“I do think the Holy Spirit said to me one day: Ed, there’s a problem and you need to call the right people together to help alleviate.” – Bishop Edward C. Malesic
The evening of August 16 marked the conclusion of the Diocese of Greensburg’s summer listening and prayer sessions devoted solely to addressing Pennsylvania’s opioid crisis. However, the resounding message from Greensburg Bishop Edward C. Malesic is that the seven sessions were very much the beginning of his commitment to a finding a long-term solution to this epidemic.
“Our parents have lost sons and daughters because of it,” said Malesic.
At the session, a father spoke of losing his son after he was in recovery for 10 years; a concerned Indiana resident told the story of his neighbors raising their grandchild as a result of drug addiction; and, a young man described his eight-year battle with addiction, calling it the worst years of his life.
From Uniontown to Indiana, seven evenings of listening, learning and prayer were held throughout the diocese. Bishop Malesic estimates he spoke to 1,000 people in the diocese throughout the course of the sessions.
In the Diocese of Greensburg alone, 319 people died of an opioid overdose in 2016. Dr. John P. Gallagher, chair of the Pennsylvania Medical Society recently estimated the opioid-related death rate will not peak until 2024.
Bishop Malesic noted that moving forward he will continue his pastoral outreach to meet the needs of the diocese by supporting grassroots efforts within parishes, being involved in new programs that may emerge at the local level, connecting people with possibilities and continuing to formulate the Church’s response as one based on hope.
“Prayer is what our law enforcement officials, our legislators, our first respondents, our medical personnel, our family members of the addicted need. They need our prayers, they need our support, they need our love, they need our care, they need our concern,” said Malesic.