“Following Jesus demands a good dose of courage. Take the path of the ‘craziness’ of our God, who teaches us to encounter him in the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the sick, the friend in trouble, the prisoner, the refugee and the migrant, and our neighbors who feel abandoned.”
+Pope Francis


  • What is Diocese of Scranton Serves (formerly Day of Service)?

A challenge for groups and individuals to serve our sisters and brothers who are in need throughout the Diocese of Scranton on Saturday, October 2 and/or Sunday, October 3.  Although participants will be spread throughout the eleven counties, we will be united in a spirit of service. We will provide an Opening Prayer to start the day and reflection questions for discussion at the end of day. All participants will receive a Free T-Shirt. This effort is being sponsored by the Diocesan Offices for Parish Life and Vocations.


  • How do I participate as a Parish/School Group Leader?
    1. Arrange a service opportunity in your local community for Saturday, October 2 and/or Sunday, October 3. It can be at a local nonprofit organization, your parish/school, local cemetery, etc.
    2. Promote the service opportunity with dates, times, logistics in your parish/school.
    3. Register your entire group by clicking this form: GROUP REGISTRATION

(Please Note: You must register by September 18th in order to guarantee your requested T-Shirt sizes!)

    1. On your service day: Play the Opening Prayer piece on YouTube, be present and support your group members during the time serving, take pictures, lead the discussion questions after the service takes place, and most of all, have fun!


  • How do I participate if I am not connected to a parish/school group? 
    1. Find a service opportunity in your local community for Saturday, October 2 and/or Sunday, October 3.
    2. See if any family members and/or friends want to participate with you.
    3. Register by clicking this form: INDIVIDUAL REGISTRATION

(Please Note: You must register by September 18th in order to guarantee your requested T-Shirt size!)

    1. If you need help and/or ideas, contact Shannon Kowalski or Dominick Costantino.


  • Who do I contact if I have a question?

Shannon Kowalski, Diocesan Director of Service and Mission – Shannon-Kowalski@dioceseofscranton.org

Dominick Costantino, Vocation Program Coordinator- Dominick-Costantino@dioceseofscranton.org


*The changes to this year’s initiative came at the recommendation of past participants and group leaders.



A Planned Parenthood exam room is seen in this illustration photo. The Supreme Court took no action Aug. 31, 2021 to block a Texas bill that prohibits most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. (CNS photo/Liliana Engelbrecht, Reuters)

WASHINGTON (CNS) – In a late-night decision Sept. 1, the Supreme Court ruled against blocking a Texas law banning abortions at six weeks of pregnancy.

The 5-4 vote, issued with a one-paragraph unsigned opinion, said the challengers to the Texas law — which went into effect Sept. 1 — did not adequately address the “complex and novel antecedent procedural questions” in this case.

“This order is not based on any conclusion about the constitutionality of Texas’ law, and in no way limits other procedurally proper challenges to the Texas law, including in Texas state courts,” the opinion said, leaving open the possibility that the state’s abortion providers could challenge it in other ways.

The Texas abortion providers had come to the Supreme Court with an emergency appeal to stop the law, but the court initially did not respond.

Chief Justice John Roberts joined Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer in dissenting votes and each of them wrote separate statements expressing their disagreement with the majority.

A key part of the law that the dissenting justices took issue with is its emphasis on private citizens bringing civil lawsuits in state court against anyone involved in an abortion, other than the patient, but including someone who drives the patient to a clinic.

Sotomayor said the majority opinion in this case was “stunning.” She said that when the court examined a “flagrantly unconstitutional law engineered to prohibit women from exercising their constitutional rights and evade judicial scrutiny, a majority of Justices have opted to bury their heads in the sand.”

Kagan similarly called the Texas law “patently unconstitutional,” for its emphasis on encouraging “private parties to carry out unconstitutional restrictions on the State’s behalf.”

Roberts said the “statutory scheme” involving citizens’ enforcement of the law “is not only unusual, but unprecedented.”

“The legislature has imposed a prohibition on abortions after roughly six weeks, and then essentially delegated enforcement of that prohibition to the populace at large. The desired consequence appears to be to insulate the state from responsibility for implementing and enforcing the regulatory regime.”

He also noted that the case is not shut, saying that although the court denied the emergency relief sought by the applicants, its order is “emphatic in making clear that it cannot be understood as sustaining the constitutionality of the law at issue.”

In a statement just after the court’s decision, Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which represents abortion providers challenging the Texas law, said these challengers would keep fighting.

“We are devastated that the Supreme Court has refused to block a law that blatantly violates Roe v. Wade,” she added.

The law, signed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in May, became effective at midnight central time Sept. 1. It is one of the strictest abortion measures in the country, banning abortions in the state after a fetal heartbeat is detectable. The law has an exception for medical emergencies but not for rape or incest.

The night before this took effect, court watchers on both sides of the issue kept vigil at the Supreme Court waiting for an order that never came. Abortion providers in the state had argued that the law would prevent about 85% of abortions in the state and will likely cause many clinics to close.

Currently, at least 12 other states have legislation banning abortions early in pregnancy, but these bans have been blocked by courts.

“Hopefully, this law will begin saving the lives of tens of thousands of Texas babies and we look forward to the day that babies’ lives will be spared across America,” said Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life.

She also applauded the efforts of the Texas Right to Life and “pro-life Texans who have been devoted to providing a voice for the voiceless. We praise all of our state affiliates who have diligently and tirelessly worked with state legislators to protect unborn babies by passing laws that protect children whose hearts have begun to beat,” she said in a Sept. 1 statement.

Two months after the law was signed, abortion providers challenged it in court, saying it violated patients’ constitutional right to end a pregnancy before viability, when a fetus is said to be able to survive on its own.

The Supreme Court has consistently ruled that states cannot restrict abortion before the 24-week mark. This fall, the court will take up a Mississippi abortion ban after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Those appealing the state law filed a motion in late August that was denied by the district court. They turned to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, which granted their request to put the district-court proceedings on hold but denied the challengers’ request to expedite the appeal, which led them to seek emergency relief from the Supreme Court Aug. 30.

Scotusblog, which reports on the Supreme Court, said the Texas attorney general and other defenders of the state’s abortion law had urged the Supreme Court to stay out of the dispute, saying the court is limited in its power to grant relief before laws have actually been enforced. They argued that courts can bar people from doing something, but they have no power to “expunge the law itself.”

In late March, the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops, the public policy arm of the state’s bishops, said it was “thrilled to report” Senate passage of pro-life bills supported by the conference and said they were considered top priorities.


Pope Francis speaks during his general audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican Sept. 1, 2021. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – People should change the way they eat, travel and use natural resources, energy and products so they minimize their harm to the earth, Pope Francis said.

“Let us pray that we all will make courageous choices, the choices necessary for a simple and environmentally sustainable lifestyle, taking inspiration from our young people who are resolutely committed to this,” the pope said.

In a video message released by the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network Sept. 1, the pope offered his prayer intention for the month of September, which he dedicated to “an environmentally sustainable lifestyle.”

Sept. 1 also marked the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, which also kicks off the celebration of the Season of Creation, which runs to Oct. 4, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology.

The theme this year is “A home for all? Renewing the Oikos of God,” Pope Francis said during his general audience at the Vatican Sept. 1.

He told those gathered that he, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, an early leader in the Christian ecology movement, and Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury “have prepared a message that will be issued in the coming days.”

“Together with our brothers and sisters of different Christian denominations, let us pray and work for our common home in these times of grave crisis for the planet,” he said at the general audience.

The pope also confirmed that “in principle” he was scheduled to attend the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, in November, during an interview aired Sept. 1 with COPE, the radio network owned by the Spanish bishops’ conference.

“In principle, the program is that I go. It all depends on how I feel at the time,” he said.

“But, in fact, my speech is already being prepared, and the plan is to be there,” he said, adding that he hoped the summit would increase governments’ commitments “and bring us more in line” with what action is needed to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The world’s adults need to be inspired by and follow the lead of today’s young people, who are at the forefront of caring for the environment, the pope said in the rest of his video message for the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network.

Speaking about his monthly intention for September, the pope said, “It makes me very happy to see that young people have the courage to undertake projects for environmental and social improvement, since the two go together.”

“We adults can learn much from them, because in all matters related to care for the planet, they are at the forefront. Let us take advantage of their example and reflect on our lifestyle, especially during these moments of health, social and environmental crisis,” he said.

“Let us reflect on how the way we eat, consume, travel, or the way we use water, energy, plastics, and many other material goods, is often harmful to the earth,” he said.

He said, “Let us choose to change. Let us advance with young people toward lifestyles that are simpler and more respectful of the environment.”

Young people “aren’t foolish because they are committed to their own future. This is why they want to change what they will inherit at a time when we will no longer be here,” the pope said.


A destroyed car is seen under the debris of a building in New Orleans Aug. 31, 2021, after Hurricane Ida made landfall. (CNS photo/Marco Bello, Reuters)

WASHINGTON (CNS) – Catholic Charities in and around the areas of Louisiana and Mississippi affected by Hurricane Ida — one of the most powerful storms to hit the continental U.S. since Hurricane Katrina in 2005 — are collecting donations as they prepare to help with the yet-unknown damage caused by the late August storm.

In a televised Aug. 30 meeting with President Joe Biden, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said he estimated that close to 2 million are without electricity in the region, though news reports said about 1 million were affected.

Many remained without cellphone service and at least four deaths had been confirmed by Aug. 31; a 71-year-old man is missing but presumed dead after his wife reported that he’d been attacked by a large alligator while walking the flood waters surrounding their home in Slidell, Louisiana, the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office reported Aug. 30.

Houses in Grand Isle, La., are seen flooded Aug. 31, 2021, after Hurricane Ida made landfall. (CNS photo/Marco Bello, Reuters)

The local agency warned those in the affected areas “to be extra vigilant with walking in flooded areas as wildlife has been displaced as well during this storm and alligators and other animals may have moved closer into neighborhoods.”

Edwards said the death toll likely will rise.

Many Masses Aug. 29 had been suspended in the region as residents prepared to ride out the storm or had evacuated.

Edwards said the damage was “catastrophic” as news outlets showed flooded and destroyed homes, torn roofs and water running through Louisiana streets like a rushing river.

Biden said he asked the Federal Aviation Administration to work with electric providers in Louisiana and Mississippi to use surveillance drones “to assess Ida’s damage to energy infrastructure.”

Though the hurricane had torn through much of Louisiana as a Category 4 storm on Aug. 29, the following day it was heading, as a downgraded tropical storm, but still life-threatening, toward Mississippi and then Tennessee, where flooding was the main concern.

As levees in Louisiana seemed to have stood up of Ida’s wrath, many on social media urged the public to keep in mind that help would be needed in small agricultural towns, not just for damage to New Orleans.

Catholic dioceses and organizations said they were mobilizing to help as soon as conditions allowed. Catholic Charities USA is accepting donations to help the hurricane relief efforts at www.catholiccharitiesusa.org.

“Our local #disasterresponse teams will be ready to hit the ground when it’s safe to do so,” tweeted Catholic Charities of Baton Rouge, a few hours after the storm hit New Orleans.

“We are counting our blessings today that our teams are safe and all of our facilities weathered the storm without catastrophic damage,” said Dr. Richard Vath, chief executive officer of Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System in Baton Route.

“We stand ready to support our health care colleagues in southeast Louisiana at the same time we continue providing care in our own communities,” he said in an Aug. 30 statement. “Everyone pulls together in these circumstances, and we are working closely with the state of Louisiana and prepared to receive evacuated patients if necessary.”

The Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, Louisiana, in an Aug. 30 message on its website and social media channels, said its schools “will be closed until further notice.” The New Orleans archdiocese announced, too, that its schools and main administrative offices, would be closed until at least Labor Day.

In a Facebook video Aug. 30, Peter Finney, editor of the Clarion Herald, newspaper of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, said Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond, who remained at his residence during Ida, was trying to contact pastors to assess the extent of the damage to churches and schools.

“There’s nothing really right now to report, but he’ll have much more of an understanding today,” Finney said. “He asked for prayers for the entire community and please stay safe.”

Catholic Charities of Southwest Louisiana in Lake Charles offered 900 meals for Hurricane Ida evacuees, remembering how they, too, had been helped by neighboring states during last year’s hurricane season.

The Diocese of Beaumont, Texas, which suffered damage from Hurricane Laura in late August 2020 said Bishop David L. Toups “has invited all of our priests and faithful … to pray and intercede for our brothers and sisters in Louisiana. We stand with them in prayer during the storm and will stay by them to assist in recovery.”

It’s hard to know how the hurricane and subsequent storm will affect states in the southern U.S. that already were experiencing a shortage of hospital beds and equipment, including oxygen, because of rising COVID-19 rates.

The day after the hurricane, Lady of the Sea General Hospital in Galliano, Louisiana, reported that part of its roof had been ripped off by Ida’s winds. A highway collapsed in Mississippi as the storm made its way north.

“As the storm moves inland, it continues to hit communities in several states and causing damage” affecting multiple dioceses, said Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in an Aug. 31 statement.

“I call on people of goodwill to join me in praying for the safety, well-being, and protection of everyone in these impacted areas. We also pray in a special way for the first responders, health care workers, and emergency personnel who bring relief, comfort, and healing.”

The archbishop also encouraged Catholics “and all people of goodwill across the country to stand in solidarity with these impacted communities.”

“We entrust all our brothers and sisters in harm’s way to our Blessed Mother, and we ask for her continued protection and for her intercession in comforting the those who are suffering,” he added.