SCRANTON – As they celebrated the Rite of Ordination, eight men who became permanent deacons in the Diocese of Scranton on Nov. 28, 2020, were reminded of the need to put others before themselves.

During his homily, Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, reminded the men that they have opened their lives to the Lord’s love and because of it, they seek to love him in return through service to His people.

“To be a disciple of Jesus means to put ourselves in the humble, demanding role of servant to others, to intentionally seek the happiness and fulfillment of those entrusted to our care, regardless of the cost to ourselves,” Bishop Bambera said.

The newly ordained deacons will join the ranks of clergy who minister to the faithful in parishes and other settings throughout the diocese. Their diaconal ministry is threefold: service to the Word of God, service at the altar of the Lord and service to the poor.

As deacons, the men will proclaim the Gospel, preach homilies, prepare the altar for the banquet of Christ’s sacrifice, distribute Holy Communion, baptize, preside at weddings, funerals and other prayer services and be the living and working expression of the charity of the Church.

“Your ministry, to be fully diaconal and unified, must include some form of direct service to the poor and to those most in need,” the bishop explained.

The men accepting the diaconal call and responsibilities include Eugene N. Blockus, Joseph J. Chmiola, John C. Jorda, Peter J. Lemoncelli, Joseph R. Marcellus, Gerard P. Pernot, Angel Luis Rivera and Joseph Sudano.

“My brothers, God has called you to serve the Gospel in an authentic and vital way. While your ministry will not always be easy, set aside your fears and embrace your call with deep trust in Jesus’ promise to walk with you always. Follow Jesus’ example of selfless love and mercy. And serve God’s people generously as you would serve the Lord himself,” the bishop ended his homily by saying.

 

SERVICE ALREADY INSPIRING

 

Deacon Gerard P. Pernot said he was drawn to the diaconate as a way to say thank you for everything he has received in life. Even before ordination, he has been serving the community by volunteering with a hospice organization and assisting local refugees.

“I’ve been blessed to work with a refugee family who came to our country with six children and one bag. I didn’t know what to think, honestly, when I had the opportunity to get involved with the refugees. I have gotten so much more out of it,” Pernot said.

For the last several years, Deacon Joseph J. Chmiola has been visiting nursing home residents and homebound parishioners from his parish, Saint Jude Parish in Mountain Top.

“I really enjoy visiting with the shut-ins…They are like family members. I’ve been with them about three years, I know who they are, I know what they like, I know what they dislike,” he explained.

The bishop’s words about being a servant leader resonated with Deacon Peter J. Lemoncelli, who has been serving in hospice programs, along with doing hospital visitation, outreach to the elderly and assisting refugees. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he has come to a deeper understanding of the struggles many face.

“I saw the perspective that the homebound have, many of them being in their homes year after year, many of them with no relatives or family left,” Lemoncelli said. “It gave me a much stronger closeness to their needs.”

 

READY TO MAKE AN IMPACT

 

Deacon Angel “Luis” Rivera has been working with the Hispanic population across the Diocese of Scranton for several years. As a deacon, he hopes to continue welcoming their presence in parishes from the Poconos to the Wyoming Valley.

“We open doors. We made them feel welcome and I’m just there to serve them and if I can, bring them to a closer encounter with Jesus,” Rivera explained.

Deacon Joseph Sudano hopes his diaconal ministry will allow him to help people find relevance with the church in their lives. He recently had a very positive experience leading an RCIA group, bringing adults into full communion with the church.

“I’m Director of Faith Formation at Saint Nick’s in Wilkes-Barre so I’ve been blessed to be able to work in the church for the last few years. I think that becoming a deacon will only enhance that and really just bring further growth and further opportunities for me to reach people,” he said.

As a nurse and paramedic, Deacon Eugene N. Blockus believes he can serve God and do His will by serving his community.

“I worked emergency medicine so I saw more tragedy than I saw good,” Blockus said. “During those times, I would stop when it was possible and quietly pray with the families or with the patients and I knew there was more that I could do. I felt there was a greater calling because a lot of times they would be looking for a minister or a priest.”

 

CALLED TO THE DIACONATE

 

Deacon John C. Jorda admits he never even considered being a deacon until just a few years ago. He didn’t know any deacons and was unfamiliar with their duties. With both his parents and children battling health issues, he even got upset with God. It wasn’t until he got back involved with the church that he discovered his future ministry.

“I started praying and one day while praying to God, what do you want me to do for you, it just popped in my head and it was burning inside of me and I couldn’t get it out of my mind,” Jorda admitted.

Jorda says the amount of support he received from parishioners has helped him throughout the years of formation. As for the formation program itself, Jorda said, “it helped me learn more about myself…The material things don’t mean that much anymore. It’s all about helping people, helping people find their way like I found my way.”

Admitting that he is reluctant to try new things, Deacon Joseph R. Marcellus joined the Knights of Columbus and that move, unknowingly at the time, would help him find his path to ordination. As he began to meet more people, he became a lector and extraordinary minister of Holy Communion.

In his profession as an architect, Marcellus will now be able to help build God’s kingdom on earth, which we are all called to do through baptism. He credits the Diaconate program for opening his eyes to many different things.

“I build things, I design things, I put things together but probably the biggest thing I’ve gotten out of being in the Diaconate program is not what I’m building but what people build and give back to me. I’m constantly amazed when we try to help people or go out and do something or serve people, I am the one receiving, not the one giving,” he explained.

 

 

His Excellency, Bishop Joseph C. Bambera, announces the following appointments, effective November 30, 2020:

Deacon Eugene Blockus, to diaconal ministry at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish, Hunlock Creek.

Deacon Joseph Chmiola, to diaconal ministry at Saint Jude Parish, Mountain Top/Saint Mary Church, Dorrance.

Deacon John Jorda, to diaconal ministry at Gate of Heaven Parish, Dallas.

Deacon Peter Lemoncelli, to diaconal ministry at Saint Ann’s Basilica, Scranton.

Deacon Joseph Marcellus, to diaconal ministry at Mary Mother of God Parish, Scranton.

Deacon Gerard Pernot, to diaconal ministry at Saint Ignatius Loyola Parish, Kingston.

Deacon Angel Luis Rivera, to diaconal ministry at Saint Matthew Parish, East Stroudsburg.

Deacon Joseph Sudano, to diaconal ministry at Our Lady of Fatima Parish, Wilkes Barre.

 

SCRANTON – As they celebrated the Rite of Ordination, eight men who became permanent deacons in the Diocese of Scranton on Nov. 28, 2020, were reminded of the need to put others before themselves.

During his homily, Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, reminded the men that they have opened their lives to the Lord’s love and because of it, they seek to love him in return through service to His people.

“To be a disciple of Jesus means to put ourselves in the humble, demanding role of servant to others, to intentionally seek the happiness and fulfillment of those entrusted to our care, regardless of the cost to ourselves,” Bishop Bambera said.

The newly ordained deacons will join the ranks of clergy who minister to the faithful in parishes and other settings throughout the diocese. Their diaconal ministry is threefold: service to the Word of God, service at the altar of the Lord and service to the poor.

As deacons, the men will proclaim the Gospel, preach homilies, prepare the altar for the banquet of Christ’s sacrifice, distribute Holy Communion, baptize, preside at weddings, funerals and other prayer services and be the living and working expression of the charity of the Church.

“Your ministry, to be fully diaconal and unified, must include some form of direct service to the poor and to those most in need,” the bishop explained.

The men accepting the diaconal call and responsibilities include Eugene N. Blockus, Joseph J. Chmiola, John C. Jorda, Peter J. Lemoncelli, Joseph R. Marcellus, Gerard P. Pernot, Angel Luis Rivera and Joseph Sudano.

“My brothers, God has called you to serve the Gospel in an authentic and vital way. While your ministry will not always be easy, set aside your fears and embrace your call with deep trust in Jesus’ promise to walk with you always. Follow Jesus’ example of selfless love and mercy. And serve God’s people generously as you would serve the Lord himself,” the bishop ended his homily by saying.

Look for additional coverage of the Rite of Ordination in the December 17 edition of The Catholic Light.

 

 

CARBONDALE – The need of local individuals and families was clearly evident outside the Catholic Social Services Office in Carbondale just before Thanksgiving.

On Tuesday, Nov. 25, the agency distributed 150 turkeys and food baskets to individuals in need of assistance. That number tripled the number of people who received help just one year earlier.

“The demand has been really, really overwhelming this year,” Michelle Santanna, Office Supervisor for Catholic Social Services Carbondale, said. “We try to help whoever we can.”

Wearing masks and remaining socially distant, individuals and families came to pick up food to make their own meals at home, expressing gratitude at every chance.

“I don’t know where I would have turned without this,” Harry Sinawa of Waymart said. “Normally I’m not the guy to come down to a place like this, I would leave it to somebody else, but this year with COVID, it knocked me out of the water.”

Sinawa, who owns his own small tree-cutting business, is used to helping people and giving away free services but during the pandemic his phone hasn’t been ringing as much.

“Some guys have work. Some guys don’t. It has been tough,” he explained.

Crystal Ondrako recently moved from Forest City to Carbondale. She also explained just how difficult managing COVID-19 has been with a husband in the healthcare field and a disabled mother living with her at home.

“We’re all healthy. We’re all doing good,” Ondrako said. “As long as we have each other, that is all that matters.”

As she received a turkey and all the fixings, Ondrako knows her family is not alone.

“It helps a lot especially when you’re trying to buy other groceries and then trying to fit this in, it’s a lot!” she said.

This is the second year that the Catholic Social Services Office in Carbondale has held a special food distribution for Thanksgiving. The agency received assistance from the Ancient Order of Hibernians Division 2 and the United Methodist Church of Carbondale.

“We have people who cry, who want to hug us but can’t this year. It’s heart-warming just knowing it takes such a load off of people’s shoulders,” Santanna explained.

Under normal circumstances, the food distribution would take place indoors where there is a waiting area. Due to COVID-19, all of the food items were distributed at the door.

“It is challenging but we’re managing,” Santanna explained.

Immediately after Thanksgiving, the Catholic Social Services Office in Carbondale will transition to registration for its Gifts for Kids Programs. Sign-ups are required. The registration period will take place from Monday, Nov. 30 to Friday, Dec. 4.

 

 

Pope Francis meets with a delegation from the National Basketball Players Association during a private audience at the Vatican Nov. 23, 2020. The group included Marco Belinelli of the San Antonio Spurs; Sterling Brown of the Milwaukee Bucks; Jonathan Isaac of the Orlando Magic; Kyle Korver of the Milwaukee Bucks; and Anthony Tolliver, a free agent who most recently played for the Memphis Grizzlies. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — A delegation representing the National Basketball Players Association, a union representing professional athletes from the NBA, met with Pope Francis and spoke with him about their work in promoting social justice.

The players association said the group meeting the pope Nov. 23 included: Marco Belinelli, a shooting guard for the San Antonio Spurs; Sterling Brown and Kyle Korver, shooting guards for the Milwaukee Bucks; Jonathan Isaac, power forward for the Orlando Magic; and Anthony Tolliver, a 13-year power forward who is currently a free agent.

The NBPA said the meeting “provided an opportunity for the players to discuss their individual and collective efforts addressing social and economic injustice and inequality occurring in their communities.”

NBA players have been vocal on social justice issues throughout the year, especially after the shocking death of George Floyd by police officers in May sparked massive protests across the United States.

Before resuming the basketball season following its suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the union and the NBA reached a deal to display social justice messages on their jerseys.

Michele Roberts, executive director of the NBPA, said in a statement Nov. 23 that the meeting with the pope “validates the power of our players’ voices.”

“That one of the most influential leaders in the world sought to have a conversation with them demonstrates the influence of their platforms,” said Roberts, who also was at the meeting. “I remain inspired by our players’ continued commitment to serve and support our community.”

According to ESPN, union officials said an “intermediary” for the pope reached out to the NBPA and informed them of Pope Francis’ interest in their efforts to bring attention to social justice issues and economic inequality.

Korver said in a statement that the association was “extremely honored to have had this opportunity to come to the Vatican and share our experiences with Pope Francis” and that the pope’s “openness and eagerness to discuss these issues was inspiring and a reminder that our work has had a global impact and must continue moving forward.”

“Today’s meeting was an incredible experience,” Tolliver said. “With the pope’s support and blessing, we are excited to head into this next season reinvigorated to keep pushing for change and bringing our communities together.”

 

 

The word “COVID-19” is reflected in a vaccine drop that dangles from a syringe needle in this illustration photo Nov. 9, 2020. (CNS photo/Dado Ruvic, Reuters)

WASHINGTON (CNS) — While confusion has arisen in recent days in the media over “the moral permissibility” of using the COVID-19 vaccines just announced by Pfizer Inc. and Moderna, it is not “immoral to be vaccinated with them,” the chairmen of the U.S. bishops’ doctrine and pro-life committees said Nov. 23.

Bishop Kevin J. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine, and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, addressed the issue in a memo to their brother bishops.

A copy of the memo was obtained by Catholic News Service Nov. 24.

“Neither the Pfizer nor the Moderna vaccine involved the use of cell lines that originated in fetal tissue taken from the body of an aborted baby at any level of design, development or production,” the two prelates said. “They are not completely free from any connection to abortion, however, as both Pfizer and Moderna made use of a tainted cell line for one of the confirmatory lab tests of their products.

“There is thus a connection, but it is relatively remote,” they continued. “Some are asserting that if a vaccine is connected in any way with tainted cell lines, then it is immoral to be vaccinated with them. This is an inaccurate portrayal of Catholic moral teaching.”

Bishop Rhoades and Archbishop Naumann cited three Vatican documents that “treat the question of tainted vaccines”: the 2005 study by the Pontifical Academy for Life, “Moral Reflections on Vaccines Prepared from Cells Derived From Aborted Human Fetuses”; paragraphs nos. 34-35 in the 2008 “Instruction on Certain Bioethical Questions” (“Dignitatis Personae”) by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; and the 2017 “Note on Italian Vaccine Issue,” by the Pontifical Academy for Life.

“These documents all point to the immorality of using tissue taken from an aborted child for creating cell lines,” they explained. “They also make distinctions in terms of the moral responsibility of the various actors involved, from those involved in designing and producing a vaccine to those receiving the vaccine.

“Most importantly,” they added, “they all make it clear that, at the level of the recipient, it is morally permissible to accept vaccination when there are no alternatives and there is a serious risk to health.”

In a Nov. 21 statement, the president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association, Mercy Sister Mary Haddad said CHA ethicists, “in collaboration with other Catholic bioethicists,” used the guidelines released by the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life in 2005 and 2017 on the origin of vaccines and “find nothing morally prohibitive with the vaccines developed by Pfizer and BioNTech (Pfizer’s German partner) and Moderna.”

She also said CHA “believes it is essential that any approved COVID-19 vaccine be distributed in a coordinated and equitable manner,” because COVID-19 “has had a disproportionate impact on vulnerable populations, such as the elderly, low-income communities, persons with preexisting health conditions, and racial and ethnic minorities.”

CHA encouraged Catholic health organizations “to distribute the vaccines developed by these companies.”

Bishop Rhoades and Archbishop Naumann did not point to any specific media outlets claiming the moral unsuitability of the vaccines. However, after Pfizer and Moderna announced their vaccines, at least two Catholic bishops warned against using them, saying they are morally tainted.

On Nov. 11, Pfizer and BioNTech announced that results of a large ongoing study show its vaccine is 95% effective; the vaccine is already being manufactured and has been since October. Five days later, Moderna said preliminary data from its phase three trial shows its coronavirus vaccine is 94.5% effective in preventing COVID-19.

Pfizer and Moderna are applying to the U.S. Food and Drug administration for emergency approval of the vaccines, which would quickly pave the way for distribution of the vaccines. The FDA is to meet Dec. 10.

On Nov. 16, Bishop Joseph E. Strickland of Tyler, Texas, tweeted the Moderna vaccine “is not morally produced. Unborn children died in abortions and their bodies were used as ‘laboratory specimens.’ I urge all who believe in the sanctity of life to reject a vaccine which has been produced immorally.”

In a Nov. 18 video posted on his diocesan website and subsequent interviews with local media, Bishop Joseph V. Brennan of Fresno, California, weighed in on the vaccines, saying: “We all want health for ourselves and for others. We want to promote that also … but never at the expense of the life of another.”

In May, the Trump administration launched Operation Warp Speed, the moniker of its initiative to deliver COVID-19 vaccines to Americans as quickly as possible. The program has funded the manufacturing of six promising vaccine candidates, two of which are the ones announced by Moderna and Pfizer.

As soon as the FDA approves their vaccines for distribution, Operation Warp Speed hopes to distribute 300 million doses around the country by January. Because Moderna and Pfizer’s vaccines involve two shots per person, this would be enough to immunize 150 million Americans.

Other COVID-19 vaccines on the horizon include one being developed by AstraZeneca with Oxford University.

Like Bishop Rhoades and Archbishop Naumann, John Brehany, director of institutional relations at the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia, said a recent interview on the “Current News” show on NET TV, the cable channel of the Diocese of Brooklyn, New York, said the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines were not themselves produced using cell lines derived from aborted fetal tissue.

He expressed “great respect for Bishop Strickland,” calling him “a bold courageous witness to the faith,” who is saying “some true things about issues that go back decades in pharmaceutical research and development,” in the production of vaccines for measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox and other diseases.

But in the case of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, Brehany emphasized, any connection to aborted fetus cell lines is extremely remote.

For Dr. Robert Tiballi, an infectious disease specialist in Chicago and a member of the Catholic Medical Association, this indirect use raises an ethical issue for Catholics.

“The fetal cell lines were not directly used in the Moderna vaccine, but they were indirectly used several steps away from the actual development of the vaccine,” he told “Currents News” in a separate interview.

Any such cell lines were derived from tissue samples taken from fetuses aborted in the 1960s and 1970s and have been grown in laboratories all over the world since then.

In its 2005 study, the Pontifical Academy for Life said Catholics have a responsibility to push for the creation of morally just, alternative vaccines, but it also said they should not sacrifice the common good of public health because there is no substitute.

“Catholics can have confidence if there is a great need and there are no alternatives, they are not forbidden from using these new vaccines,” Brehany told “Current News,” but he added: “There is much the church calls us to do in seeking out alternatives and advocating for alternatives.”

Catholics “need to provide the urgency and advocacy” to get pharmaceutical companies to understand there are alternatives to using fetal cell lines to develop vaccines, “so they can see the need for this,” he added, echoing the Pontifical Academy for Life.

A case in point is the decision by Sanofi Pasteur to no longer use an aborted fetal cell line in producing its polio vaccines, a move recently approved by the FDA.

Sanofi is one of the companies currently developing a COVID-19 vaccine by utilizing “cell lines not connected to unethical procedures and methods.” Inovio Pharmaceuticals and the John Paul II Medical Research Institute are other such companies.

The word “COVID-19” is reflected in a vaccine drop that dangles from a syringe needle in this illustration photo Nov. 9, 2020. (CNS photo/Dado Ruvic, Reuters)

 

WHAT

“Pints with Priests” is a monthly gathering for young adults in the Diocese of Scranton. Come and enjoy a pint of your favorite drink or ice cream and engage in light-hearted spiritual or theological conversations with your peers and some priests, right from the comfort of your own home!

This month’s guests are: Fr. Alex Roche, Fr. Jeff Tudgay, and Fr. Brian JT Clarke.

Each gathering will be hosted on Zoom. You will receive an email with details on how to join the Zoom meeting once you register. Must be between the ages of 21 and 40 to attend.

WHEN

Wednesday, December 16th from 7-8:15pm
Registration is required.

 ​REGISTER ONLINE NOW

 

 

A total of 686 young adults from across the Diocese of Scranton were honored this fall for their commitment to their faith and service to their parishes and schools.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Bishop’s Youth Awards were not handed out in large regional Masses. Instead, the nominees were recognized in their individual parishes and schools. The Bishop’s Youth Awards Masses began on Nov. 8.

The awards recognize eighth grade and 12th grade students who have shown exceptional service and leadership skills.

Bishop Joseph C. Bambera taped a video message to all of the students receiving the awards, thanking them for their commitment to service.

“I want to remind you that holiness is often found in the little things – not just the big things. More than you might realize, you are already making a difference in your parish and school communities,” the bishop said. “Whether you are serving at your parish Mass as a lector, altar server or cantor; taking part in youth ministry or religious education programs; being an example of faith to your peers, or helping with vacation bible schools – you are thinking of others more than yourselves.”

Bishop Bambera encouraged all students to continue sharing their gifts and talents wherever they may be.

“We are so proud of all of you for everything that you do and all that you are,” the bishop said in his message to honorees. “We need you now more than ever to be living saints, doing things both big and small for your community and our diocese.”

Bishop’s Youth Award Recipients 2020

 

 

SCRANTON (November 19, 2020) – Parishioners from across the 11-counties of the Diocese of Scranton are invited to make a gift to the 2020 Diocesan Annual Appeal: Bound Together in Hope during Online Commitment Weekend, November 21 and 22. The Appeal Commitment Weekend online giving page can be found at https://annualappeal.org.

This two-day online event was developed to provide a safe opportunity to make an Appeal pledge since many parishes will not be conducting the traditional In-Pew Commitment Weekend collection at Mass this fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are deeply grateful to the more than 10,000 parishioners who have generously made a gift commitment to this year’s Appeal and we expect that many more will join us with a gift this weekend,” Jim Bebla, Diocesan Secretary of Development, said. “Donations to the Appeal make a tremendous difference in the lives of those we serve and beautifully demonstrate that we are all ‘bound together in hope’ by virtue of our Catholic faith.”

During Appeal Online Commitment Weekend, parishioners can make a gift on their parish team page that will be credited immediately to their parish’s Annual Appeal goal.

Some of the features on the Appeal Online Commitment Weekend giving page are:

  • Parishioners who donate online will be listed on each parish’s “Donor Wall.” Donors have the option to be listed as anonymous.
  • Donations may be made in honor or in memory of a family or friend.
  • Prayer intentions may be submitted online and will be remembered at a Mass celebrated by Bishop Joseph Bambera on Sunday, Jan. 10, at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton.

The goal for the online giving weekend is $450,000, which is 10% of the overall Appeal goal of $4.5 million. Each parish’s goal for this two-day event is 10% of their parish Annual Appeal goal.

For more information on the Diocesan ministries supported by gifts to the Annual Appeal, to view one of the regional Annual Appeal videos or to make a donation online, visit https://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.

 

SOUTH ABINGTON TOWNSHIP – Northeastern Pennsylvania will soon be losing one of its oldest religious communities. Saint Gabriel’s Monastery will close on Dec. 31, 2020, ending of a 94-year presence by the Passionist Nuns in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

The Passionist Nuns Community established its Scranton-area community in 1926 and then moved to Clarks Summit in 1970. Thirty-three nuns have been a part of the community since 1926, but the numbers have dwindled over the past decade due to an aging community and a lack of new vocations.

The Community produced altar-bread for parishes across the United States and offered retreats to groups and individuals and was also a welcome haven for community faith groups.

The closing of Saint Gabriel’s Monastery will affect the local community as it is one of the last remaining retreat centers in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Since 1970, Saint Gabriel’s has welcomed thousands of retreatants from across the United States, providing a safe and spiritual haven for those in search of peace and strengthening of their faith.

Sister Teresita Kho has been part of the Passionist Community at Saint Gabriel’s for the past 26 years. She, along with Sister Olive Ann Schneider, are the two remaining nuns at the monastery. She believes that Saint Gabriel’s will be missed and has received communications to support her belief.

“I have received a lot of letters, emails and phone calls from people who are devastated by the closing of our facility,” Sister Teresita said. “People knew that they could come here to pray without judgment. We have accepted people who have been hurting and those who were looking for God. It is my hope that the right people will continue the ministry in the same way.”

Sister Teresita said that there are some special bonds that she will miss.

“Every corner of this monastery has contributed to my personal growth. The nuns we have lost and the experiences we have had were a great impact on my life. The people of the monastery and those who I have met in the Scranton Diocese have meant a lot to me. I am hoping that wherever God is taking me, I can use the experiences I have had here to continue to grow in my faith and as a person,” she added.

Carol Burti has been a part of Saint Gabriel’s for nearly 45 years. Her involvement started as a volunteer with music ministry, providing music for weekend retreatants and various community retreat weekends. Even though the community was contemplative, Burti’s involvement with Saint Gabriel’s was providing care to the ailing nuns in need of hospice services.

Her involvement also opened the door for college interns to help with providing care to the sisters in need. Through this interaction, a local butterfly memorial service was held each year for friends of the community that have died. She feels that the closing of the monastery will greatly affect the local community and that the memorial service could continue.

“This was truly a place where people could come together to feel safe and rest awhile. The closing will create more isolation for people who look for areas to interact with others that they may not have opportunity to otherwise,” Burti explained.

Charlie Augustine of Clarks Summit has been providing maintenance services to Saint Gabriel’s for 15 years. He feels that the monastery will be missed.

“People depend on this place to go to Mass and practice their faith,” Augustine said. “It is a shame and will be missed. I will miss the current friendships that I made here, especially with the nuns who are still living and with those who are deceased. It was wonderful.”

The closing Mass will be held on Sunday, December 6, 2020, with the Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, D.D., J.C.L, Bishop of Scranton, presiding.

Due to current COVID-19 restrictions, the monastery will be unable to open the ceremony to the public.

Anyone who wishes to express their sentiments can contact the monastery at (570) 586-2791.