The Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, holds a Holy Hour for Peace at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton on March 15, 2022. (Photo/Mike Melisky)

SCRANTON – As the situation facing our suffering brothers and sisters in Ukraine becomes more dire by the hour, parishioners across the Diocese of Scranton lifted their voices and hearts to God to pray for peace this week.

At the request of the Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, churches in all 11 counties of the Diocese of Scranton held special Holy Hours for Peace and other prayer opportunities.

The bishop led a Holy Hour for Peace on Tuesday, March 15, at 5 p.m. at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton.

“No war ever makes sense, no war and this war in which we find ourselves – not a military action but a war – makes no sense. It is borne out of greed, envy and a lack of understanding and appreciation and respect for the lives that God has given to our world,” Bishop Bambera said during his homily.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, an estimated 3 million refugees have fled the country. Billions of dollars in damage has been done to infrastructure, which includes maternity hospitals, schools, churches and apartment buildings.

Many in Ukraine say the psychological, social and economic devastation will take decades to heal.

“These past three weeks have destroyed families, they have torn apart towns and villages and have made no distinction between a disregard for an infant child in the womb and elderly, aged people, who can barely walk who are just trying to find some way to safety,” the bishop noted.

Dozens of people attended the Cathedral Holy Hour for Peace. Many more watched as the service was broadcast live on CTV: Catholic Television of the Diocese of Scranton.

For those attending in person, the Holy Hour was especially meaningful.

“When I watch what is happening in Ukraine, it is heartbreaking and I thought the very least I could do is to come out and share my prayers,” Kathy Bolinski of Clarks Summit said. “I think anytime we all get together for a singular purpose – which is prayer – it is extremely powerful and God will certainly be there listening to us and hopefully we can see the impact of it.”

“Coming together at the Cathedral is a great sense of unity that we all share,” Sister Mary Alice Jacquinot, I.H.M., added.

Chester Klobukowski of Duryea and his wife brought more than 200 rosaries to the Holy Hour. They gave them to the bishop in hopes of getting them to the people of Ukraine.

“My wife and I have been making rosaries for about 40 years and we send them all over to prisons and we wanted to send some to Ukraine,” Klobukowski explained. “We hope for an end to the war. This is unreal.”

Bishop Bambera acknowledged receiving the rosaries during his homily – emphasizing it is one of many signs of “good” and “hope” that has come from all the heartbreak and devastation.

“For as sophisticated a people as we are, for as bright and as brilliant as we have become, for as ingenious as we are, for as capable as we have become, our world is still filled with evil, hatred and sin,” the bishop noted. “When we turn away from God, we find ourselves in the midst of where we are today.”

The bishop also encouraged people to continue sharing three things: prayer, information about what is happening in Ukraine, and financial and material assistance.

“Somehow, in God’s wisdom, in God’s time and in God’s way, peace will come and peace will most especially touch the lives of those suffering souls in Ukraine for whom we pray,” Bishop Bambera ended his homily by saying.

Video from the Holy Hour for Peace is available on the Diocese of Scranton YouTube channel and website for anyone that would like to watch the service.

People hold Ukrainian flags as Pope Francis leads the Angelus from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican March 13, 2022. Appealing again for peace in Ukraine, Pope Francis said those who support violence profane the name of God. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Appealing again for an end to the war in Ukraine, Pope Francis said those who invoke God to promote or justify violence “profane his name.”

“In the name of God, I ask: Stop this massacre,” the pope said March 13 at the end of his Sunday Angelus address.

With thousands of people gathered under the bright sunshine of a Roman spring day to pray the midday Marian prayer, Pope Francis turned their attention to Mariupol, Ukraine, a city named in honor of Mary; it has been besieged by Russian troops for two weeks.

The city, he said, “has become a martyred city of the heart-wrenching war that is destroying Ukraine.”

“Before the barbarity of the killing of children, of innocents and unarmed civilians, there are no strategic reasons that hold up,” the pope said. The only thing to do is “to stop the unacceptable armed aggression before it reduces the cities to cemeteries.”

“With pain in my heart, I unite my voice to that of ordinary people who implore an end to the war,” he said. “In the name of God, listen to the cry of those who are suffering and stop the bombings and attacks.”

Negotiations to end the war must begin seriously, he said, and the humanitarian corridors agreed upon to evacuate civilians and to bring basic necessities to people in besieged towns must be respected and secure.

With the U.N. Refugee Agency reporting that millions of refugees have already fled Ukraine since Feb. 24, Pope Francis thanked all the individuals and agencies in the neighboring countries who have welcomed them, and he encouraged continued generosity.

He also asked Catholic parishes and religious orders around the world “to increase moments of prayers for peace.”

“God is the God only of peace, he is not the God of war,” he said. “Those who support violence profane his name.”

Pope Francis led the people in the square, including several carrying Ukrainian flags, in a moment of silent prayer that God would “convert hearts to a firm desire for peace.”

After the Angelus, the Vatican used the pope’s English-language Twitter account to send, in 10 tweets, his entire appeal in Russian and Ukrainian.

Boxes of donated baby diapers are loaded in Brodheadsville, ultimately destined for Ukraine.

BRODHEADSVILLE — “War is hell!” is the oft-repeated refrain of those who know first-hand about the brutality of international conflict.

Some say it is even worse than hell, since war also claims innocent victims along the way. None are more innocent than children, especially those already suffering from severe disabilities.

As war continues to rage in Ukraine, Sandie Flannery has been a much-sought after voice greatly valued by news media outlets throughout our region, given her closeness to the ever-devolving crisis.

Seven years ago, Flannery established the Ukrainian Orphan Outreach Ministry at her parish of Our Lady Queen of Peace in Brodheadsville. Since that time the ministry has provided much-needed aid to destitute Ukrainian orphan children and young adults — many greatly challenged physically and emotionally, and, under normal circumstances, subject to deplorable conditions.

Visit Plans Canceled

The ministry’s humanitarian efforts have led Flannery many times to the Eastern European country, which she had planned to visit once more at the beginning of this year.

“I wanted to spend Ukrainian Christmas with the orphans in January, but friends and family begged me not to go due to the threat of war,” she recalled. “I reluctantly canceled my plans and disappointed my friends and the orphans. In hindsight, I wish I had gone as it saddens me that I may never be able to visit with them again!”

During the first days of the war, Flannery reached out to the director of the orphanage in Zulachchia in Western Ukraine regarding the safety of the children. “A dear friend, Anton, who has helped our ministry coordinate some of our projects, together with Sister Metodyia, and a Ukrainian parent of a child with Mowat Wilson syndrome — like my daughter — who was now living in Poland, developed an evacuation plan,” she noted.

“The orphans from Zulachchia are near and dear to my heart and I pray for their safety,” Flannery continued. “If necessary, our ministry will help with the costs of evacuating them safely over the border and supporting them where they are. We will also help with food and basic supplies.”

She remarked that the ministry is also committed to paying for gasoline for the buses, if necessary, to evacuate the most involved and medically complicated orphans in Znamenka. The Ukrainian Catholic Church of New Jersey has been supporting Znamenka for more than 20 years and has evacuated 30 of the higher functioning children and adults.

Desperate Cries for Help

Recently, Flannery received an urgent message from one of the directors of the Baby House in Vorzel, north of Irpen in Ukraine. The Baby House was home to 55 children from infancy to age five, many of whom were disabled with severe medical complications.

“The town was bombed and surrounded by the Russians,” Flannery explained. “She was pleading for my help. As the days went on, her cries became more desperate. She talked of having no heat, electricity, and water. She was not in the building with the babies when the military invaded.”

Flannery noted there were 23 babies with two staff in one building, and 27 children and five workers in another.

“During this time, a mother whom I knew, reached out to me. I knew her from when she adopted two babies with Down syndrome from there 12 years ago,” she said. “Through my contacts with the orphanage personnel, and my friend’s contacts at the UN and the International Red Cross, God moved mountains and the babies were evacuated.  At the bridge crossing in Irpen, they were met by the Ukrainian Red Cross and transported to a hospital in Kyiv where they were treated, bathed and fed.”

The following day all were transported by train to Lviv and then to Chernivsti in Western Ukraine, and just days ago the head educator met up with them and they were ready to depart the war-torn country.

“Our ministry is ready to support the babies and staff financially once a secure connection is made. Many of the staff sacrificed their own safety and could have abandoned the children, but they did not,” Flannery noted. “Currently, we have no idea how the Department of Social Policy will be handling the situation and I want to be sure that the babies and staff have what they need.”

Nadiia’s Plight

Prior to the war’s outbreak on Feb. 24, Flannery shared that she had been “begging” her translator Nadiia to leave Ukraine, along with her husband Yarek and their baby daughter Ivanka, due to the buildup of the Russian military in the north in Belarus.

“Like most other Ukrainians, they thought that I was overreacting and that they were under the threat of war since 2014 and were not concerned,” she explained. “I pushed her to get her baby’s passport which they received only the week before the war!”

Ultimately, Nadiia and Ivanka had to leave their husband and father behind as they were about to cross the border into Romania.

Flannery currently is sponsoring Nadiia for her visa and has even offered her home 5,000 miles away to provide comfort and love to her and her baby daughter. As of now, Nadiia’s application for an “emergency visa” appointment was denied and she now must wait until May 23 for an appointment in Lithuania.

“She has been my travel companion and translator and has kept me out of trouble numerous times,” Flannery said. “She is a dear friend and like a daughter to me.”

Donations, Prayers Needed

Flannery has been effusive in her praise and gratitude for the support she has received from her fellow parishioners. With the blessing of Queen of Peace pastor Father Bob Simon, a massive parish and community drive is well underway to collect over-the-counter medications and baby formula.

“Our church office is starting to fill up. All donations will be sorted and transported to the United Ukrainian American Relief Committee in Philadelphia who will ship it to Ukraine,” she indicated.

Suggested medications include but are not limited to: pain relievers, antibiotic ointments, anti-diarrhea medications, cold and allergy formulas, pedialyte, first aid supplies, vitamins, baby formula (premade) and diapers.

All donations can be dropped off at Our Lady Queen of Peace parish office at 1402 Route 209, Brodheadsville. Donors can also aid the effort by mail at: P.O. Box 38, Brodheadsville, PA.

“I am worried about the orphans, all the orphans in Ukraine,” Flannery passionately stated. “I’m afraid that once abandoned by their parents, they will be abandoned once again without someone to advocate for them. I am trying to be their voice!”

She has been uplifted and gladdened by reports that numerous humanitarian groups are providing crucial aid to the orphans; however, many older and neurotypical orphans have been left on their own. She further noted that quite a few orphans have been hosted by American families during the summer and at Christmastime, and these families are willing to adopt them. Unfortunately, all adoptions have been halted.

“This war has affected me on a very personal and emotional level,” Flannery shared. “I have been scared, worried, angry, sad, frustrated and confused. I have spent days with only minimal amounts of interrupted sleep. Parishioners have dropped meals off for me because I couldn’t remember if I had eaten.”

Joining the chorus of religious faithful and their leaders crying out for constant prayer and supplication, Flannery also pleaded for prayerful intercessions for divine help.

“This evil will only end through prayer and consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary,” she implored. “We all need to pray the Rosary as our Mother Mary requested at Fatima. Pray to defeat the enemy and bring an end to the evil acts of an atheistic leader. We need to pray for the conversion of Russia. Pray the Rosary!”

Flannery also urged concerned citizens to contact their legislators to advocate for the establishment of official Ukrainian refugee status in America.


Father Joseph Mosley, pastor of Saint Peter Parish in Wellsboro and Saint Thomas the Apostle Parish in Elkland, is one of 30 ‘pastor chefs’ participating in Rectory, Set, Cook!, a virtual fundraiser for parishes and hunger programs of Catholic Social Services. Father Mosley made homemade pierogi for his recipe. (Photo/Eric Deabill)

SCRANTON – The competition in the kitchen is heating up!

Less than two weeks after the launch of ‘Rectory, Set, Cook!’ – a culinary clash featuring 30 “pastor chefs” from the Diocese of Scranton – more than $100,000 has already been raised.

Each participating priest has a video featuring himself preparing a treasured family recipe or something he swiped off the internet. All of the videos are available to the public – and anyone can vote for their favorite recipe or pastor.

Each vote costs $10, with $5 going to the parish of the pastor chef and the other $5 going to anti-hunger initiatives sponsored by Catholic Social Services of the Diocese of Scranton.

At the beginning of his video, Monsignor David L. Tressler, pastor of Saint Ignatius Loyola Parish in Kingston, noted the importance of supporting the work of Catholic Social Services. With the help of his niece, Monsignor Tressler made Pineapple Upside-Down Cake.

“We continue to be so conscious of wanting to serve those who are less fortunate and in need of food. The Diocese of Scranton has a rich heritage of taking care of those in need,” Monsignor Tressler said. “We’re very happy to be a part of this.”

Donors are able to vote for as many recipes or pastors as they wish. They can also contribute any dollar amount they wish, as long as it is over $10.

“We are incredibly grateful for the outpouring of community and corporate generosity that has already taken place in the first few days of this event,” Sandra Snyder, Director of Foundation Relations and Special Events, said.

Each of the “pastor chef” videos is unique and engaging.

After explaining several times that “fat is flavor” while cooking up an hour-long meat sauce, Father Seth Wasnock showed his culinary prowess by using several-foot-high-flames when making bananas Foster for dessert.

Some, on the other hand, didn’t have as much success. Father Brian J.T. Clarke not only burned bread crumbs but missed ingredients for a salad dressing he attempted to make. Father Jonathan Kuhar didn’t fare any better by mistaking salt for sugar in his recipe for cream puffs.

In addition to donor participation, support for Rectory, Set, Cook! is provided by the program’s Executive Chef Sponsor, The Hawk Family Foundation, and 14 other sponsors who helped the program get off to a strong start. Sponsorships are still being accepted and sponsors can also be featured in a commemorative cookbook that is expected to come out in May.

To view all of “pastor chef” videos, visit and click on the “Rectory, Set, Cook!” icon on the homepage.

Voting will continue through midnight April 10, with winners announced April 11.


SCRANTON – A Greek philosopher once said that change is the only constant in life. As local communities, schools and businesses are all forced to change, the Diocese of Scranton must adapt as well.

In 2019, well before the approaching COVID-19 pandemic, the Diocese of Scranton began a long-range pastoral planning process with clergy and parish leaders. The Vision 2030 Blueprint Process aims to look proactively at the realities of our local church in the present moment, while striving to meet the opportunities and challenges of the coming decade.

The goal of Vision 2030 is to create vibrant parish communities rooted in the life of Jesus Christ.

“As we strive to be a mission-driven church, we must all work together in a way that we best live out our baptismal calling in both a world – and local environment – that continues to change,” Bishop Joseph C. Bambera said. “Our Church faces significant challenges, among which are a fewer number of parishioners, financial sustainability questions, facility infrastructure needs and a diminishing number of ordained priests.”

A 12-page document entitled ‘Vision 2030’ was released in January in all parishes of the Diocese of Scranton. The document provides information on real and significant factors – known as priority drivers – which the Diocese of Scranton and its parishes must confront. The priority drivers will prompt the need for change in the coming years.

Among the most significant priority drivers is a declining number of parishioners supporting the mission of the Church. More than four decades ago, the Diocese of Scranton had well over 300,000 practicing Catholics. Due to numerous factors, including an aging population, young people leaving the area for employment and reaction to the sex abuse crisis in the church, Diocesan statistics show there are now only 224,075 registered in parishes.

Likewise, a diminishing number of clergy is another significant priority driver. In 2003, the Diocese of Scranton had 226 active priests. In 2021, that number had dropped below 100 priests. Because of retirements, the Diocese projects that there will only be 81 priests in 2025 and 62 priests by 2030 without a significant increase in vocations to the priesthood.

In recognition of all the Church of Scranton faces, the Diocese has been working with Pastors and Parish Pastoral and Finance Council members in several communities to establish new parish linkages to confront the changing times. There are various reasons why a linkage may be established – from the retirement of a pastor, to demographic, financial or infrastructure reasons, or even the overall needs of the diocese in regards to where clergy are most needed.

Announcements regarding new linkages planned for 2022 have been communicated to parish communities in the last several weeks. The announcement of a new linkage is just the very first step in a process that will involve the engagement of the laity. Whenever a linkage is established, there are many questions that will need to be examined and choices that will need to be made – and that is where the involvement of each church’s parishioners will be relied upon.

Among the parish modifications recently announced are:

• Corpus Christi Parish, West Pittston, will enter into a linkage with Saint Barbara Parish, Exeter, in May 2022. This linkage will have a single pastor and will become effective upon the planned retirement of Father Michael E. Finn, Pastor of Saint Barbara Parish.

• Saint Mary of the Lake Parish, Lake Winola, will join the current linkage of Our Lady of the Abingtons Parish, Dalton, and Saint Patrick Parish, Nicholson, in August 2022. All three parishes will share one pastor.

• Saints Peter and Paul Parish, Towanda, will enter into a linkage with Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish, Wyalusing, in August 2022. This linkage will have a single pastor.

• Saint Joachim Church, which is currently a worship site of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish, Wyalusing, will become a worship site of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish, Tunkhannock, in August 2022.

• All Saints Parish, Plymouth, will enter into a linkage with Saint John the Baptist Parish, Larksville, in August 2022. This linkage will have a single pastor.

• The Pastoral and Finance Councils of Saint Andre Bessette Parish, Wilkes-Barre, have begun participation in a consultative process to determine the best path forward given changing demographics in its community which have resulted in decreased Mass attendance and Sacramental participation, as well as a large debt which has been transparently shared with the faithful each week in the parish bulletin.

Whenever the need for a new linkage occurs, the Diocese makes available professionals in pastoral formation, financial planning, engineering and communication to help the new linkage in any way that is necessary.

As the Diocese of Scranton continues to confront changing realities, the bishop told each of the parish communities that will be involved in a new linkage, “While I know change is never easy, be assured of my deep gratitude for all that you and your families have shared, and continue to share, in furthering the mission of the Church. As you know, our mission is to take Christ into the world. I am confident that by working together we can ‘Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.’”

For more information on Vision 2030, visit

During this year’s Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion on March 6, more than 100 catechumens (an unbaptized individual who has never been officially initiated into a church community) and candidates (a previously baptized person, either in the Catholic faith or in another Christian faith) publicly professed their intention to receive the Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday. (Photos/Mike Melisky)


SCRANTON – At the age of only 17, Deborah McDonald of Stroudsburg found herself in need of God’s love and assistance last September.

With her mother in the hospital, she turned to prayer and it opened her eyes to the beauty of the Catholic faith.

“Before that it was not something I thought about very often,” McDonald said.

McDonald is one of several dozen people who came to the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton to take part in the Rite of Election on Sunday, March 6, 2022.

The Rite of Election is a prayer service in which those who are enrolled in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) take an important step on their journey toward becoming full members of the Catholic Church. The individuals, who have never been baptized, publicly state their desire to receive the sacraments of initiation – baptism, Eucharist, and confirmation – at the Vigil Mass of Easter in April.

“I’m a little nervous, but mostly excited,” the teenage said.

With her Godmother, Pat Bauer of Saylorsburg, by her side, McDonald proudly expressed her intention to join the Catholic Church.

“Her mom is my best friend and when she went to the hospital, she almost died. When she came home with some hefty medical conditions, Deborah was there 24-7 to help with anything her mom needed,” Bauer explained. “I just kept saying to her, ‘pray, pray, pray.’ She was praying like crazy and I really think through that prayer for her mom, not even thinking about herself, is where the Holy Spirit grabbed her!”

In addition to the Rite of Election, the Call to Continuing Conversion was celebrated the same day. That involves candidates who have already been baptized and are preparing to receive the sacraments of confirmation and First Holy Communion in their parishes during the Easter Season.

In all, more than 100 people in the Diocese of Scranton are preparing to join the church this year.

Desiree Prell of Hawley will receive all three sacraments at her parish, Blessed Virgin Mary Queen of Peace Parish in Wayne County.

“It’s something that I’ve wanted to do for a while,” she explained. “I just felt like now is the time to do it.”

Having had her 10-year-old son baptized when he was born, Prell said she learned a lot from the RCIA classes.

“Every time we had class, there was always stuff that somebody brought that made you think,” she said. “Not only am I getting closer to what I didn’t understand before, but it’s also being a part of the community and we just want to help as much as we can.”

Leah Dunnells of Pike County will also receive her sacraments at the Hawley church. With all of the troubles in the world, from the pandemic to the conflict in Ukraine, she believes putting her trust in God is the only appropriate action.

“Where else do we need to go?” she questioned. “We need religion and hope He helps us and guides us in the direction we need to go.”

The Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, presided at the Rite of Election & Call to Continuing Conversion. During his homily, he thanked each person for saying “yes” to Jesus.

“My sisters and brothers, and especially you, our catechumens and candidates, today Jesus is calling you. He’s inviting you to walk a path with him that ultimately will lead you to a life of meaning, purpose and peace,” Bishop Bambera said. “He is saying, through his invitation, that your life – with all of its struggles and joys, with all of its blessings and challenges – has a unique place and role to play within his plan.”

While fully recognizing that some people are turning away from religion, Luis Martinez of East Stroudsburg said God is calling him to participate in the life of the Church. He will join Our Lady of Victory Parish in Tannersville at Easter.

“Everybody has their own journey. God is calling me and I’m here!” he said joyfully.

The same is true for Sokieu Brutico, who will join the Church of Saint Gregory.

“My parents raised me as Buddhist but we were never really strong into our religion and I always felt like a free spirit growing up,” she said.

After being in a serious relationship with a Catholic man, she realized the beauty of prayer and the Catholic faith. She knows this Easter will be special.

“Everyone in my family is making it a huge deal. I’m a very ‘backseat’ person where I don’t like the attention so I’m very nervous but it’s very exciting,” she added.

Hundreds of women attended the 2021 Catholic Women’s Conference at Marywood University. This year’s conference will be held June 11.

SCRANTON – The “Refresh Your Faith” Conference for Catholic Women is coming back this summer!

The conference, “Full of Grace,” is an opportunity for women to explore their faith and deepen their relationship with Mary, the Mother of God.

All women are invited to participate in this year’s conference on Saturday, June 11, beginning at 8 a.m. on the campus of Marywood University.

Keynote speaker, Colleen Carroll Campbell, an award-winning author, journalist, and former presidential speechwriter will share her spiritual journey with the Saints and her special devotion to Mary.

Another featured speaker is Debra Hadley, who will share how unfathomable tragedy struck her family not once, but twice. She will share her journey from the depths of despair to rediscovering her faith and restoring her will to live and to reach out to others.

Featured speaker Father Jeffrey Kirby will address our Catholic devotion to Mary, our Mother, as our powerful intercessor and as a model of discipleship.

Dunmore native Megan Murphy, a Catholic speaker, teacher, and evangelist will talk about the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary, which all focus on Our Mother, Mary. As each prayer of the rosary is said, a candle will be lit. When the rosary is completed, the room will be aglow with an illuminated candlelit rosary.

Guiding the participants through the day will be Olyphant native, Natalie Gubala-Magdon, founder of the “15 Minute Rosary.”

Mass will be celebrated by Bishop Joseph C. Bambera, and worship artist Molly McManus will provide inspirational music throughout the day.
Participants can also enjoy a continental breakfast, lunch and shopping at the Catholic Vendor Marketplace.

Early-bird registrations are now available at $45 per person (the price increases to $50 after May 29). Student tickets are $20, and women religious are welcome free of charge.

Volunteers are always needed and those who sign up for four hours at the conference will receive a free ticket. For more information and to register, visit

Seventh and eighth grade students at Saint John Vianney Parish in Montdale presented ‘Shadow Stations of the Cross’ during a ‘40 Faith Filled Days Celebration’ on March 6, 2022. (Photo courtesy CTV: Catholic Television of the Diocese of Scranton)

SCOTT TOWNSHIP – As parishioners of Saint John Vianney Parish entered the Season of Lent this year, they were invited to go deeper in their faith by attending a “40 Faith Filled Days Celebration.”

Dozens of families turned out on March 6 to witness the parish’s seventh and eighth grade students present the Stations of the Cross, present a food donation to Saint Francis of Assisi Kitchen as well as enjoy a family craft activity with an act of fasting, prayer, and giving for each day of Lent.

The “40 Faith Filled Days Celebration” is just one in a series of family-oriented events the parish has hosted since its faith formation program resumed in-person classes last year.

“It’s all about gathering God’s children together, in love and in faith and in trust,” Kristin Travis, Director of Faith Formation at Saint John Vianney Parish, explained. “It’s just so important to get our families involved in the faith journey of their children.”

Students who participated in the Stations of the Cross – which were presented as “Shadow Stations” behind a screen – say it was a moving experience.

“It’s important to show the real presentation of what happened to Jesus,” student Gianna Wech said.

Travis encouraged the crowd to reflect on the Stations of the Cross as they were presented.

“As we begin our solemn journey of Lent as a parish community, this is a time to reflect, reconcile and renew our spiritual lives and our relationship with Jesus,” she said.

In the weeks leading up to the event, the parish collected more than 600 food items to be donated to Saint Francis of Assisi Kitchen in Scranton.
Rob Williams, Executive Director of Saint Francis Kitchen, attended the event to thank the faith formation students and parents for their efforts.

“The main reason that a food collection like the one here at Saint John Vianney means so much to Saint Francis Kitchen is that we’re engaging and involving young people in the mission of the church,” Williams said. “Secondarily, we certainly have a need of food – like the jelly, tuna and sauce they collected – so we definitely have people that are in need and can use these items.”

Williams spoke to the students about the mission of Saint Francis Kitchen and the agency’s goal to treat each person that walks through the doors with dignity and respect.

“It’s very moving for me to be here and to see these young people that are taking their faith seriously and that are acting on that faith,” Williams added.

Pictured at the check presentation on Feb. 28, 2022, are, from left: Kristen Donohue, Superintendent of Catholic Schools; the Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton; Christina Curran, Mueller Family McDonalds; and Jason Morrison, Diocesan Secretary of Catholic Education/Chief Executive Officer. (Photo/Dan Gallagher)

SCRANTON – Christina Curran of the Mueller Family McDonalds presented a $10,000 check to the Diocese of Scranton Scholarship Foundation on Feb. 28, 2022.

The donation was a result of the fifth annual Fry Fundraiser that kicked off National Catholic Schools Week January 31, 2022 and ended February 20, 2022. All sixteen Mueller Family McDonald’s participated by donating a portion of every large order of french fries sold during that period.

“We are so grateful to the Mueller family for their generosity and continued commitment to supporting families in need. The Diocese of Scranton Scholarship Foundation helps students in our 19 schools experience a Catholic Education and achieve their God-given potential in an academically excellent, safe, and spiritual environment,” Jason Morrison, Diocesan Secretary of Catholic Education/Chief Executive Officer, said.

With restaurants located in Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Shavertown, Mountain Top, Old Forge, Clarks Summit, Dickson City, Eynon, Carbondale, Tunkhannock, Honesdale, Allentown and Bethlehem, the Mueller Family McDonalds restaurants are deeply invested in their communities.

Pictured at the check presentation on Feb. 28, 2022, are, from left: Kristen Donohue, Superintendent of Catholic Schools; the Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton; Christina Curran, Mueller Family McDonalds; and Jason Morrison, Diocesan Secretary of Catholic Education/Chief Executive Officer. (Photo/Dan Gallagher)

SCRANTON – On Ash Wednesday, March 2, 2022, the Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, served as celebrant and homilist for the 12:10 p.m. Mass at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton.

As the Season of Lent began, the bishop reminded the faithful that our Lenten journey draws us to the very heart of what it means to be a Christian by entering this time for sacrifice and spiritual renewal.

Bishop Bambera invited those in attendance to reflect on Pope Francis’ Lenten message, which takes root from Saint Paul’s words in his letter to the Galatians: “Let us not grow tired of doing good, for in due time we shall reap our harvest, if we do not give up. So then, while we have the opportunity, let us do good to all” (Galatians 6:9-10).

“In quoting Saint Paul, the Holy Father invites us to reflect upon the urgency of using the time that God has given to each of us to sow goodness in our lives and in our world with a view to a future harvest,” Bishop Bambera said.

The bishop also explained how Pope Francis asked the faithful to use Ash Wednesday as a time of prayer and fasting for our suffering brothers and sisters in Ukraine.

“May our prayers rise to the heavens as we implore our God to sustain these good and innocent people and bring an end to the senseless aggression that is being laid upon them. May we sacrifice for their sake and may we give from our bounty to generously support them in their fight against evil,” the Bishop explained.