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Religious leaders remind congregations to give thanks as holiday season nears

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Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012, 8:53 p.m.

‘Tis the season, not for shopping and Santa, but for giving and being grateful, said the Rev. Michael Decewicz.

“We are to have an attitude of gratitude,” said Decewicz, pastor of St. Juan Diego in Sharpsburg.

“We need to truly be thankful for all our blessings and our challenges,” he said.

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, local pastors are using the special day to remind parishioners that the most important gifts aren't under the tree.

In the wake of a hectic political season and the lingering effects of Superstorm Sandy, the Rev. JJ Lynn, pastor of the First English Lutheran Church in Sharpsburg, is telling his members to be appreciative of simple things in life.

“There's so much going on everywhere. Obviously there is something to be thankful in our lives,” Lynn said.

“My question for folks is ‘How do we show our gratitude?”

He is taking time during Thanksgiving Mass to remind people to proclaim good news in the face of adversity by giving to the less fortunate.

Decewicz's message is similar.

We are entitled to nothing, he said.

“We need to realize that everything in life is a gift,” he said.

“We are reminded that as recipients of life and love, we need to be grateful of the great bounty of love that God has showered upon us.”

The Rev. Ken White, pastor of St. Scholastica Parish in Aspinwall, will preach a sermon that reminds people to capitalize on the true meaning of Thanksgiving.

“This is the least commercialized holiday,” White said.

“The focus is the meal and family gathering. There is no emphasis on gifts.

“It's probably the purest holiday that we have.”

White draws parallels to the Eucharistic table, the meaning of which is to give thanks, and reminds people that “Jesus was always seen giving thanks, even at the Last Supper he gathered people to give thanks.”

White will urge people, even in the face of sickness or economic hardships, to bring their issues to the table and to give thanks for things that are stable.

“The roots of this season are fellowship and moments of family life.”

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or

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