SCRANTON – The Diocese of Scranton will celebrate its annual Mother’s Day Adoption Mass on Sunday, May 8, at 10:00 a.m. at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton. This liturgy prayerfully recognizes all mothers, with a special emphasis on adoptive and foster mothers.

Bishop Joseph C. Bambera is scheduled to be the principal celebrant and homilist.

The Mother’s Day Adoption Mass is open to the public and all faithful are invited to attend.

CTV: Catholic Television of the Diocese of Scranton will broadcast the Mass live. A livestream will also be provided on the Diocese of Scranton website, YouTube channel and across all Diocesan social media platforms.

Pope Francis has said that humanity is “built on mothers” and that their love is a cure for a world, which is so often divided and filled with bitterness.

On May 8, please join us for the Mother’s Day Adoption Mass as we pray for mothers, near and far, including Mary, Mother of the Church.


Pope Francis blesses the womb of a pregnant woman during an audience with members of the U.S.-based Papal Foundation at the Vatican April 28, 2022. The pope praised the group for its generosity in helping fund humanitarian and church projects around the world. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis praised members of the U.S.-based Papal Foundation for helping the Catholic Church build “a culture of solidarity and peace,” including by providing assistance to victims of the war in Ukraine.

“As we are witnessing in these days the devastating effects of war and conflict, you increasingly see the need to provide care and humanitarian assistance to its victims, to refugees and to those forced to leave their homelands in search of a better and more secure future for themselves and their loved ones,” the pope told members of the foundation April 28.

“Your work helps to bring the love, hope and mercy that the Gospel proclaims to all who benefit from your generosity and commitment,” the pope told the foundation’s major donors, who are called Stewards of St. Peter, and members of the board of trustees.

Although the six active American cardinals resident in the United States are part of the foundation’s board, only Cardinals Seán P. O’Malley of Boston and Timothy M. Dolan of New York were part of the group’s pilgrimage to Rome.

Cardinal O’Malley, chairman of the board, told Pope Francis, “As we gather today, we join in your Holiness’ concern and prayer for the tragic circumstances of the attacks on Ukraine and the desperate circumstances of the Ukrainian people.”

The foundation, he said, has provided funds to the Ukrainian Catholic Church “to assist with emergency relief efforts.”

After the meeting with the pope, the foundation announced the approval of $14 million in grants, scholarships and humanitarian aid that will be distributed throughout the world. The amount included more than $9 million in grants requested by the Vatican for 123 projects in 64 countries, the foundation said.

For the year ending June 30, 2021, the foundation reported distributing grants of just over $9.8 million and scholarships of $794,000. Since its founding in 1988, the Papal Foundation and its Stewards of St. Peter have allocated more than $200 million in grants and scholarships around the world to more than 2,000 projects selected according to priorities set by the pope.

The group’s 2021 report highlighted the foundation’s help to build a center for faith formation in Burundi, the construction of an orphanage in the Philippines, the renovation of a retreat house in Chile and the expansion of a church-run health center in Rwanda.

The scholarships provided by the foundation enable close to 100 priests, religious sisters, religious brothers and laity to study at one of the pontifical universities in Rome.

“From its inception,” the pope told the foundation members, “solidarity with the successor of Peter has been a hallmark of the Papal Foundation. I ask you, please, to pray for me and for my ministry, for the needs of the church, the spread of the Gospel and the conversion of hearts.”

A Ukrainian serviceman is seen near buildings destroyed by Russian shelling in Irpin April 28, 2022. Pope Francis’ international Council of Cardinals met at the Vatican April 25-27, and one of the topics was the war in Ukraine, the Vatican press office said. (CNS photo/Gleb Garanich, Reuters)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis and his international Council of Cardinals met in-person at the Vatican April 25, discussing the war in Ukraine, the Vatican press office said.

There was a discussion about the conflict and its impact on the church, ecumenism and the sociopolitical sphere, the Vatican said April 28.

The cardinals reflected on the situation and supported the different initiatives that have been launched by Pope Francis and the Vatican’s secretary and secretariat of state, aimed at finding a peaceful solution, according to the Vatican press office.

Each cardinal then presented a rundown of the different situations on their own continent, touching on such issues as peace, health care, poverty, tenuous political situations and pastoral problems in the local churches, it said.

Six of the seven members of the council participated: Cardinals Seán P. O’Malley of Boston; Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, Honduras; Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, India; Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, Germany; Fridolin Ambongo Besungu of Kinshasa, and Giuseppe Bertello, retired president of the commission governing Vatican City State. Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, was in Mexico to mark 30 years of diplomatic ties with the Vatican.

On his doctor’s orders to rest an inflamed knee, the pope was forced to cancel his scheduled appointments April 26, which included that day’s session of the Council of Cardinals.

The cardinals spent the day discussing climate change and the upcoming COP27 meeting in Egypt in November. They reflected on what the church could be doing to draw attention to the urgency of the problem. Cardinal Ambongo gave a broader look at the global situation and what expectations came out of the COP26 meeting in Glasgow, particularly in helping poorer nations in Asia, Latin America, Africa and Oceania.

The cardinals also continued an in-depth discussion begun in February on women in the church. The April meeting included a presentation by Sister Laura Vicuña Pereira Manso, a member of the Congregation of Franciscan Catechists and the Kariri Indigenous community from the Amazon region in Brazil.

The final day, April 27, the cardinals continued a reflection on the Vatican’s diplomatic service and the role of the apostolic nuncios. Cardinal Gracias presented a report on the subject, followed by an open discussion.

They ended the session discussing the implementation of the “Praedicate Evangelium” (“Preach the Gospel”), the papal constitution reforming the Roman Curia, a project Pope Francis began with the Council of Cardinals shortly after taking office in 2013. Published by the Vatican March 19, it will go into effect June 5, the feast of Pentecost.

The cardinals discussed possible ways to implement the new legislation and evaluate next steps and potential challenges.

The council is scheduled to meet again in June.

The sculpture “Angels Unawares” is seen at The Catholic University of America in Washington April 22, 2022. The life-size sculpture, which depicts a group of migrants and refugees crowded on a boat, is a replica of the original one Pope Francis unveiled in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican during the 2019 World Day of Migrants and Refugees. (CNS photo/Andrew Biraj, Catholic Standard)

WASHINGTON (CNS) – A monumental work of art depicting migrants and refugees seeking a home has found its own permanent home at a new plaza at The Catholic University of America.

During an April 22 blessing and dedication ceremony, Washington Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory blessed Timothy Schmalz’s “Angels Unawares” sculpture and philanthropist and arts patron Jacqueline Mars pushed a button that initiated water flowing around the base of the sculpture to form a reflecting pool.

The sculpture depicts 140 diverse migrants and refugees from different countries and historical eras huddled together on a boat as if seeking a safe harbor, with the flowing water in the reflecting pool seeming to represent the tides carrying the boat’s occupants toward a new life.

“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” said Mars, who made a gift of $1.25 million for the plaza. In a ceremony before the blessing, she said, “I believe that this statue so personifies exactly what we should be doing, welcoming the stranger.”

The co-owner of Mars, the world’s largest candy company, said the sculpture reflected how the United States was founded by immigrants, and she also said it was very meaningful to her that the refugees in the artwork included the Holy Family, shown on their flight into Egypt with Joseph holding carpentry tools and Mary cradling the baby Jesus in her arms.

Noting the sculpture and plaza’s location, surrounded by the Catholic University campus and with the nearby Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception forming a majestic backdrop, Mars said: “I chose to support Welcome Plaza because I felt this location was a place where the statue could speak to a variety of people: young and old, from this country and elsewhere.”

“To experience ‘Angels Unawares’ in person is an important lesson for all of us,” she said.

The 20-foot-long, 3.5-ton bronze sculpture is the second casting of that artwork by Schmalz, with the originally commissioned by the Vatican and placed in St. Peter’s Square, where it was unveiled by Pope Francis in September 2019 for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees.

One year later, the second sculpture was blessed by then-Archbishop Gregory at Catholic University, before it traveled on a 9,700-mile tour across the country.

“Nineteen months later, the sculpture has finally arrived in port, and we have settled the matter of where to dock it,” said Catholic University president John Garvey at the dedication ceremony.

A stone marker identifies Welcome Plaza and the “Angels Unawares” sculpture and includes the biblical quote from Hebrews 13:2 that inspired the work: “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”

To reinforce that spiritual message of welcoming newcomers, large angel wings stretch skyward in the middle of the figures standing shoulder-to-shoulder on the boat.

In his opening prayer at the gathering, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Vatican’s apostolic nuncio to the United States, noted that these are “dramatic days, when so many of our brothers and sisters are forced from their homes” by war and domestic strife.

“Most of all, oh Lord, we ask you to send your holy angels to comfort the migrants and refugees, the marginalized and the despondent and those who care for them,” he prayed.

The artist also addressed the guests and said viewing the sculpture brought him a flashback of the faces he used as models for the work. The Canadian artist said some, including African refugees, posed for him in his studio, while many of the historical figures were based on photos from the archives of Ellis Island.

The figures in the sculpture represent a range of ages, ethnic backgrounds and emotions. Most look forward, and some look back.

The figures in the front of the sculpture include a Muslim woman fleeing Syria, a Jewish man holding suitcases while escaping Nazi Germany, a pregnant woman from Poland and an Irish boy leaving home during the potato famine. In the back is the figure of a Cherokee man with his hand clutching his face in sorrow as he is forced from his tribe’s lands during the “Trail of Tears.”

“I hope when people look at it, they will see themselves within it,” said Schmalz.

The interfaith ceremony also included remarks by an Episcopal priest, a Muslim imam and a Jewish rabbi, who all spoke of how welcoming strangers is a central tenet to their faiths.

In an interview, the artist said that the “Angels Unawares” in this setting celebrates the story of immigrants in America. And he noted that with this casting of the sculpture, the figures in the boat are able to be surrounded by water, which couldn’t be done in St. Peter’s Square.

Mars said she “felt strongly about the water element and that the statue should be floating as on a boat. When you think of all the immigrants and the images we see of many of them crossing at sea to escape, it just seemed appropriate to have that water element in the plaza, too.”

“I truly hope ‘Angels Unawares’ will move people to a generosity of spirit toward immigrants,” she said.

Migrants from Central America, who were returned to Mexico under Title 42 after seeking asylum in the U.S., stand inside the El Buen Samaritano shelter in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, April 21, 2022. (CNS photo/Jose Luis Gonzalez, Reuters)

WASHINGTON (CNS) – A federal judge at an April 25 hearing said he would grant the requests of three states to force the federal government to keep in place a public-health order at the U.S.-Mexico border that has increased the number of expulsions of immigrants trying to cross into the United States.

The public-health order, known as Title 42, allows the United States to bar entry of persons who have recently been in a country where a communicable disease was present. It was applied by the Trump administration in March 2020, soon after the coronavirus pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization.

U.S. District Judge Robert R. Summerhays of the Western District of Louisiana, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, said he would sign an order to keep the policy in place, and to order the federal government to certify that it is not acting ahead of its announced May 23 date to drop the Title 42 provision.

The Biden administration has come under fire from both Republicans and Democrats for planning to end the policy. The Centers for Disease Control and Protection announced in April that the restriction could be dropped in late May.

Catholic groups that support immigrants have long been calling for an end to this restriction.

Since Title 42 was applied at the border, 1.61 million people have been expelled by the United States through January, the latest month for which statistics are available. The vast majority, 1.56 million, were expelled by the U.S. Border Patrol, while 52,735 were expelled by the Office of Field Operations.

Immigration advocates criticized the policy when it was first enacted by Trump, and have pressed the Biden administration to drop it.

Some elected officials have predicted an overwhelming surge in immigration should Title 42 be lifted, predicting 12,000 to 13,000 border crossings daily. The Biden administration said it is planning for 18,000 daily crossings effective May 23.

Summerhays has not yet ruled on another request in the suit to force the Biden administration to keep Title 42 in place. The United States has made exceptions to the policy, particularly in the case of well-founded fears of violence and death if not admitted into the country.

The suit was brought by the states of Arizona, Louisiana and Missouri, the latter two of which have no land border crossing with Mexico.

While the majority of immigrants hail from the “Northern Triangle” countries of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, a growing number of refugees from countries even further from Mexico — such as Cuba, Brazil and India — have shown up at the border. Mexico has been loath to accept them after they were expelled by the United States.

In recent weeks, Ukrainians fleeing their homeland after Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine have also been seeking entry into the United States from Mexico.

SCRANTON (April 28, 2022) – The Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, is currently isolating at home after testing positive for COVID-19 on Thursday morning, April 28, 2022.

Bishop Bambera currently has mild flu-like symptoms and will continue to conduct diocesan business remotely as needed during his isolation period.

The bishop is fully vaccinated and has received a booster shot. He has been in touch with his doctor and is following all medical advice, along with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

The bishop last took a coronavirus test on Tuesday night, April 26, 2022, the results of which were negative at that time.

“Over the last two years, the coronavirus has impacted the lives of many in our community. We have all known people who have tested positive. I am thankful to be fully vaccinated and boosted and am grateful to report that my symptoms are mild,” Bishop Bambera stated. “While recent reports have indicated that we are moving out of the pandemic phase in the United States, I would encourage all of us to continue to pray for our doctors, nurses and healthcare workers who have been on the frontlines of battling COVID and bringing healing to those who need it. I would also like to once again take this opportunity to offer my prayers for members of our community who have died, suffered serious illness, or lost loved ones to this virus.”

During Bishop Bambera’s time of isolation, the work of the Diocese of Scranton, its parishes, schools and ministries will continue to operate as normal.


Pat and Carol Beirne, 70 years married

Over 1100 years of marriage were celebrated by the parishioners of St. Peter and Paul parish in Towanda on April 24th at JFK Hall.

Each couple was recognized and photographed.

Featured was the longest married couple Pat and Carol Beirne celebrating 70 years.

Tips were shared for a happy marriage.  Popular DJ Bob and wife Bev Brenner entertained, and Pastor Father Ed Michelini sang “IF YOU WANT TO BE HAPPY” to a receptive audience.

Following a delicious lunch prepared by Kathie Dewan and Sandy Kasenga, lively dancing ensued.

The casket of the Most Reverend John M. Dougherty is at the front of the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton during Solemn Vespers on April 25, 2022. (Photo/Mike Melisky)

SCRANTON – Family, friends and former parishioners of the Most Reverend John M. Dougherty joined clergy from the Diocese of Scranton in praying for the eternal repose of the soul of the late Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Scranton on April 25, 2022.

More than 150 people participated in Solemn Vespers at the Cathedral of Saint Peter as the first day of visitation for Bishop Dougherty concluded.

“It seems like this son of God was given to us, like many others who have gone through this world, to remind us we were made not for this world,” Rev. Christopher S. Sahd said during homily.

Father Sahd stressed that Jesus lived in Bishop Dougherty – and as a priest of 65 years – the late bishop knew that to be baptized in Christ also meant to suffer with him.

“He so sought the life of Jesus, the fullness of His power, the holiness of His mysteries, and the perfection of His ways and not ours,” Father Sahd explained.

Rev. Christopher S. Sahd delivers the homily during Solemn Vespers at the Cathedral of Saint Peter on April 25, 2022.

Bishop Dougherty died on April 16 at his family’s home in Scranton. He was 89.

“Let us not fail to pray for him now, so that God, having mercy on his soul, may bring him to the promise he so longed for, so adored in the sacred mysteries,” Father Sahd added. “Bishop Dougherty would be the first to abhor the thought that we would come to this point and not pray for his soul but we also have to thank God for the way that Jesus lived in him.”

Bishop Dougherty was ordained to the priesthood in 1957. His episcopal ordination as Auxiliary Bishop followed in 1995. He is remembered by many for his deep spirituality, pastoral concern and consistent presence in hospitals ministering to the sick and dying.

Father Sahd emphasized that on a nightly basis, Bishop Dougherty would encourage people not only to ask God’s mercy but to thank God for everything that is beautiful and good.

“As we come to the end of this day, we keep vigil tonight,” Father Sahd said. “Every one of us have been a part of a beautiful day of Jesus Christ in the life of God the Father’s beloved son.”


April 25, 2022

His Excellency, Bishop Joseph C. Bambera, announces the following appointments:

Reverend Michael E. Finn, from Pastor, St. Barbara Parish, Exeter, to Pastor Emeritus, St. Barbara Parish, Exeter, effective May 1, 2022.

Monsignor  John J. Sempa, to Administrator pro tem, St. Barbara Parish, Exeter, effective May 1, 2022.  Monsignor will remain Pastor, Corpus Christi Parish, West Pittston.

A priest prays during a funeral for Yuri Kushnir, who died when a Russian rocket hit a tire fitting shop, in Novoyavorivsk, Ukraine, April 20, 2022. (CNS photo/Pavlo Palamarchuk, Reuters)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis and the Vatican are urging world leaders to listen to the people’s cry for peace, and they have backed an appeal by the head of the United Nations for an Easter truce in Ukraine.

Pope Francis first called for an Easter truce during his Angelus address at the Vatican April 10.

“Let the weapons be put down,” he said on Palm Sunday. “Let the Easter truce begin. But not to provide more weapons and pick up the combat again — no! — a truce that will lead to peace, through real negotiation that is even disposed to some sacrifice for the good of the people. In fact, what victory is there in planting a flag on a pile of rubble?”

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres echoed the appeal of the pope and other European Catholic and Protestant leaders for an Easter cease-fire.

Speaking to reporters April 20 at the U.N. headquarters in New York, Guterres asked there be a four-day “humanitarian pause” from April 21 to April 24, which is Holy Week and Easter on the Julian calendar, used by most Christians in Ukraine and Russia.

The cease-fire would allow for a series of humanitarian corridors to open, done in coordination with the International Committee of the Red Cross. It would offer safe passage of civilians wanting to leave and the safe delivery of aid to people in the hardest-hit areas such as Mariupol, Kherson, Donetsk and Luhansk, he said.

“The United Nations is ready to send humanitarian aid convoys during this period to these locations,” he said. “We are submitting detailed plans to the parties.”

In a written communique April 21, the Vatican said, “The Holy See and the Holy Father join with the appeal by António Guterres,” and in agreement with Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kyiv-Halych, major archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church.

“Aware that nothing is impossible for God, they call on the Lord asking that the population trapped in war zones be evacuated and peace be restored quickly,” the Vatican communique said.

The pope and the Holy See also ask world leaders “to listen to the people’s cry for peace.”