Dear Friends in Christ,

The first scripture reading during the Christmas Mass at midnight, taken from Isaiah the prophet, proclaims, “The people who walk in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwell in the land of gloom a light has shone. … For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.”(Isaiah 9:1,5)

Isaiah’s God-given task was to guide Judah through one of the most critical periods of her history. While the shadow of her neighbor’s conquest lay menacingly over the land, the spiritual crisis of Judah was even more serious than the threat of physical destruction. No one spoke more forthrightly than Isaiah in his denunciation of Judah’s pride, self-indulgence, and callous injustice toward the poor.

Yet, despite the reality of Judah’s immersion in the darkness of sin, Isaiah always proclaimed that God would never abandon his people. Instead, he would raise up a faithful remnant and restore the nation through One who would rule with mercy, justice and peace.

The promise of Isaiah is fulfilled in the Christmas event. Indeed, the very first spoken words recorded in Saint Luke’s Gospel as the evangelist chronicles this defining moment in salvation history are words of consolation and hope shared with poor shepherds who represent a broken, suffering people. “Do not be afraid. … A savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord.”(Luke 2:10,11)

My brothers and sisters, we need to sear these words into our hearts and to trust in the goodness and power of God today, more than ever. In so many respects, we’re not at all unlike the shepherds of Bethlehem or the people of Judah to whom Isaiah was sent. For all that we have been given in life – for all that we’ve accomplished as individuals and as a people – and for all that we dream and hope to experience for ourselves and those we love, we need the assurance of knowing that we are loved, that our lives matter, and that we have nothing to fear.

For as blessed as we are with God’s magnificent gift of life, our world has become a frightening and disappointing place. Random acts of violence are all too common in schools, entertainment venues and even in houses of worship. Life is still sadly disregarded, especially in the unborn, the poor, disabled and elderly. Immigrants and refugees seeking a better life are forced to the margins of society by discrimination, bigotry and hatred. And our Church has been robbed of so much of its beauty and promise by many of its own very leaders who have sexually abused the most innocent in our midst and have failed to create safe environments for those entrusted to their care.

Sadly, not unlike the initial response of the shepherds in Saint Luke’s Christmas Gospel, it seems that we do have much to fear from a world that seems to have gone awry. But for those of us who seek a way forward and who are wise enough to look at life with eyes of faith, the Word of God spoken by Isaiah the prophet reminds us that God is faithful, even when we are not. And we will be delivered from the brokenness of our world and our lives if only we place our trust in the Lord and walk in his ways.

A light has shone brightly in the midst of darkness. Jesus, our Savior, is among us and continues to walk our world and to fill hearts with hope and peace. In reflecting upon the heart of the Christmas message, Pope Francis offered these powerful words, “Let us set aside all fear and dread, for these do not befit men and women who are loved. Instead, let us experience the joy of encountering that grace which transforms all things.”

My friends, thank you for embracing the good news of Jesus’ birth. Thank you for living his Gospel in your generous service of one another – even and especially in challenging times. And thank you for your openness to the merciful love of God, the only sure way to our salvation and peace.

With gratitude for the privilege of serving as your Bishop and with prayers for a holy and blessed Christmas for you, your family and all you hold dear, I am

Faithfully yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, D.D., J.C.L.
Bishop of Scranton

His Excellency, Bishop Joseph C. Bambera, announces the following appointment, effective as indicated: 

PASTOR 

Reverend Edward J. Casey, from Assistant Pastor, Our Lady of the Snows Parish, Clarks Summit, to Pastor, Saint Ann Parish, Shohola, and Saint John Neumann Parish, Lords Valley, effective January 3, 2019. 

ADMINISTRATOR

Reverend Richard W. Beck, to Administrator, pro tem, Saint Ann Parish, Shohola, and Saint John Neumann Parish, Lords Valley, effective November 26, 2018. Father Beck will continue to serve as Pastor of Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace Parish, Hawley. 

ASSISTANT PASTOR 

Reverend Jose Joseph Kuriappilly, to Assistant Pastor, Epiphany Parish, Sayre, effective November 19, 2018.

Reverend Babu Muttickal, from the Diocese of Kottapuram, Kerala, India, to Assistant Pastor, Our Lady of the Snows Parish, Clarks Summit, effective January 3, 2019.

December 21 – Advent Mass for Chancery Staff, St. Peter’s Cathedral, Scranton, 12:10 p.m.

December 22 – Mass – SCI Waymart, Waymart, 9:00 a.m.

December 24 – Christmas Vigil Mass, St. Peter’s Cathedral, Scranton, 4:00 p.m.

Midnight Mass, St. Peter’s Cathedral, Scranton, Midnight

December 25 – Christmas Mass, Merli Veterans’ Center, Scranton, 9:30 a.m.

January 2-8 – U.S. Bishops’ Retreat, Mundelein Seminary, Chicago

January 9 – Mass – Capuchin Sisters, Tunkhannock, 4:00 p.m.

 

The Diocese of Scranton is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the first class of permanent deacons ordained for the Diocese and the 50th anniversary of the re-establishment of the diaconate in the United States. Bishop Joseph C. Bambera will be the principal celebrant of a Mass this Saturday, December 1, at 4 p.m. in the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton.

The diaconate had its origins in the time of the apostles and flourished during the first four centuries of the Church’s history. For various reasons this ministry went into decline. The Order of Deacon was re-established by the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and, with the permission of the Holy See, the permanent diaconate was restored in the United States in 1968 and dioceses could choose to begin accepting men for formation and ordination. The Office for the Permanent Diaconate was established in the Diocese of Scranton in 1988 and the first class of 24 permanent deacons was ordained in 1993. Succeeding classes were ordained in 1999, 2004, 2011 and 2017. To date, 92 deacons have been ordained by the Diocese. Currently, there are 73 deacons actively serving in the Diocese, including some who were ordained by other dioceses and now reside here.

Permanent deacons are members of the three-fold ordained ministry that consists of bishops, priests and deacons.

The deacon’s service has three aspects: word, worship and charity. A permanent deacon is not a stand-in for a priest, but he can perform certain ministerial functions such as administering baptism; serving as the deacon at the Mass, including proclaiming the Gospel, preaching the homily and distributing Holy Communion; bringing viaticum to the sick; presiding at wake services, funeral liturgies and burial rites; and with permission by the pastor, may celebrate the Sacrament of Matrimony.

He ministers to the needs of families, single parents, students, the aged and infirmed, the imprisoned, and those who suffer from poverty or addictions.

Every applicant for the permanent diaconate must first be nominated by his pastor. Men who believe that the Lord may be calling them to the diaconate must be baptized, practicing Catholics, who are at least 31 years of age and no more than 60 at the time of application. They may be married or single. If married, they must be in a valid, stable marriage for at least five years. If single, they are expected to remain celibate.

Permanent deacons complete a five-year formation program. Eighteen men are currently in formation.

CTV: Catholic Television will broadcast the Mass live.

I offer my sympathy and prayers and those of the Church of Scranton to the faithful of the Diocese of Madison at the passing of Bishop Robert Morlino. As a fellow native son of the Diocese of Scranton, I knew and respected Bishop Morlino as a devoted shepherd to the people of the dioceses he served, and someone who demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the Church. I join with the faithful entrusted to his care and with his many friends in the Diocese of Scranton in mourning his loss. May we be consoled by the Lord’s promise that all who served Him in life will enjoy eternal rest and peace.

Bishop Morlino, native of our Diocese, dies in Wisconsin

MADISON, Wis. (CNS) – Bishop Robert C. Morlino, the fourth bishop of Madison, died Nov. 24 at St. Mary’s Hospital in Madison. He was 71.

The bishop was undergoing planned medical tests when he suffered what doctors described as “a cardiac event” at the hospital and he never recovered.

Funeral arrangements were pending.

“All objective indicators point to the fact that Bishop Morlino accomplished what he set out to do in the diocese” after his Aug. 1, 2003, installation, the diocese said in a statement.

Among his “three expressed priorities” was increasing “the number and quality of the men ordained to the diocesan priesthood,” it said. “Fostering greater priestly vocations” resulted in his ordination of 40 men to the priesthood during his tenure. Another 24 are currently in formation.

Bishop Morlino also aimed “to instill a greater sense of reverence throughout the entire diocese, especially through our worship of God, celebrated in the holy sacrifice of the Mass,” the diocese said, “and to challenge Catholic institutions in the diocese to live out their professed faith in Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, through their ministry in the secular community.”

He succeeded in “bringing a greater sense of reverent worship to the entire diocese, and he made significant inroads toward encouraging the Catholic institutions in his care to live out their mission with greater fidelity, during his 15-plus years as bishop of Madison,” the diocese said. “We pray this continues.”

Born Dec. 31, 1946, in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Robert Charles Morlino was an only child. His father, Charles, died while he was in high school; his mother, Albertina, died in 1980. He was raised in Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, graduating from the Jesuit-run Scranton Preparatory High School.

He entered the seminary for the Maryland province of the Society of Jesus and was ordained to the priesthood for that province June 1, 1974. His education included a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Fordham University, a master’s degree in philosophy from the University of Notre Dame, and a master of divinity degree from the Weston School of Theology in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

He also had a doctorate in moral theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, with a specialization in fundamental moral theology and bioethics.

Father Morlino taught philosophy at Loyola College in Baltimore, St. Joseph University in Philadelphia, Boston College, and the University of Notre Dame and St. Mary’s College in Indiana. He also served as an instructor in continuing education for priests, religious and laity and as director of parish renewal programs

In 1981, Father Morlino became a priest of the Diocese of Kalamazoo, Michigan, and served there as vicar for spiritual development, executive assistant and theological consultant to the bishop, as moderator of the curia and as the promoter of justice in the diocesan tribunal. He was administrator of a number of parishes, and later rector of St. Augustine Cathedral in Kalamazoo.

Father Morlino was scheduled to begin a full-time faculty appointment as professor of theology at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit when, on July 6, 1999, St. John Paul II appointed him the ninth bishop of Helena, Montana.

Bishop Morlino was named fourth bishop of Madison May 23, 2003, and installed about three months later.

On the national level, Bishop Morlino is a past chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on the Diaconate and its Ad Hoc Committee on Health Care Issues and the Church.

He also served on the Bishops and Presidents Subcommittee of the USCCB’s Committee on Education, which focuses on the Catholic identity of institutions of higher education. Bishop Morlino also was a past chairman of the board of directors of the Philadelphia-based National Catholic Bioethics Center, which conducts research, consultation, publishing and education to promote human dignity in health care and the life sciences.

Bishop Morlino also was chairman of the board of visitors for the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. This board was a federal advisory committee created by congress to maintain independent review, observation and recommendation regarding operations of the institute, located at Fort Benning, near Columbus, Georgia.

Run by the U.S. Department of Defense, the institute is an education and training facility for civilian, military and law enforcement personnel from Western Hemisphere countries. For his service to the United States and his promotion of human rights education, the bishop was honored by the Department of the Army in 2009.

In 2006, the national Alliance for Marriage joined with the Congress of Racial Equality to present Bishop Morlino with their Lifetime Achievement Award, for his promotion of the fundamental rights of freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

In 2008, for his work in defense of the dignity of the human person, Bishop Morlino was awarded Human Life International’s Cardinal von Galen Award, named after the famous German bishop who worked actively against the Nazis. That same year, he also received the St. Edmund’s Medal of Honor, awarded to Catholics “who have used their God-given talents in promoting the common good.”

In 2015, he was the recipient of Relevant Radio’s Christ Brings Hope Award and earlier this year, he received the St. Thomas Aquinas College Medallion.

The 2018 Diocesan Annual Appeal, “The Journey Makes Us One,” has raised more than $2.2 million in gifts and pledges, bringing the campaign to 44% of the $5 million goal.

“I am grateful to so many generous supporters of the Annual Appeal for their willingness to be instruments of God’s presence in our midst as we strive to maintain safe environments for our children, restore trust and continue to live the mission of our Church in service to one another,” said Bishop Joseph C. Bambera. “This commitment brings hope and comfort to all of our brothers and sisters in Christ who depend on our Diocesan ministries to help strengthen and sustain them.”

Annual Appeal donations are restricted to be used to support five Diocesan ministries: Catholic Social Services and parish outreach programs, Catholic education in schools and parishes, clergy education and care, parish life and ministry formation and Catholic media and communications. Gifts to the Appeal are used solely to support these ministries and will not be used to defray legal fees or to fund the recently established Survivors Compensation Program.

Catholic Social Services relies on gifts to the Appeal to feed the hungry, clothe the poor and offer shelter, counseling and assistance to more than 300,000 people each year. The Appeal also funds social justice grants to parishes that support food and clothing pantries in our parishes, parish dinners for the elderly and families and outreach to prison inmates.

Our Diocesan Office of Parish Life provides a variety of programs and resources that support all aspects of life in our parish communities – liturgy and worship, community service and social concerns, formation for parish ministries and more. In response to Pope Francis, the Office of Parish Life and the Vocations Office have begun wonderful new programs to foster “The Young Church.”

Catholic Education in our schools and parishes is at the center of our commitment to pass on the faith to our children. Last year, nearly 15,000 children participated in parish religious education programs and more than 4,500 students received a quality, faith-based education in our Diocesan Catholic schools.

Appeal gifts assist our seminarians with the cost of their education and provide care for our ill and retired priests. Gifts to the Appeal also helps the Vocations Office guide men considering the priesthood.

Through The Catholic Light, Catholic Television and our Diocesan website, we offer everyone the opportunity to “hear the Good News.” Appeal donations also support the broadcast of the daily Mass and special liturgies at the Cathedral.

For more information on the Diocesan programs supported by gifts to the Annual Appeal, to view the Annual Appeal video or to make a donation online, visit www.annualappeal.org Gifts may also be made by calling the Diocesan Development Office at 570-207-2250 or by sending a donation to: Diocesan Annual Appeal, 300 Wyoming Ave., Scranton, PA, 18503-1279.

His Excellency, Bishop Joseph C. Bambera, announces the following appointments, effective as indicated:

PASTOR

Reverend Thomas J. Major, from Pastor, Saint Ann Parish, Shohola, and Saint John Neumann Parish, Lords Valley, to Pastor, Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Dushore, effective November 26, 2018. 

Monsignor David L. Tressler, from Pastor, Sacred Hearts of Jesus & Mary Parish, Jermyn, to Pastor, Saint Ignatius Loyola Parish, Kingston, effective, November 12, 2018.

ADMINISTRATOR

Reverend Gerard M. McGlone, to Administrator, pro tem, Sacred Hearts of Jesus & Mary Parish, Jermyn, effective November 12, 2018.  Father McGlone will continue to serve as Pastor of Queen of Angels Parish, Jessup. 

Monsignor Stephen D. McGough, to Administrator, pro tem, Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Dushore, effective November 5 through 26, 2018.

November 29 – Advent Day of Reflection for Priests, Diocesan Pastoral Center, Scranton, Noon

December 1 – Mass for 25th Anniversary of 1st Permanent Diaconate Class, St. Peter’s Cathedral, Scranton, 4:00 p.m.

December 9 – Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe Mass, St. John Neumann Parish, Nativity of Our Lord Church, Scranton, 1:30 p.m.

December 12 – Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe Mass, St. Nicholas Church, Wilkes-Barre, 6:00 p.m.

December 13-15 – U.S. Bishops’ Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, United Methodist Dialogue, Baltimore

 

SCRANTON, PA (November 8, 2018) – The Diocese of Scranton announced today the creation of an Independent Survivors Compensation Program for those who have suffered sexual abuse by clergy, religious or lay employees. Participation in the Program by survivors is entirely voluntary.

The Program will be administered by Kenneth Feinberg and Camille Biros, two leading experts in mediation and alternative dispute resolution. They will have absolute autonomy in determining compensation for survivors, and the Diocese of Scranton will abide by their decisions. Mr. Feinberg and Ms. Biros are currently managing a number of high-profile compensation programs nationwide, including similar programs started by five Catholic Dioceses in New York. Those programs collectively have provided over $200 million in compensation to more than 1,000 survivors. They have received positive feedback from those who participated.

An Independent Oversight Committee will oversee the implementation and administration of the Program. The Diocese will have no authority over this committee. Compensation decisions are final and cannot be appealed or overturned by the Diocese or the Independent Oversight Committee.

“Providing compensation to these survivors is the right thing to do,” said the Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, D.D., J.C.L., Bishop of Scranton. “Several weeks ago, Pennsylvania’s Bishops announced support of such a program, which was recently discussed but not enacted by the Pennsylvania General Assembly. The Diocese of Scranton is therefore moving forward and is offering this Program for survivors.”

Parish and school assets, as well as contributions and bequests from parishioners and donations to the Diocesan Annual Appeal, will not be used to fund the Program. Rather, the Diocese will use available reserves and will sell assets and borrow money as needed. While the Program will require significant resources, the Diocese will strive to maintain its core mission to serve the local community.

The Diocese continues to refine the Program so that it better serves survivors. Further details concerning the Program will be made available in the near future, including a website for survivors to obtain information and claim forms. The Program is anticipated to launch in January 2019.