The Pittsburgh Oratory has been established in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh since 1961. Originally located up the hill on Bigelow Boulevard, the new home of The Pittsburgh Oratory was completed in November of 1996.
In 1961 the Bishop of Pittsburgh John J. Wright, who eventually would be widely known as Cardinal Wright, conceived the idea of bringing to Pittsburgh an Oratory of Saint Philip Neri in order to minister to the students of large secular universities under his pastoral care. While many dioceses support “Newman Clubs” – spiritual and social centers for Catholic students on secular college campuses – Wright wanted to take such an initiative one step further. Through his knowledge and love of the work of the great nineteenth-century scholar, churchman, Oratorian, and now Blessed, John Henry Cardinal Newman, Wright was inspired to create the University Oratory of the Holy Spirit Parish. This parish, serving the faculty, staff and students at Carnegie Mellon University, Chatham University, and the University of Pittsburgh would be administered by the priests of his newly founded Oratory. By 1967 Wright’s Oratory was canonically established as a pontifical house of the Confederation of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri, a Society of Apostolic Life in which members are intended to live in community for life without taking religious vows but bonded only by charity. The Pittsburgh Oratory is one of approximately seventy Oratories in the world, housing about 450 Oratorians. Today, The Pittsburgh Oratory is grateful for the opportunity to serve and support some 10,000 Catholics that comprise the local university and broader Newman scholarly communities. Its essential mission, however, is to be faithful to the charism of its originator and founder, St. Philip Neri. Through our work, our prayer, and our community life we seek day by day to live his motto from the writings of St. Paul, “Gaudete semper – Rejoice always, again I say, rejoice!“
The Original Oratory on Bigelow Blvd
The Oratory Today. Completed in 1996
Three branches of the Oratory: The Fathers of the Congregation, The Adults and Families of the Secular Oratory and the Students of the Newman Center
The Pittsburgh Oratory was founded with a close connection in mind to Newman’s idea of a University and the ethos of his Oxford aspirations. Even so, campus ministry is not exclusively the work of Oratorians. Most Oratories administer parishes, and do so in large urban areas such as Toronto, London, Vienna, and Rome. Yet, all have programs dedicated to the spiritual, intellectual and personal formation of college students and youth, a consistent echo of St. Philip Neri’s pastoral care for the youth in turbulent sixteenth-century Rome. The Pittsburgh Oratory likewise promotes and fosters the spiritual growth and maturation of all – including adults and families – who find in St. Philip Neri, Bl. John Henry Newman, and their spiritual path, an example and help in fulfilling their own personal call to holiness and apostleship. The devotions, disciplines, programs, and fellowships that follow naturally from this goal of, “sharing all things in common,” generates a distinctive Oratorian communitas – both a common joy in the manifold gifts of the Spirit, as well as a common task and responsibility to act in and from these gifts as salt and light in our ecclesial, social, and academic spheres. This larger “community” formed around the life of the priests of the Congregation of the Oratory is often referred to as the “Secular Oratory”. Everyone who attends the Oratory for any of its sacramental, devotional, or educational activities is welcome to take part in and even register formally as a member of the Secular Oratory. Although these sorts of activities and this sort of community may resemble that of many parishes, nonetheless, The Oratory is not a parish.