WASHINGTON— After the Biden Administration released its federal budget proposal today, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, expressed deep concerns about its proposal to eliminate the Hyde Amendment and some related pro-life provisions. The Hyde Amendment, which has been in effect since 1976 with bipartisan support, prohibits the use of federal funds for abortion, except in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. Archbishop Naumann called on Congress to preserve it and “to work toward a budget that truly builds up the common good of all.” His full statement follows:

“No member of our great nation is weaker, more vulnerable, or less protected, than the child in the womb. There are aspects to President Biden’s budget proposal that will assist vulnerable people. However, Congress must reject the Administration’s proposal to subsidize the deaths of unborn children. For nearly half a century, the Hyde Amendment and related provisions have protected taxpayers from funding most abortions. These policies have broad support from Democrats and Republicans. They have been enacted and signed into law by congresses and presidents of both political parties and have been broadly supported by the majority of low-income women, including women of color.

“Taxpayer-funded abortion represents a failure to serve women in their maternity by funding despair and death instead of hope and life. All women deserve the resources to enable them to fully care for and nurture their baby, to welcome them in a loving, stable environment. These resources would be far better spent supporting women in crisis pregnancies and struggling new mothers so that no woman ever feels economic pressure to have an abortion.

“I call on all government leaders to work toward a budget that truly builds up the common good of all. This should include the many proposals in the President’s budget submission that seek to protect vulnerable people. And it must also preserve the Hyde Amendment and related provisions which have protected millions of unborn babies, and mothers in difficult circumstances, from the tragedy of abortion.”


In a letter published May 27 in The Catholic Light, Bishop Joseph C. Bambera took the opportunity to personally welcome and invite the faithful of the Diocese of Scranton back to Mass if they have not already returned.

Pointing to the Eucharist as the source and summit of our faith, the bishop encouraged the in-person celebration of Mass as we are “sustained with the life-giving nourishment of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”

In his letter, and a video released to accompany it, Bishop Bambera encouraged those individuals and families who have resumed other activities to return to Mass, citing “no substitute for gathering together to celebrate the Eucharist and our faith.”



WILKES-BARRE – As a longtime board member for Saint Vincent de Paul Kitchen, Chris Bedwick believes in simple, to-the-point missions, those she calls “the real deal.”

“People who need meals receive meals. Families who can’t quite make ends meet take food home to fill these gaps.”

That’s the message Bedwick, who signed up as a fundraising ambassador for the second annual NEPA Gives nonprofit fundraising marathon on June 4, is sharing with her friends, family and personal contacts as she offers up her time and effort to raise money for a Diocesan cause so close to her heart.

“Being hungry is a tough way to live,” the owner of Bedwick’s Pharmacy & Gifts in Wilkes-Barre wrote on her personal fundraising page created for the event. “But the Saint Vincent de Paul Kitchen eases some of these hardships.”

She and at least 36 other fundraising ambassadors so far have created personal profiles on the Diocese of Scranton’s profile page on nepagives.org and taken up a challenge to raise as much money as possible in 24 hours come June 4.

The regional fundraising challenge event is spearheaded by the Scranton Area Community Foundation and supported by several other charitable foundations and organizations. NEPA Gives debuted last year and raised more than $500,000 for more than 100 nonprofit organizations, all of which engaged in friendly competition for significant bonus and match prizes provided by the foundations and organizations.

Last year, thanks to the support of 170 donors who made 187 online gifts in the 24-hour period, the Diocese raised $36,725 and secured the top two prizes: Most Dollars Raised by a Large Nonprofit Organization and Most Unique Donors to a Large Nonprofit Organization. The Diocese also won several other bonus prizes, and the total raised was divided among Diocesan charitable organizations, Catholic schools, and the Diocesan Vocations office.

This year, more than 200 nonprofits are already registered for the challenge, and the foundations are offering more than $400,000 in bonus prizes. The Diocese has joined the effort once again to support Catholic Social Services, Saint Francis of Assisi Kitchen in Scranton and Saint Vincent de Paul Kitchen in Wilkes-Barre, Catholic school scholarships and the Vocations office.

This year’s additional new beneficiaries include several individual Catholic schools that have signed on with projects of their own as well as the Catholic Youth Center in Wilkes-Barre, which is in need of major pool renovations and a new child-transport van. The Diocesan Youth Ministry team, which is raising funds to send young Catholics to the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis in the fall, has also joined the effort.

“As of Friday May 21, we have 12 different Diocesan cause areas on our team page and leaderboards,” Sandra Snyder, Diocesan grant writer and director of the Diocesan NEPA Gives effort, explained. “Each of those cause areas is or will be championed by at least one fundraising ambassador, who will work to ‘get out the vote’ in terms of dollars for their chosen cause.”

Additionally, Snyder has signed up as a fundraising ambassador for the Diocese of Scranton as a whole and not only will be asking her own contacts for donations but is inviting others to join her as an ambassador for the Diocese. Funds raised for the Diocese itself will be shared among all the participating Diocesan organizations.

“Signing up as an ambassador is a great way to show your loyalty to our Diocese or to a treasured Diocesan cause,” Snyder said. “As a special thank you this year, we’ve ordered some great Diocese of Scranton beach bags and family beach blankets to reward our fundraisers. Those who register and raise at least $300 will receive the beach bag, and those who register and raise at least $600 will receive both the bag and the blanket.”

The Diocese also welcomes match challenges and gifts from businesses and organizations, which are an important component of the NEPA Gives effort, Snyder said. All gifts can essentially be doubled by a match challenge, she said, noting her appreciation for the Moses Taylor Foundation, which has already promised the Diocese of Scranton $2,000 after it raises $1,000. That generous offer will support the Diocese’s work to alleviate hunger in the community.

“Last year, NEPA Gives presented a special challenge as we were asking people for financial support during a particularly tough time in everyone’s lives, but we were overwhelmed with gratitude for how many people came through for us and propelled us to the top of that leaderboard,” Snyder said. “What a message they sent about their love for our Church and our Diocese. This year, we hope for an equally strong or better showing as we all together recover from the Coronavirus pandemic. We’re so grateful to the Scranton Area Community Foundation and the other foundations and organizations who have made this all possible. And of course we can’t thank our donors enough for showing up for us.”

Shannon Kowalski, Diocesan director of youth and young adult ministry, is equally grateful for the opportunity for her office to participate this year and to serve as a fundraising ambassador herself, along with young adults who seek to attend the National Catholic Youth Conference.

“The pandemic has significantly increased our costs to travel and attend this year,” Kowalski explained. The conference is such a worthy endeavor that we cannot turn down the opportunity to attend. We’re hoping the generosity of donors will make this trip possible for our young people.”

Schools, the various Catholic charities and the Vocations Office also are hoping for a big online turnout and encouraging people to check their emails and “tune in” to Facebook and other Diocesan social media channels throughout the day to participate in the excitement of the event. The NEPA Gives team will travel to various parish and Diocesan sites throughout the day to host several fun Facebook Live sessions to promote the event and the various causes.

“It was so much fun to donate last year, to rally others to donate, and to watch the Diocese move up the leaderboards and hang on to a top spot all day,” said Dominic Costantino, vocation program coordinator and member of this year’s NEPA Gives team.

Costantino also contributed his talents for the video posted on the Diocesan NEPA Gives page, singing “One Spirit, One Church,” chosen as the theme of and rallying cry for this year’s campaign.

“That song really captures what we’re all about as the wider Diocese of Scranton and the unified mission we are all trying to sustain when we pull together for something like NEPA Gives,” Costantino said. “We hope people will join us in this truly fun effort that shows all of us we can be philanthropists, even by making a $5 or $10 donation.”


WHAT: NEPA Gives 2021

WHEN: Midnight until 11:59 p.m. June 4

HOW: To count toward the challenge to win the bonus money, all donations must be made online via a link the Diocese will post on the Diocesan website and social media channels and send out via emails throughout the day.

CONTACT: For more information or to learn how to donate via check, contact Sandra Snyder at Sandra-Snyder@dioceseofscranton.org or 570-591-5004.


Gifts also can be mailed to:

NEPA Gives 2021
Diocese of Scranton
Attn: Sandra Snyder
300 Wyoming Ave.
Scranton, PA 18503

Checks should be received in the Chancery by Wednesday June 2 to allow time for processing and posting gifts online during the challenge period on Friday June 4.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT:  www.nepagives.org/organizations/diocese-of-scranton


Mary Stec, Office Manager at the Wyoming Valley Catholic Youth Center, distributes the first meal kit to Liz Mattern and her daughter, Davita, on Thursday, May 20, 2021.

WILKES-BARRE – Amanda Ammermann and her five-year-old daughter love to cook. They often play Disney music and dance around their kitchen while baking cookies.

Recently, coming up with nutritious dinnertime meals has become challenging for the Luzerne County mother.

“I always tell my daughter that she is going to sprout feathers because all she wants is chicken nuggets all the time,” Ammermann joked.

The mother-daughter duo is hoping their participation in a new pilot program, launched May 20 by the Wyoming Valley Catholic Youth Center, will help.

The Taste & See Meal Kit Program will provide fresh, healthy, locally sourced food to 25 families on a regular basis for one year. Working in collaboration with local chefs and other community agencies, each family will receive a recipe card and all of the needed ingredients to make a meal together at home.

Participants in the Taste & See Meal Kit Program receive a reusable tote bag which can be refilled with new ingredients for each meal preparation.

“I’m really hopeful we can find some new favorites,” Ammermann said as she picked up her first meal kit.

Liz Mattern also knows the struggle of having children who do not enjoy a wide range of food. Her family has also decided to take part in the Taste & See Meal Kit Program.

“We stick with what we know so it’ll be nice to have stuff thrown in that maybe we wouldn’t have ordinarily made,” Mattern explained.

Just hours after picking up their meal kit, Mattern and her ten-year-old daughter, Davita, made the first recipe, Ritz Chicken from Jonathan’s Restaurant in Wilkes-Barre.

“This is a lifelong skill she is going to need,” Mattern said. “This is a good way to spend time together and get some real education!”

As part of the Taste & See Meal Kit Program, participants receive a binder to store the laminated recipes they receive as they pick up their ingredients. (Photos/Eric Deabill)

In all, 94 individuals (32 adults and 62 children) will participate in the program’s first year.

“We saw a need for our families and children to have more nutritious meals at home. Our children love to be hands on and get involved in making things so we partnered with a lot of restaurants in the area and their chefs,” Mary Stec, Office Manager at the Wyoming Valley Catholic Youth Center, said. Former restaurant owner Ruth Corcoran oversaw the recipe collection and selection process.

“We teamed with Hillside Farms for our meat and dairy, and we teamed with Rowlands Pennsylvania Produce in Falls for all of our fresh vegetables and produce. They do a remarkable job so the families are really going to get a treat,” Stec said. Hillside Farms is also an educational partner for the program and will offer hands-on programs for CYC families focusing on where their food comes from and the importance of local farms.

Joanne Padilla has five people in her family. She appreciates that all of the food is being provided so she will not have to run to the grocery store. She also is looking forward to a wide selection of recipes.

“I am excited because it might be something new that I’ve never had, so I am excited to try it,” Padilla said.

Just hours after receiving their first meal kit, Davita Mattern, 10, helped her mother prepare and enjoy the program’s first recipe, Ritz Chicken.

The Wyoming Valley Catholic Youth Center received a $15,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s Farm to School Program to support the launch of the Taste & See Meal Kit Program. Additional funding from the Luzerne Foundation, whose Youth Advisory Committee chose the project as a winner in a grants competition, and the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation will ensure the program’s success.

“As a provider of more than 10,000 meals a month to children in poverty, the Catholic Youth Center is keenly aware of the challenges families face in terms of putting a balanced and nutritious meal on the table,” Ryan Smith, CYC Program Executive, said. “This innovative program will help each family become more aware of basic nutritional principles and habits.”

As they make the meals together, participating families will be encouraged to take and share photos, provide feedback on the recipes and complete educational family challenges while they learn more about nutrition.

“My hope is that it will bring families closer together as far as making meals and spending time together while also realizing the nutritional value of eating healthier as a family. It all starts by example,” Stec said.

“This program will really be a win-win, not only for the families participating but also the local farmers who are partnering with us and the CYC itself,” Smith added. “If our families are able to prepare healthier meals at home on a consistent basis, our entire community benefits. We’re excited to get this program started.”

As part of the program, the CYC also plans to expand its on-site garden so that the agency can engage all of its students in the acts of growing and cultivating their own food.



Rev. Gerard McGlone, Pastor of Queen of Angels Parish in Jessup confirmed his great nephew, Joshua Williams, on Pentecost Sunday.

Pictured from left are: Deacon Jerry Carpenter, Joshua’s Sponsor, Joshua “Joseph” Williams, Fr. McGlone, and Kathleen and Joseph Williams, Joshua’s Grandparents.



His Excellency, Bishop Joseph C. Bambera, announces the following appointments, effective June 1, 2021:

Reverend Robert J. Antonelli, to Senior Priest Pro Tem, Saint Joseph the Worker Parish, Williamsport.

Reverend Brian Van Fossen, to further studies at Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska, this summer.  Father Van Fossen will continue to serve as Pastor, Saint Joseph the Worker Parish, Williamsport.


SCRANTON – Valentine’s Day may have been more than three months ago but love will certainly be in the air at the Cathedral of Saint Peter on June 6.

Bishop Joseph C. Bambera will serve as principal celebrant and homilist for the Diocese of Scranton’s annual Wedding Anniversary Mass that recognizes married couples who are celebrating their 25th and 50th anniversaries in 2021.

This year’s celebration will take on special significance because it falls during the Amoris Laetitia Family Year.

Due to updated protocols for the celebration of Mass released by the Diocese of Scranton on May 14, all couples who have pre-registered will be able to attend the Mass in person if they are comfortable. There will still not be a reception after Mass.

The Mass will begin at 2:30 p.m. CTV: Catholic Television of the Diocese of Scranton will broadcast the Mass live and provide a livestream on the Diocese of Scranton website and all Diocesan social media platforms.

In addition to married couples celebrating their Silver and Golden anniversaries, at least one couple planning to attend the Mass is celebrating their 70th Anniversary. Two additional couples registered are celebrating 60 years together.

As couples registered, they were able to provide “then” and “now” photos as well as words of wisdom that they have gained through their married life together. Below are just a few of the submissions. All of the photos and submissions will be available on the Diocese of Scranton website and a slideshow will be featured before the Mass is broadcast on television.

Anyone with questions regarding the Wedding Anniversary Mass can contact Jen Housel, Director for Community and Family Development, at JHousel@dioceseofscranton.org or call (570) 207-2213, x1104.


After holding virtual meetings with past Quo Vadis participants for over a year, the Diocesan Vocation Office is excited to be preparing for this year’s in-person experience at Marywood University in Scranton June 20-22.

The camp is designed for Catholic men in high school to deepen their faith, learn more about all vocations, and better discern God’s call in their lives. It will feature dynamic talks, prayer, games, sports, activities and music.

Participants will have the opportunity to meet Bishop Bambera, priests, college students and young adults serving on the leadership team, and seminarians of the Diocese of Scranton.

Jimmy Lavan, a senior at Holy Redeemer High School, is looking forward to attending the camp this summer after not being able to last year.

Quo Vadis Days was the best three days of my summer in 2019,” said Lavan. “I remember sitting and praying in the chapel during Eucharistic Adoration. It was in that moment I realized I only have one life, and I have to make the most of my time on this earth. I knew that becoming even more involved with the Church would help me become the person I want to be. I’m glad I am able to attend this camp again before going to college.”

Participants can register online at dioceseofscranton.org/vocations/quo-vadis-days-2021. For more information, call 570-207-1452.




WILKES-BARRE — On a cold night in March, parishioners of Saint Mary Byzantine Parish in Wilkes-Barre bid a virtual farewell on Facebook to Sister Theodosia Alishoski, OSBM, who had served in the parish for 27 years. She was the last Sister of Saint Basil to serve in the geographical confines of the Diocese of Scranton. Her companion in ministry at Saint Mary’s, Sister Regina Adams, OSBM, had died unexpectedly the month before.

The Order of the Sisters of Saint Basil the Great, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Province, Uniontown, had ministered to the faithful of the Scranton Diocese for almost 100 years.

Founded as a new province on Jan. 19, 1921, the Feast of Theophany, three Basilian sisters moved from Philadelphia to serve the pressing needs of the newly arrived Ruthenian-Carpatho Byzantine Catholics who had arrived in the Cleveland area. Because of the pandemic of 1918, there were many orphans, and the sisters set to work caring for them and forming many young women who came to join the community.

Under the leadership of Mother Macrina, a new branch of the Sisters of Saint Basil the Great was formed. In June 1923, all the Sisters were transferred to the Saint Nicholas Orphanage built by the Greek Catholic Union in Elmhurst, Lackawanna County, to care for the parentless Carpatho-Ruthenian children orphaned by the pandemic and many mining accidents. A portion of the building also housed the new community of sisters.

Later, to accommodate their growing numbers, the sisters moved to a larger facility in Factoryville. Finally they acquired an extensive property and established their Motherhouse at Uniontown. (Excerpted from the Golden Jubilee Commemorative Book for Holy Ghost, Cleveland, Ohio, 1959)

The young community of Basilian sisters was prayerful and hardworking, chanting the Divine Office every day of their lives. They oversaw the farm at Saint Nicholas Orphanage and cared for the many orphans entrusted to them. Finances were always a struggle, but they were fearless and focused women who seemed immune to adversity. At one point they lost all of their hard-earned, carefully saved money in a bank foreclosure.

A Scranton Tribune article from May 3, 1917, recounted the sisters’ focus on their mission at Saint Nicholas. The writer visited them and commiserated with the sisters over the loss of their money, but noted that they seemed unconcerned, believing that Providence would care for them. Their only concern was to obtain a college scholarship for one of their very bright orphans.

Through the years, the sisters did whatever was needed to support the growing Byzantine Catholic population. They became teachers to spread the faith, pastoral ministers to tend to the spiritual needs of the people, and liturgical musicians at the service of beautiful Byzantine liturgies; they took up ecclesiastical arts, iconography and the sewing of vestments and liturgical items. They became meticulous translators of the Old Slavonic prayers into English, and published many liturgical books. They were the custodians of the spiritual and cultural legacy of the growing Byzantine Church in the United States.

Much of their work and artistry is still in evidence in the Byzantine Catholic churches in the Scranton area. Lastly, the sisters began the Pilgrimage of Thanksgiving to the Shrine of the Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Since 1934, hundreds of Byzantine Catholics gather annually on the grounds of Mount Macrina, their Motherhouse, on Labor Day weekend to pray for their needs and celebrate their heritage. The Pilgrimage has become a major ministry of the sisters. This yearly event is credited with helping to unify the Byzantine Catholic churches in America.

As the needs presented themselves, the sisters were called forth to newly formed Byzantine Catholic parishes and schools that sprang up in the coal towns of eastern Pennsylvania. Many vocations came to the community from the parishes located in the Scranton Diocese. The sisters often took charge of schools founded by lay parishioners and built up the pastoral and educational ministries. They were industrious, talented and capable women, and their students thrived under their creative and innovative education and kept the faith of their ancestors.

As the population of the schools began to dwindle in the 1960s, a smaller group of sisters would often stay behind in the parishes to help with catechetical, pastoral and youth ministries — as did Sister Theodosia and Sister Regina at Saint Mary’s in Wilkes-Barre.

The faith-filled legacy of the Sisters of Saint Basil remains in the hearts of their students, many of whom remained lifelong members of their parishes, as the sisters staffed the small schools established in mining areas like Freeland, Pittston, Hazleton, Wilkes-Barre and Jessup. Some senior citizens may remember their early days at Saint Nicholas Orphanage in Elmhurst; some may even remember the fire that totally destroyed the barn on the orphanage farm. Many others may be grateful for the wonderful education and skills they received from industrious teachers whose commitment and hard work helped raise them out of poverty.

Today, in the borough of Jessup, stands LaSalle Academy — the result of a merged effort combining ten local parishes to provide Catholic education for their children. One school, Holy Ghost, was originally staffed by the Sisters of Saint Basil and became part of that merger; its building, plus an addition, houses grades three to eight. The process of this merger honors the legacy of the Byzantine Catholic Church and the sisters who formed the previous school and lived in the building. It allows the traditions of the Byzantine Catholic Church to be preserved for the students. Today, LaSalle Academy has the distinction of being the only bi-ritual (both Roman and Byzantine Catholic) in the country.

We extend our prayers of gratitude to the Sisters and honor them by our fidelity to the faith they taught us.


Pope Francis gestures as he leads his general audience in in the San Damaso Courtyard of the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican May 19, 2021. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Those who overcome distractions or obstacles when praying learn the value of perseverance in times of trial, Pope Francis said.

“True progress in spiritual life does not consist in multiplying ecstasies, but in being able to persevere in difficult times,” the pope said May 19 during his weekly general audience.

“Walk, walk, walk on and if you are tired, stop a little and then start walking again; but with perseverance,” he said.

Arriving by car to the San Damaso Courtyard of the Apostolic Palace, the pope was given a warm welcome by those in attendance, including a group of pilgrims from Mexico.

“Francisco, hermano, ya eres Mexicano” (“Francis, brother, you are already Mexican”), the pilgrims cried out as he made his way to his seat.

While the pope greeted the pilgrims from a safe distance, many ignored social distancing rules and crowded near the barricades in the hopes of seeing the pope up close.

In his main audience talk, the pope reflected on the difficulties that people may face when trying to pray, including “distractions, aridity and sloth” as well as the importance of recognizing and overcoming them.

Both in prayer and in everyday life, he said, the mind often “wanders all over the place” and some find it “hard to dwell for long on a single thought.”

“Distractions are not a fault, but they must be fought,” he said. “In the heritage of our faith, there is a virtue that is often forgotten, but which is very present in the Gospel. It is called ‘vigilance.'”

Citing the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the pope said aridity occurs when one’s heart “is separated from God” and leaves him or her “with no taste for thoughts, memories and feelings, even spiritual ones.”

While the reasons for that sense of aridity may range from physical ailments to inner turmoil, the pope said that often, “we do not really know the reason.”

“Spiritual teachers describe the experience of faith as a continuous alternation of times of consolation and desolation; there are times when everything is easy, while others are marked by great heaviness,” he explained.

While life is often filled with “gray days,” the pope said the danger lies in “having a grey heart; when this ‘feeling down’ reaches the heart and sickens it.”

“This is terrible: one cannot pray, one cannot feel consolation with a gray heart! Or one cannot emerge from spiritual aridity with a gray heart,” he said. “The heart must be open and luminous, so that the light of the Lord can enter. And if it does not enter, wait for it, with hope. But do not close it up in grayness.”

Lastly, the pope warned that sloth is not only one of the seven deadly sins, but also “a real temptation against prayer and, more generally, against Christian life” that can “lead to the death of the soul.”

Pope Francis said that at some point in their lives, “all the saints have passed through this ‘dark valley'” and would often recount “evenings of listless prayer, lived without enthusiasm.”

Nevertheless, believers, like the biblical figure Job, “never stop praying” even when their prayers may seem like protests to God.

“Very often, even protesting before God is a way of praying,” the pope said. “And we, who are far less holy and patient than Job, also know that in the end, at the end of this time of desolation, during which we have raised to heaven silent cries and asked, ‘Why?’ many times, God will answer us.”