CARBONDALE – Catholic Social Services of the Diocese of Scranton continues to respond to the needs of people throughout northeastern and north central Pennsylvania during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dozens of families and seniors received a helping hand on Aug. 26 as the agency held a special food distribution outside its River Street office in Carbondale.

Volunteer Joseph Loftus said they assisted a wide range of individuals.

“We had people in their 20s with kids to people who are 60 and 70 just trying to get by,” he explained.

Catholic Social Services Carbondale Office operates a food pantry that has been open to the public every weekday during the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the last 18 months, the agency has regularly hosted larger food distribution events to give clients extra produce, meat and other necessities.

“It makes me feel very special to help others. It comes from the heart,” volunteer Lucia Sacco said.

The food distribution on Aug. 26 took place differently than previous ones. Instead of having cars line up on River Street, vehicles were able to pull behind the Catholic Social Services building as they waited for assistance. The change helped traffic flow much more efficiently.

“The cars were able to go behind the building. The city helped out by clearing out some shrubs so the cars could get through. It worked out much better,” Loftus said.

Volunteers braved temperatures in the low 90s during the food distribution, which took place from 1:00 until 3:00 p.m.

Mason Cuellar, 12, heard about the food distribution and volunteered to help distribute food.

“My grandma told me that they were doing a food giveaway so I thought I might volunteer,” he explained.

At an early age, Cuellar has learned the value of giving back to agencies like Catholic Social Services – and that small gestures can have a big impact.

“A few weeks ago, we got $100 worth of cereal and I brought it down here,” the young man said.

The Carbondale food pantry is open on Monday from 9:00 a.m. until noon; Tuesday and Wednesday from 9:00 a.m. until noon and 1:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m.; Thursday from 1:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m.; and Friday from 9:00 a.m. until noon.

Anyone in need of assistance can call the Catholic Social Services Carbondale Office at (570) 282-0460.


Debris surrounds the remains of the St. Famille du Toirac church in Toirac, Haiti, Aug. 16, 2021. Twenty people were killed when a magnitude 7.2 earthquake hit during a funeral Mass at the church. (CNS photo/Laura Gottesdiener, Reuters)

In addition to offering prayers for the people of Haiti, the Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, has asked parishes throughout the Diocese of Scranton to take up an emergency special collection for the Caribbean nation on the weekend of September 25/26, 2021.

Haiti experienced a magnitude 7.2 earthquake Aug. 14 that killed more than 2,200 people and injured at least 12,000 others. Nearly 53,000 houses were destroyed, according to local authorities.

Days later, Haiti was also in the path of Tropical Storm Grace that unleashed torrential rains and caused flash flooding that blocked access to communities in need. The country was already reeling from the July 7 assassination of its president, Jovenel Moise, at the time.

Manithe Simon, 68, and his wife, Wisner Desrosier, 67, walk through their collapsed home near Les Cayes, Haiti, Aug. 22, 2021. Days before the 7.2 magnitude earthquake, the couple decided to marry during a service at a nearby church after 44 years together and raising four children. (CNS photo/Henry Romero, Reuters)

The special collection that will take place in the Diocese of Scranton will be used both to support the humanitarian and recovery efforts of Catholic Relief Services and to provide pastoral and rebuilding support to impacted dioceses through the USCCB’s Emergency Disaster Fund.

The money will help those impacted rebuild their lives and also help support the reconstruction needs of parishes, rectories, schools and other Church properties destroyed or severely damaged in Haiti. Parishioners are asked to respond with kind and generous hearts to help our brothers and sisters in need.

Pope Francis has already sent nearly a quarter million dollars to help people in Haiti who are struggling in the afternoon the earthquake and tropical storm. The Vatican’s Dicastery for Integral Human Development said Aug. 24 that the pope sent an “initial contribution” of $235,000 to assist the earthquake victims during this “emergency phase.”


Conference organizers pictured above are, first row from left: Chris Calore, Bill Leandri, Dr. Lou Guarnieri, Ralph Marino, Dr. Chris Carr, Michael Kilmer, John Witkowski, Jim Gerichten and Joe Alinoski. Second row: Marc Guarnieri, Joe Adcroft, Scott Reinbold, Jim Biondo, Gerard Schmidt and George Hayden.

The sixth “Be A Catholic Man” Catholic Men’s Conference in the Diocese of Scranton is planned for Saturday, Oct. 30, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Holy Redeemer High School in Wilkes-Barre.

“Called to Fatherhood” will be theme for this year’s conference, dedicated to the patronage of Saint Joseph.

The event will feature national Catholic speakers who will challenge all men – single, married and ordained – to live virtuous lives in a secular world.

The day’s program will include the Rosary, Eucharistic adoration, sacramental confessions, lunch break and a closing Mass celebrated by Bishop Joseph C. Bambera.

For more information, contact Michael Kilmer at (570) 746-0100 or Further details will be forthcoming.



SCRANTON – The annual Mass in Italian will be celebrated at 10 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 5, at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton. All are welcome to attend.

The liturgy is celebrated in conjunction with La Festa Italiana, which occurs over the Labor Day weekend, Friday through Monday, Sept. 3-6, on Courthouse Square, one block away.

Father David Cappelloni, V.F., La Festa chaplain, has announced that the Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, will preside and the homilist will be Oblates of Saint Joseph Father Paul A. McDonnell.

Concelebrants will be priests from the Diocese of Scranton. Deacons from the Diocese will also participate.

The Mass will be broadcast live by CTV: Catholic Television of the Diocese of Scranton and will be rebroadcast on Tuesday, Sept. 7, at 8 p.m., and Wednesday, Sept. 8, at 10 a.m. It will be available for viewing later in the week on the Diocesan website at

Father McDonnell, OSJ, a member of the Congregation of the Oblates of Saint Joseph, was ordained a priest on Aug. 10, 1991, by the late Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo. He is a native of West Pittston and a graduate of Wyoming Area High School, immediately afterwards entering the Oblates of Saint Joseph

Seminary, Laflin, where he obtained a bachelor of arts degree in Philosophy at King’s College, Wilkes-Barre. He then left for Italy for five years, first completing the novitiate year in Padua and then in Rome for theological studies at the Angelicum & Lateran Universities.

Father McDonnell has served in various roles throughout his 30 years of priesthood, namely as pastor of the former Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish (Saint Joseph Marello), Pittston, rector of the Oblates Seminary and the first provincial superior of the newly united USA Province of the Oblates of Saint Joseph, residing at their headquarters in Santa Cruz, Calif. from 2013 – 2020.

Last summer, he returned to his native area to resume his duties as rector of the religious community in Laflin and most recently has been appointed by Bishop Bambera to serve as Sacramental Minister of Our Lady of the Eucharist Parish, Pittston.

This year’s Italian Mass is being offered in memory of all those members and friends of La Festa Italiana who passed away since the last Mass was celebrated, including Ray Alberigi, John “Jack” Brunetti, Christina Caprio, Father Andrew Gallia, Patrick A. Luongo, Joseph “Chef” Schiavone, Kevin Shaughnessy and Father Joseph Sica.

Music ministry for the Italian Mass will be provided by the choir of Saints Anthony and Rocco Parish, Dunmore; accompanied by a brass quartet, all directed by Joseph Moffitt. Dominick DeNaples, mandolin; Patrick Loungo, Nicholas Luongo, Lou Cossa, guitar, and Monica Spishock, timpani, will also accompany.

Ashley Yando-DeFlice is the cantor and leader of prayer. The guest vocalist will be Olivia DiMattio.

The lectors are Heather Luciani and Sister Catherine Iacouzze, MPF. The Prayer of the Faithful will be led by Diane Alberigi, Frank Castellano and Karen Clifford.

The Offertory gifts will be presented by La Festa President Chris and Ann Celli DiMattio, Grace Castellano, Honorable Robert Mazzoni, UNICO National President Steve Pelonero and Robert W. Pettinato, founding member of La Festa.

James Baress, Patrick Caramanno, Joshua Cillo, Stephen Eboli, Jonathan Eboli, Richard Garofalo and Joseph Wentline are the ushers.


A woman wearing a protective mask and face shield prays during Easter Mass in Manila, Philippines, in this April 4, 2021, file photo. In a written message prepared on behalf of Pope Francis, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, reflected on how the the COVID-19 pandemic confirmed changes previously underway in people’s understanding and participation in Sunday Mass. The message was for the 71st National Liturgical Week in Cremona, Italy. (CNS photo/Lisa Marie David, Reuters)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis encouraged new courses of action for parishes to help people understand the importance of Sunday Mass and parish ministries, a top Vatican official wrote in a message.

The message was sent on behalf of the pope Aug. 23 to the 71st National Liturgical Week, by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state. The meeting, held Aug. 23-26 in the Italian city of Cremona, brought together pastoral workers, religious and priests to discuss ways to encourage the faithful to attend the Sunday liturgy and participate in other liturgical celebrations, rites and the sacraments.

In the written message, the cardinal said the pandemic and its restrictions, which had prevented the faithful from gathering like before, underlined the importance of the liturgy in Christian life.

But, what happened during the pandemic and the difficulty in resuming liturgical activities, he wrote, “confirmed what was already observed at Sunday assemblies on the Italian peninsula, an alarming indication of the advanced stage of an epochal change.”

It had been noticed, even long before the pandemic, there has been a shift in how people perceive “time” and “space,” which has had repercussions on the meaning of Sunday for most people and how most people experience community and the family, he said.

For this reason, he wrote, the Sunday liturgy, which should be “the true summit” of all parish activities and the source of energy for missionary life, is “off-balanced,” in terms of which age groups normally attend, and in terms of the “difficulty in finding a harmonious integration in parish life.”

Cardinal Parolin wrote, “the Holy Father hopes that the National Liturgical Week, with its proposals for reflection and moments of celebration … may identify and suggest some liturgical pastoral care guidelines to offer parishes, so that Sunday, the eucharistic assembly, ministries and the rites may emerge from the margins, from which they seem inexorably to be falling, and regain their centrality in the faith and spirituality of believers.”


The U.S. Supreme Court in Washington is seen June 24, 2021. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

WASHINGTON (CNS) – The U.S. Supreme Court late Aug. 24 said the Biden administration must restore a Trump-era immigration policy known as “Remain in Mexico.”

The Migration Protection Protocols policy, or MPP, as it is is formally known, was first implemented in 2019 and required asylum-seekers be returned to Mexico to await adjudication of their cases.

Critics of the policy said these migrants regularly faced dangerous and inhumane conditions in Mexico.

The high court, in an unsigned order, declined to block an Aug. 13 ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk reinstating the policy.

He blocked Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas of the Department of Homeland Security from implementing a June 1 memo that formally ended the Migration Protection Protocols.

Kacsmaryk, a judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, whose jurisdiction is the Amarillo division, stayed his decision for seven days to allow the Biden administration to file an appeal.

The stay expired at midnight Aug. 24, legally mandating the Biden administration to reinstate the policy Aug. 25.

The administration said it will follow the law, while appealing Kacsmaryk’s ruling.

DHS said in an Aug. 24 statement that it “respectfully disagrees with the district court’s decision and regrets that the Supreme Court declined to issue a stay. DHS has appealed the district court’s order and will continue to vigorously challenge it.”

“As the appeal process continues, however, DHS will comply with the order in good faith,” it said. “Alongside interagency partners, DHS has begun to engage with the government of Mexico in diplomatic discussions surrounding the Migrant Protection Protocol. DHS remains committed to building a safe, orderly and humane immigration system that upholds our laws and values.”

The Biden administration had sought emergency action from the high court to stay the judge’s ruling, but the high court said the administration “failed to show a likelihood of success on the claim that the (Mayorkas) memorandum rescinding the Migrant Protection Protocols was not arbitrary and capricious.”

President Joe Biden had called a halt to the protocols Jan. 20, Inauguration Day. The Mayorkas June memo formally ended the policy and allowed applicants with open cases to enter the United States.

An earlier challenge to this memo, filed by the states of Texas, Missouri and Arizona, was dismissed by the U.S. Supreme Court June 21.

Kacsmaryk’s 53-page ruling came in a different lawsuit filed by Texas and Missouri. He said that in terminating the policy, the Biden administration had violated the Administrative Procedure Act, a law that dictates what procedures agencies must go through to implement certain policies.

Anna Gallagher, executive director of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc., or CLINIC, said the Supreme Court’s order will “deepen human suffering and continue to erode U.S. law and values at the U.S.-Mexico border.”

“‘Remain in Mexico’ is an assault on human rights and U.S. asylum law,” she said in an Aug. 25 statement. “Both are already under attack due to the Biden administration’s decision to keep Title 42 in place.”

Title 42, is a provision of U.S. public health law that was activated by the Trump administration to expel migrants at the border, with the exception of minors, over COVID-19 concerns.

“Our message to the Biden administration at this critical moment is clear: We will hold you to your promise to restore the soul of America. To do so, you must take immediate action to end ‘Remain in Mexico,'” Gallagher added.

CLINIC cited a February 2021 study by Human Rights First documenting over 1,500 cases of asylum-seekers and migrants — including 350 cases of children — who it said were “murdered, raped, tortured, violently assaulted or kidnapped due to forcible return to Mexico under this policy.”

“The full picture of the human devastation caused by this inhumane policy is unknown, as the overwhelming majority of the tens of thousands of people affected have not been interviewed or been able to share their story,” according to CLINIC.

In his ruling, Kacsmaryk, an appointee of President Donald Trump, said the states of Texas and Missouri are being harmed by Biden’s reversal of the policy because when migrants are released into the U.S., they are using health care services, and because their children must be enrolled in U.S. schools, they are straining educational resources.

He also said that in his memo, Mayorkas did not acknowledge the rise in border crossings. According to The Texas Tribune, U.S.-Mexico border apprehensions for the fiscal year surpassed 1 million in June.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in an Aug. 14 statement that “dangerous criminals are taking advantage of the lapse in law enforcement and it’s resulting in human trafficking, smuggling, a plethora of violent crimes, and a massive, unprecedented burden on state and federal programs for which taxpayers must foot the bill.”

He said Biden must act to end the “lawlessness” that he said is destroying our communities.


Pope Francis leads his general audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican Aug. 25, 2021. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Hypocrites are afraid of the truth, fearful of who they really are and incapable of truly loving, Pope Francis said during his weekly general audience.

What hypocrites do “is like putting makeup on your soul, like putting makeup on your behavior” and hiding the truth, the pope said Aug. 25 to those gathered in the Paul VI audience hall at the Vatican.

All this pretending, he said, “suffocates the courage to openly say what is true and thus the obligation to say the truth at all times, everywhere and in spite of anything can easily be evaded,” he said.

The pope continued his series of talks on St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians and focused on the dangers of the law by looking at the apostle Peter’s “inconsistency” at Antioch.

Gentile Christians were free from the Jewish law, but there was pressure from people from Jerusalem that caused Sts. Peter and Barnabas to draw back from what the Gospel said.

That is why, in his letter, St. Paul condemns St. Peter “to his face because he clearly was wrong” by trying to appease critics who still observed Mosaic law and to justify his hypocritical behavior.

“Peter had been eating with the Christians of pagan origin without any difficulty; however, when some circumcised Christians from Jerusalem arrived in the city, he then no longer did so, because he did not want to incur their criticism,” Pope Francis said.

“Watch out. The mistake was paying more attention to the criticism, to make a good impression than the reality of the relationships,” the pope said.

This was serious in St. Paul’s eyes, because other disciples imitated St. Peter, and, even though he did not mean to, “Peter was, in fact, creating an unjust division within the community” by not being transparent or clear about what he was doing, Pope Francis said.

In his letter, St. Paul “wanted to remind the Christians of that community that they were absolutely not to listen to those who were preaching that it was necessary to be circumcised, and therefore be ‘under the law’ with all of its prescriptions,” Pope Francis said.

These “fundamentalist preachers,” he said, “created confusion and deprived that community of any peace.”

In his reproach to St. Peter, St. Paul uses the term “hypocrisy,” which “the apostle wanted to combat forcefully and convincingly,” the pope said.

Hypocrisy can be seen as a “fear of the truth. It is better to pretend rather than be yourself,” he said.

Wherever people are living “under the banner of formalism, the virus of hypocrisy easily spreads,” he said, mimicking the kind of strained, forced smile one might see — a smile “that doesn’t come from the heart,” but comes from a person “who tries to get along with everyone,” but, in the end, gets along with no one.

“Hypocrites are people who pretend, flatter and deceive because they live with a mask over their faces and do not have the courage to face the truth,” he said. “For this reason, they are not capable of truly loving” because they are limited by their ego and cannot “show their hearts transparently.”

Hypocrisy can be hidden at a workplace “where someone appears to be friends with their colleagues while, at the same time, they stab them behind the back due to competition,” he said.

It is not unusual to find hypocrites in the world of politics, when someone lives one way in public and another way in private, he added.

“Hypocrisy in the church is particularly detestable. Unfortunately, hypocrisy does exist in the church and there are many hypocritical Christians and ministers,” he said.

Jesus, too, condemned hypocrisy, Pope Francis said, asking people to read Chapter 23 of the Gospel according to St. Matthew to see how often Jesus condemned such behavior.

“Let’s not be afraid to be truthful, to speak the truth, to hear the truth, to conform ourselves to the truth, so that we can love. A hypocrite does not know how to love,” he said.

“To act other than truthfully means jeopardizing the unity of the church, that unity for which the Lord himself prayed,” the pope said.

At the end of the general audience, the pope greeted athletes competing at the Paralympics in Tokyo. He thanked them for showing the world what hope and courage look like.

These athletes, he said, “show how pursuing a sport helps overcome seemingly insurmountable difficulties.”


Afghans make their way to a bus taking them to a refugee processing center upon arrival at Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Va., Aug. 24, 2021. (CNS photo/Kevin Lamarque, Reuters)

August 17, 2021

WASHINGTON—A widespread humanitarian crisis is unfolding in Afghanistan, with the Taliban swiftly seizing control of the capital on August 15. Thousands of people who have worked as interpreters, translators, and in other capacities alongside the United States military over the past twenty years, including Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants, find themselves and their families in danger. The United States is in the process of evacuating diplomats and other U.S. government employees. However, all commercial flights to and from Kabul’s airport have been suspended for the time being. Yesterday, the President authorized use of up to $500 million from the Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Fund for meeting the urgent needs of Afghan refugees and SIV applicants.

In response to these events, Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, and Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on International Justice and Peace, issued the following statement:

“We have known that the withdrawal of American forces and evacuation of vulnerable Afghans, including those who supported our military or worked with NGOs and other organizations, would be a complicated process that had the potential for instability in Afghanistan. The images and videos coming out of the country are difficult to view, as people make life or death decisions in desperation. We are particularly concerned for all those requiring evacuation, as well as Afghan women and girls, who risk losing opportunities gained over the last two decades and now face potential mistreatment.

“For the past few weeks, staff from the USCCB, Catholic Charities, and other partners have been at Fort Lee in Virginia, assisting the U.S. government in the welcoming and resettlement of SIV applicants and their families. We will continue that work as long as necessary until those who are in harm’s way are brought to safety.

“The government’s goal to relocate as many as 30,000 SIV applicants to the United States remains a monumental task that hangs in the balance. We know that time is of the essence to help our brothers and sisters in need, and we call on our government to act with the utmost urgency, considering all available avenues to preserve life. We also join the Holy Father in praying for peace in Afghanistan—‘that the clamor of weapons might cease and solutions can be found at the table of dialogue.’”


CARBONDALE – Catholic Social Services of the Diocese of Scranton is continuing its outreach to the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A free food distribution event will be held on Thursday, Aug. 26 from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. at the Catholic Social Services Carbondale Office, 34 River Street, Carbondale.

No pre-registration is necessary.

Anyone in need is welcome to either drive-up or walk-up for assistance.

This special food distribution is in addition to the normal hours for the Catholic Social Services Carbondale food pantry, which are Monday, 9:00 a.m.-Noon; Tuesday and Wednesday, 9:00 a.m.-Noon and 1:00-4:00 p.m.; Thursday, 1:00-4:00 p.m.; and Friday, 9:00 a.m.-Noon.


Shown left to right are participating Knights of Columbus Grand Knights and Council Representatives: (1st Row) Michael Yavorchak, G.K. Plymouth Council 984; James Ford, G.K. Nanticoke Council 913; Rev. Gerald J. Gurka Pastor;    Christopher Calore, Plymouth Council 984 and Rally Coordinator; Mike Frantz, P.G.K., Sacred Heart, Glen Lyon Council 10676; Paul S. Makuch, past G.K., P.F.N., Wilkes-Barre Council 302;    (2nd Row)  George Grantuskas, P.G.K. Plymouth Council 984; Thomas Havrilak, G.K. Kingston Assumpta Council 3987; Francis Kennedy, past G.K., District 44 Deputy, Ashley Council 12089; John Duesler, past G.K., P.F.N., Kingston Assumpta Council 3987; Sam Wolfe, F.N., Color Cor Commander, Plymouth Council 11901; David Miller, Recording Secretary, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Swoyersville Council 12976; and Matt Owazany, P.G.K., Dist. Deputy, Plymouth Council 984.

The combined Knights of Columbus Councils of Wyoming Valley will host their 44th annual Rosary Rally on Sunday, September 26th, at St. John the Baptist Church, 126 Nesbitt Street, Larksvillle, Pa.. Father Gerald J. Gurka is Pastor.

The Knights of Columbus will begin a Rosary Procession with the Our Lady of Fatima Statue, followed by the participating faithful, at 2 pm on the Parish Grounds.

The Rosary is dedicated to prayer and sacrifice in reparation for sin and for the salvation of souls as Our Lady has requested at Fatima, Portugal.

Those unable to process are invited to go directly to the Church at 3 pm., at which time the Knights will lead the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary. Sunday’s Eucharistic Liturgy will be celebrated at 3:20 pm, immediately following the Rosary. Refreshments will be served after Mass.  All are welcome.