SCRANTON – The Diocese of Scranton will celebrate its annual Mother’s Day Adoption Mass on Sunday, May 9, at 10:00 a.m. at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton. This liturgy prayerfully recognizes all mothers, with a special emphasis on adoptive and foster mothers. Bishop Joseph C. Bambera will be the principal celebrant.
The Mother’s Day Adoption Mass is open to the public. No reservations are required. Attendees will be required to wear properly fitting face coverings and follow physical distancing protocols established by the Cathedral of Saint Peter.
CTV: Catholic Television of the Diocese of Scranton will broadcast the Mass live. A livestream will also be provided on the Diocese of Scranton website, YouTube channel and across all Diocesan social media platforms.
Pope Francis has said that humanity is “built on mothers” and that their love is a cure for a world, which is so often divided and filled with bitterness. On May 9, please join us for the Mother’s Day Adoption Mass as we pray for mothers, near and far, including Mary, Mother of the Church.
Vision 2020 Blueprint Process begins assisting parishes facing changes, challenges and opportunities
SCRANTON – More than a year after the Vision 2020 Blueprint Process was introduced to parishioners in the Diocese of Scranton, the pastoral planning initiative remains underway. In fact, it is currently being used to assist several parish communities facing pastoral retirements and other challenges in the coming months.
Vision 2020 is a long range process aiming to look proactively at the realities of our local Church in the present moment while striving to meet the opportunities and challenges of the coming decade.
Many factors will prompt change across the Diocese of Scranton in the future. These factors include rapidly shifting population demographics, reduced numbers of parishioners active in their faith, parish financial challenges, parish infrastructure needs as well as a diminishing number of ordained priests to serve existing parishes.
“Our ongoing pastoral planning process in the Diocese is both important and necessary to have vibrant parishes and rich participation in the sacraments,” the Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, said. “This process, at its very core, is about putting our relationship with Jesus first in our own lives and in the life of our Church. We must desire to help all people meet Christ and build God’s Kingdom – not our own.”
On Dec. 8, 2019, Bishop Bambera introduced the Vision 2020 Blueprint Process to every parish in the Diocese through a video homily played at all Masses. Since that time, pastors have met in their individual deaneries, Bishop Bambera led several regional sessions in communities before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Bishop provided a video presentation to other parishes that were not able to gather in large groups because of the coronavirus.
“Given our faithful people’s deep love of their churches, I fully understand the emotions many have regarding any type of pastoral planning process,” the bishop explained. “Change is always difficult but we must constantly evaluate how to best utilize our resources in order to focus on mission more than simply maintenance.”
The Diocese of Scranton is not alone in undertaking pastoral planning efforts. A worsening shortage of priests nationwide, among other factors, has many other Dioceses and Archdioceses undertaking similar measures.
Over the past half century, the number of priests across the U.S. has dropped by about 40 percent — from nearly 60,000 priests in 1970 to 35,513 in 2020, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
The Diocese of Scranton currently has 112 active priests, of which 92 are pastors. Based on projections of known retirement ages and historical trends, the Diocese projects that in 2030, the Diocese of Scranton will have only 69 active priests and the possibility of 49 pastors.
“We must be realistic in looking at all of the data, not just in the number of priests but all factors that might prompt change and response. Demographic studies have consistently shown that many areas of the northeast are experiencing a decline in population, including the eleven counties of the Diocese of Scranton. As such, many of our parishes are faced with far more funerals than baptisms. There is an urgency in this moment and a need to be creative and bold. We must continue to evangelize and spread the Good News of Jesus, welcome new immigrants and families into our parishes and focus on fostering vocations to the priesthood and religious life in our Diocese. For example, when is the last time that you heard someone in a parish say to a young man, have you ever thought of being a priest? We need more conversations like that taking place,” the bishop explained.
One important aspect of the Vision 2020 Blueprint Process is there will not be a one-size-fits-all approach. Different things will prompt changes in various parishes and deaneries at different times.
In order to better serve the mission of the Church, some of the possible changes that parishes might experience would be partnerships with neighboring parishes, linked parishes, alternative types of parish leadership (such as a Parish Life Coordinator) as well as potential merger or closure.
“As a Diocese, we have risen to meet the challenges and the needs for change in the past. Unlike previous pastoral planning processes, implementation will be approached gradually as needs arise,” Bishop Bambera added. “As members of this local Church, we must all acknowledge the social and demographic factors that will require change and we must all work together to best live out our baptismal calling.”
Vision 2020 Blueprint Process Being Utilized with Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish, Weston
Parishioners of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Weston were recently notified the weekend of April 10/11, 2021, of the planned retirement of their longtime pastor, Rev. Patrick D. McDowell, in June 2021. In a letter sent to parishioners, Father McDowell explained how the pastoral and sacramental needs of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish community would be served going forward.
After looking at many factors, including with input from members of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish Pastoral Council, the decision has been made to consolidate the parish of Sacred Heart of Jesus into the parish of Saint John Bosco, Conyngham. This means that the territory and pastoral care responsibility of Saint John Bosco Parish, its pastor and pastoral leaders, will now include all of the households previously served by Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish, Weston.
A small working team with representatives from both parishes will be assembled to assist with the planning needed to make a smooth adjustment.
Vision 2020 Blueprint Process Being Utilized with Holy Family Parish, Sugar Notch
Parishioners of Holy Family Parish in Sugar Notch were recently notified the weekend of April 24/25, 2021, of the planned retirement of their longtime pastor, Rev. Joseph R. Kakareka, in September 2021. In a letter to parishioners published in the parish bulletin, Father Kakareka explained how the pastoral and sacramental needs of the Holy Family Parish community would be served going forward.
Utilizing the Vision 2020 Blueprint Process which takes into account the long range needs of the entire Diocese, after consulting the pastoral and finance councils of Holy Family Parish and pending the outcome of the necessary canonical processes, Bishop Bambera will follow the recommendation of the priests of the Wilkes-Barre deanery and consolidate Holy Family Parish with Saint Leo Parish, Ashley. The parish territory of Holy Family Parish will become the parish territory of Saint Leo Parish, whose pastor will have full ministerial care for all parishioners of the newly-consolidated parish.
A small working team with representatives from both parishes will be assembled this summer to assist with the planning needed to make a smooth transition.
SCRANTON – During the COVID-19 pandemic, the role of Catholic communications was extremely important. Many people have relied on CTV: Catholic Television of the Diocese of Scranton for Daily and weekend Masses.
On the weekend of May 15 & 16, 2021, the Diocese of Scranton will hold its special collection in support of the Catholic Communication Campaign. This campaign connects people with Christ and builds Catholic communities in the United States and developing countries using the internet, television, radio and print media.
The Catholic Communication Campaign helps people tell their stories of God’s transformative mercy. By supporting the campaign, you participate in bringing these important stories to life!
Half of the money collected remains in the Diocese of Scranton to fund local communication efforts, including the Daily Mass broadcasts and other local programming and specials on CTV: Catholic Television as well as the publication of The Catholic Light. Your support helps spread the Gospel message.
We thank you for your generosity toward the Catholic Communication Campaign!
WASHINGTON (CNS) — The chairman of the U.S. bishops’ pro-life committee April 20 called on the Biden administration to fund research “that does not rely upon body parts taken from innocent children killed through abortion.”
“The bodies of children killed by abortion deserve the same respect as that of any other person,” said Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities.
“Our government has no right to treat innocent abortion victims as a commodity that can be scavenged for body parts to be used in research,” he said.
His remarks were a reaction to a notice the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, posted April 16 in the grants area of its website announcing the end of a Trump administration ban on research involving human fetal tissue acquired from elective abortions.
In addition, NIH and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will no longer convene the Human Fetal Tissue Research Ethics Advisory Board.
Under President Donald Trump, the two agencies had established the board to review research applications for NIH grants, cooperative agreements, and research and development contracts that proposed using fetal tissue from elective abortions.
The previous administration also terminated contracts with outside institutions that used fetal stem cells for research.
According to Roll Call, a news outlet on Capitol Hill, the decision to lift the ban came after 26 House Democrats wrote to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, urging this policy change.
“It is unethical to promote and subsidize research that can lead to legitimizing the violence of abortion,” Archbishop Naumann said in his statement. “Researchers have demonstrated that we can do effective scientific research and develop efficacious clinical treatments without harvesting tissue from aborted babies.”
“It is also deeply offensive,” he added, “to millions of Americans for our tax dollars to be used for research that collaborates with an industry built on the taking of innocent lives.”
Other pro-life reaction to NIH’s announcement included a statement from Tom McClusky, president of March for Life Action, the sister organization of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund.
He said the Biden administration’s decision to “fund research that requires aborted fetal tissue (is) very disappointing.”
“This type of experimental research is a gross violation of human dignity and is not where the majority of Americans want their tax dollars being spent,” McClusky said. “The government has no business creating a marketplace for aborted baby body parts.”
It is a move in the wrong direction, agreed Tara Sander Lee, senior fellow and director of life sciences at Charlotte Lozier Institute, which is the research and education arm of the Susan B. Anthony List.
“There are superior and ethical alternatives available such as adult stem-cell models being used by countless scientists worldwide to develop and produce advanced medicines treating patients now, without exploitation of any innocent life,” she said. “All scientists should reject the administration’s attempts to prey on fears related to the pandemic to advance the practice of harvesting fetal tissue.”
“Pro-abortion Democrats push this deeply unpopular agenda at their own political peril,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List.
The HHS ban on NIH using human fetal stem cells in research announced June 5, 2020, came after an audit and review of its own research involving human fetal tissue and elective abortions. Regarding contracts with outside institutions, HHS refused to renew a $13 million research contract with the University of California, San Francisco, because it failed to live up to it moral and ethical standards.
In 2019 alone, NIH spent $120 million on fetal tissue of unborn babies, according to a news release issued by HHS at the time.
Meanwhile in Congress, ahead of the April 16 announcement by NIH, Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., spoke during debate on a bill to reauthorize the Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act of 2005. Smith was the prime sponsor of the 2005 bill and of a bill to reauthorize it in 2015.
The new law created a nationwide umbilical cord blood stem-cell program, designed to collect, derive, type and freeze cord blood units for transplantation into patients to mitigate “and to even cure serious disease,” Smith said April 14.
“Pursuant to the law, it also provided stem cells for research” he said, adding that new cord blood program was combined with an expanded bone marrow initiative, whose main sponsor was the late Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Fla.
The reauthorization bill for the Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act authorizes $23 million to be appropriated for fiscal year 2021 through fiscal year 2025. It also authorizes $30 million to be appropriated for fiscal years 2021 through 2025 for the bone marrow transplant program.
“This continues funding at the same levels authorized in the 2015 authorization bill,” Smith said.
“Each year, nearly 4 million babies are born in America. In the past, virtually every placenta and umbilical cord was tossed as medical waste,” Smith said in his comments on the floor. “Today, doctors have turned this medical waste into medical miracles.”
“Not only has God in his wisdom and goodness created a placenta and umbilical cord to nurture and protect the precious life of an unborn child,” he continued, “but now we know that another gift awaits us immediately after birth. Something very special is left behind — cord blood that is teeming with lifesaving stem cells.”
According to Smith, one of “the best kept secrets in America” is “umbilical cord blood stem cells and adult stem cells in general are curing people of a myriad of terrible conditions and diseases — over 70 diseases in adults as well as in children.”
SCRANTON – Healthcare workers and grocery store employees have been widely recognized for being essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Catholic School teachers and administrators should also be among the individuals on that important list.
When all schools in Pennsylvania were ordered closed in March 2020, the Diocese of Scranton Catholic School System quickly and seamlessly transitioned to distance learning the following school day. In order to resume in-person learning in the fall of 2020, appropriate health and safety protocols were developed. To date, some other local school districts have still not been able to return to in-person instruction for all grades.
“The pandemic challenged us in so many ways but in our Catholic Schools, we’ve taken those challenges and created the opportunities behind them,” Jason Morrison, Diocesan Secretary for Catholic Education/Chief Executive Officer, said.
Reflecting on how Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Scranton saw such success during the pandemic, Superintendent Kristen Donohue credited not only the teachers, staff and administrators, but also the students and families who followed all safety protocols.
“We could not have done what we did this year without the cooperation of our families, our students who are doing the work, along with our teachers and administrators,” Donohue said.
In order to reopen in the fall, the Diocese of Scranton Catholic School System was intentional, focused and data-driven in its planning process. A Diocesan Health & Safety Committee, made up of educators, health professionals and clergy, developed appropriate safety guidelines.
“We really had to think, from start to finish, about the school day and every detail that happens,” Donohue said.
While some might point to smaller class sizes in Catholic schools as the reason for success, Morrison said flexibility and balance were much more critical factors.
“We ended up using cafeterias as classrooms in some schools to create space and ensure physical distancing. We had to adjust and be flexible and be creative,” he explained.
Administrators faced constant questions and always needed to adapt Morrison said, pointing to another example, “If we were making a gym into a classroom, we had to determine what gym looks like for students to provide them an opportunity to have physical exercise, whether that be outside in the warmer months or inside.”
Throughout the health crisis, Catholic Schools continued to be innovative.
“We implemented new technologies, we implemented new ways of learning and everybody got on board with that and I don’t think we can underestimate the team mentality that came into play,” Morrison said.
As a result, parents and families continue to respond. Inquiries about Catholic education continue to come in for the 2021-2022 academic year. Registration is now underway in all 19 Diocesan schools.
“Looking at the numbers relative to other years, we’re on track to have one of our largest growths if things continue as they have been. We’re about three-percent ahead of where we were two years ago, which is the best we’ve had since 2010,” Morrison added.
Another important statistic that Morrison tracks is the retention rate for current students. He says it is currently five-percent higher than it has been in the last three years.
“That trend tells me that the people who came to us, and maybe they came to us because we were providing an in-person education, are now staying with us because it’s not just that educational environment, it’s that they appreciate, understand and want what we are providing in our schools every day,” Morrison said.
“The pace of this year is definitely faster than any other school year that I’ve experienced in my career,” Donohue admitted.
“It has been very inspiring and impressive to watch, not only as a parent with children in the school system, but being part of the school system professionally to watch and be inspired by everybody,” Morrison added.
WILKES-BARRE – From a quick glance, Kaitlin Chmielewski’s first grade classroom at Saint Nicholas/Saint Mary Catholic School in Wilkes-Barre might not have much in common with Debra Smith’s eighth grade literature class at Our Lady of Peace Catholic School in Clarks Green. However, when you look closer at how each teacher prepares and delivers their lessons, you notice striking similarities.
For the last two years, both teachers have been using a new tool – NWEA Assessments – to deliver differentiated instruction in their classroom, setting each individual student up for greater growth and success.
The assessments from NWEA – which stands for Northwest Evaluation Association – provide educators with valuable data on each student three times a year allowing them to measure a student’s growth over time. That data provides critical information that helps educators understand each student’s skills and abilities.
NWEA Assessments are currently being used at all 19 Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Scranton.
“It allows me to individualize my instruction to allow my students to grow much better than teaching a general lesson to the whole class,” Chmielewski said.
Chmielewski explained how the assessments help her teach each one of her first graders in a better way.
“If I see that Student A is struggling on their consonant-vowel-consonant words, I can make sure they’re working on those a little harder, whereas if Student B has already mastered that, I’m able to give them the opportunity to work on the next skill up,” she explained.
Debra Smith says the data she receives from the assessments is so specific; it really helps her focus on what every student in her classroom needs.
“It really helps me be a better teacher,” Smith admitted. “I really bought into it from the beginning.”
Students in grades K-8 take assessment tests in reading, language usage, math and science three times each school year – once in the fall, once in the winter and once in the spring. Ninth grade students also take the assessment in high school Algebra I.
“I noticed some of my kids weren’t as strong as I would have liked them to be in reading informational text, so I started adding more informational text into my curriculum so that was a wonderful way to identify that was what they needed,” Smith said.
Smith calls the new assessments a “game changer” when it comes to thinking about way lessons are taught.
“I can deliver direct instruction for the students but with that direct instruction, I can break them out into small groups and target specific needs. For the students who might not understand a concept that much, I can offer reinforcement activities and more instruction. For the students on the other end of the spectrum, I’m able to give them differentiated learning that is more challenging to them, that really expands their thinking. I’ll use different depth of knowledge questions,” she explained.
Kristen Donohue, Superintendent of Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Scranton, says no other local school district is using NWEA Assessments, so having this tool makes Catholic schools unique.
“Our real goal is to make sure all of our students are growing. We believe firmly that all students can grow and all students can learn,” Donohue explained.
Donohue recently visited several schools across the Diocese to see how teachers are utilizing the assessment data to help all students reach their God-given potential.
“It’s exciting. This type of planning is very different than years ago when a teacher would plan one lesson for an entire group of students,” she added. “The outcome is worth every second of planning because you are able to see each student access their education at an appropriate level and really maximum their time in the classroom. This assessment data is one piece that supports our teachers as they provide instruction at the readiness level of our students.”
Many school districts only rely on one standardized test at the end of the academic year and often the results are stale by the time an educator wants to use them. That is the difference between being “achievement-driven” versus “growth-driven.”
“This data is living. We’re continuing to use it and continuing to reflect upon it,” Donohue said.
Using the NWEA Assessment Tool is just another example of how Catholic Schools continue to raise the bar in terms of innovation, Jason Morrison, Diocesan Secretary for Catholic Education and Chief Executive Officer, explained.
“In the local area, we’re the only ones that are using this assessment tool and it gives us a greater understanding of each child,” Morrison said. “We owe it to students … We need to ensure that we are creating an environment that is faith-filled and academically excellent.”
Jesus is constantly calling us to spread his love
PECKVILLE – Jesus is calling his sheep but unfortunately many are just not listening.
That is the message that Rev. Andrew Kurovsky, pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish, delivered as homilist for the Diocese of Scranton’s World Day of Prayer for Vocations Mass on April 25, 2021. More than 150 attended the annual observance held at the Peckville parish.
“Jesus hasn’t stopped calling. Maybe we just aren’t tuned in enough to respond,” Rev. Kurovsky said.
The long-time pastor said Jesus calls his sheep in many ways. Sometimes it is for service to the priesthood or religious life.
“We need sheep that are going to bring Sacraments and the Word of God to people. My friends, I believe Jesus is calling those sheep. He’s still calling them today,” Rev. Kurovsky said. “Too many times we fail to see the vocations and how Jesus is calling people right here in our midst so we can encourage them more and more.”
Rev. Kurovsky encouraged each person attending Mass to find the vocation to which he or she is being called.
“He’s calling sheep to come forward and give their all in terms of elder care and reaching out to those who are in need and have no one to look after them. We need sheep today to perhaps establish Catholic Rehab Centers, for therein lies another pandemic that exists in our world today, that being the pandemic of addiction,” he said. “We need sheep in the Catholic Church that are going to fill the needs of those who are coming into our country now at the border.”
James Lavan of Mountain Top drove nearly an hour to attend the World Day of Prayer for Vocations Mass after being personally invited by members of the Diocesan Vocations Office.
“I was very intrigued to come up here and listen to the message,” the Holy Redeemer High School senior said. “I really enjoyed the message.”
Lavan, 18, is dismayed that many of this peers now do not associate themselves with any religion.
“It really disappoints me that a lot of people I grew up with, going to a Catholic elementary school, a lot of those people do not attend Mass anymore.”
As Lavan reflected on Rev. Kurovsky’s homily, he found inspiration.
“I’m really hoping that at some point in the future I’ll be able to encourage more people to not just attend Mass, but to devote more of their lives to prayer and take more time out of their day to pray the rosary in the morning or join a youth group,” he explained.
The April 25th Mass at Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish took on special significance because it marked the church’s 75th anniversary as a parish.
The Mid Valley parish continues to grow, especially with the number of young families attending Mass.
Bishop Joseph C. Bambera, who served as principal celebrant for the Mass, thanked Rev. Kurovsky for his reminder that all of us need to hear the voice of the Lord and follow him.
“I think Father Andy reminded us all very, very profoundly that we have all been invited by God as the sheep to spread the love that has been imparted to us and to proclaim the Gospel message in the lives that we lead,” Bishop Bambera said.
SCRANTON — A Tony Award-winning screenwriter who was raised in Scranton will be the principal speaker when Marywood University holds its annual spring commencement on Saturday, May 15.
Stephen Karam, currently a teacher of graduate playwriting at The New School in New York, will address the nearly 800 Marywood graduates during four separate commencement ceremonies taking place that day on the university’s Scranton campus.
Marywood’s three colleges — Health and Human Services, Arts and Sciences, and Professional Studies — will confer degrees to undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students who hail from 31 states and six countries.
A graduate of Brown University, Karam won the Tony Award for his dramatic works The Humans, Sons of the Prophet and Speech & Debate.
U of S Ceremonies
Slated May 22 & 23
The University of Scranton will confer more than 1,000 bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees at in-person undergraduate and graduate commencement ceremonies on Saturday and Sunday, May 22 and 23.
Degrees will be conferred to graduates who had completed their academic degree requirements in August and December of 2020, as well as January and May of 2021.
Following Pennsylvania’s current indoor capacity guidelines, a maximum of 2,500 people will be able to attend each of the ceremonies, which will take place at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, Wilkes-Barre Township.
The graduate commencement ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 22. Separate undergraduate commencement ceremonies will be held on Sunday, May 23, for graduates of the Panuska College of Professional Studies at 9:30 a.m.; the Kania School of Management at 1 p.m.; and the College of Arts and Sciences at 4:30 p.m.
CLARKS SUMMIT – Just days before Easter, a fresh loaf of bread – pumpkin chocolate chip – arrived on the doorstep of Joan Ondush.
Describing it as “sinfully delicious,” the 80 year old was the beneficiary of the “Easter Loaves of Joy” program at Our Lady of the Snows Parish.
During Holy Week, parish volunteers delivered more than 300 homemade loaves of bread to parishioners who are 80 years or older. The parish came up with the outreach effort after recognizing that many seniors faced isolation and loneliness due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The virus can spread but also the gifts of God can spread,” Ondush said. “The first thing I thought about was how blessed we are here at Our Lady of the Snows and Church of Saint Benedict to have Monsignor Quinn and Father Stephen (Asomah). They are shepherds of light and hope and depth of character that is reflected in their spiritual life.”
For the baked bread project, the parish relied on the talents and expertise of a group of 30 volunteer bakers. They lovingly created hundreds of homemade treats in favors like banana nut, cinnamon raisin, blueberry, carrot, chocolate zucchini and many more.
Parishioner Carolyn Siwak, along with her children, used all of their free time in the six days prior to Holy Week to bake more than 60 loaves of bread.
“I just thought it was a great project, especially from our standpoint, being able to share with the community a talent that we had,” Siwak explained.
Her son, Nathan, 13, a 7th grade student at the parish, was happy to assist as well and put his baking skills to good use. His siblings Sabrina, 11, and Alexander, 7, also assisted.
“I feel happy about it. I know some of my classmates and friends delivered breads and they told me how happy people were,” Nathan said.
Nearly two dozen 7th and 8th grade students in the parish’s religious education program joined adult volunteers to make the project a success. Some students put together the handmade baskets while others made deliveries with the support of their parents.
“There were a lot of smiles, lots of tears, lots of people who just haven’t been out of their homes in a year. For them to have someone come to the door and say they’re not forgotten, they are remembered, they are a part of this community, I think that message has reverberated throughout the whole parish in a happy way,” Monsignor Joseph G. Quinn, pastor, said.
Monsignor Quinn, who made roughly 20 deliveries himself, reflected on some of the comments he heard from recipients.
“When one loaf of bread was delivered to a woman, she said, ‘This is like an extra hug from God, I can’t believe it.’ Another woman said, ‘I can’t believe you’re here. I was just thinking about baking bread last night but I didn’t think I could do it,’” Monsignor Quinn added.
Our Lady of the Snows Parish has been reaching out and staying connected to its older parishioners since the COVID-19 pandemic began more than one year ago.
The parish began its outreach efforts with a program called “Calls of Kindness.” To date, parish volunteers have made approximately 1,400 phone calls to parishioners since March 2020.
“We just wanted to be able to stay connected and reach out,” Sue Burke, Our Lady of the Snows Director of Faith Formation, said. “They thought wow, my parish is calling me, they’re thinking of me.”
“We have one parishioner, who is 105, she was thrilled to get a call,” Monsignor Quinn added.
During the pandemic, Our Lady of Snows Parish looked closely at the age of all its parishioners. They were stunned by what they discovered.
“We have close to 500 people over the age of 75. That is a lot of people who are isolated and wounded throughout all of this. We kept asking ourselves, what can we do?” the long-time pastor said.
Throughout the course of the year, that question constantly came up amongst parish staff.
At Christmas, the parish conducted its “Tiny Tim” project to help individuals and families in need. Instead of parishioners buying and wrapping gifts, this year the parish mailed out grocery gift cards to families to keep everyone safe. More than $25,000 worth of gift cards touched the lives of 400 families, children and seniors in the Abingtons.
Many of the projects that Our Lady of the Snows has undertaken since the start of the pandemic have been simple and have not involved a great deal of money. Parish leaders say it has been an opportunity to rediscover the mission of the Church.
Throughout all of their work, they noticed one other important thing – some parishioners are not as “connected” as they thought.
“In a world that is so focused on everything digital and computerized, there are a lot of people who aren’t even connected. I’m surprised at the number of elders we have that don’t even have cable television, much less have the ability to connect electronically,” Monsignor Quinn explained.
As a result, the Clarks Summit parish has now gone from mailing out 20 bulletins a week to 200 bulletins to keep everyone connected and informed about parish activities.
While all of the parish projects have been a reflection of the compassionate care that has always been a hallmark of Our Lady of the Snows, one big question remains. What is the next big project?
“I’m not sure,” Burke said with a smile. “We’re going to continue reaching out and staying connected. We’re always open for ideas and we go forward with them and work as a team.”
Seminarians William Asinari, Thomas Dzwonczyk and Andrew McCarroll received Ministry of Lector at Saint Mary’s Seminary on Wednesday, April 14 by the Most Reverend Michael W. Fisher, Bishop of Buffalo.
The Ministry of Lector calls them to be servants of the Living Word of God. They will proclaim that word in the liturgical assembly, instruct children and adults in the faith and prepare them to receive the sacraments worthily.
William is from Saint John the Evangelist Parish, Honesdale, Thomas is from Saint John Vianney Parish, Montdale and Andrew is from Saint Robert Bellarmine Parish, Wilkes-Barre.
Please keep them in prayer as they continue their formation to serve our local Church as a Diocesan Priest!