RILEYVILLE — Bishop Joseph C. Bambera will serve as principal celebrant of a Pontifical Concelebrated Mass of Thanksgiving on Sunday, Aug. 22, at 9 a.m. at Saint Joseph Church in Rileyville. The celebration marks the 150th anniversary of the mission church of Saint John the Evangelist Parish, Honesdale, where Father William Langan serves as pastor.

The sesquicentennial celebration will continue following the jubilee liturgy with a testimonial reception in the church’s social hall.

According to a written history of Saint John the Evangelist in Honesdale, compiled by Mary Heaton on the occasion of the parish’s 150th anniversary in 1992, the Church of Saint Joseph in Rileyville was established in 1871 as a mission worship site of Saint Juliana Parish at Rock Lake by the presiding pastor, Father Thomas Brehony.

In 1944, the care of Saint Joseph’s was assumed by Saint Mary Magdalen Parish, Honesdale, with Saint John the Evangelist taking over the guardianship of the small mission church three years later.

Constructed on Wayne County farmland purchased by Isaac Dougherty, Saint Joseph’s was considered a typical white country church, with the original structure forming the body of the religious edifice. The sacristy and a partition creating a vestibule area in the front of the place of worship were later additions, as was the small front entrance.

Early years found no regularly scheduled Eucharistic celebrations scheduled at Saint Joseph’s. Word of the pastor’s arrival would spread, and parishioners would walk or travel by horseback to worship. Eventually, Mass was scheduled for the fifth Sunday of the month.

On the grounds of Saint Joseph Church in Rileyville, Father William Langan, pastor of Saint John the Evangelist in Honesdale, dedicates the new social hall of the parish’s mission church (inset) in 2017.

In the early 1960s, Saint Joseph’s received extensive renovations, including interior and exterior painting, replacement of the cross on the church tower, new altar and altar rails, pews, tile flooring and wainscoting. An acre of land was purchased to provide a 55-car parking lot.

The centennial celebration of Saint Joseph Church was held on Sunday, Aug. 15, 1971, with the Most Rev. J. Carroll McCormick, sixth bishop of Scranton, serving as principal celebrant. A testimonial dinner followed at the Elks Lodge in Seelyville.

In 1989, the sacristy of Saint Joseph’s was refurbished and a restroom was added. Later improvements included new sidewalks, repairs to the stained glass windows and ventilators, and new storm windows. Dedication of a new social hall situated adjacent to the church on the pastoral grounds was celebrated in 2017.

The Mission Church of Saint Joseph continues as a vital extension of Saint John the Evangelist Parish. A Sunday Mass is offered each week at 9 a.m., preceded by the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

For as long as she can remember throughout her 87 years of life, Helen Adams attended Mass at Saint Joseph Church with her family until the onset of the COVID-19 crisis. She recalled receiving her sacraments of Baptism, First Communion and Confirmation at the country church in Rileyville — the last of which was conferred upon her and one other Confirmant by Bishop William J. Hafey, fourth bishop of Scranton.

“Our son received religious education at the church with their mother as their teacher,” Adams said. “I taught classes at Saint Joseph for many, many years. Both boys were altar servers until they got taller than the priest.”

The Grotto of the Blessed Mother at Saint Joseph Church in Rileyville was dedicated in 2004, blessed by senior priest Father Edward Finn, during a ceremony attended by many members of the local community. The project, coordinated by the church’s Altar and Rosary Society, began as a dream and ended as an endeavor of faith. The Marian shrine was designed and erected by Paolo Ul, who was assisted by three other men from the Portuguese community of Nativity of Our Lord Church in South Scranton, where Father Finn celebrated Mass for the Brazilian immigrant faithful. Parishioners raised funds, and volunteers from the parish and community, including inmates from the Wayne County Prison, hauled ten tons of stone from local fields and installed lighting. The white stone at the apex of the niche was offered as a gift by Kathy Fives of Honesdale, who had returned with the souvenir from her pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady in Medjugorje in the former Yugoslavia.

Adams reminisced how she enjoyed the various celebrations at the mission church during her lifetime, while witnessing improvements to the house of worship: from the introduction of electricity to the church, to the digging of a well to allow running water for restroom facilities, to the installation of the first heating system, to, most recently, the construction of a much-needed social hall for church functions.

“We were grateful for a shrine to our Blessed Mother at the edge of the cemetery with its beautiful hand-crafted stone grotto and very special flower garden,” she added.

The Saint Joseph parishioner explained how her family history is inextricably intertwined with that of the venerable church.

“Four Burke brothers came to the area from Ireland during the Potato Famine,” Adams noted. “One of them, Thomas, was my great grandfather. He was listed as one of the original members of the church and as one who physically helped build Saint Joseph’s.”

She further indicated that Thomas Burke and Eliza Byrnes were united in marriage at Saint Joseph Church exactly 150 years ago at Saint Joseph Church — coinciding with the sesquicentennial celebration. “My grandmother said this was the first wedding in the new church,” she noted.

Adams remarked that upon entering Saint Joseph Church, the first two windows are dedicated to the Burke family and the family of her other great grandparents, Patrick and Jane Osborne. “Their son, James, married Mary ‘Mamie’ Burke in 1893,” she said.

As she looks forward with grand anticipation to the 150th anniversary of historic Saint Joseph Church, Adams remarked that each celebration and turn in the road down through the ages at the simple Catholic worship site evokes special memories — and challenges.

“When I was a child, I had Doherty girls for my religious education teachers,” Adams recollected. “When one left the area, there would be a sister to take her place,” pointing out the Doherty family included numerous children. “Now, when a church leader closes a door, there is a wonderful ‘Kathy’ or ‘Linda’ to accept responsibility. God has blessed us and the future will be bright.”



SCRANTON — Responding to Suicide: A Pastoral Handbook for Catholic Leaders, majorly attributed to Deacon Ed Shoener of the Cathedral of Saint Peter Parish, has been named Resource of the Year by the Association of Catholic Publishers.

The book earned a first-place award in resources for ministry in the ACP’s 2020 Excellence in Publishing Awards, which qualified it as a Resource of the Year finalist.

Recognized and hailed as an invaluable contribution in the arena of Catholic mental health ministry, particularly with regard to suicide, Responding to Suicide was compiled and edited by Deacon Shoener and Auxiliary Bishop John P. Dolan of San Diego, both of whom contributed to the work.

One member of ACP’s five-judge panel emphasized that one of the strengths of the book is that it focuses on a timely topic presented in an accessible way. Another judge noted that it explores the psycho-social-spiritual aspects of suicide in a balanced and pastoral, making the book a necessary resource for those in parish ministry.

“We so much appreciate ACP’s recognition of Responding to Suicide as Resource of the Year,” Karey Circosta, publisher and CEO of Ave Maria Press, said. “The Association of Catholic Health Ministers, Deacon Ed Shoener and Bishop John P. Dolan created a unque and much-needed book that allows pastoral leaders to better understand suicide and more effectively minister to those who are grieving. Their work is a blessing to the Church.”

Ordained to the permanent diaconate in 2004, Deacon Shoener launched his Catholic Mental Health Ministry, based at the Scranton Cathedral, in 2017. He began the support ministry following the death of his daughter, Katie, who took her own life after a 12-year battle with depression.

Deacon Shoener currently serves as president and a founding member of the Association of Catholic Mental Health Ministers.


SCRANTON — We’re back where we belong.

Days before the dispensation from the obligation to participate in Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation was lifted in the Diocese of Scranton — beginning with the weekend celebration of the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Aug. 15 — Bishop Joseph C. Bambera released a video message to “Welcome Back” faithful to the pews.

Joyfully proclaiming that the doors of all churches throughout the 11 counties of the Diocese are “open wide,” Bishop Bambera announced, “After seventeen months of hardship and struggle, it is time to pray together again, sing together again, and experience the love of God together again!”

The much-anticipated pronouncement was welcomed with equal joy by parishioners around the Diocese.

“It will be great to see parishioners attending Mass who have not been there since March of 2020,” Joe Hillan said, representing Saint Adalbert Church at Holy Spirit Parish in Glen Lyon. “While livestreaming was a great asset during the pandemic, I truly hope that it will not be used as an excuse for parishioners that are capable of attending Mass.”

Bishop Bambera continued his message by referring to the Eucharistic celebration as the “center of our lives as Christians.”

“It is where we are drawn close to Jesus, where we feel his presence in the lives of one another, where we listen to his Gospel message in the Word proclaimed and where we receive His Body and Blood — His very life — in the Eucharist,” the bishop imparted. “The importance, and necessity, of attending Mass is rooted in our Baptism as Christians.”

His words were echoed by Bernice Facciani, a member of Saint John Vianney Parish in Montdale, where she worships at Corpus Christi Church.

“I am delighted the bishops in Pennsylvania have reinstated the Sunday and Holy Day Mass obligations,” Facciani remarked.

In addition to her parish church, she said she has had “occasion to visit several other churches in the Diocese in recent months and have found them to be both impeccably clean and the services well attended, which does seem indicative of parishioners’ desire to participate in the Mass and encounter Jesus in the Eucharist regularly.”

Facciani’s fellow parishioner, Chrysa Calafut, could not agree more. The mother of two small children stated that she and her husband “celebrated Mass” at home via media platforms for more than a year and that it is time to return to church.

“For over a year, this was enough,” Calafut said. “The rising number of COVID cases and deaths attributed to the virus, complicated with the fact that neither a vaccine nor enough knowledge about COVID existed, the decision to stay home with our family proved to be necessary. The health and safety of not only our family but also our community depended on us making responsible decisions and following CDC guidelines.”

She noted, however, that her heart was telling her that something was lacking. As a registered nurse, Calafut explained there is always the potential to be exposed to any illness or infectious disease. “In spite of this, my devotion to serving others continues to draw me back to the bedside,” she said.

She passionately believes our devotion to serving the Lord should do the same.

“The risk will always be present, as will the fear,” Calafut concluded, “but if we continue to follow current CDC guidelines and commit to protecting one another, I am confident we can return to worshipping ‘at the bedside.’”

In his recent letter to diocesan faithful reinstating the Sunday Mass obligation, Bishop Bambera wrote, “This is a moment to thank God anew for the great gift of the Mass and the Real Presence of Jesus to us in His Holy Body and Blood as well as the joy of gathering together as people of faith.”

He further noted that those who are seriously ill or have a serious health risk, as well as those who have significant fear or anxiety of being part of a large group, will continue to be legitimately excused from participating in Mass on Sundays and Holy Days.

“In these times that continue to challenge us, know that we continue to do all that we can to keep you and your family safe,” Bishop Bambera assured his flock at the end of the video message.

Ray Totten, a Saint John Vianney parishioner who attends Mass at Saint Pius X Church in Royal, explained, that though vaccinated, he will continue to practice prudence and wear a face covering.

“My first reaction was, ‘why did we bother to get vaccinated?’ he said. “After thinking about it, though, it seems reasonable. You still have the ability to carry the disease even if it doesn’t enter your body…and makes you sick.”

Noting that, though rare, those who have been vaccinated may still get infected, Totten remarked, “You never know who you might infect, or who they could in turn infect. So if I can help prevent someone from being infected, I will do what I can. The mask seems like a small price to pay.”

Hillan concurred by stating, “I know everyone is trying to be safe and cautious during this continuing pandemic.”

“I believe if everyone follows the recommendations of Bishop Bambera and wears a mask while attending Mass, we will all feel safe and welcomed as we gather together as a parish family to receive the Body of Christ,” he said.


The hallways at Saint John Neumann Elementary School in Williamsport were quiet over the summer but will soon be filled with students as the new academic year begins. (Photo/Eric Deabill)  

SCRANTON – With the first day of school quickly approaching, the Diocese of Scranton’s Office for Catholic Schools is unwavering in its commitment to protect the health and safety of all students, faculty, staff and administrators.

“Last year provided all of us the opportunity to achieve what many others did not – the ability to open our doors and maximize the amount of in-person learning – because we worked together in following thoughtful health and safety protocols that resulted in minimal interruptions,” Jason W.S. Morrison, Secretary of Catholic Education/Chief Executive Officer, and Kristen Donohue, Superintendent of Catholic Schools, wrote in a letter to parents on Aug. 13, 2021.

Using the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Pennsylvania Departments of Education and Health, American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania Policy Lab, the Diocese developed protocols for all of its 19 Catholic Schools to follow this coming year for in-person instruction.

“Of critical importance is the knowledge we all have from living through this pandemic that the environment can change quickly,” the administrators wrote. “We will be responsive to those changes as the situation improves or worsens in our communities. This includes every layer of mitigation and may require decisions to be adjusted on short notice.”

Like last year, high touch surfaces will be cleaned and sanitized frequently in every building and hand sanitizer will be available in hallways, near entrances and other high-traffic areas. In classrooms, desks will be placed at a minimum of three feet apart.

For the second year in a row, parents will be asked to complete a daily health questionnaire at home before their child arrives at school – and temperatures of students, faculty, staff and visitors will be taken when they enter a building.

Schools will make every effort to monitor for COVID-19 related symptoms and have specific guidance for dealing with any potential cases.

Mask requirements will be determined in accordance with the county transmission metrics in which a particular school is located. When a county is classified as having moderate, substantial or high transmission, all individuals will be required to wear masks indoors. When a county is in a low community transmission rate for at least two weeks, masking may return to optional.

“We all long for a full return to normalcy, but must do so safely. We need to partner together to work through these ever-changing times. With your help and patience, we will achieve that return together. We were successful last year, and will be again this year,” Morrison and Donohue wrote in their letter.


SCRANTON – With parishes across the Diocese of Scranton already planning the 2021-2022 faith formation year, the Diocese of Scranton released guidelines on Aug. 13 that parishes should follow to prioritize the safety and health of all students, parents, staff and volunteers.

Parishes continue to have flexibility in the approach to which they offer faith formation programs during upcoming school year. Parishes can hold either in-person faith formation classes, virtual classes or a hybrid approach which combines both virtual and in-person elements.

For any parishes planning to hold in-person faith formation classes, the Diocese of Scranton has put forth the following guidance:

Masks:  As Catholics, we are called to provide a Culture of Safety for our children and youth. Because most religious education students are not yet eligible for vaccinations – and in an effort to ensure in-person religious education is able to continue to the best extent possible – the Diocese of Scranton will require

masks for students involved in its parish faith formation programs at this time. Masks are an effective tool in mitigating the spread of COVID-19, particularly when there is a large population of unvaccinated individuals.

While indoors, masks must be worn consistently and correctly by all minors and adults, regardless of vaccination status, while attending any religious education classes.

If religious education classes are held outdoors, masks do not need to be worn in most settings. Masks must be worn in crowded outdoor settings or during any activities that involve sustained close contact with other people.

If a student/family is uncomfortable with returning to an onsite/in-person faith formation program for any reason, parishes have been urged to work directly with the student/family and make reasonable accommodations, which might include the possibility of online or individualized meetings and/or providing resource packets for pick-up.

This Diocesan guidance on masking for parish religious education programs is consistent with the protocols being implemented at all of the Diocese of Scranton’s Catholic Schools. These protocols will be re-evaluated on a consistent basis and are subject to change at any time and will be communicated to parishes if adjustments are made.

Mask requirements will be determined in accordance with the county transmission metrics and guidance from various sources, which may include, but are not limited to the CDC and PA Department of Health. The levels of transmission for a county are listed as Low, Moderate, Substantial and High. When counties are in moderate, substantial or high, all individuals will be required to wear masks indoors. When a county is in a low community transmission rate for at least two weeks, masking may be optional for all. Anyone that is not vaccinated at that time, will still be encouraged to continue to mask indoors if desired.

Vaccinations: It is highly recommended that everyone who is eligible be fully vaccinated for COVID-19, whether that be a catechist or student of eligible age.

Classroom Set-up: Classroom desks or tables should face in the same direction whenever possible and parishes should make every effort to maintain three feet of distancing while in a classroom setting.

Cleaning: Clean and disinfect classroom space and frequently touched surfaces such as door handles, sink handles and light switches with regularity. Parishes that utilize Catholic School buildings for space should work with the building principal to ensure sanitization.

Hand Hygiene: Encourage students to frequently wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer. Adequate healthy hygiene supplies/products should be available such as soap, hand sanitizer, paper towels, tissues and disinfectant wipes.

Sickness: All parents, employees, catechists and other volunteers should be educated about the importance of staying home when sick.

COVID-19 Exposure: The pastor or his delegate should immediately report any on-site exposure to COVID-19. Call Father John Polednak, Vicar for Clergy, at (570) 591-5006 and Father Polednak will help the parish on any potential next steps that might be necessary.

Guidelines for Faith Formation Programs in the Diocese of Scranton (Published Aug. 13 2021)



The destroyed Immaculate Conception Church is pictured in Les Anglais, Haiti, Aug. 14, 2021, after a magnitude 7.2 earthquake. At least 18 people were reported killed in the church. (CNS photo/courtesy AVSI)


LES CAYES, Haiti (CNS) — The magnitude 7.2 earthquake that struck Haiti collapsed the bishop’s residence in Les Cayes, killing one priest, leaving one missing and injuring Cardinal Chibly Langlois.

Father Emile Beldor died of his injuries after the Aug. 14 quake. Father Jean-Antoine Coulanges is reported missing. Cardinal Langlois sustained arm and leg injuries; church sources say his life is not in danger.

Voice of America reported that 18 people, assembled for a baptism, were killed in Immaculate Conception Parish church of Les Anglais.

The Haitian civil protection service reported late Aug. 15 that nearly 1,300 people had been killed, more than 5,700 were injured and more than 30,250 families needed shelter. Those numbers were expected to rise as a tropical depression headed toward the island. The civil protection agency warned people to expect strong winds, landslides and flooding in addition to heavy rain and rough seas.

At the Vatican Aug. 15, Pope Francis expressed his condolences and closeness to the Haitian people.

“While I lift up my prayer to the Lord for the victims, I extend my word of encouragement to the survivors, hoping that the interest of the international community to help might move toward them,” the pope said during his Angelus address. Leading pilgrims in praying a “Hail Mary” for Haiti, the pope prayed that the “solidarity of all alleviate the consequences of the tragedy.”

Bishop Joseph Gontrand Décoste of Jérémie also called on the international Catholic community for help to rebuild. The diocesan cathedral’s roof was ripped off for the second time in less than five years.

“The population is desperate and beleaguered. They are sleeping outside under the trees, in open public spaces, to protect themselves from aftershocks arriving every few hours,” Bishop Décoste told Vatican News a few hours after the earthquake struck, damaging road infrastructure and effectively cutting off the area from the rest of the country.

“We are in distress. We are counting on your solidarity, your proximity.”

“On this day when we celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we ask her to sow hope in the heart of a people so harshly tried by this powerful earthquake,” Bishop Décoste said.

Shortly after the news of the quake, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, urged people to help by contributing to Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. bishops’ relief and development agency. CRS works in Haiti and partners with Caritas, the international umbrella organization for the church’s charitable agencies. He also offered prayers for those who had lost loved ones.

“We offer our prayers to Archbishop Launay Saturné, president of the bishops’ conference of Haiti, and to all those who tirelessly serve the faith communities in Haiti. We stand in solidarity with the church in Haiti,” Archbishop Gomez said.

In just the Diocese of Jérémie, the Catholic charitable agency Caritas reported the total destruction of the parish church in Corail.

In Les Cayes, next door to the bishop’s residence, the Catholic radio station was unharmed, but the Sacred Heart Parish Church, also in Les Cayes, was destroyed.

Further south, on the dusty road that leads toward the westernmost point of the island at Anse d’Hainault, a deep fissure in the road at Port-à-Piment cut off the remote region from the rest of the country. Other church structures were reported damaged, including Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Port-à-Piment and a dispensary in the neighboring town of Roche-à-Bateau.

In Cavaillon, northeast of Les Cayes, the parish church of Our Lady of Perpetual Help was destroyed, as were the town hall and the police station.

St. Anne’s Church in Anse-à-Veau was also severely damaged, and St. Peter’s Church in Barraderes collapsed.

Here’s where to donate to help agencies respond to the Haiti earthquake

Numerous organizations, including Catholic agencies, are accepting donations to assist with their emergency response to the Haiti earthquake.

— Catholic Relief Services: online:; by phone: 877-435-7277 from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern; by mail: P.O. Box 17090, Baltimore, Maryland, 21297-0303.

— Catholic Medical Mission Board:

— CAFOD, the Catholic aid agency for England and Wales:

— Caritas Internationalis:

— AVSI, the Italian humanitarian relief and development organization:

— Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Miami:

— Cross Catholic Outreach:

— Food for the Poor:

— Development and Peace/Caritas Canada:


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.


SCRANTON – Father Gerald W. Shantillo has been appointed Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia, the Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, announced on July 15, 2021.

A Vicar General is a priest who assists the Bishop in the governance of a diocese, and has authority to act on behalf of the Bishop.

Ordained a priest in 2009, Father Shantillo had previously been serving as Episcopal Vicar for Clergy since July 2020. He also served five years as pastor at Saint Matthew Parish in East Stroudsburg as well as Assistant Pastor at Saint Jude in Mountain Top, Our Lady Help of Christians in Dorrance and Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Tunkhannock.

“I have a great love for the Diocese and serving as Episcopal Vicar for Clergy for the last year has given me a better understanding just how large and comprehensive the Diocese really is and the good it does for so many people in all 11 counties we serve,” Father Shantillo said.

In making his announcement to the Diocese, Bishop Bambera said Father Shantillo brings to his new position a wealth of experience, credentials and proven dedication of service to the People of God.

“More than just being an excellent priest and a dedicated pastor, Father Shantillo brings strong organizational skills to his new role, having served as a former healthcare finance and operations executive prior to ordination. This knowledge will help in his handling of the many personnel and financial matters necessary in his new role,” Bishop Bambera stated.

Even though his title may have changed, Father Shantillo believes his mission has not. He plans to continue serving the community and spreading the Gospel message.

“The bishop has an incredible responsibility to run a diocese and the Vicar General is appointed to help him behind the scenes. He works diligently to implement the bishop’s directives and priorities and allows the bishop to be available to all the people,” Father Shantillo explained. “Our focus must always be – how do we use our diocesan resources to better support our parishes and schools, Catholic Social Services and our mission.”

Father Shantillo started his new role as Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia on Aug. 9, 2021. He succeeds Monsignor Thomas M. Muldowney who requested to return to parish ministry following 11 years of service in diocesan leadership positions.

On Aug. 9, now-Father Muldowney became pastor of Saint Catherine of Siena Parish in Moscow.

“I am grateful for the experience that I had working in the Diocesan administrative offices. During that time, I had the privilege of allowing my faith to be strengthened by the parishioners and friends of the Mother Church of the Diocese of Scranton. I am leaving with a heart that is full of gratitude and excitement because I get to continue my journey of serving the Lord in parish ministry once again,” Father Muldowney said.

Father Muldowney said he had been discerning a possible transition back to parish ministry for a while. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he says the necessity and importance of parish priests became even more critical – as they needed to reach out to people in so many different ways over the past year.

“When I was ordained a priest in the Cathedral in 2003, I never envisioned myself working in the Diocesan administrative offices. I’ve always lived by a philosophy that God places you where you need to be, when you need to be there. I’ve lived that philosophy prior to ordination and I try to live that out each and every moment of my life,” he added.

“I am excited that Bishop Bambera has appointed me as Pastor of Saint Catherine of Siena Parish. I feel blessed to be able to serve the vibrant faith community that has been nurtured there over the years,” he continued.

Bishop Bambera expressed his deep gratitude for Rev. Muldowney’s willingness to share so generously of his strong faith and many talents, having dutifully and faithfully devoted over a decade to the mission of the entire Diocese.

“Monsignor Muldowney has helped our local Church in immeasurable ways to proclaim the Good News of Jesus and to continue to grow vibrant parishes and ministries. Our Diocese is most grateful to Monsignor for the tireless service that he has provided and the numerous gifts he has brought to the position of Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia. While his presence in our administrative offices will be missed, it is most gratifying to know that Monsignor’s pastoral sensitivity has prompted him to return to parish ministry in his continuing service of the People of God, a calling that lies at the heart of every diocesan priest,” the bishop said.

Father John V. Polednak has been appointed to succeed Father Shantillo as Episcopal Vicar for Clergy. Ordained in 1976 by Bishop J. Carroll McCormick, Father Polednak has been an outstanding servant leader who has garnered the respect of his brother priests as well as the lay faithful.

Prior to his current assignment, Father served as Pastor of Nativity of Our Lord Parish, Duryea, since 2015. He brings more than 40 years of experience in priestly ministry – having previously served as pastor for parishes in Kingston, Roaring Brook Township, Nicholson, Wilkes-Barre and Olyphant. In addition to his pastorate, Father Polednak has also served as Episcopal Vicar, Southern Pastoral Region; Diocesan Secretary for Clergy Formation; Director of the Permanent Diaconate and Director of Seminarians; Dean of the Dunmore Deanery; and Director of the Fatima Center among numerous roles as Director of Religious Formation in various schools.

“The clergy of the Diocese of Scranton are blessed to have such a highly respected and capable priest to serve their needs as they, in turn, work to build up the Church in the Diocese of Scranton,” Bishop Bambera stated in making the appointment.



SCRANTON – As the 2021-2022 academic year gets underway, the Diocese of Scranton Catholic School System is welcoming two new Assistant Superintendents after a nationwide search.

In addition to bringing extensive credentials to their new positions, both Charlene Krushinsky and Michael Slesinski are personally vested in Catholic education and are unwavering in their dedication to the transformative nature of all that Catholic schools offer spiritually and academically.

Krushinsky comes to the Diocese of Scranton with more than 30 years experience in education and a vast knowledge of the Catholic school environment as both an educator and administrator. Beginning her educational career as a fourth grade teacher, she spent the last nine years as a principal in Catholic schools in the Diocese of Phoenix.

The mother of three has a Masters in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University and a certificate in Effective Catholic School Administration from the University of Notre Dame and her principal certification from the state of Arizona. She has also been a principal mentor and presenter with the

Latino Enrollment Institute at the University of Notre Dame since 2014. The Institute focuses on creating a welcome environment in Catholic schools for Latino families.

“I’m blessed to be here,” Krushinsky told The Catholic Light.

Having never experienced snow or winter in the northeast, she believes God led her to this point in her career on the East Coast.

“God opened a door and here I am. I trust in God. It’s God’s will, not our will,” she said.

In just her first few weeks in the diocese, Krushinsky already visited all 19 Catholic schools and met with each principal. She will primarily be responsible for curriculum development and principal mentoring.

“I’m anxious and excited to meet the teachers and I can’t wait to go back and visit and meet the children,” Krushinsky said. “What I love is the history and the deep roots of Catholicism that are here in the Diocese of Scranton.”

As an instructional leader, Krushinsky is committed to a growth mindset and has worked with NWEA Map Growth to improve educational outcomes. She also has a proven record of accomplishment in enrollment and fundraising.

Having put three daughters through the Catholic education system, Krushinsky wants parents and families to know that she is always available to them.

“I would love for parents to know that my door is always open. Feel free to call or email with questions or concerns. We’re here to support parents in this journey in providing a Catholic education for their child. They are making the right choice, the best choice, they’re investing in their child’s future,” she added.

Michael Slesinski says he is “tremendously excited” to join the Diocese of Scranton’s Catholic Schools team.

After beginning his career as an educator more than 15 years ago, Slesinski most recently worked as an administrator at the district and Intermediate Unit level as a Supervisor for Special Education and Director of Special Services.

Slesinski previously worked in the Luzerne Intermediate Unit, East Stroudsburg Area School District, Mountain View School District and the New York City Department of Education. He attended Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of New York his entire life growing up.

As the Diocese of Scranton works to enhance our offerings for students with exceptionalities, Slesinski hopes his knowledge will help all levels of learners in the diocese.

“The idea of being able to bring those tools to schools in our system, so that students who want to be a part of our system can succeed to the greatest extent possible is incredibly exciting for me,” Slesinski said.

Slesinski has a Masters in Educational Leadership from Lehman College in New York and anticipates completion of a doctoral degree in Administration and Leadership Studies from East Stroudsburg University this year. He also has obtained a PA Superintendent Letter of Eligibility.

“During the course of the past 15 years of work in education, one of the highlights for me has been working collaboratively with parents and allowing parents to feel comfortable with the different schools where I worked,” he added.

In his new role, Slesinski will also focus on technology and school safety initiatives.

“My goal is to take the wonderful things we’re already doing in both of those areas and continue to grow them,” he said.


Pictured, left to right: Father Alex Roche, Diocesan Director of Vocations and Seminarians; Jeremy Barket; and Monsignor David Bohr, Diocesan Secretary for Clergy Formation.

Jeremy Barket and Cody Yarnall have been accepted as seminarians for the Diocese of Scranton and will begin the Program for Priestly Formation this fall.

Jeremy is a member of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Dupont. Cody is a member of Saint Matthew Parish in East Stroudsburg. They will attend Saint Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore, Md.

Let us pray for them, all of our seminarians and those who are discerning a call to serve our local Church as a Diocesan Priest.

Pictured, left to right: Monsignor David Bohr, Diocesan Secretary for Clergy Formation; Cody Yarnall; and Father Alex Roche, Diocesan Director of Vocations and Seminarians.