Pittsburgh parish cancels festival after security warning

Pittsburgh, Pa., Aug 13, 2019 / 08:56 am (CNA).- A Pennsylvania parish has cancelled a scheduled festival in response to a security threat received by the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

In an Aug. 13 statement, the diocese said that in late July it received a “disturbing,” handwritten letter that said “Cancel August 14-17 Festival Security Problem is Huge.”

Our Lady of Grace Parish in Scott Township, a Pittsburgh suburb, was the only diocesan parish scheduled to hold a festival Aug. 14-17.

“Although there was no direct threat, the letter raised grave concern due to the appalling chain of mass violence that our nation has experienced. Father David Bonnar, the priest-administrator, was immediately notified, and he immediately notified law enforcement. The sender has not been identified, so Father Bonnar announced today, with deep regret, that the festival has been canceled,” the diocesan statement said

The annual festival is a significant source of revenue for the parish.

“The loss of income to Our Lady of Grace Parish and School, and to vendors who were scheduled to work at the festival, pales in comparison to the loss of lives in Dayton, El Paso, Squirrel Hill and too many other places. The diocese supports the decision not to risk becoming another name in that tragic litany. But we mourn the loss of carefree community that should be the hallmark of these joyous events,” the diocese said.

The parish is located less than 15 miles from Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue, at which a gunman killed 11 people while shouting anti-Semitic slurs Oct. 27.

“As we are all devastated by this morning’s massacre at Tree of Life Congregation, my heart and prayers are especially lifted up for our Jewish sisters and brothers and the law enforcement officers who rushed into harm’s way,” Pittsburgh’s Bishop David Zubik said after that shooting.

“May God free us from fear and hatred, and sow peace in our lives, our communities, and in the world,” the bishop added.

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