Volunteers the Backbone of Summer Outdoor Masses in Loretto


By Tony DeGol

The Our Lady of the Alleghenies Shrine in Loretto is an amazing place to listen to the Word of God and worship the Lord in spectacular song.

Paul Rossman is the guy who helps the faithful hear everything a lot more clearly at the weekly summer outdoor Masses.

He runs the audio system for the Liturgies at the Shrine every Sunday night at 7:00 p.m. in the summer months, and he embraces the challenges of his important role.

“You play it week by week,” he confessed. “Sometimes you have to adjust to the weather. Sometimes we’ll be inside if it rains.”

For Rossman, it’s all a part of being a dedicated parishioner.

“This is my way of giving back,” he stressed. “My wife teaches CCD and she’s in the choir, and this is my way of being part of the Basilica and the great Church we have here.”

In fact, Rossman is one of several Basilica of Saint Michael the Archangel parishioners who volunteer their time and talent to make the weekly outdoor Masses run like a well-oiled machine. As the parish family prepares for the final outdoor Mass of the season on September 5, it is a time to reflect on their contributions.

“Every week, there’s a dozen or so of us who collectively put together a beautiful Mass starting at the end of May and running through Labor Day,” explained Celeste Stolz, a sacristan for the outdoor Masses. “It’s a ministry I love more than anything I do, and it’s because we bring together people from all over the diocese. We come together for the right reasons, and it’s a beautiful experience. I’m blessed to be able to do it.”

In the true spirit of volunteerism, Stolz is the first to admit that it is all about team work.

“We support one another because we know when one person isn’t available, two or three others will fill in,” she added. “It’s a beautiful group of people. I’ve been doing this for about 15 years now. We hope to continue it for a long time to come.”

Basilica music director Jonathan Nagy plays piano for the Masses and is grateful for the support he receives from his fellow musicians.

“I couldn’t be prouder of our music ministry here at the Basilica,” he stressed. “From our cantors to our choirs, everybody comes together, and each one of the Masses is very special. I hope we add something to them with the music we contribute.”

Everyone who attends the outdoor Masses appreciates the dedication of the volunteers, and so does the Rector of the Basilica.

“There are so many bits and pieces, and at the end of every Mass, a large group of people with several trucks comes in and in a very systematic way cleans up,” explained the Very Reverend John Byrnes, JCL, JV. “As we conclude our Masses for this summer season, I’m so grateful and thrilled to honor these fine parishioners who take care of so many needs with the weekly outdoor Masses.”

Editor’s Note: Watch more of this story on Proclaim! TV on September 5 at 10:30 a.m. on WATM ABC 23.

[Photos: (Top) Some of the choir members sing during a Mass at the Shrine; (First Inset) Paul Rossman sets up the audio before Mass; (Second Inset) A group of guys unload equipment following Mass; (Third Inset) Basilica music director Jonathan Nagy plays piano during a Mass.]