Denis Wilson

Jerod Buck

Kevin Britt

By Joyce Bibey WHEELING—Having an honest and open forum of dialogue to
strengthen and unify the Church in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston is the shared goal for the Wheeling Vicariate representatives for the reestablished Diocesan Pastoral Council. Kevin Britt, of Moundsville; Jerod Buck, of Warwood; and Denis Wilson, of Wheeling are proud to serve Bishop Mark Brennan and their fellow faithful not only as an authentic and reflective voice, but also motivators to get others to be active and involved at the local level. Britt lives by the adage his grandmother preached, “Talk is cheap; it is good deeds that get you to heaven!” Britt is a member of St. Francis Xavier Parish in Marshall County where he serves on parish council and the finance committee. Additionally, he is a volunteer and Board member for Feeding Body and Soul, a community kitchen ministry in Moundsville that serves 1,000 meals a week. “By all objective measures, I have been abundantly blessed,” Britt said, quoting Luke 12:48, “The gospel calls us to service. It is that simple —‘To whom much is given, much is expected.’” Retired now, he made a 40-year career around his compassion for others as a hospital administrator. He will serve the DPC for three years and directly serve on the Pastoral Concerns Committee. “My bride and I have lived in seven different cities, states, parishes, and dioceses over the past 40 years,” he said. “I’ve attempted to be as active as possible in each one of those parishes.” He grew up in a strong Catholic family and attended St. Albert the Great in Kettering, Ohio, but notes the comparison of Catholic statistics from 50 years ago until now is a distressing and drastic contrast. “I have great confidence in Bishop Brennan and share his great sense of urgency that we need to focus our energies on getting baptized Catholics back to active practice of their faith,” he said. “For me, this struggle is personal. I grew up in a family of 13 children. All 13 of us went to Catholic grade school and Catholic high school. Several of us attended Catholic colleges or universities. Collectively, the 13 of us produced 39 grandchildren. Sadly, I can count on one hand the number of those in my family that are still active in their faith. Unfortunately, my family is but a microcosm of the American experience. Specifically, in 1970, seven out of 10 baptized Catholics actively practiced their faith by attending Mass and receiving the sacraments. Fast forward 50 years to 2020, and research confirms that only two of 10 baptized Catholics are still active. And I am sad to report that those 2020 numbers are pre-COVID. Realistically, there may be as few as 10% of baptized Catholics that are still practicing following the pandemic.” Hope is not lost, according to Britt. The foundations of our faith our ancestors gave us and fought for need revived and it is up the Church family to do so, he said. “As Catholics, we have been given the greatest gift imaginable: a clear path to eternal salvation and unspeakable joy, and yet 90% of those who have received this gift through baptism have turned their back on it? This is a tragedy,” he exclaimed. “So, it is imperative that we focus aggressively on evangelization, catechesis and outreach. We need to target both fallen away adults as well as young Catholics. Let’s be clear that this effort must be led by the laity. Our priests and deacons are already taxed and stretched beyond reason. Please know I am not blind to the reality that this is an up-hill battle, but I am simply not willing to give up the crusade. Catholicism is worth fighting for! We ride at dawn…” Britt’s focus is to encourage younger generation Catholics to be involved like fellow vicariate and DPC rep, Jerod Buck of Northern Ohio County. Buck, who is 20 years old, is a one-year member of the DPC and serves on the Lay Life and Ministry Committee. “I and all the young faithful members of the Church are poised to play a very crucial role in the future of our diocese, and the Church as a whole,” Buck said. “There are not very many young people that take their faith seriously, which casts a much greater burden for the young who do take their faith seriously to bear because we will inherit the Church. When we inherit the Church, we also inherit the problems of the Church; Bishop Brennan seems to recognize this reality because he started the DPC which gives the opportunity for us laypeople to voice our problems to the higher-ups in the Church.” Buck has been a lifelong member of Corpus Christi Parish, where he served as an altar server for weekday and weekend Masses. He is now a lector and greeter at Mass and helps prepare the church and sanctuary for holy days and seasons. “What I receive from this involvement in the Mass is the potential to help my fellow brothers and sisters participate more fully in the Mass,” he said. That same thinking is how he is approaching his role on the DPC and beyond—accepting the responsibility to encourage the faithful to cling to its Catechism and truths of the Church that Jesus Christ established through the apostles; and further working to dispel weak philosophies and override the memory of misguided faith leaders that have hurt our parishes and schools. Serving to strengthen parish and parish school life has been a passion for fellow DPC member Denis Wilson of St. Michael Parish in Wheeling. Wilson’s seat on the DPC is for two years. “I accepted this role on the DPC out of a love for our Church and in hopes to bring help and healing to our Wheeling-Charleston Diocese,” Wilson said. “I pray that the DPC becomes a powerful voice for the laity to feel that they have ‘Skin in the game.’ The church is not a Democracy; this is true. But even Jesus asked Peter, ‘Who do you say that I am?’ He also asked others for their ideas and help.” Wilson is on the Justice and Peace Committee for the group. “Our world and diocese need more of both (justice and peace),” Wilson said. “Many in our diocese do not feel justice was completely served under the Bransfield rule. I think that the diocese under the leadership of Bishop Mark Brennan is moving in a positive direction. I know he wasn’t here at the time, but many, including myself were. We failed as an institution to defend God’s people.” Wilson like many others want to “speed up” the healing of our diocese, and he sincerely prays that Bishop Brennan will not tire to do everything in his power to do so, because people still feel justice has not been served to the former bishop. Two lines in scripture Wilson relies on for guidance are Micah 6:8 (He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God) and Joshua 24:15 (As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord). He chooses to live and act out those teachings. “We are all called to be part of the kingdom of God here on earth,” he said. “We are the Eucharist, not just recipients of the Eucharist. In Mark’s Gospel Chapter 16:15, we are told to ‘Go into the world and preach the Good News to all creation.’ However, I do better working rather than preaching in my little part of the kingdom. I receive grace and hopefully humility knowing my God, I pray, is pleased with my effort.” Wilson is currently a lector, chair of St. Michael’s Building and Grounds Committee, and facilitator of a Saturday morning bible study. Previously he served as president of the school board, member of Parish Council and Finance committees, chair of the parish festival’s physical arrangements committee, and lay director of Christ Renews His Parish.