Late Flight 93 chapel founder was 'joyful that we've done so much'
Bishop Alphonse Mascherino has died, leaving behind the Somerset County chapel he founded to honor the passengers of United Flight 93, which crashed in a nearby field on Sept. 11, 2001.
Mascherino, 69, who recently entered hospice care, died on Friday.
He held his final service in the tiny, nondenominational country chapel on Jan. 20, announcing that he was suffering from cancer.
“I'm joyful that we've done so much,” Mascherino said after the service.
Flight 93 crashed near Shanksville when passengers and crew attempted to overtake four terrorists who had hijacked the airplane. All 40 passengers and crew members died.
In 2002, Mascherino decided to honor their memory by purchasing and overseeing the renovation of the former Mizpah Lutheran Church.
Last month, Mascherino announced that the chapel's future will be in the hands of Archbishop Ramzi Musallam of the Catholic Church of the East.
“I was the last person to speak with him,” Musallam said on Monday.
“I gave him final prayers. He trusted in me to continue his work. I thank God for his trust and his love as a brother,” he said.
“He asked for me to keep the dream, to keep those heroes here on the mountain alive,” Musallam said.
A memorial Mass will be celebrated at 2 p.m. Saturday in the chapel, Musallam said.
In an email last month, Mascherino told a reporter he suspected his time was limited, even as he maintained his wry sense of humor.
“I had a bit of a Christmas party, just a few people I could call at the last minute,” he said.
“They didn't know it, but secretly in my heart, I viewed it as my wake, since I wouldn't be able to enjoy my wake if there is one,” he wrote.
“It would have been funny to ... get their candid reflections,” he wrote.
“It's been a great ride, and now the journey comes to an end,” Mascherino concluded.
Greensburg resident Carol Love said she plans to continue training volunteers to provide tours of the chapel.
A recent training session attracted eight volunteers.
“There was a bonus those eight got that no one else will get. After spending some time in the chapel, they followed my husband and me to hospice, and they met Father Al,” she said.
Unable to speak, he penned a message to the volunteers.
“He wrote, ‘This is the future of the chapel,' ” Love said.
In 2003, then-Altoona-Johnstown Bishop Joseph Adamec called Mascherino's work “commendable,” but said it was incompatible with the Roman Catholic Church, which had ordained him as a priest.
Mascherino became a bishop on Sept. 27, 2009, in the North American Old Roman Catholic Church, Utrecht Succession, Archdiocese of California, which does not recognize the authority of the pope.
Mascherino's funeral arrangements are under the direction of the Miller Funeral Home and Crematory in Somerset.
Mary Pickels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-5401 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Unity resident again accused of burglary
- Ligonier Township K-9 officer home to recover from deadly collision
- Vandals ruin Ligonier Township farmers’ garden
- Ex-Delmont man found dead in Florida
- Pair of zoning requests denied by Unity board
- Greensburg, Youngwood pools opening for the season May 30
- Hempfield hires finance director
- Westmoreland jail warden pushes for full-body scanner to find drugs, contraband