GREENSBURG (KDKA) — Greensburg Roman Catholic Bishop Edward Malesic penned a letter in response to the growing heroin epidemic and how he believes parishioners can get involved and save lives.

Bishop Malesic released his first pastoral letter as both a plea for prayer and a plan to save lives.

“Last year, as I understand it, 316 people died of opioid overdoses in the four counties of the Dioceses of Greensburg, which include Fayette, Armstrong, Indiana and Westmoreland,” Malesic said.

To that end, the bishop is calling for a frontal assault on the epidemic of opoid abuse, prayer being a huge part.

“Yes, I know. I’m not naive. We need to use the best science we have, the best counselors and social workers out there,” he said, “but when you add prayer to the mix, God helps us to do our very best.”

The pastoral letter has the bishop encouraging churches in the Diocese to be ready for those, Catholic or not, who are calling for help battling addiction.

“Through the services and Catholic charities, we have and we will continue to offer counseling, education and referrals for addicts and their families. We will assist in the development of family recovery groups,” he said.

“I’m asking parishes or regions of parishes to develop continue developing support groups and we’ll help them do that,” he continued. “I want them to have a list of treatment centers and phone numbers for referral ready at the phone.”

Over the next few weeks, the Diocese plans on hosting drug education and prayer services at multiple parishes. The bishop says it’s only the beginning of what will be a long-term battle won with love and compassion.

“The letter, as I wrote it, is a call to action because we cannot simply give up and let this evil win when we have the god-given ability to fight it,” Malesic said.

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