Father Chikadi J. Anyanele, left, provides help to women and children in Nigeria thanks to donations sent from parishioners of Saint Andrew Parish in Wilkes-Barre.

You have saved us

WILKES-BARRE – The generosity of a small parish in Luzerne County is making a difference on the other side of the world.

Through donations, parishioners of Saint Andrew Parish in Wilkes-Barre have helped to feed families in Africa, care for children in an orphanage, start small businesses and even put in a public toilet.

“The people of Saint Andrew Parish have changed the lives of their fellow children of God in Nigeria,” Deacon Bill Behm, Parish Life Coordinator, said.

The outreach efforts started when Father Chikadi J. Anyanele, better known as Father John, a missionary from the Congregation of the Missionaries of Mariannhill, came to visit the parish before the COVID-19 pandemic.

While spending nearly two weeks at Saint Andrew Parish, Father John celebrated daily and weekend Masses and interacted with parishioners.

“He anointed those people who were dying, he visited the sick, he went with me to hospitals and nursing homes,” Deacon Behm explained.

One particular story also stood out in helping Father John build an instant and memorable rapport with parishioners.

Due to the generosity of people from Saint Andrew Parish, the village of Umuizi-Umunkwo was able to build a public toilet. Indoor plumbing is considered a luxury for only the very rich.

One morning during his visit, Deacon Behm spotted Father John deep in prayer behind the rectory. The spot where he was praying is marked with a clothesline in the shape that resembles a cross.

“He said, ‘Isn’t this where your first pastor is buried?’” Deacon Behm recalled. “I said, no, it’s the last pastor’s herb garden…I told the parish that story and the laughter didn’t stop for a couple of minutes.”

By the time the coronavirus pandemic hit, Father John had returned to his native Nigeria. By chance, Deacon Behm reached out to see how he was doing and that is when the Parish Life Coordinator learned of a severe need for food in the missionary’s home village of Umuizi-Umunkwo.

Deacon Behm mentioned the conversation to parishioners during Mass and people instantly wanted to help.

“Suddenly, people were dropping off money at the rectory, they were dropping it in the mail slot, putting it in the Sunday collection marked for Father John,” the deacon said.

Since March, the parish has sent approximately $2,000 to help Father John and the people in Nigeria through the help of the Amen Foundation.

Father John has kept in regular communication with the parish.

During a recent voicemail message, Father John told the people of Saint Andrew Parish, “you have saved not just me, but widows who have children who could not feed well any longer, I have shared your gift with them….We are grateful to all of you.”

Father John has also provided the parish with pictures and an accounting of how the money has been spent.

The listing includes providing four 50-kg bags of rice to women of the African village at the start of the COVID-19 lockdown, supporting several individuals with money to begin small businesses and caring for sick members of the community.

“He gave some seed money to people to plant food, plant gardens and to be able to feed themselves and sell the produce to become more self-sufficient,” Deacon Behm explained. “He also helped someone who started a business making shoes out of discarded tire rubber.”

Deacon Behm has been deeply touched by the compassionate response of his parish.

“We are part of the universal Church. It doesn’t matter what color we are, it doesn’t matter what continent we’re from, what matters is that we’re all universal children of a God who loves us all,” he said. “We cared enough to think beyond ourselves and think of the world and think of a friend who they met that is struggling.”



SCRANTON – The month of November will once again begin with a gathering of the young church in the Diocese of Scranton.

The Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, will celebrate the annual Leave a Mark Mass which is celebrating its fifth anniversary in 2020. The idea for the Mass came after Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims at World Youth Day 2016 in Poland.

“Dear young people, we didn’t come into this world to ‘vegetate,’ to take it easy, to make our lives a comfortable sofa to fall asleep on,” the Holy Father said in 2016. “No, we came for another reason: to leave a mark. It is very sad to pass through life without leaving a mark.”

For the past few years, hundreds of young people have gathered in the Cathedral of Saint Peter with Bishop Bambera to kickoff National Vocation Awareness Week in the Diocese of Scranton.

Bishop Bambera is inviting the young church of the Diocese of Scranton to gather once again this year in the Cathedral of Saint Peter on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020, for a special Mass at 7:00 p.m. Due to the current pandemic, there will not be a reception following the Mass.

Young adults (age 18-40) will be required to make a reservation in order to attend. Masks and social distancing will be enforced. The Mass will be broadcast live by CTV: Catholic Television of the Diocese of Scranton. It will also be livestreamed on diocesan social media platforms for those who are unable to attend in person.

“This is my first Leave a Mark event as vocation director,” Father Alex Roche said. “I look forward to seeing young adults from throughout the diocese gather as we kickoff this special week in the life of vocation ministry. In addition to those who will gather in the Cathedral, I also hope many will join us in prayer through diocesan media.”

For more information about this event and/or to register, please contact the Diocesan Vocation Office at (570) 207-1452 or visit vocations.dioceseofscranton.org.


SCRANTON – One of the most daunting challenges the coronavirus health crisis has posed is the clergy’s vocational call to minister spiritually to the gravely ill and those near death.

Indicating that throughout the ages the Church has dedicated great care to the spiritual needs of the ill and homebound – and that in times of crisis such needs are even more urgent – Father Tom Petro, pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Dupont, said, “The Church’s ministers, sometimes at great personal cost, always strive to bring the sacraments to the sick and the dying. This current pandemic has changed much about the way we conduct ourselves, even the way we care for one another.”

Hospitals have imposed greater restrictions and guidelines for visitors of all patients, even those not afflicted with the coronavirus. Nursing homes that once hosted Masses for their residents have suspended such services, and pastors and deacons have seen a drastic reduction in Holy Communion calls for their homebound parishioners.

“With each of these specific challenges,” Father Petro said, “the priests, deacons and extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist in our parishes are adapting to meet the needs of those whom they serve.”

Answering the Call

Indicative of these trials and speaking on behalf of their clerical colleagues in our local Church and around the world, two young priests of the Diocese of Scranton recently recounted their experiences in encountering COVID-19 head on in an effort to provide hands-on spiritual care in a healthcare combat zone.

Ordained just two years ago, Father Ryan Glenn began his priestly ministry as an assistant pastor at Saint John Neumann Parish in South Scranton, where he served until his recent appointment to Saint Matthew Parish in East Stroudsburg.

Father Glenn recalled a “most beautiful encounter” during the height of the pandemic in early spring when he was summoned to a nursing facility to provide the sacrament of anointing of the sick.

Following a myriad of temperature checks, questionnaires and signatures, he was allowed entry into the facility and was immediately armed with a thick plastic outer garment, a second mask (to be placed over his own), and a pair of surgical gloves.

“I then found my way to the patient’s room,” Father remembered. “The patient was unconscious, but the nurse who called me (for the visit) remained at her side, as did two other staff members. Together, we represented the Church as we surrounded one of our fellow Christians,” who was near death.

After reciting the Prayers of the Anointing ritual, the young priest anointed the patient’s head and hands using a cotton swab dipped in the Sacred Oils and offered the commendation of the dying.

Upon leaving the room with the two hospital staffers, Father Glenn became aware the nurse remained in the room to whisper her last goodbyes to the patient. The scene was palpable.

“In the midst of the many medical demands of that moment, the nurse knew the power of prayer and the importance of faith for her patient,” he remarked. “It was a privileged moment of grace for me, not only to accompany this dying person at the end of life, but also to witness the goodness and humanity of this front line hero.”

Being Christ for the Dying

Prior to receiving his new appointment as Diocesan Director of Vocations and Seminarians, Father Alex Roche served as the pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Lake Silkworth.

While shepherding the small, rural Luzerne County parish in early April, Father Roche received a call from a woman whose older relative was in a nearby nursing home and losing his battle with COVID-19. Not quite certain what was permissible at the time, the priest of eight years contacted the nursing home. After being redirected a number of times, he was told since the man was actively dying, he would be permitted to anoint him in person.

“When I arrived, it honestly felt like a scene out of a movie,” Father Roche said, “with everyone in their rooms, doors locked, nurses and employees in full PPE (personal protective equipment).”

He would be the first non-employee and non-resident inside the facility in a month.

“After being screened, I was suited up with an N95 mask, gown, and gloves,” he recalled. “There wasn’t an exposed place on my body. It was obvious that it had been a very stressful and challenging few weeks,” noting that nursing homes care for residents — not patients – who staff come to know well and with whom they develop a relationship.

Upon entering the room alone, Father noted, the parishioner immediately grabbed his gloved hand, and a brief, labored conversation ensued between priest and resident.

“I was able to administer Last Rites and pray with him,” he explained, “and it struck me how difficult it was for this poor man to spend his dying days alone and struggling to breathe. But I felt thankful for the grace to be able to share Christ’s love with him and administer the sacraments in his moment of need.”

When the man passed away a few days later, Father Roche considered himself privileged to celebrate his funeral Mass.

Noting he has spiritually ministered to many sick and dying before and after the poignant nursing home visit, Father remarked this first experience of anointing someone stricken with the coronavirus is unforgettable and a moment he will return to in prayer for the rest of his life.

“A lot of things can happen to us in this life,” Father Roche shared. “Almost anything can be taken away, but the grace of God is always available for those who ask for it. Even when (it seems) we are alone, God is present. Even when things seem bleak and dim, the light of Christ can be seen illuminating the darkness.”

Spiritually Hungry

Father Glenn also related that on several occasions he was called to anoint patients but was unable to have direct contact with them.

“Nobody but the doctors and nurses were allowed in the rooms,” Father remarked, “but on behalf of the Church I knew it was important to be united with these isolated patients in prayer.”

“It was very sad not to be able to enter the room, but I also trust that the power of prayer is not hindered by any barriers,” he offered.

Father Glenn also shared the encounter with a parishioner who himself contacted the priest for the sacraments of reconciliation, anointing of the sick, and Holy Communion while recovering from a severe respiratory illness.

“Although I experienced some hesitancy about venturing outside of the rectory, I knew I needed to be with this parishioner during his time of need and to bring some spiritual comfort in the midst of this struggle. There is such a need and hunger for these grace-filled rites and moments,” he concluded.



Nine men were installed in the Ministry of Lector at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton on Oct. 3, 2020. Shown after the Mass are, front row, from left: Matthew R. Eisley, Saint Joseph the Worker Parish, Williamsport; William D. Flowers, Saint Nicholas Parish, Wilkes-Barre; Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton; John F. Bubb, Saint Joseph the Worker Parish, Williamsport; Nicholas M. Rocco, Saint Eulalia Parish, Roaring Brook Township; Martin J. Castaldi, Sr., Divine Mercy Parish, Scranton. Back row, Monsignor David Bohr, Diocesan Secretary for Clergy Formation and Director of Permanent Diaconate Formation; Steven J. Miller, Our Lady of Victory Parish, Tannersville; John F. Bankus, Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Swoyersville; Frank H. Zeranski, Saint Catherine of Siena Parish, Moscow; Thomas A. Kostic, SS. Cyril and Methodius Parish, Hazleton; Deacon Walter Janoski; Rev. Gerald Shantillo, Episcopal Vicar for Clergy. (Photo/Mike Melisky)

The Word of God must be living and vibrant

SCRANTON – Having successfully completed their second year of formation for ordination to the permanent diaconate, nine men were installed in the Ministry of Lector at the Cathedral of Saint Peter on Oct. 3, 2020.

The Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, served as principal celebrant and homilist for the 12:10 p.m. Mass.

The men installed are: John F. Bankus, Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Swoyersville; John F. Bubb, Saint Joseph the Worker Parish, Williamsport; Martin J. Castaldi, Sr., Divine Mercy Parish, Scranton; Matthew R. Eisley, Saint Joseph the Worker Parish, Williamsport; William D. Flowers, Saint Nicholas Parish, Wilkes-Barre; Thomas A. Kostic, SS. Cyril and Methodius Parish, Hazleton; Steven J. Miller, Our Lady of Victory Parish, Tannersville; Nicholas M. Rocco, Saint Eulalia Parish, Roaring Brook Township; and Frank H. Zeranski, Saint Catherine of Siena Parish, Moscow.

As lectors, the men will proclaim the Word of God in liturgies and will continue their formation toward ordination as permanent deacons.

“I’m just trusting that He will lead the way and keep me on the path. I’m trusting in Him,” Steven J. Miller said following the Mass.

When asked to describe his feelings, Miller replied, “energized, happy and a little scared. It is a large responsibility but it is something we will grow into as well. I trust that the spirit will be with us.”

Nicholas M. Rocco expressed not only excitement but gratefulness.

“It’s such a great honor to be bestowed this ministry and to be able to serve the Church in the Diocese of Scranton,” he explained.

During the first two years of their diaconate program, the nine men have grown close.

“We have such a great class. We’re very close and very tight. Just like Jesus chose a group of disciples to follow Him, we are a group as well. We are going through this process together, bonding closer and learning from each other as well,” Rocco added.

During his homily, Bishop Bambera told the men this moment is not merely a stepping stone in their diaconal formation.

“You are being called to a special recognition of the Word of God in your lives that is essential to the life of the Church,” the bishop explained. “You are being given a responsibility in the service of our faith, namely, to proclaim the Word of Life in the liturgical assembly, to instruct children and adults in the ways of the Gospel and to bring the message of salvation to those who have not yet received it.”

As he reflected on the bishop’s message, William D. Flowers came to appreciate the gravity of the moment.

“It’s bringing the Gospel closer to people, getting people closer to the Gospel,” Flowers said. “It makes me feel good and I’m hoping that it makes them feel better, receiving the Word and I’m just glad that I’m able to do that.”

Flowers said he has felt called to the diaconate for quite some time.

“I feel that it was meant to be,” he added.

During the Mass, Bishop Bambera reminded the men that Pope Francis often reflects upon the centrality of the Word of God in Christian Life.

In fact, just three days before the Mass, in a letter commemorating the 1600th anniversary of the death of Saint Jerome, the Holy Father emphasized the need for those who can exercise diaconal functions.

“I pray that this understanding of the vital role of the Word of God in our lives as Christians impresses upon you the urgency of caring for the treasure that is being handed on to you this day,” the bishop said.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, attendance at the Mass was limited to family members but it was broadcast live on CTV: Catholic Television and shared on the Diocese of Scranton social media platforms.

Rocco expressed the importance of his family and friends who have supported, encouraged and prayed for him along this journey.

“I could not have gone through this process or gotten so far into this process without the support of my wife and my four daughters, my mother and my family as well, to have their support is necessary to complete this task,” Rocco explained. “Whenever you feel like you’re having a struggle trying to complete things or life gets in the way, they’re always there to support you and encourage you.”




University of Scranton President Scott R. Pilarz, S.J., is pictured with 2020 President’s Medal recipient Monsignor Joseph G. Quinn, J.D., J.C.L., ’72

The virtual President’s Business Council (PBC) 19th Annual Award Celebration honoring Margaret “Maggie” Quinn Mariotti, Au.D., P’10, John R. Mariotti, D.M.D., ’75 and Monsignor Joseph G. Quinn, J.D., J.C.L., ’72, raised more than $900,000. Proceeds from October 8th celebration, during which the honorees were presented with the University’s President’s Medal, support the University’s Presidential Scholarship Endowment Fund, and this year will also support the James P. Sweeney, S.J., Family Outreach Fund for students facing unexpected financial hardship and the Scott R. Pilarz, S.J., Scholarship, a need-based scholarship established in 2011 by the Sorbera Family.

“Tonight, we gather in spirit from all over the country and the world,” said Rev. Scott R. Pilarz, S.J., president of The University of Scranton at the virtual celebration. “Tonight, we celebrate what is best about Scranton. Our honorees Maggie and John Mariotti and Monsignor Quinn are great examples of the best about Scranton. Ours is a University committed to building community and I know few people who are more committed to building community than these great friends – Maggie, John and Joe.”

University of Scranton President Scott R. Pilarz, S.J., is pictured with 2020 President’s Medal recipients John R. Mariotti, D.M.D., ’75 and Margaret “Maggie” Quinn Mariotti, Au.D., P’10

In presenting the President’s Medal, the University and the PBC recognize individuals who have achieved excellence in their fields and who have demonstrated extraordinary compassion for others while personifying the University’s mission of Catholic and Jesuit excellence and service.

In his remarks, Father Pilarz recalled that Monsignor Quinn chaired the University’s Presidential Search Committee in 2003 “that had the audacity to pluck someone out of the classroom with no administrative experience and whose scholarly life was dedicated to 16th century poetry. Only Joe Quinn would have an imagination big enough to make me the President of The University of Scranton.”

Father Pilarz said Maggie and John Mariotti were his “special Scranton welcome wagon,” noting “their love for Scranton was contagious.”

Five of the University’s class of 2021 Presidential Scholars also spoke during the celebration: Molly Elkins, Owings, Maryland, a biochemistry, cell and molecular biology and philosophy double major and member of the Special Jesuit Liberal Arts Honors Program, undergraduate Honors Program and the Magis Honors Program for STEM; Hannah Graff, Melville, New York, an accounting major currently pursuing her master’s in accountancy with a concentration in forensic accounting; Jacob Myers, Ambler, a biochemistry, cell and molecular biology and philosophy double major and member of the Special Jesuit Liberal Arts Honors Program and the Magis Honors Program for STEM; Megan Osborne, Mifflinville, a mathematics major; and Amanda Tolvaisa, Springfield, an English and philosophy double major and member of the University’s Special Jesuit Liberal Arts Honors Program.

The Presidential Scholars expressed their gratitude to those whose generous support made their scholarships possible, and spoke of the research, internship and academic opportunities the scholarships offered to them.

“The Presidential Scholarship and my time at Scranton has given me an unrivaled education in science supplemented by a robust background in the humanities,” said Myers. “This experience has allowed me to participate in several research programs funded through the NSF (National Science Foundation) over the last several years. This past summer, I had the opportunity to work on determining how long SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, survives on surfaces in order to better understand its transmission.”

Through its previous 18 dinners, the PBC has generated over $16 million for the Presidential Scholarship Endowment Fund.

The President’s Business Council (PBC) 19th Annual Award Celebration can be seen here. For additional information, contact Timothy J. Pryle ’89, executive director of the PBC, at 570-941-5837 or pbc@scranton.edu.


About the honorees

Monsignor Joseph G. Quinn has been a priest in the Diocese of Scranton for 35 years and currently serves as pastor of Our Lady of the Snows Parish in Clarks Summit. For 16 years, he was the rector of St. Peter’s Cathedral. Prior to his current role, he was the vice president for mission and ministry at Fordham University.

Monsignor Quinn received a bachelor’s degree in accounting from The University of Scranton and a juris doctorate from Seton Hall University. At the age of 25, he was appointed a federal magistrate judge for the U.S. District Court, becoming the youngest person in the country to serve in that position. After resigning his post, he entered the seminary and completed his studies at the North American College in Rome, earning graduate degrees in theology from the Gregorian University and the Angelicum University.

He has served on numerous boards, including as a member of the Board of Advisors of the North American College and as the founding chairman of the Scranton Preparatory School Board of Trustees. He is a former member of the University’s Board of Trustees, which he served for 15 years.

Dr. Margaret “Maggie” Quinn Mariotti is a retired clinical audiologist whose private practice included offices in Honesdale and Clarks Summit. She has held several clinical audiologist positions at various institutions, including the U.S. Army Hospital Ear, Nose and Throat Clinic at Fort Stewart, Ga. Dr. Mariotti also taught as an adjunct professor in the communication sciences and disorders program at Marywood University.

She was a Pennsylvania Speech and Hearing Association liaison and served as a board member of the Women’s Resource Center and the IHM Foundation. Dr. Mariotti was a member of the University’s Board of Trustees from 2003 through 2010. She earned a bachelor’s degree in communication sciences and disorders from Marywood University, a master’s degree in audiology from Temple University, and a doctorate in audiology from the University of Florida.

Dr. John R. Mariotti has worked as an orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics practitioner for 35 years and is certified by the American Board of Orthodontics. Dr. Mariotti earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University and a doctor of dental medicine degree from Temple University. He was commissioned as a U.S. Army captain in the Army Dental Corps at Fort Stewart, Ga. After completing his tour of duty, Dr. Mariotti pursued his post-graduate degree in orthodontics at the Eastman Dental Center at the University of Rochester. At Eastman, he conducted research in growth and development and TMJ disorders.

Dr. Mariotti served as president and chair of the board of the Scranton District Dental Society and is a past board president of the Middle Atlantic Society of Orthodontists. An active member of the University’s Medical Alumni Council, he became a member of the Board of Trustees in 2019.

The Mariottis, who reside in Jefferson Township, have four children.

The Quinns are two of the 12 children of the late June Scanlan Quinn and John A. Quinn Sr., D.D.S., ’40.


The U.S. Supreme Court building is seen in Washington Aug. 29, 2020. The Supreme Court begins hearing cases for the new term Oct. 5. (CNS photo/Andrew Kelly, Reuters)


WASHINGTON (CNS) — Although the Supreme Court began its new term Oct. 5, it is hardly business as usual since the court only has eight members on the bench and it is continuing to hear oral arguments by teleconference due to heath concerns.

The nation’s high court moves right into action though with two high profile cases in November: a religious freedom exception to anti-discrimination laws and a review, for the third time, of the Affordable Care Act, the nation’s health care law.

The court also could be called upon to decide election disputes if the presidential race is close.

And hovering over all of its current work is the ongoing Senate preparation to move forward with President Donald Trump’s nomination of federal appeals court Judge Amy Coney Barrett to succeed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Sept. 18.

Cases not on the docket this term also have the court’s attention. For example, the court has been asked by the Trump administration and several states to issue an emergency stay of a federal district court ruling this summer that suspended the in-person requirement during the pandemic for women who want to receive the abortion-inducing drug, mifepristone.

And the court also has gained some notice for what it isn’t taking up.

On the first day of its new term, the justices declined to take a case from Kim Davis, the former Kentucky clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples. The court’s decision lets the lower court ruling stand, allowing a lawsuit filed against her to proceed.

Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by Justice Samuel Alito, agreed with the court’s decision but also showed displeasure saying: “Davis may have been one of the first victims of this court’s cavalier treatment of religion in its Obergefell decision, but she will not be the last.” Obergefell was the court’s 2015 decision that struck down state bans on same-sex marriage.

Back to the court’s fall schedule, on Nov. 4, it will hear oral arguments in Fulton v. Philadelphia, a religious freedom case that centers on a Catholic social services agency that had been excluded from Philadelphia’s foster care program for not accepting same-sex couples as foster parents.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference and a few Catholic Charities agencies joined more than 30 other religious groups, states and a group of Congress members filed amicus briefs urging the court to protect the faith-based foster care program under its First Amendment religious exercise rights.

At a September webinar sponsored by Georgetown University’s law school, Paul Clementi, a partner at the Washington law firm of Kirkland & Ellis, who was solicitor general of the United States from 2005 to 2008, said the court has a lot of “off ramps” with this case, allowing it to address parts of the issue.

He pointed out that Catholic Social Services of the Philadelphia Archdiocese was not seeking damages but simply wanted to take part in the program on its own terms. He also said the court may find a way for Philadelphia to give the faith-based agency an exemption to the anti-discrimination law.

A decision that looms over the court here is the 1990 Employment Division v Smith decision, which involved two American Indians denied unemployment benefits in Oregon after they were fired for using peyote, a hallucinogenic drug, in a religious ceremony.

The court ruled in favor of Oregon, saying its right to legislate against drug use superseded a religious group’s right to use a drug as part of a spiritual ritual. The ruling has been interpreted as giving state and local governments broad powers over religious practices.

Clementi said he would be shocked if the Smith decision would be overruled in this case.

In its petition, Catholic Social Services urged the court to overturn Smith, saying that even though the agency’s program should be allowed under that ruling, the decision “has confused rather than clarified the law and should be reconsidered.”

Six days after the foster parent case, the court will hear oral arguments challenging the nation’s health care law in a case brought by 18 Republican state attorneys general and supported by the Trump administration.

The ACA, which became law in 2010 and was fully implemented in 2015, has been before the nation’s high court twice before, in 2012 and 2015, and survived, but this time its fate is more uncertain particularly with the possible confirmation of Barrett.

This case goes back to the court’s 2012 decision that upheld the law’s individual coverage requirement under Congress’ taxing power and the 2017 tax law that zeroed out that tax penalty. Without that tax in place the state leaders claim the ACA’s coverage requirement is unconstitutional.

As a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, Barrett has not heard any cases dealing with the ACA. But court watchers have been quick to bring up her 2017 paper in the Notre Dame Law School journal where she criticized Chief Justice John Roberts’ majority opinion in the 2012 ruling, saying he “pushed the Affordable Care Act beyond its plausible meaning to save the statute.”

Although the article has raised red flags for those concerned that Barrett could vote to dismantle the law — if she is confirmed to the court in time to hear the case — some legal scholars have said this doesn’t necessarily reveal how she would vote since this case centers on a different legal question.

The Catholic Church has had a complicated relationship with the health care law. Catholic hospitals have long emphasized the poor and vulnerable must have access to health care, but church leaders have objected to the law’s contraceptive mandate, requiring that employee health insurance plans provide contraceptive coverage.


This is a movie poster for the 2020 documentary “Pray: The Story of Patrick Peyton.” The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association rating is PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children. (CNS photo/courtesy Family Theater Productions)

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Father Patrick Peyton may have been a child of God, but he also was a force of nature.

His relentless quest to encourage family prayer, which became the hallmark of his priestly ministry and led to the formation of Family Theater Productions, is highlighted in a new documentary of his life titled, simply, “Pray.”

“I’m for prayer, for peace, for mercy, for justice, for faith, for truth, for love. I’m for racial harmony,” the Irish-born Father Peyton — who popularized the adage “The family that prays together stays together” — told one interviewer. “The things I’m for crowd out the things I’m against. But first of all I’m for prayer,” he added. “The world hasn’t got a prayer without yours.”

“We’re really excited about it finally getting out to the world,” said Holy Cross Father David Guffey, the current executive director of Family Theater Productions.

“Pray,” subtitled “The Story of Patrick Peyton,” will make its debut on a limited number of movie screens Oct. 9; for those who can’t catch it at their local multiplex, it will be available for streaming in January.

Father Guffey, in a Sept. 25 phone interview with Catholic News Service, said he started digitizing material from old Family Theater footage 10 years ago, and that work on “Pray” began in earnest in 2017.

Like any film production, there are the inevitable stumbling blocks. But in the case of “Pray,” it was “picking which parts of the story” to include. “There are so many stories that people had told us.”

One of those stories features Mike Sweeney, a former first baseman and catcher who spent 13 of his 16 big-league seasons with baseball’s Kansas City Royals, and his wife, Shara. When they experienced difficulties in their marriage, they decided to give daily family prayer a try. And it has worked.

“Without prayer,” Mike Sweeney said in the documentary, “we would be like empty shells.” Other first-person testimonials adorn the movie.

The story of Father Peyton, who was declared venerable by Pope Francis in 2017, is itself remarkable. He was the sixth of nine children — four girls and five boys. A working-class Irish family, the Peytons engaged in family prayer every night. Young Patrick Peyton felt he had a vocation to the priesthood, but at a time when Ireland had a surplus of vocations, his poor grades kept him from being accepted as a seminarian.

Patrick convinced his brother Tom to head for the United States, where three of their sisters preceded them. Getting a job as the janitor at the cathedral in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Patrick felt the call to a vocation grow — and both he and his brother were accepted into the Holy Cross order’s seminary on the campus of the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.

While still a seminarian, Father Peyton was hospitalized with tuberculosis. His favorite seminary professor told him to pray for Mary’s intercession: “If you’re a 50 percenter, she’ll be a 50 percenter. If you’re a 100 percenter, she’ll be a 100 percenter.”

After continuous prayer, he felt a change within his body, and had to convince the doctors he had been cured. After they conducted further tests, according to Holy Cross Father Willy Raymond, Father Guffey’s predecessor at Family Theater Productions, and found their young patient’s claims to be true, they told him: “Nobody should be living after what you’ve been through.”

After being ordained, along with his brother Tom, in 1941, Father Peyton kept looking for ways to repay Mary. At his first assignment in Albany, New York, he started the Crusade for Family Prayer and started a letter-writing campaign that resulted in 20,000 “circular letters” being written — that era’s equivalent to reply-all email — on the crusade’s behalf.

He also secured an hour on an Albany radio station to pray the rosary, which received a favorable response among listeners. This led to interviews with executives at the nation’s second-largest radio network at the time, the Mutual Broadcasting System, in New York City. But to get network radio time, he had to think big. So on Good Friday 1945, he cold-called one of the entertainment world’s biggest stars, Bing Crosby, asking him to lead a family prayer broadcast.

Crosby agreed, and the resultant program on Mother’s Day that year “was celebrated for the emotional impact on the whole country,” Father Raymond says in “Pray.”

But to get more top-caliber stars, Father Peyton had to go to Hollywood, where most of them worked and lived. His success rate was tremendous, and the number of “Family Theater” radio, TV and film episodes in the ensuing years totaled more than 1,000.

When entertainment wasn’t enough, Father Peyton himself led family-rosary crusades that drew hundreds of thousands. Father Peyton did more than 500 crusades himself during his life, Father Guffey said.

“It’s more difficult to imagine the massiveness of them,” he told CNS. “You cannot imagine what 2 million (people) look like in Manila when you get them together, and 500,000 in Golden Gate Park (in San Francisco) when you get them together. It’s mind-blowing.”

Father Peyton led such a public life that few things would seem to have been overlooked. But in the Family Theater’s vaults lie episodes of a talk show called “A Matter of Faith” in which Father Peyton had guests the likes of Rose Kennedy, Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan, plus Cardinal Leo Jozef Suenens and other figures of the Second Vatican Council.

“We think of Father Peyton as someone who was quite pious,” Father Guffey said, “but there was an intellectual foundation to what he did.”




Pope Francis signs his new encyclical, “Fratelli Tutti, on Fraternity and Social Friendship” after celebrating Mass at the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, Italy, Oct. 3, 2020. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Calling all people of goodwill to care for one another as brothers and sisters, Pope Francis urged people not to despair of making the world a better place, but to start creating the world they want through personal action and political lobbying.

Pope Francis signed his new social encyclical, “Fratelli Tutti, on Fraternity and Social Friendship,” at the end of Mass Oct. 3 in Assisi. The Vatican released the text the following day.

“A worldwide tragedy like the COVID-19 pandemic momentarily revived the sense that we are a global community, all in the same boat, where one person’s problems are the problems of all,” the pope said. “Once more we realized that no one is saved alone; we can only be saved together.”

At the same time, he said, responses to the pandemic, and especially to its economic devastation, shined a light on the inequalities existing within nations and among nations.

“For all our hyperconnectivity, we witnessed a fragmentation that made it more difficult to resolve problems that affect us all,” he said. “Anyone who thinks that the only lesson to be learned was the need to improve what we were already doing, or to refine existing systems and regulations, is denying reality.”

“Fratelli Tutti,” which literally means “all brothers and sisters” or “all brothers,” are the words with which St. Francis “addressed his brothers and sisters

The front page of the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano shows Pope Francis with his latest encyclical, “Fratelli Tutti, on Fraternity and Social Friendship,” at the Vatican Oct. 4, 2020. (CNS photo/Remo Casilli, Reuters)

and proposed to them a way of life marked by the flavor of the Gospel,” the pope wrote.

That flavor, explained throughout the document, involves welcoming the stranger, feeding the hungry, listening to and giving a hand up to the poor, defending the rights of all and ensuring that each person, at every stage of life, is valued and invited to contribute to the community, he said. It also means supporting public policies that do so on a larger scale.

At the heart of the new encyclical’s appeal to Catholics is a meditation on Jesus’ parable of the good Samaritan and particularly on how Jesus takes a legal scholar’s question, “Who is my neighbor,” and turns it into a lesson on being called not to identify one’s neighbors but to become a neighbor to all, especially those most in need of aid.

“The parable eloquently presents the basic decision we need to make in order to rebuild our wounded world. In the face of so much pain and suffering, our only course is to imitate the good Samaritan,” he said. “Any other decision would make us either one of the robbers or one of those who walked by without showing compassion for the sufferings of the man on the roadside.”

“The parable,” he continued, “shows us how a community can be rebuilt by men and women who identify with the vulnerability of others, who reject the creation of a society of exclusion, and act instead as neighbors, lifting up and rehabilitating the fallen for the sake of the common good.”

Doing that, he said, would mean recognizing and taking concrete action against “certain trends in our world that hinder the development of universal fraternity” and acting as a neighbor to one another, including racism, extremism, “aggressive nationalism,” closing borders to migrants and refugees, polarization, politics as a power grab rather than a service to the common good, mistreatment of women, modern slavery and economic policies that allow the rich to get richer but do not create jobs and do not help the poor.



October 4, 2020

WASHINGTON—Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued a statement today offering prayers for the health of President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump.

Archbishop Gomez’s statement follows:

“I am praying for President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump. May God grant them full healing and may He keep their family safe and healthy. Let us keep praying for all who are suffering because of the novel coronavirus, especially the sick and dying and their families, and all those who have lost loved ones. May God give them hope and comfort, and may He bring an end to this pandemic.”