As the national conversation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic shifts to discussion and coordination of gradually reopening some businesses, many faithful in the Diocese of Scranton are wondering when the suspension of public Masses will be lifted.

In our Diocese, leadership has started discussing ways to safely return to sacramental life and other parish activities, even if on a limited basis, but stress it is still too early to determine any timelines.

The Diocese of Scranton will rely on the guidance of both governmental and health care professionals as this process moves forward.

On Monday, April 20, 2020, Governor Tom Wolf extended the state’s stay-at-home order until at least May 8, 2020, which he set as a “target date” to begin opening parts of the state’s economy but reiterated the process would be slow and gradual.

“As time unfolds, people coming back into normal activities will probably happen a little more slowly than some might expect,” Bishop Joseph C. Bambera said. “We have to be extremely cautious that we do it in such a way that we protect those individuals entrusted to our care and that we do it mindful of our need to be good to one another.”

The Diocese recognizes that it will need to be cognizant of the important balance between allowing people the ability to gather while still protecting their health and safety.

“People have often said to me, can’t we do something to experience the sacraments? Isn’t there some way that we can participate in the life of the Church, especially the Eucharist? No one wants to gather to celebrate the Eucharist with the faithful of our Diocese more than me. Yet, I am also charged by God to care for all the lives that are given to me. Our faith is far, far more powerful and more significant than any other reality or power in the world. But God has also given us common sense and places us in the midst of the world to care for what we’ve been given. That’s why we must be careful during these particular days as we plan the best steps moving forward,” Bishop Bambera added.


April 20, 2020

His Excellency, Bishop Joseph C. Bambera, announces the following appointments, effective at a time to be determined, given the ongoing health crisis.

Reverend John J. Victoria, from Pastor, Saint Ann Parish, Williamsport, to Chaplain, Mercy Center, Dallas.

Reverend Gerald W. Shantillo, from Pastor, Saint Matthew Parish, East Stroudsburg, to Episcopal Vicar for Clergy.  Father Shantillo will also serve as Sacramental Minister, Our Lady of the Eucharist Parish, Pittston.

Reverend Jeffrey J. Walsh, from Episcopal Vicar for Clergy and Sacramental Minister, Our Lady of the Eucharist Parish, Pittston, to Pastor at a parish yet to be determined.


CARBONDALE, PA (April 17, 2020) – Catholic Social Services of the Diocese of Scranton will hold an emergency food distribution on Friday, April 24, 2020 at Saint Rose of Lima Parish, 6 North Church Street, Carbondale.

The event will be held from 3:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. and will provide assistance to individuals by drive-thru and walk-up services.

Requests for assistance in Catholic Social Services food pantries has continued to increase during the COVID-19 pandemic. During the month of March, the Catholic Social Services Office in Carbondale had more than 1,000 pantry visits by members of the community which is significantly higher than normal.

SCRANTON, PA (April 6, 2020) – Bishop Joseph C. Bambera announces the establishment of the Coronavirus Emergency Fund in the Diocese of Scranton to help support public ministries, parishes and school families amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Coronavirus Emergency Fund will allow individuals to financially support any parish in the Diocese, assist public ministries that operate food pantries, kitchens and shelters, or provide emergency tuition assistance for Diocesan Catholic School families. People interested in supporting the fund can make a gift to a specific parish, school, pantry, kitchen, shelter or relief assistance program.

“While this is a time of great challenge, I am encouraged to see so many people wanting to reach out in support of our families, our neighbors and our parishes,” Bishop Bambera said. “Due to the suspension of Masses, which was necessary to protect the health and safety of our community, our parishes and the Diocese now face the increased risk of financial shortfalls.”

Catholic Human and Social Services of the Diocese of Scranton operates five food pantries in Carbondale, Hazleton, Scranton and Wilkes-Barre. It also provides hundreds of warm meals daily to people at its kitchens in Scranton and Wilkes-Barre and operates three homeless shelters in Hazleton, Scranton and Wilkes-Barre.

As the COVID-19 virus began to spread in northeastern and north central Pennsylvania, Catholic Human and Social Services has seen a significant increase in the number of people in need of help. During the month of March 2020, more than 1,000 individuals visited the Carbondale food pantry, which far exceeds the monthly average of 500 visitors. There has also been at least a 50-percent increase in homeless individuals seeking assistance at the agency’s three shelters.

The Coronavirus Emergency Fund is also expected to help Catholic school families who cannot afford tuition after a parent loses a job or any of the Diocese’s 118 parishes that struggle to pay their expenses with no public Masses scheduled.

Interested donors are encouraged to make gifts to the Coronavirus Emergency Fund online at If donors prefer, they can mail gifts to Coronavirus Emergency Fund, Diocese of Scranton, 300 Wyoming Ave., Scranton, PA 18503. Checks should be made to the Diocese of Scranton and list the gift designation – either the parish name, Catholic Human and Social Service program or specific Catholic School they wish to support.



Starting the week of April 6, 2020, the Saint Francis Food Pantry will add an additional day of service and expand its hours for people in need of assistance during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Starting the week of April 6, 2020, the Saint Francis Food Pantry will now be open on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. Prior to this change, the food pantry had only been open on Tuesday and Thursday from noon until 2:00 p.m. since the health crisis began.

For individuals or families needing assistance, food bags will be distributed at the door. Any future changes will be posted and recorded on option 6 of the Saint Francis of Assisi Kitchen voice-mail system at (570) 342-5556.

Saint Francis of Assisi Kitchen continues to provide one meal per day to people in need between 11:00 a.m. and noon. Meals are being distributed outside of the building in take-out containers. Evening meals have been suspended until further notice.

At this time, the agency cannot accept food or clothing donations from individuals at the door until further notice. Financial contributions can be made by check or online at


Bishop Joseph C. Bambera of the Diocese of Scranton has requested that all parishes in its 11 counties ring church bells in the coming days as a common call to prayer during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The ringing of our church bells will be a way to unite people of all faiths in prayer,” Bishop Bambera said. “I believe it will also help bring some comfort to those who are staying inside their homes and may feel isolated during these challenging days.”

Bishop Bambera has requested that church bells ring each day at noon for five consecutive days, beginning on Palm Sunday, April 5, 2020, and continuing through April 9, 2020.

“While there is nothing that can replace sitting in the pews of our parishes and being with one another, the ringing bells will help remind people that our Church is still active and praying for an end to this virus which has caused such pain and suffering. We will also be praying for those who are ill, our medical caregivers who are helping the sick and all those working to contain the spread of the coronavirus,” Bishop Bambera added.

The Diocese of Scranton has 118 parishes in Bradford, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Lycoming, Monroe, Pike, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Wayne and Wyoming counties.