Pittsburgh Catholic church cancels annual festival after letter raises concerns

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SCOTT TOWNSHIP, Pennsylvania — A Catholic church in a Pittsburgh suburb has canceled its annual festival after an anonymous letter raised safety concerns.

The Diocese of Pittsburgh Pastoral Center received a handwritten letter in late July that said “Cancel August 14-17 Festival Security Problem is Huge.” Our Lady of Grace Parish in Scott Township was the only church in the diocese planning an event that week.

Church officials say while the letter did not specify a threat, there were concerns following the recent deadly shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.

“Although there was no direct threat, the letter raised grave concern due to the appalling chain of mass violence that our nation has experienced,” the diocese said in a statement.

It added that it mourns “the loss of carefree community.”

Father David Bonnar, the parish administrator, said in a statement the Scott Township police advised the church of ways to increase security, but after consultation with law enforcement, the parish festival committee and diocesan officials, being “mindful of too many tragedies,” he decided that the only safe measure was to cancel this year’s festival.

“Please be in prayer for the parish, for those who have worked so hard to prepare for the festival, for the school and ministries that would have benefitted from the festival, for the vendors who have lost work and for the individual who sent the letter. May we all experience the grace and mercy of God,” Bonnar said.

The church will consider other ways to raise money.

Authorities have not found the person who wrote and sent the letter.

Crux staff contributed to this report.


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