SCRANTON — The Diocese of Scranton will hold the Retirement Fund for Religious collection during all weekend Masses Dec. 12-13. The National Religious Retirement Office (NRRO) coordinates this annual appeal and distributes the proceeds to assist eligible U.S. religious communities with their retirement needs. Nearly 30,000 senior sisters, brothers and religious order priests benefit.

Last year, the Diocese of Scranton donated $74,491.78 to the collection.

“The generosity of U.S. Catholics enables us to continue our ministry for aging women and men religious,” said Presentation Sister Stephanie Still, the NRRO’s executive director.

In 1988, Catholic bishops of the United States initiated the Retirement Fund for Religious collection to help address the deficit in retirement funding among U.S. religious congregations. Each congregation is responsible for the care and support of its members. Financial distributions from the collection are sent to a congregation’s central house and may be applied toward immediate expenses — such as medications or nursing care — or invested for future eldercare needs.

Historically, Catholic sisters, brothers and religious order priests served for little to no pay. Today, many religious communities lack sufficient retirement savings. Of 531 communities providing data to the NRRO, only 29 are adequately funded for retirement. Rising health care costs and a growing number of senior members compound the challenge to meet retirement expenses.

The 2019 collection raised $26.2 million, and in June, the NRRO disbursed $25 million in financial assistance to 341 religious communities. Throughout the year, additional funding is allocated for resources and services that help communities improve eldercare delivery and plan for long-term retirement needs. A new online webinar offers professional guidance on adapting care protocols to address issues arising from the coronavirus pandemic.


This 2016 file photo shows the original image of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Through the intercession of “Virgen de Guadalupe,” plans for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe are proceeding with the hopes of providing as much celebration as possible amid a global pandemic and a world of social unrest.

Particularly in the areas of large Latino populations in the Diocese of Scranton, the annual observance commemorates the appearance of the Virgin Mary to a Mexican Indian peasant — now venerated as Saint Juan Diego — in December 1531 in Tepeyac, near present-day Mexico City.

The Blessed Mother’s appearance is believed to have resulted in millions of conversions to Catholicism, and her message of hope continues to inspire those of Hispanic descent, especially natives of Mexico.

In 1946, Pope Pius XII declared Our Lady of Guadalupe as Patroness of the Americas.

The Our Lady of Guadalupe feast on Dec. 12 will culminate a host of celebrations being planned throughout the Diocese, especially in those parishes made up of significant Hispanic/Latino communities.

Bishop Joseph C. Bambera will celebrate the feast day Mass on Saturday, Dec. 12, at 11 a.m. at Saint John Neumann Parish at Nativity of Our Lord Church, 633 Orchard St., in South Scranton.

According to Father Jonathan Kuhar, who is serving as assistant pastor at Saint John Neumann following his ordination in June, traditional plans that normally mark the celebration have been scaled back due to safety concerns.

“Although it is unfortunate we are unable to have so many traditional aspects of our celebration,” Father Kuhar said, “the silver lining for us must be that more of our attention will be directed toward the Mass, which will be celebrated in Spanish. We hope all people will discover the beauty of the Spanish language and find value in celebrating this special feast day.”

To maintain proper social distancing, reservations are required to attend the Mass — the first 150 reserving a place will be seated in the upper church of the Nativity worship site; the following 140 will view the livestream video of the feast day liturgy. The Mass will also be livestream on their Facebook page.

Registration may be found on the parish website at or on Facebook @stjnparish.

Later in the day on Dec. 12, Bishop Bambera will preside at the Eucharistic liturgy for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe at 6 p.m. at Saint Nicholas Parish in Wilkes-Barre. The Mass will be livestream on Facebook and YouTube.

With social distancing guidelines in effect, seating is limited and reservations are required to attend. Registration can be made by visiting the parish website:

For the past ten years, Saint Matthew Parish in East Stroudsburg has received the “Virgen de Guadalupe Torch,” a burning symbol marking the annual Marian feast and originating from the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.

As it passes through the United States, accompanied by images of Our Lady and Saint Juan Diego, Saint Matthew’s has been the only church in Pennsylvania which actively participates along the torch’s celebratory route.

A Mass heralding the Guadalupe Torch’s arrival will be hosted at Saint Matthew Church on Tuesday, Dec. 1, at 7 p.m.

On Friday, Dec. 11, the Vigil liturgy for Our Lady of Guadalupe will be celebrated at 6:30 p.m., followed by exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, Rosary recitation, and a teaching. The Virgin of Guadalupe will be venerated in music with “Serenata” (serenade) and “Mañanitas” — traditional singing to honor a loved one — at 8:30 p.m.

Saint Matthew’s will host the Mass for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Saturday, Dec. 12, at 1 p.m.

Holy Annunciation Parish in Hazleton will host their traditional Novena to Our Lady of Guadalupe, leading up to the feast, from Dec. 3-11. The Novena is customarily hosted each evening at nine different homes during the devotion; however, the tradition has been suspended this year due to the pandemic.

On Saturday, Dec. 12, Annunciation Parish will host Very Rev. Matthew Spencer, OSJ, provincial superior of the Oblates of Saint Joseph in America, who will preside at the Feast Mass at 7 p.m. The celebration will be highlighted by Mariachi singers.

Father John Ruth, pastor of Sacred Hearts of Jesus & Mary Parish in Jermyn, will be principal celebrant for the Spanish Mass commemorating the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Saturday, Dec. 12, at 6 p.m. in Sacred Heart of Mary Church, 624 Madison Ave. Father Ruth will also preach the homily in Spanish.

“I love the Hispanic culture, traditions and language, praying and reading each day in Spanish,” the pastor said, noting he has enjoyed a sizable following of Latino faithful since actively serving in Hispanic ministry during his Scranton assignments at Saint John Neumann and Saint Patrick parishes.

Father Ruth further shared that a parish pilgrimage to Lady of Guadalupe Basilica in Mexico a few years ago returned with replicas of the miraculous image that now adorn Nativity Church (in Scranton) and the parish church in Jermyn.

“Every time I look at Mary’s image (as Our Lady of Guadalupe), I am very moved,” he remarked.

Father Ruth added that the feast day celebration will be complete with Mariachi accompaniment for the procession with the Marian image of Guadalupe, which will be presented by a young parishioner portraying Juan Diego. Fiesta with a light dinner will follow the Mass, with social distancing and masks required.

Leydi Rodriguez of Scranton, a member of Sacred Hearts of Jesus & Mary, said, “We know that Mary, as the Mother of Jesus and also our Mother, is a great intercessor. It is an honor to call her ‘Mother.’”

Fellow parishioner Danielle Muñoz Heras of Carbondale concurred.

“Our Lady of Guadalupe came to Mexico where there had been worship of pagan gods,” she remarked. “You can see in her miraculous image the darkened moon at her feet and the rays of the sun and stars around her mantle. This clearly said to the people that she was from the One True God. She helps us, as well, to believe in Jesus and to abandon false gods in own lives.”



WILKES-BARRE – Best known for offering recreational and child care opportunities to kids in the Wyoming Valley for decades, the Catholic Youth Center has taken on another critical mission in 2020.

Due to COVID-19, the CYC is now making sure at least 115 students get an education through its cyber-school program.

“I can’t help but feel immense gratitude for my school-aged staff that have really transformed their duties,” Francesco Pesce, CYC Cyber School Specialist, said. “Prior to being counselors for the cyber program, they were school aged counselors who would facilitate activities for the children but now they too have a role in making sure the children are attending their classes.”

At the start of the school year, only 35 students were enrolled in the program but as various school districts began offering online-only classes, many parents needing to work went in search of a safe place for their children to stay during the day.

“Our number one priority is the safety and welfare of any child here and also our staff. Luckily, we haven’t had any (COVID-19) cases to date,” Ryan Smith, CYC Program Executive, said.

Guinivere, a fifth grade student, spends weekdays at the CYC attending classes on her Chromebook. While missing her traditional school environment, the 10 year old enjoys having the ability to spend time with her friends at the CYC.

“When we get in, we get our temperatures taken and then we go to the other gym and then we have tables with our name tags on them. We sit and I usually talk with my friends before I have school and then I go in my classes,” she said.

McKenzie, another fifth grader learning five days a week at the CYC, likes having the opportunity to play games in between her online classes.

“You get to play with your friends and I’d rather come here instead of staying home,” she said.

With students ranging from kindergarten to sixth grade enrolled in the cyber-school program, CYC employees have had to overcome challenges for each age group based on their abilities. Some of the challenges involve making sure students stay engaged, complete their assignments and do not interrupt other children because of varying schedules.

Pesce says helping kindergarten students has been particularly difficult because most are only five years old.

“They’ve never been in school before. This is their first time in ‘school,’ in the CYC, in our library downstairs,” he explained.

In addition to the cyber-school program, the CYC continues to offer its Respite and Youth Drop-In Center Programs. The Respite Program allows parents and grandparents of children in the mental health system, ages 5-13, supervised recreational and socialization opportunities while their caregivers are able to receive a short break. The Youth Drop-In Center Program offers a safe place for young adults ages 14 and over.


Help the CYC on #GivingTuesday!

You can help the mission of the CYC on Giving Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020. The CYC is one of several organizations taking part in AllOne Charities Giving Tuesday event. AllOne Charities will match the first $1,000 raised for the CYC and is offering other matching-gift challenges to organizations that raise the most money and have the most donors.

The money raised on Giving Tuesday will support the CYC’s effort to purchase desperately needed replacement vans used to pick-up and drop-off children at the Wilkes-Barre facility. For many families in the Wilkes-Barre area, transportation is an issue.

“We don’t only serve the Wilkes-Barre Area School District, we have children here from Hanover Township, Wyoming Valley West, Pittston Area, Nanticoke and some of the parochial schools,” Ryan Smith, CYC Program Executive, said.

The vans mean many students, like Miguel, a seventh grader, can participate in CYC programs.

“When I come in, a lot of people say hi, some people ask me if I want to play games or basketball,” the 12 year old said. “When I come here, I feel very welcome.”

To make a donation for Giving Tuesday, visit

Gifts in support of the CYC’s campaign can also be mailed to 300 Wyoming Avenue, c/o Development Office. Checks should be made out to AllOne Charities with CYC Giving Tuesday in the memo line.



BLOOMING GROVE TOWNSHIP – During the COVID-19 pandemic, food pantries operated by parishes across the Diocese of Scranton have continued to respond to an increasing need.

The Blooming Grove Food Pantry in Pike County, operated by Saint John Neumann Parish, is one of the many facilities meeting the needs of its community.

“This is one of the few places that will make sure that you have toilet paper and paper towels and things that are really necessary,” recipient Adista Wightman said.

Wightman, who lives near the parish in the Hemlock Farms development, says the food she receives has helped immensely during the coronavirus.

“The one gentleman that volunteers here also makes sure I get a packet of kitty food so it means the world to me,” Wightman added.

Peggy Shekailo, Blooming Grove Food Pantry Director, says the parish has helped an average of 60-70 families each month during the coronavirus pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, the number was roughly 48 families.

In order to keep volunteers and recipients safe, the food pantry transitioned to a drive-thru operation for several months.

“My biggest concern is children and seniors. I try to make sure I have food for them,” Shekailo said.

A social justice grant provided by the Diocesan Annual Appeal helps the parish purchase meat to distribute to recipients. Reverend Ed Casey, pastor of Saint John Neumann Parish, is very thankful that the Annual Appeal helps recipients get a good protein along with canned goods and non-perishable items.

“The Annual Appeal has helped us greatly with keeping the food pantry open,” he explained.

The Blooming Grove Food Pantry has been at Saint John Neumann Parish since the early 2000s. Shekailo has spent the last decade personally making sure its operation has been successful.

“I was there when I was a kid, there was no food on the table at my house. My family was one of those that was extremely poor and I ate at different people’s houses or the diner would fix something and give it to my dad. That is how I ate so to do this for me makes me feel unbelievably good. I enjoy it,” she explained.

The Blooming Grove Food Pantry is open to anyone in the community. Recipients do not need to belong to the parish to receive assistance.

“There aren’t that many services in Pike County. I know that from my days as a social worker with Catholic Social Services and this really fills a need,” Father Casey said.

Donations to the 2020 Diocesan Annual Appeal are currently being accepted. To make a gift, visit


Serving the 2020 Diocesan Annual Appeal as Regional lay and clergy chairs on behalf of Monroe County are Linda Fangio McDonald and Attorney Joseph McDonald, Jr., Stroudsburg, and Father Carmen Perry, pastor of The Church of Saint Luke, Stroudsburg.

“For me, all aspects of the Appeal are important because there is need in each area,” Father Perry said. “As I reflect on the final judgment standing before Christ, I will render an account of how I gave of myself for the good of others. I can’t afford to ignore the cry of the poor who need to be fed and clothed, or the need to help educate the young, or show gratitude by caring for the retired priests who spent their lives in service to others, and have been a wonderful example to me.

“Jesus commands us to give to those who ask, and not turn our backs on our own,” the pastor continued. “May God bless us in our giving.”

Father Perry has served The Church of Saint Luke as assistant pastor for 21 years and pastor for the past five.

Raised in Scranton as a member of Saint Lucy’s Church, he graduated from Saint Frances X. Cabrini School.

The McDonalds are active members of Our Lady Queen of Peace, Brodheadsville. Joe is a lector, and former Eucharistic minister and CCD instructor. Linda is member of the Finance and Pastoral Councils. Both are marriage Pre-Cana ministers.

Joe is sole attorney in his general civil law practice. Linda, a former information technology and financial manager, is a part-time financial coach and instructor for Northampton Community College.

The McDonald family includes daughter, Alysea; her husband, Pary and their baby, Lina; son, Patrick, and daughter, Megan.

Joe grew up in Carbondale and graduated from Saint Rose Elementary and High schools.Linda was raised in Dunmore.

Both credit their parents, Alice and the late Victor Fangio, and Joe and Margaret McDonald, for inspiring their faith and empathy for others.

“The Annual Appeal funds several ministries with an economy of scale beyond the reach of most individual parishes,” Joe said.

“Appeal contributions can help relieve moments of stress in the lives of our brothers and sisters throughout the Diocese,” Linda added. “We must go beyond ourselves, our family, our parish and community to serve God, to help others in need and to keep our Christian Faith strong and inclusive.”


Bishop Joseph C. Bambera has invited Chris DiMattio and Ann Celli DiMattio, Moscow, and Father Patrick Albert, pastor, Saint Mary of the Lake Parish, Lake Winola, and Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish, Tunkhannock, to serve as Appeal regional lay and clergy chairs for Lackawanna and Wyoming counties.

Father Albert grew up in the neighborhood of Nativity Parish, Scranton, now Saint John Neumann. He previously served as pastor of Ascension Parish, Forest City, where he oversaw the renovation of a church building that represented several parishes coming together in the region.

“I’ve come to appreciate there is tremendous need among the poor and the elderly. I see the outpouring of people seeking assistance every single day in our community,” Father Albert said. “We have to be up to the challenge.”

Appeal social justice grants help Father Albert’s parishes serve the needy through the Lower Wyoming County Food Pantry and Seven Loaves which provides hot meals five days a week at no cost.

“I remind my parishioners there are a wide variety of services covered by the Appeal. Many people served are unbeknown to us. You see it through all aspects of the Appeal. Looking closely it becomes more personal…Wow, this is the core of our Diocese. This is what we do as followers of Christ,” he explained.

The DiMattios are members of Saint Catherine of Siena Parish, Moscow, and parents of sons, Louis and Robert. Chris is a senior financial advisor at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management. A registered dietitian, Ann is presently a full-time mom. Both are daily communicants.

The couple was married at the Cathedral of Saint Peter by the late Most Rev. Robert C. Morlino, later Bishop of Madison, Wisconsin. In his memory, the DiMattios made a gift to the Cathedral of Saint Peter Restoration Project for one of the Cathedral’s external dome crosses in the Diocese Bishop Morlino loved.

“Our brightest experiences in life have come by participating at faith events,” Chris said. “Whether during a Holy Hour at Saint Catherine’s Adoration Chapel or praying the Novena at Saint Ann’s Basilica, we are extremely grateful for the blessings God has bestowed on us.”

“When complications arose days after the birth of our first son, Louis, panic wasn’t an option. We knew he was in God’s care and mercy,” Ann added.

The couple recognize the obligation of Catholics to provide financial help to individuals who suffer from poverty and hardships. “We understand that it may be uncomfortable talking about financial giving especially in these times,” Chris said regarding the Appeal. “But the spiritual services we took for granted by so loving priests now deceased or retired are very present in our lives today. They deserve our support.”



HAZLETON – A journey that began with the planning process more than three years ago came to a completion this month high atop scaffolding more than nine stories in the air.

Bishop Joseph C. Bambera joined members of Annunciation Parish on Nov. 3, 2020, to bless the Cross on top of Saint Gabriel Church. The prayerful moment marked the end of the first phase of a major renovation project at the Luzerne County church.

“This Cross is here because of so many people who helped make it be here through their gifts, through their generosity, through their efforts, for close to the century that this church has been here,” Bishop Bambera said.

The bishop, along with Rev. Mariusz Beczek, O.S.J., pastor, Annunciation Parish, parishioners and representatives of companies involved in the renovation work climbed scaffolding steps, battling windy conditions as well, to reach the limestone Cross.

“That Cross tells the story of so many lives that have been a part of this community, this neighborhood and this city, that have turned to God in times of struggle, in times of suffering and pain and war and upheaval and in moments of joy, just to celebrate their belief that it’s the Cross that carries us all through,” Bishop Bambera added.

In late April, contractors began the six month project to address urgent needs on the front part of the church. The main goals were to address a leaking roof and water that was infiltrating the walls of the building.

“This is really about preserving this beautiful church so that we can continue to provide services to God’s people for many, many years to come,” Rev. Mariusz Beczek said.

Tom Kennedy, one of the chairmen of the Capital Campaign Committee that helped raise roughly $1 million for the project, says the work was badly needed.

“My wife is an organist. When she would be playing the organ, it would be raining inside. The water was just coming in and there was no way to keep it out,” Kennedy explained.

Saint Gabriel Church was built in 1927. Kennedy says working to restore this important house of worship has been deeply personal.

“Our family was a member of the church since the 1920s, starting with my grandfather. I was baptized here, went to school at Saint Gabriel’s, we were married here, our kids were baptized here, and we buried our parents here. Saint Gabriel’s is a very important part of our lives,” Kennedy said.

The renovation project was only slightly delayed because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Companies involved in the renovation work say they were blessed with good weather. They were happy to finish the project before the start of winter.

“Between some extensive deteriorated joints up top at the bell tower specifically and many joints washed out that were in need of replacement, there was a lot of water getting into the building. There was a lot of water infiltration,” Dawn Van Fossen, project manager with Mark J. Sobeck Roof Consulting, Inc., said.

With the first phase of the renovation project now complete, Kennedy says over the next five to ten years, parishioners plan to embark on additional renovation phases to prevent any additional damage from taking place. Those efforts will be concentrated on the other sides of the building.

Seeing the scaffolding up outside the church has brought new life to this faith-filled community.

“I think it brought some enthusiasm and vitality,” Rev. Beczek said. “We are not giving up on this church and as a community we came together to preserve this beautiful site.”

“When we look at this church which has always just dominated the skyline of the city of Hazleton, it’s such a joy and a consolation to know that it will continue to do that because of the efforts of so many people who are committed, not just to the brick and mortar, but to everything that means as a people of faith,” Bishop Bambera said.

More information on ways to contribute to the Capital Campaign can be found at



SCRANTON – Having celebrated their second wedding anniversary just days earlier, Chris and Veronica Morrison of Dunmore found themselves at the Cathedral of Saint Peter on Nov. 1, 2020.

The young couple felt called to participate in the Diocese of Scranton’s annual Leave a Mark Mass because it presented an opportunity to strengthen their commitment to one another, in addition to being around other young adults

“After you get out of college, it’s really hard for younger people to get involved, to make friends and feel a part of the Church community,” Veronica, 26, said.

“I’m all for community, getting connected, getting young people connected,” Chris, 27, added. “It’s really great that they can have something like this and that people show up.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, attendees had to pre-register to attend the Mass in person. Attendance was limited to comply with social distancing regulations but the Mass was broadcast live on CTV: Catholic Television and livestreamed on Diocesan social media platforms.

“For me it’s definitely something important to make connections and keep my faith alive and keep it going,” Veronica explained.

This year marked the fifth anniversary for the Leave a Mark Mass. The idea for the Mass came after Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims at World Youth Day in Poland in 2016. The Holy Father said, “It is very sad to pass through life without leaving a mark.”

Bridget Barnic, 24, of Moosic helped launch the Leave a Mark Mass five years ago while a student at Marywood University.

“I’ve found being with other peers my age very encouraging. It makes me want to share my faith more,” she said.

As a parishioner of Divine Mercy Parish in Scranton, Barnic believes the Leave a Mark Mass is important for young adults in the diocese.

“I feel that there is strength in numbers and when you’re surrounded by faithful people, it’s easier to go out in the world and not be afraid to speak your faith,” she added.

The Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera served as principal celebrant for the Mass, which was held on the Solemnity of All Saints. Reverend Jonathan Kuhar, Assistant Pastor, Saint John Neumann Parish, Scranton, served as homilist.

“Your task right now is to welcome others into the kingdom of God and do so by carrying the kingdom of God wherever you go, by living your lives as God’s holy people, by living your lives as saints,” Rev. Kuhar said during his homily.

Rev. Kuhar also encouraged the young adults to ask a simple question every day: ‘What does God want from me?’

“If you ask this question honestly and faithfully, God will answer your simple prayer,” he said.

Reverend Alex Roche, Diocesan Vocations Director, welcomed the participants at the start of Mass.

“This (Mass) is always a great opportunity for us to come together as a young Church, to listen to God’s call in our life, to discern what it is we’re supposed to do, how we’re supposed to discern our vocation and of course today to pray for the intercession of all of the saints that go before us,” Rev. Roche said.





A total of 684 young adults from across the Diocese of Scranton are being 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 are not being handed out in large regional Masses. Instead, the nominees are being recognized in their individual parishes and schools. The Bishop’s Youth Awards Masses began on Nov. 8 and are expected to continue through the rest of the month.

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.”



SCRANTON – Bishop Joseph C. Bambera will preside as ordaining prelate and principal celebrant on Saturday, Nov. 28, for the ordination of eight men to the Permanent Diaconate for service as permanent deacons in the Diocese of Scranton.

The newly ordained deacons will join the ranks of clergy who minister to the faithful in parishes and other settings throughout the Diocese.

During the Mass of Ordination, scheduled for 10:00 a.m. in the Cathedral of Saint Peter, Bishop Bambera will ordain the following men to serve permanently in the Order of Deacon: Eugene N. Blockus, Joseph J. Chmiola, John C. Jorda, Peter J. Lemoncelli, Joseph R. Marcellus, Gerard P. Pernot, Angel Luis Rivera and Joseph Sudano.

These men will complete a five-year formation program and become members of the threefold ordained ministry that consists of bishops, priests and deacons.

The deacon’s service has three aspects: word, worship and charity. He can perform certain ministerial functions such as administering baptism; serving as the deacon at the Mass, including proclaiming the Gospel, preaching the homily and distributing Holy Communion; bringing viaticum to the sick; presiding at wake services, funeral liturgies and burial rites and with permission by the pastor, may celebrate the Sacrament of Matrimony.

Deacons also minister to the needs of families, single parents, students, the aged and infirmed, the imprisoned and those who suffer from poverty or addictions.

Due to COVID-19, attendance at the Mass will be limited and by invitation-only. CTV: Catholic Television of the Diocese of Scranton will broadcast the Mass live.

The following are brief biographies of the permanent deacon-candidates for ordination:

Eugene N. Blockus

Eugene N. Blockus, 63, lives in Hunlock Creek, where he is a member of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish. He is married to his wife, Patricia, for 31 years and has two stepsons.

Following graduation in 1975 from John S. Fine High School, Nanticoke, the deacon-candidate pursued certification as an emergency medical technician (EMT) and paramedic at Luzerne County Community College (LCCC) and became a nationally registered EMT-paramedic in 1990.

In 1998, he received his associate’s degree in applied science from LCCC and was licensed as a registered nurse.

Blockus earned his pre-hospital registered nurse certification in 2005, having served as an ALS responder for Mercy Health Partners, and EMT-paramedic at Bloomsburg Hospital and Wilkes-Barre Mercy Hospital, where he also served and a PCU/ER registered nurse.

During 2009-2012, the future deacon was a registered nurse for Geisinger Health System in Wilkes-Barre/Danville, and served as an emergency room nurse at Lehigh Valley Hospital, Hazleton, for five years prior to his retirement from the nursing field in 2017.


Joseph J. Chmiola

Air Force veteran Joseph J. Chmiola, 59, is a parishioner at Saint Jude Parish in Mountain Top, where he resides with his wife of 18 years, Cecelia.

The 1979 graduate of Meyers High School, Wilkes-Barre, earned his bachelor’s degree in history in 1983 from Wilkes University, followed by his teacher’s certification in 1986. He received his master’s degree in secondary education/history from Wilkes in 1995 and an administrative certificate in education from Temple University in Philadelphia in 1998.

Chmiola retired after serving for 30 years on the faculty at Crestwood High School, Mountain Top, as a social studies teacher.


John C. Jorda

A resident of Dallas, where he is a member of Gate of Heaven Parish and Our Lady of Victory Parish, Harveys Lake, John C. Jorda, 59, is the father of two sons.

He graduated from Bishop O’Reilly High School in Kingston in 1979, after which he received his municipal police officer training certification from the Pennsylvania State Police in 1989.

The deacon-candidate retired in July 2011 as captain of detectives for the Municipality of Kingston Police Department. He would later serve as operations manager in the Safety & Security Department at Misericordia University, Dallas, retiring in August.


Peter J. Lemoncelli

Peter J. Lemoncelli, 66, is a parishioner at the Basilica of Saint Ann in West Scranton and resides in Hughestown with his wife, Lorine. The couple has been married for 33 years and are the parents of two children.

After graduating from Lakeland High School in Jermyn in 1972, Lemoncelli earned an associate’s degree in business from Penn State University. He received his bachelor’s degree from The University of Scranton, where he was awarded his M.B.A. degree in 1978.

The future deacon is retired from the United States Postal Service following a 36-year career in the statistical programs division.


Joseph R. Marcellus

Deacon-candidate Joseph R. Marcellus, 60, and his wife of 12 years, Terri, reside in the community of Lake Ariel, where they belong to the Parish of Saint Thomas More.

A 1978 graduate of Wilson High School in Easton, Marcellus earned his bachelor’s degree in architecture from Syracuse University in 1986.

He currently serves in a principal position with BDA Architects, an architectural/interior design firm in Clarks Summit.


Gerard P. Pernot

Gerard P. Pernot, 58, and his wife, Patricia, have been married for 31 years and have three children. They are residents of Duryea and members of Nativity of Our Lord Parish in the borough.

The deacon-candidate is a 1979 graduate of Pittston Area High School and received his associate’s degree in banking from Luzerne County Community College in 1984.

He later earned a bachelor’s in business administration and economics from Wilkes University in 1988 and a master’s in business administration, with a concentration in finance, from The University of Scranton in 1992.

Pernot is currently a relationship manager for retirement plan clients with CUNA Mutual Group.


Angel Luis Rivera

Future deacon and East Stroudsburg resident Angel Luis Rivera, 56, and his wife, Lizbeth, have three children and are parishioners at Saint Luke Parish in Stroudsburg.

He is a 1982 graduate of Luis Muñoz Rivera High School in Salinas, Puerto Rico.

Currently employed by Notre Dame High School in East Stroudsburg, Rivera received his bachelor’s degree in Spanish from the College of Mount Saint Vincent, Riverdale, N.Y., in 2002. He also earned a graduate degree in religious education and Latino studies from Fordham University in New York.


Joseph Sudano

Joseph Sudano, 50, of Milford, is a member of Saint Nicholas Parish in Wilkes-Barre, where he currently serves as full-time Director of Faith Formation. He is married to his wife, Barbara, for 27 years and they are the parents of three children.

Sudano graduated from New York City’s Archbishop Molloy High School in 1988 and received his undergraduate degree in liberal arts & sciences from City University of New York in 1992.

The deacon-candidate previously held a sales management position with Canon USA and was also campus minister at East Stroudsburg University.