FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – July 29, 2019                                                                     Contact: Al Gnoza   717-585-1548



(HARRISBURG)–Pennsylvania’s Catholic bishops are asking the Trump Administration to maintain and even possibly expand the U.S. refugee resettlement program. Eric Failing– the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, which represents the bishops across the state—sent a letter to President Trump today in response to reports that the President is considering curtailing or even eliminating the program. The letter asks that it be maintained at current levels, but Failing also says that the bishops believe that the resettlement program should be restored to previous historic norms of 95,000 refugees per year.

“Refugees fleeing persecution overseas go through extensive background checks and health screenings,” Failing wrote in his letter. “This lengthy process can take two years or more to complete. Research, such as that done by the CATO Institute, has consistently found that refugees are neither a security risk nor a financial burden to the US or to the local economies.”

A refugee is a person who has fled their country of origin and is afraid to return because of persecution on a variety of grounds that include race and religion. Many Catholic charities in Pennsylvania begin working with refugees as soon as they are scheduled to arrive in America. Failing cited a typical refugee service that operates out of Harrisburg. It finds the refugees a safe home priced within the family’s budget, then furnishes the home and puts food in the refrigerator. The service then helps the refugees get jobs and find child care.

“It is incumbent upon us who are blessed with countless gifts and opportunities in the United States to care for our least fortunate brothers and sisters elsewhere,” Failing said to conclude his letter. “Let us not forget the words of our Savior when he told us, ‘Whatever you did not do for one of these least brothers of mine, you did not do for me’ (Matthew 25:40).”


Pennsylvania Catholic Conference is the public affairs arm of Pennsylvania’s Catholic bishops and the Catholic dioceses of Pennsylvania.


Pictured are: Row 1 from left to right: Mary MacIntire – St. Matthew’s, East Stroudsburg; Hunter Wesolowski – St. Theresa’s, Shavertown; Jessenia Robles – St. Matthew’s, East Stroudsburg; Jackeline Retana – St. Matthew’s, East Stroudsburg; Molly Devine – St. Gregory’s, Clarks Green; Karla Carrasco – St. Mathhew’s, East Stroudsburg; Matthew Kasperek – St. Luke’s, Stroudsburg. Row 2: Jen Robles – St. Matthew’s, East Stroudsburg; Lily Seymour – Our Lady of Snows, Clarks Summit; Lilly Reilly – St. Paul’s, Scranton; Nardin Mikhail – St. Luke’s, Stroudsburg; Emmslie Hernandez – St. Nicholas’s, Wilkes-Barre; Lucy Specht – Our Lady of the Snows, Clarks Summit; Sadie Henzes – St. Gregory’s, Clarks Green. Row 3: Sarah MacIntire – St. Matthew’s, East Stroudsburg; Alyssa Kovalchick – Nativity of the BVM, Tunkhannock; Ashlynn Urbanski – Queen of the Apostles, Avoca; Sophia Bere – St. Jude’s, Mountain Top; Frances Donohoe – Our Lady of Snows, Clarks Summit; Keyla Carrasco – St. Matthew’s, East Stroudsburg; Caroline Stampien – St. Gregory’s, Clarks Green; Elizabeth Gordon – St. Peter’s, Wellsboro; Anna Kosierowski – St. Gregory’s, Clarks Green. Row 4: Alenah Thomas – St. Catherine’s – Moscow; Gabriella Randazzo – St. Therese’s, Shavertown; Derrek Foytack – St. Eulalia’s, Elmhurst; Thomas Elias – Nativity of the BVM, Tunkhanock; Gwenn Strasser – St. Luke’s, Stroudsburg; Peyton Roberts – St. Eulalia’s, Elmhurst; Hannah Farber – St. John the Evangelist, Pittston; Jonathan Robles – St. Matthew’s, East Stroudsburg; Abbigail Schultz – St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Swoyersville; Emma Gibson – St. Gregory’s, Clarks Green; Sean Robbins, Youth & Young Adult Minister at St. Matthew’s; Mia Beviglia – St. Catherine’s, Moscow. Row 5: Annabelle Callis – St. Patrick’s, Scranton; Aubrey Jumper – St. Jude’s, Mountain Top; Liam Naughton – St. Matthew’s, East Stroudsburg; Maximilano Vega – Ss. Peter & Paul, Towanda; Magnolia Jones – St. Gregory’s, Clarks Green; Johnny Watkins – St. Paul’s, Scranton; Kyra Hayden – St. Jude’s, Mountain Top; Abbe Truschel – St. Jude’s Mountain Top; Patrick Zamojski – St. Maximilian Kolbe, Pocono Pines; McKenzie Torres – St. Luke’s, Stroudsburg. Row 6: Will Granci – St. Gregory’s, Clarks Green; Jefferson Jones – St. Gregory’s, Clarks Green; Justin Peeney – St. Luke’s, Stroudsburg; Ben Bowen – St, Joseph Marello, Pittston; Juan Lugo – St. Matthew’s, East Stroudsburg; Michael Fellin – St. John Bosco, Conyngham; Sam Matrisciano – St. Matthew’s, East Stroudsburg; Tyler Osipower – St. Therese’s, Shavertown; Aaron Lemos – St. Matthew’s, East Stroudsburg; Aidan Jenkins – St. John the Evangelist, Pittston. Row 7: Michael Watkins – St. Paul’s, Scranton; Matt Kreciewski, Our Lady Queen of Peace, Brodheadsville; Giuseppe Carbone – Our Lady Queen of Peace, Brodheadsville; Bishop Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop, Diocese of Scranton; Raymond Sabatini – St. Jude’s, Mountain Top; Katie Ruch – St. Therese’s, Shavertown; Dominick Costantino, Diocesan Vocations Program Coordinator. Row 8/Background: Will Warnken – Our Lady Queen of Peace, Brodheadsville; Matt Hayden – St. Jude’s, Mountain Top; Stephen Hineline – St. Catherine’S, Moscow; Shannon Kowalski, Diocesan Coordinator for Youth & Young Adult Ministry; Fr. Brian JT Clarke, Pastor of Christ the King, Archbald.

DALLAS, PA (JULY 17, 2019) – A total of 47 high school students and 13 student team members recently took part in the International Student Leadership Institute (ISLI) at Misericordia University between Monday, July 8, and Thursday, July 11, 2019.

The four day retreat is a peer-facilitated leadership retreat. It is designed to provide students with knowledge and skills necessary to excel in both leadership and membership roles in task-oriented groups. The program also empowers students with the skills necessary to make decisions, develop positive communication skills and learn self-motivational skills.

The International Student Leadership Institute is organized by the Diocese of Scranton’s Office for Parish Life and some of the funding is provided by donations to the Diocesan Annual Appeal.


Statement of Bishop Joseph Bambera on Current Immigration Situation

July 18, 2019

The image of Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez, and his 23 month old daughter, Angie Valeria, both of whom drowned trying to cross the Rio Grande from Mexico to the United States will remain in many people’s hearts and minds for years to come.

When we preach about love and human dignity, we are talking about our moral values. As Catholics, we do not have the privilege of compromising our moral values to match our pre-existing stereotypes or beliefs. When we preach a pro-life ethic, we must stand by this value to defend the unborn, the immigrant, the imprisoned, and all those who are left in vulnerable positions by their government or social circumstances. We cannot rank one of these groups above the others. The Catholic Church is called to seek out those silences and give voice to the voiceless.

We have a responsibility to all people, regardless of race, religion, or immigration status. It is not our role to condemn a family for leaving their country of origin in search of a better future for their children. It is our role to love these people as members of one human family. We must continue to advocate for safe spaces for migrants and especially for children. The privately run detention centers where children are waiting to be reunited with their families are not acceptable. It is time for our leaders to set aside partisan politics and to fix a broken system.  At the center of our faith is mercy without judgment; our pro-life values teach us to protect the innocent at all costs. These children deserve more from America.

Recently, vigils were held in support of migrant families across the Diocese, in communities including Scranton, Stroudsburg and Wellsboro. As these events show, we are called to fight for justice for immigrants and for comprehensive immigration reform. Today and always, we are called to continue the fight for all who are vulnerable: for the unborn, for the struggling mother, and for the father who faces an impossible decision to leave his homeland.

I ask you to continue not only your prayers, but your efforts to speak up against injustice and protect the basic humanity of migrants and refugees.


Bishop Bambera’s Statement on USCCB’s New Polices on Child Protection

June 27, 2019

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Diocese of Scranton is committed to protecting its young people and ensuring that the local Church of Scranton continues to address issues of child sexual abuse with vigilance and fidelity.

I attended the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Meeting earlier this month and voted in favor of all four new policies and procedures that were proposed during the meeting. While the revelations of the last year have rightfully angered and outraged many, the overwhelming majority votes by the bishops on all four initiatives shows our collective desire to keep our young people safe.

Throughout the conference, the underlying issue in my mind was the respect and treatment of those survivors who may have not been believed, ignored or even shamed when they came forward with their claims in the past.

For me, one of the documents approved, Affirming Our Episcopal Commitments, was especially important and significant.

In that document, I affirmed once more the commitments I made when I was ordained your bishop, including the commitment to respond directly and appropriately to cases of sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable persons.

Please understand I take this responsibility seriously. They are not just words on a piece of paper.

In the same document, I also re-committed myself to including the help of lay men and women whose professional backgrounds are indispensable. The Diocese of Scranton has been doing this since before the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” went into effect in 2002. The involvement of the laity in our Diocese, especially the Diocesan Review Board (which is made up of a majority of lay persons) has been both consoling and helpful.

I fully understand that, as bishops and a Church, our level of credibility has been challenged. When we say we are committed to this work, we are going to need to show it. These new policies and procedures are just the latest in a series of steps the Church has taken to respond to the sin and crime of sexual abuse.

As a Diocese, we welcome the opportunity to talk with anyone on the work of the Church to address abuse situations and to develop a shared understanding of the work that remains.

Faithfully yours in Christ,

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




July 16, 2019

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


Reverend Wilfredo Milan Mamani Cusicanqui to Assistant Pastor, Holy Rosary Parish, Hazleton, effective June 24, 2019.  Father Cusicanqui will continue to serve as Assistant Pastor, Holy Name of Jesus Parish, Hazleton.

Reverend Michael J. Kloton, to Pastor, Good Shepherd Parish, Drums, effective August 1, 2019.  Father Kloton will continue to serve as Pastor, Immaculate Conception Parish, Freeland.

Reverend Connell A. McHugh, from Pastor, Good Shepherd Parish, Drums, to Pastor Emeritus, Good Shepherd Parish, Drums, effective August 1, 2019.


Deacon Vincent Oberto, to Deacon, Holy Name of Jesus Parish, West Hazleton, effective June 24, 2019.  Deacon Oberto will continue to serve as Deacon, Holy Rosary Parish, Hazleton.

Deacon James M. Rebarchick, to Deacon, Good Shepherd Parish, Drums, effective August 1, 2019.  Deacon Rebarchick will continue to serve as Deacon, Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Parish, Freeland.


Mrs. Mary Anne Malone, to Parish Life Coordinator, Saint Patrick Parish, White Haven.  As Parish Life Coordinator, Mrs. Malone will provide on-site pastoral care in the absence of a pastor.  Reverend Peter J. O’Rourke will serve as Sacramental Minister providing Mass and the other sacraments on a regular basis.  Reverend Michael J. Piccola, V.F., Dean of the Hazleton Deanery and Pastor of SS. Cyril and Methodius Parish, Hazleton, will serve as Priest Moderator.  Effective August 1, 2019.


The next 52nd Annual Eucharistic Congress will take place in Budapest, Hungary from September 13 – 20, 2020.

The Congress is a worldwide celebration that promotes education on and respect for the Eucharist. The one-week event held regularly since 1881 (every four years in recent times) celebrates the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist according to the teaching of the Catholic Church.

This will mark the second time that Hungary has hosted the International Eucharistic Congress, with the first one held in Budapest in 1938. Key venues of the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress can be viewed at:

Budapest was named the host city by Pope Francis in January 2016, at the end of the 2016 International Eucharistic Congress held in Cebu City, Philippines.

This past May, a choir of 500 children sang praise to God in Budapest, in front of the St. Stephen’s Basilica. Members of the choir wore the motto of the International Eucharistic Congress on their T-shirts: “All my springs are in you”. That performance can be viewed at:


July 3, 2019

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

Reverend Brian J.W. Clarke, to Pastor, Holy Name of Jesus Parish, West Hazleton, effective June 24, 2019.  Father Clarke will continue to serve as Pastor, Holy Rosary Parish, Hazleton.

Reverend Peter J. O’Rourke, from Pastor, Holy Name of Jesus Parish, West Hazleton, to Pastor Emeritus, Holy Name of Jesus Parish, West Hazleton, effective June 24, 2019.


Bishop Joseph Bambera of the Diocese of Scranton will dedicate a new altar at Saint Mary of the Lake Church in Lake Winola on Sunday, July 7, at 9:00 AM.

Over the last year, The Parish Family of Saint Mary of the Lake has redecorated the interior of their church. This has included the custom fashioning of a new altar by a master woodworker, as well as repainting, carpeting, lighting, and furnishings. The first Mass in the redecorated church will be celebrated on July 7.

“At a time when many Catholic Churches are closing or consolidating, it is extremely unusual for a parish to dedicate a new altar”, said Reverend Patrick L. Albert, pastor. At this extremely visual rite, the new altar is initially bare, and Bishop Bambera will anoint the altar with Holy Oil, incense the altar, cover the altar, and light the altar. “It is a rite that most Catholics rarely see”, said Father Albert.

Catholics believe that the altar is a table for both a sacrifice and a banquet. At the altar, the priest perpetuates Christ’s sacrifice, and people give thanks to God and receive His Body and Blood.

Parishioners donated the new altar as well as other furnishings through memorializations. They raised the funds for other refurbishing through capital campaigns.