SCRANTON (July 24, 2020) – During the COVID-19 pandemic, Saint Francis of Assisi Kitchen has continued to provide a hot, nutritious meal to individuals and families in need seven days a week. The daily meals, served between 11 a.m. and noon, are distributed in take-out containers on the Vine Street side of the building.

Beginning Tuesday, July 28, 2020, Saint Francis of Assisi Kitchen will resume its evening meals three nights a week. The evening meals will be served on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 5:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. The evening meals will also be distributed in take-out containers on the Vine Street side of the building.

“Saint Francis of Assisi Kitchen would not be able to serve so many of our brothers and sisters in need without the hard work and dedication of our staff, volunteers and the kindness and generosity of the community. Thank you to everyone who has supported our critically important mission in God’s vineyard,” Rob Williams, Executive Director, Saint Francis of Assisi Kitchen and Food and Clothing Pantry, said.

The Saint Francis Food Pantry remains open on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 11:00 a.m. until 2 p.m. Food bags are distributed at the door.

While the Saint Francis of Assisi Free Clothing Store remains closed at this time, needs of the community are still being met on an individual basis. At this time, the facility is not currently in a position to receive clothing donations.
Due to the ongoing health crisis, Saint Francis of Assisi Kitchen is not currently accepting food or clothing donations from individuals at the door until further notice.

Financial contributions may be made by check or online at


DURYEA (July 23, 2020) – The Diocese of Scranton has worked closely with the Duryea Police Department and the Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office regarding the theft of funds from Nativity of Our Lord Parish, Duryea. On July 23, 2020, a criminal complaint and affidavit of probable cause was filed against Denise Decker, a 20-year employee of the parish who served as parish secretary.

Decker is facing two felony theft counts, a felony forgery count and a misdemeanor count of tampering with records.

Through internal protocols and procedures established by the Diocese of Scranton Finance Office, the parish staff noticed unusual activity that indicated some money may have been stolen from Sunday collections. After a very brief internal investigation, the parish staff contacted the Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office which launched a criminal investigation.

On Monday, September 23, 2019, the person in question was terminated from her position. The parish and Diocese will continue to work with police and in keeping with its zero tolerance policy towards financial malfeasance, the Diocese will aggressively seek full restitution of all unaccounted parish funds through the judicial process.

Nativity of Our Lord Parish and the Diocese of Scranton are fully committed to ensuring that the funds provided for use in parish operations and charitable ministries are protected. This is an obligation that we take very seriously.

The parish continues to utilize numerous safeguards including:

 Offertory collections are immediately secured following the completion of any collection. Sealed, tamper-proof bags are used by ushers.
 The parish uses rotating teams which are responsible for counting the offertory collection. This includes a minimum of three unrelated individuals and no parish employees. A member of the counting team completes the appropriate deposit slip and accompanies the offertory to the bank for depositing. A duplicate deposit slip is given to the parish secretary and that employee is responsible for properly recording all receipts in parish accounting records.
 A detailed list of annual contributions is sent to each contributing parishioner at the end of each calendar year.
Nativity of Our Lord Parish and the Diocese of Scranton are grateful to the Duryea Police Department and Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office for their assistance in investigating this matter. The filing of criminal charges is not evidence of guilt and a charged defendant is presumed innocent until a jury returns a unanimous finding that the Commonwealth has proven the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt or until the defendant enters a guilty plea to the charges.

Due to the charges and ongoing investigation, any further questions should be directed to the Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office.


The Religious Education Awards celebrate the dynamic mission of gifted Catechists, Parish Catechetical Leaders, and Directors of Religious Education/Faith Formation. Each of these individuals demonstrate the importance of passing on the faith and their example inspires us into mission! There is such a great need for these generous men and women who devote themselves to handing on the truths of the Gospel.

Below is the list of Awards Recipients for this year:


The Diocese of Scranton would like to remind its parishioners to be on alert, and not fall victim, to ongoing scams that are once again popping up at various parishes throughout the region.

Between the months of June and July, individuals have reported getting text messages and/or emails from someone claiming to be their pastor asking for various things, most often gift cards.

The Diocese reminds everyone if you are ever concerned about a message that you receive, whether by text message or email, verify it before you take any action.

In the most recent instances, the bogus messages asked each recipient to purchase a gift card for a cancer victim on behalf of the pastor, but the scam can oftentimes take various forms. These requests are fake and should be considered a scam.

Additional reminders for the public to not fall victims to a scam include:

  • Don’t click on any links or open attachments in unsolicited texts or emails
  • Be extremely cautious when dealing with anyone you’ve only met by social media or text message if you don’t know who they are
  • Don’t be pressured to act immediately


Bishop Edward C. Malesic of Greensburg, Pa., is pictured in this undated photo. Pope Francis named him the new bishop of the Diocese of Cleveland July 16, 2020. (CNS photo/courtesy Diocese of Cleveland)

(July 16, 2020) – Bishop Joseph C. Bambera, Diocese of Scranton, is offering congratulations to the Most Reverend Edward C. Malesic, Bishop of the Diocese of Greensburg, on his appointment as Bishop of Cleveland.

In a statement Thursday, Bishop Bambera said, “I send heartfelt congratulations to Bishop Edward C. Malesic on his appointment by Pope Francis as Bishop of Cleveland.

While serving alongside him here in Pennsylvania for the last five years, I have come to know Bishop Malesic as a man of deep faith, hope and love. During his time in the Diocese of Greensburg he has truly embodied the meaning of being a servant leader.

On behalf of the faithful in the Diocese of Scranton, I wish him congratulations and ask that all people join me in praying for Bishop Malesic as he begins his next phase of ministry.”










SCRANTON – With the end of August quickly approaching, the Diocese of Scranton Catholic Schools Office is diligently working on a plan to reopen its school buildings in a safe and prudent manner.

The Diocese says its goal is to reopen for in-person instruction this fall in a way that, above all else, prioritizes the best interest, safety and health of all students, faculty, staff and school families.

The Diocese has developed a Diocesan Health and Safety planning committee which is comprised of diocesan and local school administration and clergy along with medical professionals with expertise in pediatrics and quality assurance.

“The overarching goal of our Diocesan Health and Safety committee is to minimize the risk of the spread of coronavirus, while also promoting healthy habits for our students and school families,” Jason Morrison, Chief Executive Officer and Diocesan Secretary of Catholic Education, said.

At the same time, the reopening strategy will also include planning for the ever-changing dynamic of the virus. A subcommittee has been developed which is focused on enhancing distance learning should there be a statewide closure again. Additionally, the Diocese is looking into the logistics of a virtual offering if there is a desire or need for families to have this option.

“Understanding the fluid nature of this disease, we are charged with making decisions now based on the most recent scientific evidence available through our local, state and national agencies and associations,” Kristen Donohue, Superintendent of Catholic Schools, said. “Our commitment is to keep students, families and staff informed and assured that each decision will only be made with the best interest, health and safety of all.”

While COVID-19 has taken a lot away from people, and this year students will not be sharing items like normal, the Catholic School System says there is one thing it wants students to share – good health.

As a result, the Diocese will be producing a series of videos entitled, “Sharing Good Health,” which will help lay out the reopening plan.

The first video was released this week and featured five fundamentals that will be commonplace at all 19 Catholic Schools throughout the Diocese. They include daily temperature checks, promoting proper handwashing and good hygiene, physical distancing measures, wearing face masks and additional cleaning and disinfection.

“Classroom spacing is being developed to ensure physical distancing. That will also apply to hallways, cafeterias and even recess for our youngsters,” Donohue said in the video. “Access by visitors and volunteers will be limited and only considered when absolutely necessary.”

In an effort to promote good hygiene and a healthy environment, students will also be permitted to wear “summer uniforms” throughout the school year. Each school will provide further details of the summer uniform policy. The goal of that change is to make sure clothing items worn by students are properly washed and don’t become a carrier for any type of virus or disease.

During the first “Sharing Good Health” video, Bishop Joseph C. Bambera also thanked families for their commitment to Catholic education.

“This coming year will require the best of each one of us – and I know that by working together – we will be able to conquer any challenge that we face,” Bishop Bambera said.

To view the “Sharing Good Health” video, visit


SCRANTON (July 16, 2020) – On Wednesday, July 15, 2020, Governor Tom Wolf announced new mitigation efforts for COVID-19.

The order includes a limitation of no more than 25 people at indoor events and no more than 250 people at outdoor gatherings. In terms of indoor Mass capacity, Governor Wolf indicated that these limitations do not apply to religious institutions. As a result, there will be NO CHANGE to the current liturgical directives in the Diocese of Scranton.

The governor noted his changes are prompted by an unsettling climb in new coronavirus cases nationwide and concerns about a potential new surge in Pennsylvania cases.

“I cannot stress strongly enough the need for every parish to follow all safety protocols that have been put in place for the protection of our parishioners, clergy and community. Put simply, none of us can take these procedures for granted because this situation can change very quickly,” Bishop Joseph C. Bambera said.

While all liturgical directives can be found HERE. The most important liturgical directives include:

  • Everyone attending Mass is required to wear a mask except during Holy Communion
  • Pews are to be marked for social distancing and parishioners need to maintain six foot social distancing at all times while inside or outside a church
  • Properly sanitizing pews and other high-touch surfaces after each Mass
  • Encouraging anyone who is ill to stay home

“I emphasize this continued vigilance so that we hopefully will not have to suspend public Masses once again. Some parishes in California and Arizona are closing again due to spikes in COVID-19 infections. Additionally, several states that border Pennsylvania, including Ohio and West Virginia are experiencing spikes in the number of cases being reported,” Bishop Bambera added. “I also hope that prudence now will allow our Catholic Schools to safely resume in-person learning next month.”


July 14, 2020

WASHINGTON – During its 1,500-year history, the Hagia Sophia (“Holy Wisdom”) in Istanbul has been both a church and mosque. A museum for the last 84 years, it has served as a symbol of good will and coexistence between the Christian and Muslim communities. Last week, the President of Turkey announced his decision to overturn this policy and change its status. Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Bishop Joseph C. Bambera of Scranton, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, have joined Pope Francis and other leaders in expressing their regret over the decision of Turkey’s president.

Archbishop Gomez and Bishop Bambera’s statement follows:

“We join Pope Francis and our Orthodox Christian brothers and sisters in expressing deep sadness over the decree by Turkey’s president to open Hagia Sophia as a mosque.

“Since its foundation as a Christian cathedral in 537, Hagia Sophia has been one of the world’s great artistic and spiritual treasures. For many years now, this beautiful and cherished site has served as a museum where people of all faiths can come to experience the sublime presence of God. It has also stood as a sign of good will and peaceful coexistence between Christians and Muslims and an expression of humanity’s longings for unity and love.

“On behalf of our brother bishops in the United States, we urge President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to reverse this unnecessary and painful decision and restore Hagia Sophia as a place of prayer and reflection for all peoples.”



July 13, 2020

Statement of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace on the 75th Anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

August 6 and 9 mark the 75th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the first, and one hopes the last, times that atomic weapons are employed in war. Since Pope St. John Paul II’s visit to Japan in 1981, each year the Catholic Church in Japan has observed Ten Days of Prayer for Peace. In observation of this 75th anniversary, we invite Catholics in the United States, and all those of good will, to come together in solidarity in our personal prayers and Masses on Sunday, August 9.

The 21st century continues to witness geopolitical conflicts with state and non-state actors, increasingly sophisticated weapons, and the erosion of international arms control frameworks. The bishops of the United States steadfastly renew the urgent call to make progress on the disarmament of nuclear weapons. The Church in the U.S. proclaims her clarion call and humble prayer for peace in our world which is God’s gift through the salvific sacrifice of Christ Jesus.

“A world of peace, free from nuclear weapons, is the aspiration of millions of men and women everywhere,” Pope Francis said during his visit to Nagasaki last year. He continued, “Our response to the threat of nuclear weapons must be joint and concerted, inspired by the arduous yet constant effort to build mutual trust and thus surmount the current climate of distrust.”

Recently, we, the bishops of the USCCB’s Committee on International Justice and Peace re-affirmed the Holy Father’s call to “renewed effort to bring about a world of peace and justice that is not based upon fear or the threat of nuclear annihilation but justice and human solidarity.” Fear, distrust, and conflict must be supplanted by our joint commitment, by faith and in prayer, that peace and justice reign now and forever.

Members of the Committee for International Justice and Peace:

Most Reverend David J. Malloy, Chairman, Bishop of Rockford

Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton

Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, Archbishop for the Military Services

Most Reverend Frank J. Dewane, Bishop of Venice

Most Reverend Michael Mulvey, Bishop of Corpus Christi

Most Reverend William F. Murphy, Bishop Emeritus of Rockville Centre

Most Reverend Alberto Rojas, Coadjutor Bishop of San Bernardino

Most Reverend Abdallah Elias Zaidan, Bishop of Maronite Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon

Bishop Consultants to the Committee for International Justice and Peace:

Most Reverend Paul S. Coakley, Archbishop of Oklahoma City
Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano, Bishop of Bridgeport

The Committee on International Justice and Peace has produced resources for study, prayer, and action that the faithful may use in observing the August 6th and 9th anniversary, which may be found at: