young people," Bishop Brandt said. "We have faith-filled young people here, and they impress me."


He became a priest to make a difference. "It’s been a joy to continue my priestly ministry in a different way and at a different level," Bishop Brandt said. "A bishop can influence many people in many positive ways and hopefully through his decisions do so much good."


~The Catholic Accent

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