Online survey now available on Diocese of Scranton website at:

La encuesta en línea ahora está disponible en el sitio web de la Diócesis de Scranton en:

SCRANTON – Do you believe the Diocese of Scranton listens to its parishioners? Are you challenged to use your gifts and talents to better the life of your parish and the whole Church? Do you believe the Church is transparent and accountable in its decision-making processes?

The Diocese of Scranton invites everyone to answer these three questions and more as part of the local listening phase of the 2023 Synod of Bishops, which is now underway.

The word “synod” is an ancient Greek word. While unfamiliar to many, a synod is a journey of discernment, in which the people of God are called to pray and reflect upon the Holy Spirit’s will for the Church.

Pope Francis has asked every diocese in the world to develop a process to listen to the faithful of parishes, religious orders and Catholic movements and prayerfully consider the ways in which they currently experience the church as “synodal,” that is, as a community that walks together and to suggest ways to strengthen that in practice.

“What the Holy Father has challenged us to do is to create a mechanism where that listening posture can make its way through every aspect of our diocese,” Father Jeffrey D. Tudgay, J.C.L., pastor, Saint Eulalia Parish, said. “Based on what we hear, based on what we observe, based on what we discern, it will really determine the vision and future of the Church.”

Father Tudgay and Jennifer Housel, Director for Community and Family Development in the Office for Parish Life, have been selected by Bishop Joseph C. Bambera to lead a local Diocesan Synod team, which is coordinating this process.

“The Diocese of Scranton will be taking a three-pronged approach,” Housel explained.

First, there will be an online survey for anyone in the 11 counties of the Diocese of Scranton to participate. The online survey went live on Nov. 14 and is currently available on the main page of the Diocese of Scranton’s website in both English and Spanish.

“People are invited to share their hopes, their dreams, their concerns and their struggles in reference to how our church is achieving its mission in journeying together,” Housel said.

The ten questions of the online survey are also printed on Page 3 of this edition of The Catholic Light. Anyone without internet access is invited to call the Diocese of Scranton’s Synod Voicemail line at (570) 591-5024 and leave their responses to the questions. Both English and Spanish speaking parishioners may leave a message on the Synod Voicemail.

Both the online survey and phone line are completely anonymous. Individuals do not have to provide their name or any identifying information other than some basic demographic questions.

The second part of the local listening phase will be parish and community group gatherings.

“We’re really encouraging parish communities to have in-person gatherings between now and the end of March 2022,” Housel said. “We really want to hear what everyone has to say, recognizing that some of what we hear will be painful and that is necessary and an important part of this process.”

The third part of the Diocese of Scranton’s plan involves Bishop Bambera convening a Pre-Synodal meeting in the spring, to further address the information that has been gathered and solicit feedback from parish and community representatives.

During the local listening phase, Pope Francis has encouraged dioceses around the world to pay particular attention to people “on the margins” of society and gather their input as well.

“Pope Francis brings an incredible sense of self-awareness,” Father Tudgay said. “He’s not obtuse to people who are in pain, people who are struggling, people who have been hurt by the Church.”

After listening to all people locally, the Diocese of Scranton, and all other dioceses in the United States will submit a summary of local discussions to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which will then synthesize all of the responses into a final written presentation for the Vatican.

The Diocese of Scranton’s online survey and many more resources, including Frequently Asked Questions, can be found on the Diocese of Scranton’s website at


PLAINS — Father John Lambert, pastor, announces Saints Peter & Paul Parish will host a day of devotion with Eucharistic celebration on Sunday, Nov. 28, honoring Saint Padre Pio, as the parish welcomes the saint’s relics from the Saint Pio Foundation in New Rochelle, N.Y.

The commemorative gathering opens at 1 p.m. with recitation of the Holy Rosary, followed by a brief introduction.

Sunday Mass will be offered at 2 p.m. at Saints Peter & Paul Church, 13 Hudson Road, Plains, followed by exposition and benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

Serving as principal celebrant and homilist for the liturgical celebration will be Franciscan Father Pio Mandato who received his First Communion from Padre Pio of Pietrelcina in Italy and currently serves in the Scranton Diocese.

The Mass will be concelebrated by Father Lambert and Saint Joseph Oblate Father Paul McDonnell, rector of the Oblates of Saint Joseph Chapel, Laflin, and Sacramental Minister for Our Lady of the Eucharist Parish, Pittston.

The day’s celebration will conclude with veneration of relics of Saint Padre Pio, in conjunction with video presentations on the life of the saint.

All faithful throughout the Diocese are welcome to attend. For more information, contact Cathy Mack, coordinator, at (570) 654-6063.


SCRANTON – A lay organization of faithful Catholics has named the Diocese of Scranton as being one of the most financially transparent dioceses in the United States.

For five years, Voice of the Faithful has reviewed all U.S. Catholic dioceses’ online financial transparency. The group’s 2021 report identifies the Diocese of Scranton as one of only four dioceses to receive an overall score of 100% in regards to transparency. This year’s other top-scoring dioceses included Bridgeport, Charleston and Orlando.

The Voice of the Faithful’s fifth annual review of all dioceses was conducted between June 1 and Aug. 31 by three independent reviewers and their report, “Measuring and Ranking Diocesan Online Financial Transparency: 2021 Report,” was released on Nov. 12, 2021.

The Diocese of Scranton’s score increased from 90% in 2020 to 100% during this year’s review.

“Financial transparency is extremely important because it not only fosters trust among the faithful but also helps to protect against fraud and ensures that funds donated for the Church actually go to those purposes for which they are intended,” Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, said.

In its report, Voice of the Faithful noted that Scranton is one of the six dioceses covered in the 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury report.

“Some of the six have worked hard to improve transparency. Scranton is clearly one of them,” the report noted.

Voice of the Faithful scores dioceses’ financial transparency practices on a scale from zero to 100. The organization awards each diocese points for publishing a variety of financial documents, including audited financial reports, information about the diocese’s cathedraticum (tax collected from individual parishes) and a current list of members on the diocesan finance council.

Information on the Diocese of Scranton’s financial policies and guidelines, audited financial reports and finance council members can be found at

The Voice of the Faithful’s 2021 report shows that overall, diocesan online financial transparency scores increased from 65% in 2020 to 69% in 2021.

Voice of the Faithful 2021 reviewers concluded that, “Although significant progress has been achieved in the last decade, and in particular during the last three years, members of the church in the U.S. must be vigilant if they wish to prevent financial mismanagement and abuse.”


SCRANTON – Maybe you have visited your parish office recently and noticed a puzzle box with an image that looked a lot like your church.

Or perhaps you have spotted a parish Facebook post offering a chance to win a set of AirPods Pro wireless earbuds or a GoPro HERO action camera.

Or maybe you have already ventured over to the website and seen the YETI Hopper Backflip Cooler, the Blackstone Adventure Ready Griddle and a host of other prizes.

Wondering what all this “stuff” is about?

This year, for the first time, the Diocese of Scranton has joined the nationwide #iGiveCatholic movement in conjunction with Giving Tuesday. The “stuff” is just a small part of the fun.

Celebrated annually on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #iGiveCatholic is the U.S. Catholic Church’s Giving Day that kicks off the charitable season and brings the Catholic community together to give thanks and give back. As the first-ever giving day created to celebrate our unique

Catholic heritage, #iGiveCatholic inspires faithful stewards to “Give Catholic” for #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving.

Declared “the most successful Catholic crowdfunding event to date” by the National Catholic Register, the goal of #iGiveCatholic is to rally the Catholic community in support of parishes, schools, and nonprofit ministries. All Catholic Dioceses are invited to participate, and this year the Diocese of Scranton signed on for the first time to promote the Diocesan Annual Appeal and give parishes an exciting way to increase participation and meet their goals earlier than usual.

“We were looking for a fresh new way to make the Appeal, well, more appealing,” Sandra Snyder, Diocesan Director of Foundation Relations and Special Events, explained. “This year, we really wanted to shift our focus to donor participation in addition to dollar goals, and when we learned about #iGiveCatholic, we thought it was the perfect platform for what we were trying to do.”

Those who have donated to the Diocese through the annual NEPA Gives event, which takes place each June in conjunction with the Scranton Area Community Foundation and the regional nonprofit community, will find the platform, Give Gab, quite familiar, Snyder said.

The leaderboard-style website, complete with digital donor walls, allows Dioceses to create customized giving pages and Diocesan organizations to create customized pages within the main page. This year, the Diocese of Scranton invited all of its parishes to create pages in an effort to attract new donors and engage loyal donors anew. Thirty-four parishes have created personal giving pages, and 17 of those 34 also have accepted the Diocese’s first-ever Puzzle Challenge. Each “puzzle parish” has received a personalized 500-piece puzzle and will ask parishioners to sponsor pieces through donations to the Appeal in an effort to complete the puzzle by Nov. 30 and compete for cash prizes.

The other 17 parishes have created personalized giving pages, and all remaining parishes have been asked to promote the generalized Diocesan Annual Appeal sub-page, with parishioners who donate crediting their parish in the comments section of the online giving form.

To energize the campaign, the Diocese is giving away four $1,000 cash prizes to the top-performing parishes as well as 14 individual prizes for which anyone who makes an online donation during the special challenge period will be eligible. All donors’ names will automatically be placed into a raffle.

The prize lineup includes: a YETI Hopper Backflip 24 Cooler, a Blackstone Adventure Ready Tabletop Griddle, a Heat Storm Infrared Tripod Patio Heater, a HydroFlask jug and mug, a pair of HydroFlask food bowls, three sets of customized YETI lowball cups, a Loaves and Fishes hand-painted Armenian Pottery bread plate, a nautically themed cheese wheel and serving set, a Tree of Life outdoor artistic wall hanging, a Catholic compass, a Faith, Hope and Love travel cup trio and a PacEarth 10-Liter Dry Bag.

“We chose an outdoors theme when selecting our prizes this year in keeping with the spirit of the times,” Snyder explained. “For all of the trials and tribulations the pandemic has brought us, we also know there were some silver linings. For many, the upside was a newfound love for God’s creation, for nature, for adventure, and for the great outdoors in general. Our prizes celebrate that spirit.”

A Facebook event page,, will allow anyone to follow our progress as well as learn about what Snyder called special “pop-up prize challenges” that will be offered throughout the event.

“We’ll be giving away a Dick’s gift card every day of the challenge, and all donors on that day will be eligible,” Snyder said. “Additionally, we’ll offer regional challenges with fun prizes donated by our parishes: think pierogies, meatballs and sauce, meatloaf dinners and much more. We really want to showcase the hard work and talents of so many dedicated parishioners by offering prizes that bring widespread attention to these important seasonal parish fundraisers.”

#iGiveCatholic is a bishop-led initiative in partnership with lay leaders in Catholic philanthropy. Directors are the Most Rev. Gregory M. Aymond, chairman, His Eminence Wilton Cardinal Gregory, and Most Rev. Joseph R. Kopacz.

Bishop Joseph C. Bambera released a video message to the faithful of the Diocese of Scranton just before #iGiveCatholic kicked off, encouraging parishioners to consider giving generously.

“This special giving period … offers us a special opportunity to support the work of our church,” Bishop Bambera said, noting that the campaign supports all Diocesan ministries. “The goal of #iGiveCatholic is to inspire our Catholic community to come together in an intentional way, supporting the ministries that help our families, our children, as well as the poor and the vulnerable. Together we are doing the work of the Lord and building his Kingdom.”


Members of the Saint Eulalia Parish Social Concerns Committee sort more than 600 pairs of socks which were donated by parishioners during October. (Photo/Eric Deabill)

ROARING BROOK TOWNSHIP – Warm socks may seem like an easy way to stay cozy in wintertime, but for some people they are a luxury and not to be taken for granted.

During its annual “Socktober” collection, Saint Eulalia Parish collected 637 pairs of socks to be donated to four local organizations that assist people experiencing homelessness.

“It’s nice when you can identify that there are needs in your community, and in a small way, help to alleviate and bring comfort to people,” Lisa Cummings, chairperson of the parish Social Concerns Committee, explained.

Saint Eulalia Parish began its “Socktober” collection four years ago after speaking with organizations that help the less fortunate.

“They said the most important thing they need is socks because their feet get wet and they don’t have any place to launder them. They throw them away and get a new pair eventually so that they can stay warm and dry,” parishioner Helen Hilborn added.

All of the socks donated will be given to Saint Anthony’s Haven, a shelter run by Catholic Social Services of the Diocese of Scranton; Keystone Mission; Saint Francis of Assisi Kitchen and the Community Intervention Center in Scranton.

Many of the socks donated were made of heavy-duty material that will make a difference.

“It’s a small way, as we always say, to be the hands and feet of Christ,” Cummings explained.

The “Socktober” collection is the first of many fall and winter projects that have been identified by the parish. The next big project is Saint Eulalia’s Sleigh, which provides Christmas presents to the children of prisoners, residents of Saint Mary’s Villa, five families at the Catherine McAuley Center in Scranton as well as parish families in need of assistance.

“This is a really generous parish,” Hilborn ended by saying.



WILLIAMSPORT — After nearly three months of silent dormancy, the bells of Saint Boniface Church at 326 Washington Blvd. are ringing out welcomed tones once again, much to the delight of parishioners and the surrounding community alike.

The venerable bell system has been a treasured extension of the Williamsport parish of Saint Boniface since its founding nearly 150 years ago in 1875, and the Saint Boniface bells survived a fire that destroyed the original parish church in 1972.

Nearly 50 years later, a routine maintenance inspection recently revealed nature’s elements had indeed taken their “toll” on the church bell tower, according to Saint Boniface pastor Father Bill Corcoran, who indicated the deterioration had presented a potentially dangerous situation.

“Our choice was to do repair work or shut them off,” Father Corcoran said. “During the pandemic, with reduced (church) attendance and a cautious spending approach, I was considering not repairing them for a period of time until we had clarity about the future.”

However, as the pastor noted, parishioners as well as non-parishioners felt very strongly about restoring the bells. “They loved the sound, especially from their nearby homes,” he remarked.

Father Corcoran explained that when the dilemma was put before the parish council, two parishioners came forward and offered to conduct a silent campaign for the $30,000 required for the restoration project. In a matter of weeks, the needed funds were raised through the generosity of 25 members of Saint Boniface and the community at large.

On Sunday, Oct. 31, the parish received an All Hallows Eve treat when Father Corcoran blessed and dedicated the refurbished church bells, followed by a special reception for those donors who made the joyous event possible.

Today, the Saint Boniface Church bells once again peal every quarter hour as a call to pause and pray, with their traditional chimes filling the local neighborhoods.

“To let (the bells) lay dormant would have been another defeat in the wake of COVID,” Father Corcoran concluded. “It was a great example of people’s desire to invest in the present and future of Saint Boniface and was truly a wonderful moment of community.”



Deacon Edward Shoener

SCRANTON — Through the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, His Holiness Pope Francis released in early November a video message in which he expressed his closeness to all those who are feeling overwhelmed in their daily life — especially those suffering from stress and depression — and implored the faithful to pray that they receive the help they need.

As the Pontiff turned his gaze toward the care, compassion and concern for those battling mental illness, his monthly intention for November led the Vatican to contact the Association of Catholic Mental Health Ministers and, in particular, the association’s president and founding member, Deacon Ed Shoener, who serves in diaconal ministry at the Cathedral Parish of Saint Peter.

Deacon Shoener said direct contact by the Holy See is not nearly as eventful as that of the Holy Father’s call to address a central issue in the lives of millions of people: mental health.

“Our mission is to support the growth of mental health ministry in the Church,” Deacon Shoener noted. “Pope Francis has said that we need to fully overcome the stigma with which mental illness has often been branded in order to ensure that a culture of community prevails over the mentality of rejection.”

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 in 2016.

“I now bring Katie’s joyfulness and exuberance into the world by transforming her suffering into service to those who suffer from mental illness,” he explained. “That was my inspiration for joining the dedicated people to establish the Association of Catholic Mental Health Ministers (ACMHM) in 2018.”

In the papal broadcast message, Pope Francis asserts that in many cases, “sadness, apathy and spiritual tiredness end up dominating people’s lives, which are overloaded due to the rhythm of life today.”

People experiencing depression often need someone to talk to, and they can benefit from psychological counseling and reading what Jesus has to say, the Holy Father offered. Thus, his Apostleship of Prayer intention for November reads: “Let us pray that people who suffer from depression or burnout will find support and a light that opens them up to life.”

The words resonated profoundly with the Saint Peter Cathedral deacon, who has been emphasizing the same precise message for years.

“We are committed to following the Pope’s call to build a community of warmth and affection where people who live with depression and other mental health challenges can find hope and healing,” Deacon Shoener explained.

A recently published study estimates that about one in ten people worldwide lives with a mental health disorder — that is to say, approximately 792 million, or 11% of the population. Among the various disorders that exist, the study identifies depression (264 million, 3%) and anxiety (284, 4%) as the most prevalent in people’s lives.

The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has caused the death of millions of people, but as also tried the mental and emotional resilience of countless others. Aware of this reality, the plea of Pope Francis is that we “be close to those who are exhausted, to those who are desperate, without hope. Often we should simply listen in silence.”

His Holiness continued, “Let us not forget that, along with the indispensable psychological counseling…Jesus’ words can also help,” alluding to the Lord’s urging in Matthew’s Gospel: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”

This month’s edition of the Pope’s video was created with the support of the ACMHM, which offers support to those suffering some form of mental illness and fosters actions to prevent any kind of discrimination that would impede them from participating fully in the life of the Church.

Deacon Shoener indicated the association views the legacies of Saint Dymphna and Saint John of God as models for mental health ministry, providing free prayer cards of the saints for us in mental health ministries.

“On each card there is an image of the saint turning from the darkness, which so often envelopes people who suffer with mental illness, and looking toward the light of Christ,” he explained. “At the bottom of the card is the phrase, ‘The Pain is Real — but so is Hope.’”

Inquiries about the Catholic Mental Health Ministers Association may be directed to and Deacon Ed Shoener at (570) 207-2229.


Men and Women Religious celebrating 25, 50, 60 and 70 years of religious profession in 2020 and 2021 were recognized during a Jubilee Mass on Nov. 7, 2021, at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton. Shown in the photo, front row, left to right: Sisters Catherine Ann Morris, SS.C.M.; Jean Louise Bachetti, IHM; Eric Marie Setlock, R.S.M.; Dorothy Marie Hagan, R.S.M.; Eleanor Marie Malanaphy, IHM; Babette Opferman, IHM; Marion Tarone, IHM; Myra Gilbert, IHM; Mary Alice Kane, IHM; and Rosella Salvato, IHM. Second row, left to right: Sisters Joan Paskert, IHM; Ellen Maroney, IHM; Tarcisius Tasselli, IHM; Jane Marie Connolly, IHM; Karen Marie O’Neill, IHM; Dorothy Kibler, IHM; Joel Marie Sheehe, IHM; Susan Hadzima, IHM; and Kathryn Kurdziel, IHM, Diocesan Delegate for Religious. Third row, left to right: Sister Susan Ellen Brown, IHM; the Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton; Sisters Ann Monica Bubser, IHM; and Kathryn Clauss, IHM. Absent from photo, concelebrant Rev. Leonard A. Martin, SJ, pastor, Saint Mary Byzantine Catholic Church, Scranton, and adminstrator, Saint John Byzantine Catholic Church, Scranton. (Photos/Mike Melisky)

SCRANTON – While waiting for the Jubilee Mass for Men and Women Religious to begin on Nov. 7, 2021, Sisters Rosella Salvato, IHM, and Myra Gilbert, IHM, sat in the first pew of the Cathedral of Saint Peter reflecting on their 60 years in ministry.

Sisters Mary Alice Kane, IHM; Ann Monica Bubser, IHM; and Kathryn Clauss, IHM, participate in the Renewal of Vows during the Jubilee Mass for Men & Women Religious at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton on Nov. 7, 2021.

“It is a glorious occasion for us to be able to celebrate our God-given vocation,” Sister Salvato said.

“It’s hard to express what the day means because I have all these feelings of joy and gratitude. I’m thinking of the many blessings I’ve had over the years,” Sister Gilbert added.

Both Sisters are celebrating 60 years of religious life with Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

“I taught for 56 years. A tremendous part of being a Religious was to be involved in the Legion of Mary,” Sister Salvato said. “I also had the privilege of going to Waymart prison to minister with the inmates. My vocation has been glorious and I thank God for this day and my parents who nurtured me in my faith.”

Sister Gilbert was also involved in teaching and also served as a minister to the sick and homebound

In addition to the Men & Women Religious being honored at the Jubilee, dozens of other religious sisters, family and friends attended the Jubilee Mass to honor those celebrating 25, 50, 60, 70, 75 and 80 years of religious profession.

“That was a beautiful ministry, to take Jesus to the people who could not get to Mass. They appreciated it so much,” she explained. “The Lord has given me a long life and he has given me many opportunities to share his goodness and blessings. I’m very joyous and very grateful for all the blessings that he has bestowed on me.”

After being postponed in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Diocese of Scranton celebrated its Jubilee Mass for Consecrated Life on Nov. 7, 2021. Women and Men Religious celebrating jubilee anniversaries of 25, 50, 60, 70, 75 and even 80 years were recognized during the Mass.

The Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, served as principal celebrant and homilist. Following the homily, the Men and Women Religious in attendance renewed their vows and sang the “Salve Regina.”

The bishop noted that, collectively, all of the jubilarians represent 3,895 years of service to the Church in Consecrated Life.

“Your openness to listening to the needs of God’s people, to dialoguing with them and discerning how we can walk together as sisters and brothers is a sign of your deep appreciation of how the Church best responds to the needs of a suffering world since its earliest days,” Bishop Bambera said during his homily.

“Your willingness to engage and serve the people of God – especially in your commitment to work for justice for the marginalized, immigrants, the poor and all those oppressed by far too many who deem themselves righteous – is a unique and powerful witness to the presence of God at work in our world.”

Bishop Bambera also noted how those in Consecrated Life do their work in quiet, simple ways.

“So much of what you do looks so ordinary and so natural,” the bishop noted. “Thank you for reminding us of the treasure that is ours when we live not so much for ourselves, but for Christ, in service of our sisters and brothers.”

Sister Dorothy Marie Hagan, R.S.M., is celebrating 60 years since she professed her vows.

“It’s a big privilege to be here with so many wonderful, dedicated women, who have spent their lives doing good for others,” Sister Hagan said.

As a Sister with the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, Sister Hagan said she has never regretted her decision.

“I’ve been very involved in so many different ministries, teaching I loved and then formation ministry with the younger sisters. I’ve been all over the United States and South America, so I’ve never had a dull moment,” she explained.


SCRANTON – Growing up in a small town in Ghana, West Africa, Father Stephen A. Asomah didn’t have a resident priest in his community to celebrate Mass every day or even every week.

“Sometimes it took several months to have a priest so our catechists would lead the services on weekdays and on Sundays with communion service,” Father Stephen said.

As the seventh of eight children, Father Stephen’s mother introduced him to the Catholic faith, taking him to church, devotions, Legion of Mary meetings and daily services.

“When the priest was visiting, it was such a great occasion and a great joy,” he explained.

Father Stephen explained his path to becoming a missionary as homilist for the World Mission Sunday Mass, which was held Oct. 31, 2021, at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton. Father Stephen has been in the United States nearly a decade. He became parochial vicar at Our Lady of the Snows Parish in

Clarks Summit in Feb. 2020 after serving seven years in the Archdiocese of New York.

“Many years ago, many of your sons and daughters made a big and loving sacrifice to go to Africa and to share the love of God they had encountered with us as missionaries. It’s time to reciprocate their love and their generous sacrifice,” he said.

Father Stephen said it was his interaction with a missionary priest, Father Michael O’Brien, which sparked his interest in the priesthood. Shockingly, Father Stephen didn’t understand English.

One day, when he was in fourth grade, Father Stephen decided to gift the missionary priest a pineapple from his family’s farm.

“Father smiled and patted (me) on the shoulder. He said, ‘God bless you to be like me,’ and that was it!” Father Stephen explained with a smile.

Father Stephen attended Saint Paul’s Major Seminary, Sowotuom, Accra, for spirituality and philosophy and Saint Peter’s Regional Seminary, Pedu, Cape Coast, for theological studies. He was ordained to the priesthood in July 2008.

“Mission is born out of love. Jesus’ own mission on earth was born out of the Father’s love for the world and his desire to save humanity,” Father Stephen told the Cathedral crowd during his homily.

He explained that all Catholics are missionaries. While some missionaries travel far away from their homes, others are called to support missionary work prayerfully and financially, and everyone is encouraged to make their homes a missionary outpost.

“At the end of this Mass, when you hear, ‘go the Mass has ended,’ know that you have a mission to accomplish,” he ended his homily by saying.

At the conclusion of the World Mission Sunday Mass, the Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, thanked Father Stephen for sharing his personal story and reminding parishioners of the importance that international priests play in the Diocese of Scranton.

There are currently 12 priests from countries such as Ghana, India, Bolivia, Columbia, Peru and the Dominican Republic currently sharing the love of Christ locally.

“For centuries before our present time, missionaries came from North America and Europe to go to all parts of the world to share the Good News and today, as Father said, missionaries are coming from other parts of the world to support and sustain us and preach the gospel,” Bishop Bambera noted. “We are

so, so blessed and so grateful for their presence and for their willingness to help us in our parish communities.”


SCRANTON – Six years after its launch, the Diocese of Scranton’s annual Leave a Mark Mass is still having a strong impact on young adults.

“It is nice to see the young Church all gathered in one place,” Thomas Cunningham, 28, said.

The Scranton man and his twin brother were among those who helped plan the first Leave a Mark Mass in 2016. They have continued to serve on the planning committee and always look forward to the special liturgy.

“It fosters a community among the young Church. We may be spread out, so to speak, but we’re all one body and one Church,” Matthew Cunningham added.

The Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, served as principal celebrant for the sixth annual Leave a Mark Mass on Nov. 7, 2021, at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton. Father Alex Roche, Diocesan Director of Vocations and Seminarians, served as homilist.

“Leave a Mark Mass is so important for young people because it’s so inspiring,” Bridget Barnic, 25, said. “After the pandemic, it has been very refreshing to be with everyone again today and to feed off the energy of each other.”

The idea for the Leave a Mark Mass developed out of comments made by Pope Francis at World Youth Day 2016 in Krakow, Poland. The pope said young adults do not come into the world to “vegetate,” but rather to “leave a mark.”

The Leave a Mark Mass helped to kick off National Vocation Awareness Week in the Diocese of Scranton. Young adults from around the diocese attended the event.

Sean Robbins, Director of Youth and College Ministry at Saint Matthew Parish in East Stroudsburg, made the trip to Scranton with a small group to participate.

“We all have a Baptismal call and we all have to participate and engage and I think that is what the Leave a Mark Mass does. It makes us realize that we’re all one, all one as a diocese, and we’re all on the same mission of spreading the Gospel,” he explained.

During his homily, Father Roche told young adults not to be timid in their faith, especially when facing big decisions in their lives.

“It is in the difficult moments and tough decisions that we should place our trust even more deeply, even more firmly, even more fervently, in what our God has promised us,” he said. “That is the time to lean in, that is the time to invest more.”

Father Roche also stressed the need to trust in the grace of God.

“Don’t be afraid to place your trust even more deeply in the path that Jesus Christ has for you,” he boldly proclaimed.

Father Roche’s homily resonated with many of the young people in the Cathedral crowd.

“It really touched me because I’m a fearful person. I try not to take big, huge leaps but as I’m getting older and more mature, it made me think about taking opportunities,” Maria Luna, 18, said.

This was the first time Luna and her friend Nancy Cortes, 28, who are both parishioners of Saint John Neumann Parish in Scranton, attended the Leave a Mark Mass. As members of the Hispanic community, they were delighted to see readings and music in both English and Spanish.

“I liked how they incorporated English and Spanish, that way the Spanish community could feel like we’re involved. Everything was beautiful,” Cortes said.

Following the Mass, the young adults were invited to a social at the Diocesan Pastoral Center. Two food trucks were set up in the parking lot, while attendees inside were able to meet one another, enjoy music from a live band and participate in games.

“Leave a Mark is so important because it allows the Church of tomorrow to really embrace the Church of today,” Thomas Flynn, a student at Marywood University, said.