SCRANTON – By defeating death through the power of the resurrection, Jesus provides hope and a way forward amid the pain and struggles in our lives.

That is the message Bishop Joseph C. Bambera provided to the faithful during Easter Sunday Mass, April 4, at the Cathedral of Saint Peter.

“Through their encounter with the risen Jesus, the lives of those who ventured to his tomb were changed forever,” Bishop Bambera said. “Their lives were changed because God had redirected the course of human history through the resurrection of his Son. By embracing our humanity, Jesus gave us hope by identifying with us in his life, suffering and death.”

Just like the first followers of Jesus, the bishop noted that many people had uncertainty, pain and confusion at the beginning of the current COVID-19 pandemic just one year ago. Despite the challenges associated with the virus, many healthcare workers, first responders, clergy, religious and essential workers not only consoled frightened individuals but also inspired them.

“Like the women who ventured to the tomb of Jesus on that first Easter day, these selfless souls would not allow themselves to be paralyzed. Instead, they worked tirelessly to keep the flame of hope burning in our lives,” Bishop Bambera explained. “And so did all of you! More than you might realize, you provided hope. In so many and different ways, you responded to the needs of others and you served generously and selflessly by telephoning shut-ins. You delivered food, helped teach your children and grandchildren, you shared from your bounty with those less fortunate.”

The bishop also emphasized the words of Pope Francis, in his most recent encyclical letter, Fratelli tutti, which said, “No one is saved alone; we can only be saved together.”

“This Easter Day, more than any other, reminds us that although wounded and broken, we are loved and have reason to hope because Jesus has triumphed over sin and death. For such great gifts, may we simply give thanks. And may we trust that the risen Lord, who has won for us the fullness of life, will grasp hold of our hands and lead us to peace,” the bishop said as he ended his homily.

The 10:00 a.m. Mass on Easter was televised by CTV: Catholic Television of the Diocese of Scranton. It was also livestreamed on the Diocese of Scranton website, YouTube channel and social media platforms.

More than 150 people attending the Mass wore face masks and were at social distances from one another in alternating pews, in accordance with COVID-19 safety protocols. The Mass opened with the joyful song, “Jesus Christ Is Risen Today.”

During the Mass, prayers were offered for those afflicted by the coronavirus.

After celebrating Easter last year at home on television or via livestream, many parishioners were thrilled to be back at Mass in person this Holy Week and Easter.

“I’m really excited. I’m happy that the churches are finally open and allowing people to be safe, socially distant and take precautions but actually be back at church,” parishioner Tara Marta said.

“It was really hard last year not being able to come here and worship,” Laura Welde of Archbald said. “I’m very happy. It feels very good.”

“It’s the holiest time of the Christian calendar. It is very important to be in church. Unfortunately, everybody can’t fit in here but they do show everything on television and people do like to watch from home but it’s not like being here in person. Nothing beats it,” Bernadette Hopkins of Throop added.

“It just felt too unnatural not to be able to come to church. You don’t realize it until you can’t come,” Ann Atanasoff of Clarks Summit explained. “It is not the same as being here in person!”



Holy Week 2021:  Stirring a Deeper Sense of Community!

Our Lady of the Snows Parish in Clarks Summit has been reaching out and staying connected to the elder population of parishioners since the pandemic started over a year ago with its Calls of Kindness program.   Some 1,200 phone calls have been made by over 25 volunteers throughout this past year.  These same volunteers are now among those individuals delivering surprise Easter Loaves of Joy to the senior members of our parish throughout and beyond the Abington Hills.

We are now reaching out to over 300 parishioners who are 80 years of age or older with Easter Loaves of Joy, by delivering a basket with a fresh home-baked loaf of bread to them for Easter.

For this baked bread project, the talents and expertise of a group of over 25 volunteer bakers were coordinated by one of our long-involved parishioners, Donna Coleman. They baked a variety of breads such as banana-nut, cinnamon-raisin, blueberry, carrot, chocolate-zucchini and many more.

Over twenty 7th and 8th Grade students in our Religious Ed program then joined the adult volunteers and helped in many ways, from putting together the handmade baskets to helping in delivery of them with the support of their parents.  Their involvement was part of completing their community service hours for their upcoming Confirmation celebration in May.

In addition to the students and parents, some 25 volunteers made deliveries throughout the parish community this week.

Some of the thankful and happy reactions from our parishioners were: “This is a special little hug from God”;How nice to be remembered by our parish”.  All were very visibly moved by the outreach efforts of their parish community.

The volunteers also felt great joy while delivering the baskets.  One driver commented; “What a joy it is bringing smiles to their faces”!

“The entire project is a reflection of the compassionate care that has always been a hallmark of this vibrant parish” said Msgr. Joseph G. Quinn, pastor of Our Lady of the Snows Parish. 


Pope Francis lights the paschal candle at the start of the Easter Vigil in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican April 3, 2021. The Easter Vigil was celebrated in a near empty basilica for the second year in a row as Italy continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The Easter liturgies — with the fire, sharing of light from the paschal candle, the renewal of baptismal promises and the proclamation that Jesus has risen – assure people that it is never too late to start again, Pope Francis said.

“It is always possible to begin anew, because there is a new life that God can awaken in us in spite of all our failures,” the pope said April 3 during his celebration of the Easter Vigil.

With Italy in lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Pope Francis celebrated a pared-down vigil at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s Basilica with an estimated 200 people present and returned the next morning with a similarly small congregation for Easter Mass and to give his blessing “urbi et orbi” (to the city and the world).

The vigil was simpler than usual, but there still was the blessing of the fire, which blazed at the foot of the basilica’s main altar, and the lighting of the Easter candle. Then, the darkened basilica slowly began to glow with the light of candles being shared by the concelebrants and the faithful present.

Pope Francis celebrates the Easter Vigil in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican April 3, 2021. The Easter Vigil was celebrated in a near empty basilica for the second year in a row as Italy continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

In his homily at the vigil, the pope said the Gospel proclamation of the resurrection and the angel’s invitation to the women at Jesus’ tomb to “go to Galilee” was a call to return to “the place where the Lord first sought them out and called them to follow him.”

Although his followers often misunderstood Jesus and even abandoned him “in the face of the cross,” he still urges them to “begin anew,” the pope said.

“In this Galilee,” the pope said, “we learn to be amazed by the Lord’s infinite love, which opens new trails along the path of our defeats.”

The pope said the call to return to Galilee also means to set out on a new path, away from the tomb and from indulging in grief.

Like those at the tomb, he said, “many people experience such a ‘faith of memories,’ as if Jesus were someone from the past, an old friend from their youth who is now far distant, an event that took place long ago, when they attended catechism as a child.”

“Let us go to Galilee, then, to discover that God cannot be filed away among our childhood memories, but is alive and filled with surprises,” he said. “Risen from the dead, Jesus never ceases to amaze us.”

The call to go to Galilee — a region inhabited by “those farthest from the ritual purity of Jerusalem” — is a reminder for Christians to go out to the peripheries and imitate Jesus who brought the presence of God to those who were excluded.

“The Risen Lord is asking his disciples to go there even now, to the settings of daily life, the streets we travel every day, the corners of our cities,” the pope said. “There the Lord goes ahead of us and makes himself present in the lives of those around us, those who share in our day, our home, our work, our difficulties and hopes.”

Pope Francis said Jesus calls on all Christians today to “overcome barriers, banish prejudices” and to recognize the Lord “here in our Galilees, in everyday life.”

“If on this night, you are experiencing an hour of darkness, a day that has not yet dawned, a light dimmed or a dream shattered,” he said, “open your heart with amazement to the message of Easter: ‘Do not be afraid, he has risen! He awaits you in Galilee.'”

As is customary, Pope Francis did not preach at the Easter morning Mass, which featured the chanting of the Gospel in both Latin and Greek.

With Italy on another lockdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the pope gave his Easter blessing “urbi et orbi” (to the city and the world) standing inside St. Peter’s Basilica rather than from the balcony overlooking a full St. Peter’s Square.

“The Easter message does not offer us a mirage or reveal a magic formula,” the pope said before giving the blessing. “It does not point to an escape from the difficult situation we are experiencing. The pandemic is still spreading, while the social and economic crisis remains severe, especially for the poor.”

The pope offered prayers for the sick and those who have died of COVID-19 and for the doctors and nurses who have made “valiant efforts” to care for the pandemic’s victims.

And he had special words of Easter hope for young people struggling in isolation from their friends. “Experiencing real human relationships, not just virtual relationships, is something that everyone needs, especially at an age when a person’s character and personality is being formed,” he said.

“I express my closeness to young people throughout the world and, in these days, especially to the young people of Myanmar committed to supporting democracy and making their voices heard peacefully, in the knowledge that hatred can be dispelled only by love,” he said.

Pope Francis prayed for many places in the world where the need to fight the pandemic has not silenced the weapons of war and violence.

“This is scandalous,” he said. “Armed conflicts have not ended and military arsenals are being strengthened.”

The Gospel witnesses to the Resurrection, he said, “report an important detail: the risen Jesus bears the marks of the wounds in his hands, feet and side. These wounds are the everlasting seal of his love for us. All those who experience a painful trial in body or spirit can find refuge in these wounds and, through them, receive the grace of the hope that does not disappoint.”

“May the light of the risen Jesus be a source of rebirth for migrants fleeing from war and extreme poverty,” he prayed. “Let us recognize in their faces the marred and suffering face of the Lord as he walked the path to Calvary. May they never lack concrete signs of solidarity and human fraternity, a pledge of the victory of life over death that we celebrate on this day.”

And, while the pandemic restrictions meant simpler and smaller Vatican celebrations of Easter, Pope Francis noted that in many places the limitations are stricter and even prevent people from going to church.

“We pray that those restrictions, as well as all restrictions on freedom of worship and religion worldwide, may be lifted and everyone be allowed to pray and praise God freely,” he said.

Calling again for a fair and speedy distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, the pope said that “in embracing the cross, Jesus bestowed meaning on our sufferings, and now we pray that the benefits of that healing will spread throughout the world.”




Dear Friends,

In the Gospel from Saint Mark that will be proclaimed during the great Vigil of Easter this year, we are told that women, who were followers of Jesus, went to his tomb to anoint his body in the early hours of that first Easter day. They had witnessed the torture and death of their friend and teacher whom they had come to know as their Lord and Master. Their grief was mixed with pain, uncertainty and fear for themselves, their families and friends. Yet, despite the obstacles that they faced, they made their way to the tomb of Jesus.

Pope Francis reflected on the faith of these first believers.

“In this situation, the women did not allow themselves to be paralyzed. They did not give in to the gloom of sorrow and regret, they did not morosely close in on themselves, or flee from reality. . . . They did not stop loving; in the darkness of their hearts, they lit a flame of mercy,” Pope Francis said. “They responded to sorrow with trust in the Lord. And then they met Jesus, the giver of all hope . . . who proclaimed: ‘Do not be afraid.’”

 Through their encounter with the risen Jesus, the lives of those who ventured to his tomb just days after his crucifixion were changed forever! Their lives were changed because God had redirected the course of human history through the resurrection of his Son. By embracing our humanity, Jesus not only gave us hope by identifying with us in his life, suffering and death. He also provided us a way forward amid the pain and struggles of our lives by defeating death through the power of the resurrection!

 A year ago at this time, it seemed as if our world had suddenly come to a crashing halt! Not unlike what was experienced by the first followers of Jesus, we were confronted with unexpected suffering and death. We were uncertain of how best to respond. We hid in our homes for fear of what we might experience, not only from unknown individuals but also from neighbors, co-workers and those whom we love the most. While our churches were closed, we prayed fervently that the wave of suffering enveloping our world might stop before it crashed into our lives.

Even though our days found us consumed with uncertainty, pain and confusion, we took great comfort in the example of healthcare workers, first responders, clergy, women and men religious, essential workers, volunteers and so many others. They consoled us and more importantly, they inspired us, didn’t they? Like the women who ventured to the tomb of Jesus on that first Easter day, these selfless souls would not allow themselves to be paralyzed, but instead, worked tirelessly to keep the flame of hope burning in our lives. And so did all of you! More than you might realize, you provided hope. In so many and different ways, you responded to the needs of your brothers and sisters and you served generously and selflessly.

In short, my friends, through your faith and belief in the resurrection of Jesus and all that it means for our lives, you made as your own the teaching of Pope Francis in his most recent encyclical letter, Fratelli tutti, that reminds us, “No one is saved alone; we can only be saved together.” This reality, my friends, that you and so many have lived and experienced especially during this past year, was born in an empty tomb in the initial moments of the life of our Church on that first Easter morning.

On Palm Sunday, just a few days ago, Pope Francis reminded us of the power of the resurrection in the midst of the uncertainty and pain of these challenging days.

“God is at our side in every affliction, in every fear; no evil, no sin will ever have the final word. God triumphs . . . through the wood of the cross,” he said.

Therein, my friends, is what we believe as Christians and the real blessing and gift of Easter. The risen Jesus alone has the power to carry us through the darkest of days to discover consolation, joy and the true meaning and purpose of our lives as his people.

To over 85 catechumens and candidates who await baptism and full communion in the Catholic Church, please know of our prayers for you. Your openness to the Spirit of God is cause for great joy. Welcome to our Catholic family. In so many ways, you are witnessing the Church at its best as so many selflessly serve their brothers and sisters.

My friends, thankfully we are beginning to see glimmers of light and hope emerge throughout our world, even as we continue to confront that challenges that we have faced for well over a year. During this Holy Week, I pray that we will all come to appreciate more deeply than ever the fact that we are indeed blessed in more ways than we might believe or imagine. May we trust in God’s promise to sustain us and dispel our deepest fears. And may we open our hearts to the risen Jesus and allow him to fill them with his love and peace.

This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad!

Faithfully yours in the Risen Christ,

Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, D.D., J.C.L.
Bishop of Scranton



Bishop Joseph C. Bambera celebrates the Blessing of the Oils and the Consecration of the Chrism.

 Bishop Bambera expresses gratitude during Chrism Mass

SCRANTON – Referencing Psalm 133, Bishop Joseph C. Bambera began his homily during this year’s Chrism Mass by saying how wonderful it was to have all of the priests from across the 11 counties of the Diocese of Scranton together in one place.

“It is so very good to be with all of you,” Bishop Bambera said. “Thank you for your selfless, creative and faithful ministry to this local Church.”

The Chrism Mass, held on Tuesday, March 30, at the Cathedral of Saint Peter, was the first time that priests have been able to all come together in more than a year – since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have all been wounded and broken during this past year. If we’re honest, we must admit that we’ve been confronted like never before in our lives,” the bishop added.

Priests from the Diocese of Scranton celebrate the Chrism Mass on Tuesday, March 30, 2021, at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton. This is the first time that they have all been able to come together since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photos/Mike Melisky)

Over the last year, many people, priests included, have faced loneliness, fear and uncertainty. They have worried not only about their own health and their family but also for the safety of the faithful people that they care for.

“It is in the honest embrace of our wounds that we will come to understand something about ourselves, our faith, our priesthood and our God,” Bishop Bambera explained. “Today, as we start to see glimmers of light in our world, I trust that we’re also beginning to recognize the hope promised by Jesus.”

During his homily, the bishop told his brother priests that they have brought more to this past year than they might give themselves credit for.

“First of all brothers, we bring what we have been given. We bring what the Church has entrusted to us. Through the priesthood we have received, we bring the mysteries of God through the Holy Eucharist and the Sacramental Life of the Church. In these gifts, Christ himself heals and teaches,” the bishop said.

Drawing upon the words of Pope Francis in Fratelli Tutti, the bishop said, “No one is saved alone.”

“Thank you for your ministry, thank you for your service so generously given in the face of so many obstacles,” the bishop added.

Rev. Glenn E. McCreary, V.E., forefront, and priests from the Diocese participate in the Chrism Mass at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton on March 30, 2021.

During the Chrism Mass, the holy oils used throughout the year in the Diocese of Scranton for baptisms, confirmations, ordinations and other milestone events were blessed by Bishop Bambera.

The Chrism Mass has special significance for the clergy. During the Mass, the priests renewed the promises they made at their ordinations. In addition, the priests renew their promise of obedience to the bishop.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, this year’s Chrism Mass was limited to priests to adhere to physical distancing guidelines. Members of the public participated by a live broadcast on CTV: Catholic Television of the Diocese of Scranton and livestreaming on the Diocese of Scranton’s YouTube channel and social media platforms.


Pope Francis breathes on chrism oil during the Holy Thursday chrism Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican April 1, 2021. (CNS photo/Andrew Medichini, Reuters pool)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Living and preaching the Gospel always involves embracing “the cross,” whether it be in the form of misunderstanding, hostility or outright persecution, Pope Francis told Rome priests gathered for the chrism Mass.

In the life of Jesus and in the lives of his disciples today, “the hour of joyful proclamation, the hour of persecution and the hour of the cross go together,” the pope said at the Mass April 1 at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Pope Francis did not celebrate a chrism Mass last year because Italy, and much of the world, was in the midst of the first huge wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But even with vaccines being distributed and death rates dropping, Italy was under a modified lockdown, so only about 75 priests representing their confreres in the Diocese of Rome were able to attend the Mass with their bishop, the pope.

At total of about 200 people, including three dozen cardinals, were present for the liturgy. The principal concelebrants were Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, the new vicar for Vatican City, and Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, vicar for Rome.

The chrism Mass has two unique characteristics: the blessing of the oils used for the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, ordination and the anointing of the sick; and priests renewing the promises they made at ordination.

Deacons brought the oils in large silver urns to the pope, who prayed that God would bless them and the people who will be anointed with them.

Then the priests present vowed that they were “resolved to be more united with the Lord Jesus and more closely conformed to him,” and that, out of love for Christ, they renewed the promises they “willingly and joyfully pledged” on the day of their ordination.

The liturgy also includes the bishop asking the faithful present to pray for their priests and for him. Pope Francis slightly altered the text of the second prayer, asking the congregation, “Pray for me — I need it — so that I may be faithful to the apostolic service entrusted to me and so that in your midst I may be made day by day more the image of Christ, the priest — simply that — good shepherd, teacher and servant of all.”

In his homily, Pope Francis acknowledged how many obstacles a priest can encounter as he teaches, preaches and celebrates the sacraments.

The story from Luke’s Gospel of Jesus reading the Scriptures in the synagogue at Nazareth, arousing both admiration and anger, the pope said, shows how “Jesus’ words have the power to bring to light whatever each of us holds in the depths of our heart, often mixed like the wheat and the tares.”

“The preaching of the Gospel is always linked to the embrace of some particular cross,” Pope Francis said. “The gentle light of God’s word shines brightly in well-disposed hearts but awakens confusion and rejection in those that are not.”

That conflict is seen repeatedly in the Gospels, the pope said, noting how, for example, “the tender love of the merciful father irresistibly draws the prodigal son home, but also leads to anger and resentment on the part of the elder son” or how “the generosity of the owner of the vineyard is a reason for gratitude among the workers called at the last hour, but it also provokes a bitter reaction by one of those called first, who is offended by the generosity of his employer.”

The cross, including misunderstanding, rejection and persecution, is present in the Gospel from the very beginning of Jesus’ life, the pope said. “The cross is not an afterthought, something that happened by chance in the Lord’s life.”

And, he told the priests, “it is true that the cross is present in our preaching of the Gospel, but it is the cross of our salvation.”

“We are not scandalized” by the presence of the cross — “the large crosses of humanity and the small crosses in the lives of each of us” — he said, because “Jesus himself was not scandalized by seeing that his joyful preaching of salvation to the poor was not received wholeheartedly, but amid the shouts and threats of those who refused to hear his word.”

“We are not scandalized because Jesus was not scandalized by having to heal the sick and to set prisoners free amid the moralistic, legalistic and clerical squabbles that arose every time he did some good,” the pope continued.

“The Lord always gives us what we ask for, but he does so in his divine way,” Pope Francis said. “That way involves the cross. Not for masochism. But for love, love to the very end.”


SCRANTON — “Hallelujah!”

Faithful of the Diocese of Scranton will undoubtedly be filled with “greater joy than ever during this Easter season” as churches once again open wide their doors for the most solemn time of the year in the Christian world.

As the coronavirus pandemic suspended in-person participation at houses of worship and The Catholic Light front-page headline at this time last year read “Holy Week at Home,” Catholics had to resort to social media to “attend” traditional Holy Week and Easter services and liturgies celebrated before empty pews.

It has been a long year indeed.

But the hope of Easter takes on a whole new meaning in 2021 as worshippers are joyfully returning to their rightful place to personally take part in the sacred ceremonies, both in person and as faith communities, beginning with the start of Holy Week on Palm Sunday.

The exuberance diocesan faithful are experiencing this Easter season reminded Chris Calore of the last words of Saint Pope John Paul II before he died in 2005: “Let me go to the house of our Father.”

“Likewise, let us go to our Father by receiving him in the sacraments of confession and the Eucharist,” Calore, a member of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Swoyersville, said. “There is a physical, spiritual and emotional need for worshipping together in the Church that the Lord left us. Our return to worship in a body, as brothers and sisters and a family, is so important, particularly during this most holy season.”

He continued by lauding pastors and parish staffs for accommodating the general public in providing for a smooth transition back into our churches.

“We have learned much about how to congregate safely,” Calore noted. “Thankfully, we have used this knowledge and can once again be nourished by the Lord’s Sacraments — His Body and Blood.”

Gail Gayeski of Luzerne, who worships at both the Cathedral Parish of Saint Peter and Saint Ignatius Parish in Kingston, lamented the inability to physically be present in church for Palm Sunday, the Sacred Triduum and Easter Sunday a year ago.

“This is the holiest time of the year for Catholic Christians and not to be able to attend and receive Holy Communion was indeed a sacrifice for everyone,” Gayeski commented. “How filled with joy we are to go back to our churches in person. This Easter will be a particularly happy one for us all.”

Continuing the “absence makes the heart grow fonder” theme, she feels a great lesson was learned by what Catholics experienced due to the health crisis.

“I think all of this may have given us a greater understanding and appreciation of the suffering going on in our world,” Gayeski said, “where people longing for Christ’s presence do not have the opportunity to worship because of governments that prohibit Christian worship.”

She added how grateful she is for the “extraordinary efforts” both of her parishes put forth to livestream Masses online during the pandemic. “Of course, CTV (Catholic Television) was never more valuable to all of us than during this past year.”

Also very thankful for being able to participate in the Catholic Mass “virtually” when COVID kept faithful at a distance is Attorney Tim Foley, a parishioner of Saint Gregory Parish in Clarks Green, who also serves as a lector at Saint Peter’s Cathedral.

However, he noted, something was missing.

“As time went on, I realized I missed the community aspect of the congregation,” Foley recalled, “but most importantly, I became more aware of the absence of the Eucharist.”

Greatly anticipating the opportunity to personally take part in this year’s Holy Week events, he remarked, “I am looking forward to participating and receiving Holy Communion in person during the Easter services and beyond. The Easter season and the customary services of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday have always been a positive tradition in our house for many years.”

Pittston resident Cathy Mack rejoiced upon the opportunity to participate in the Eucharistic liturgy at her parish of Saints Peter & Paul, Plains, when churches throughout the diocese reopened following the pandemic’s initial impact.

“For me it was a sad, empty, detached feeling not being able to attend Mass in person,” Mack said as she looks forward with great joy and anticipation to being present for this year’s solemn celebrations of Holy Week, Easter Sunday and Divine Mercy Sunday.

“We need these blessings,” Mack remarked. “Churches have always been our sanctuaries, places where we feel safe and protected as we worship in our Lord’s temples.”

She continued by stressing how important it is to engage in the sacraments, especially during the Solemn Paschal Season. “Our churches provide us with the greatest gift of all — the physical presence of the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ!”

Acknowledging that Easter 2021 will be vastly different from a year ago, Immaculate Heart of Mary Sister Janet Jeffers noted that as life drastically changed for America and the world during the past 12 months, faithful of the Scranton Diocese experienced major changes in how we celebrate our religious rites.

“It appears the worst of COVID-19 is behind us,” Sister Janet, who lives in community in South Scranton and celebrated her 50th anniversary of religious profession in 2019, said with renewed hope. “We are in a ‘new place.’ Our parishes have opened and we see increasing numbers of our members ‘coming home.’”

The former executive director of Catholic Social Services of the Diocese for Lackawanna/Wayne Counties reflected on the holiest week of the liturgical year as a time filled with powerful accounts and images of the final days in the life of Christ.

“During this time, we recall His life and the ultimate sacrifice Jesus made for each one of us,” she related, referring to Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter as great gifts of faith to be experienced by all.

Sister Janet concluded, “We are an Easter people. Signs of life abound; don’t miss them. May all of us celebrate the graces, gifts and blessings of this very holy season. Blessed Easter! Alleluia!”



SCRANTON – The month of April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. It is a time to recognize the importance of families and communities working together to prevent child mistreatment.

Bishop Joseph C. Bambera will celebrate a Healing Mass for Survivors of Abuse at 12:10 p.m. on Thursday, April 8, 2021 at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton.

The Mass is open to the public following COVID-19 safety protocols. No reservations are required.

The Mass will also be broadcast live on CTV: Catholic Television of the Diocese of Scranton and livestream on the Diocese of Scranton website, YouTube channel and social media platforms.


 Epiphany Parish in Sayre recently broadcast funeral Mass with 700 viewers

With the help of donations, Epiphany Parish in Sayre invested in professional livestreaming equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic. The parish believes livestreaming Masses and funerals has helped to keep their parish community connected over the last year.

SAYRE – What began with just a cell phone and tripod last year at Epiphany Parish has now turned into a brand new ministry aimed at keeping people connected.

It was Palm Sunday 2020 when the parish in northern Bradford County livestreamed its first Mass to Facebook. While there were initial glitches and audio problems, they were quickly corrected.

“We had to make sure that we, first of all, had internet in the Church. We did not so we had to run a booster router from the front of the rectory to the back of the rectory,” Rev. Andrew S. Hvozdovic, pastor, said.

At the urging of parishioners, Father Hvozdovic decided to make the parish’s livestreaming equipment permanent. With the help of the church organist, Larry Hoey, who did a lot of research, the parish decided to invest in a professional two-camera set-up for the church.

“We have a camera mounted now on the choir loft and we have a second camera that is mounted on the first pillar of the church and that one rotates so we are now able to get shots as we process in from the back of the church and close ups on the altar,” Father Hvozdovic explained.

A light near the livestream station gives a signal to the cantor when it is time to begin Mass at Epiphany Parish in Sayre.

The parish has also created an area where the Masses are professionally produced with computers and graphics. In all, the cost of the equipment has been about $10,000.

While a significant expense, Father Hvozdovic says donations covered the cost. Parishioners were happy to donate to the effort after a request was placed in the parish bulletin.

“We’re getting donations from people all over the country who used to live in Sayre that moved away. We’re hearing messages that they’re thrilled that they’re able to reconnect with their home parish,” Father Hvozdovic added.

Since Mother’s Day 2020, Epiphany Parish has been professionally broadcasting its 9:00 a.m. Mass on Sunday morning.

“We’re reaching out to parishioners, for example, that have not attended Mass even prior to COVID for health reasons and now they’re thrilled because they’re able to participate in the Mass. We have Eucharistic ministers that go after the 9:00 o’clock Mass on Sunday to their homes and actually bring them communion,” Father added.

Besides keeping the faithful connected, starting the livestreaming efforts have also connected parishioners in another way.

“It has helped us to form a whole new ministry,” Father Hvozdovic explained. “We call it our technology ministry in the parish. We have high school kids who are assisting with this. We have five or six adults that are assisting with it as well.”

Working closely with the Parish Pastoral Council to institute the technology ministry, Epiphany’s pastor believes the livestreaming efforts have opened up a completely new way of spreading the Gospel message.

“I told the Pastoral Council, what would Jesus do if he had technology? I think he would take advantage of it as we are too,” he explained.

The parish now even offers livestreaming of all funerals as part of its bereavement ministry.

One funeral in February 2021 had approximately 700 people viewing it from all over the country.

“A lot of the second cousins and third cousins and great uncles and aunts just could not come. We had family viewers who were watching it from all over the country,” Father Hvozdovic said.

Even as more people have returned to church for in-person Masses, viewership on the livestream has been consistent.

“The viewership has remained very steady and we’re surprised by that because people are returning to church because people are getting vaccinated and they’re feeling more comfortable to return to church,” Father Hvozdovic said.

When asked if he believes Epiphany Parish will continue livestreaming Masses even after the coronavirus pandemic ends, the Sayre pastor said simply, “Yes. This is the new norm.”

In the Diocese of Scranton, more than 75-percent of parishes have started livestreaming Masses over the last year.

For those that have not yet started, Father Hvozdovic believes there is an unfounded fear.

“I think it’s just the fear of the unknown of technology. I just encourage guys, saying you’re going to have to do this, bite the bullet, go out of your comfort zone. It is possible and very, very much appreciated,” he explained.

Father Hvozdovic says the benefits greatly outweigh the risks.

“People really like to attend their own church. That is what I hear so much. People who have left the area or have been homebound prior to COVID say it’s so great I can worship in my own church again via the internet,” he added.