More than 500 people filled the new Most Holy Trinity Church in Cresco for a Dedication Mass on Sunday, May 15, 2022. The Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, served as principal celebrant and homilist. (Photo/Eric Deabill)

CRESCO – As parishioner Cheryl Lynott handed over the keys of the new Most Holy Trinity Church to the Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, she acknowledged the significance of the moment.

“Although our road has been long and our journey rout with obstacles, we come today realizing our dream. We began as several mission churches and three distinct parishes, ultimately merging to become known as Most Holy Trinity Parish,” Lynott said. “Our congregation’s resiliency was demonstrated time and time again when we moved from one temporary worship space to another but our faith remained steadfast.”

Immediately following the presentation of the keys to the bishop, that faith was on display as at least 500 people raised their voices, singing “Let the King of Glory come.” That song began the Dedication Mass on Sunday, May 15, 2022.

“What a glorious day that we are privileged to experience in praise of God and with gratitude for all that God has done in our lives and in this wonderful parish community of Most Holy Trinity,” Bishop Bambera said. “This magnificent dwelling place for God is a tribute to all of you who, in so many and different ways, have served to build not merely this worship site – but the Church – the People of God.”

The new church for Most Holy Trinity Parish is located in the former gymnasium/auditorium of the now-closed Monsignor McHugh School located on Route 390 in Paradise Township.

During his homily, Bishop Bambera noted that a Mass of Dedication for a new church does not take place often. In fact, the bishop noted it is only the second he has celebrated since becoming shepherd of the Diocese of Scranton.

Using the Scriptures, including the First Reading from the Book of Nehemiah, which is required for a church dedication Mass, Bishop Bambera spoke to the reality of the moment.

Rev. Brian J.W. Clarke, pastor, Most Holy Trinity Parish, opens the door of the new church before the processional hymn.

“Look at the journey that brought you from three distinct communities – Saint Mary of the Mount, Saint Ann and Saint Bernadette – and countless other parishes to this great day and this sacred space,” Bishop Bambera noted. “Many of you have said to me today and in recent months, ‘Finally, our dream of a church is realized.’ It has been realized and it is beautiful to behold, isn’t it? But, my brothers and sisters, this dream has become a reality only because from your earliest days as Most Holy Trinity Parish, you have first been committed to building CHURCH – not a building – but the people that God has called you to be!”

To further illustrate his point, the bishop quoted Saint John Paul II, who said, a parish is not just a structure but rather “the family of God, a fellowship afire with a unifying spirit, a familial and welcoming home, the community of the faithful and the place where the mystery of the Church is present and at work.”

As he ended his homily, the bishop reminded all those present that their journey of faith is not over with the dedication of their new building.
“While we have much for which to be grateful this day, this church building will only shine forth as a vibrant sign of love and hope to all if you, who have given it life, continue to live your faith in service of the Gospel of Jesus,” the bishop challenged them.

Following his homily, the bishop prayed the ‘Prayer of Dedication.’ He also anointed and incensed the altar and walls of the church, preparing the building for the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

For many parishioners, the Dedication Mass was the first time they have seen the new worship space.

“It’s beautiful. It’s stunning. It’s amazing to see how far it has come and how much work has been done. It’s really breathe-taking. It’s beautiful,” parishioner Kelly Ann Devita of Tobyhanna Township said. “This is something that we can all be proud of. So many people had a piece in bringing this all together and we are all proud to be here and be a part of it.”

“This is the day the Lord has made and we are rejoicing and we are truly glad,” parishioner Jeannine Lotito of Tobyhanna added, quoting scripture. “Everybody gave their best, whatever their talent was, and I’m just excited that everybody did what they could.”

Michael Trombetta of Easton grew up across the street from the Most Holy Trinity school complex and graduated from what was then Pocono Central Catholic High School in 1979. As he reminisced about all of the events that had taken place in the same gym decades ago, he was amazed at the transformation.

“This was our second home. We did everything in here. We graduated from this space and now look at it, it’s our new church and it’s unbelievable and I can’t thank everybody enough, from the bishop and everybody in the diocese who worked hard to put it together to all the local people,” Trombetta said. “It is glorious!”

Many of the items in the new church – including the pews, stained glass windows, presider’s chair, marble Stations of the Cross and more – were all taken from the old church buildings that closed.

At the conclusion of Mass, Father Brian J.W. Clarke, pastor, Most Holy Trinity Parish acknowledged all of the people who made the renovation project and liturgy possible. He echoed the words of the bishop, saying the “real story” here isn’t the building but the people of the parish. He especially highlighted the work of the Most Holy Trinity Parish Building and Grounds Committee.

“So many of you volunteering countless hours, day in and day out, it’s rare to see that kind of dedication,” Father Clarke said.

As the Mass ended – the most poignant words came from Bishop Bambera – who continued to be visibly struck by the nature of the crowd and their faith-filled witness.

“For all the naysayers in our world, who say that faith doesn’t matter anymore, for all those who say Catholics or Christians are just grasping at straws, let them come to Cresco and let them look at this community of faith. What a blessing!” the bishop boasted.

Following the Dedication Mass, parishioners lingered throughout the new church taking photographs. They also enjoyed food and fellowship in the Narthex and hallways of the building.

Most Holy Trinity has daily Mass each weekday at 8 a.m. It also has a Spanish Mass on Wednesday evening at 7 p.m. The parish’s weekend Mass schedule includes a 4 p.m. Vigil Mass on Saturday and Masses at 8 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and Noon on Sunday. The Noon Mass is celebrated in Spanish.

WILKES-BARRE – June 4 is going to be a big day of celebration for Saint Andrew Parish, as its primary worship site, Saint Patrick Church on Parrish Street, will mark a century of service to the community.

The public is invited to the church’s 4 p.m. Mass and to enjoy a coffee-and-dessert reception following the liturgy. The principal celebrant for the special liturgy will be Rev. Gerald W. Shantillo, S.T.L., V.G., Vicar General of the Diocese of Scranton and Moderator of the Curia.

“We have invited all of the surviving former pastors to be here with us. Most have said yes,” Deacon Bill Behm, Parish Life Coordinator of Saint Andrew Parish, said.

Church officials only recently realized the century mark was approaching for Saint Patrick Church, thanks to the Times Leader newspaper, and columnist Tom Mooney, who discovered the first Mass actually took place in the basement area of the church, even though construction was not complete on the building itself.

“Our cornerstone was laid in 1929 and the church was dedicated in 1930 so I figured we had years before we had to worry about a major anniversary,” Behm said. “They dug the basement here before the church and put a roof over the basement. That is where they had Mass from 1922 on and they built the church around that structure.”

Since learning of the anniversary, parish staff have been digging through archives.

“We have been through the attic of the rectory, the third floor, we have a lot of pictures. We have pictures of them constructing the main church, what we now call the Upper Church, but we had no idea when they were building the Upper Church, there was already a functioning Lower Church,” Behm said.

Behm, whose grandparents and parents both attended the church, believes the Anniversary Mass will be a nice opportunity for people to realize the history of their building.

“It is a way of touching the history so you realize that it is a neighborhood church, but the neighborhood has expanded over the years,” he said. “It was given to us from those who came before us and it is our gift to those coming after us.”

SCRANTON – What do frozen hot chocolate, drones and kindergarten art have in common?

All three – and much more – will be featured at our first-ever First Friday fun rally and cause fair at the Diocesan Pastoral Center from 5 until 8 p.m. on Friday June 3.

Picture a telethon-turned-webathon with lots of in-person engagement. The event will include musical performances, comedy, games and a host of demonstrations, displays, exhibits, prizes and giveaways.

The fun is all part of NEPA Gives, the one-day online giving extravaganza and challenge spearheaded by five of the region’s charitable foundations
The Diocese is participating for the third year in a row and hoping once again to top the leaderboards and secure some of the thousands of dollars in bonus prizes.

For 24 hours – from 12:00 a.m. to 11:59:59 p.m. – on June 3, donors may make secure donations to the Diocese through the nepagives.org website, which features about 200 other nonprofit organizations.

The cause fair will highlight Catholic schools, Diocesan youth ministry, Saint Francis Kitchen and Saint Francis Commons.

Father Jim Paisley, winner of the Diocese’s first-ever Rectory, Set, Cook! Lenten online cookoff fundraiser, will serve as master of ceremonies, reprising musical favorites from the beloved Cathedral Capers shows of yore.

He’ll be joined by his friend and fellow Rectory, Set, Cook! contestant Father Joseph Elston for a duet of “Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better,” and he’ll perform his original composition “The Bishop and I” (with Bishop Joseph Bambera in attendance to thank donors) at 5:30 p.m.

The cause fair also will include wine and frozen hot chocolate tastings, live painting on site, a pet presentation highlighting the dogs of Saint Francis Commons and presentations by at least four schools:

• All Saints Academy in Scranton will offer artwork to donors and host a K’Nex exhibit.
• Our Lady of Peace School in Clarks Green will offer tile artwork to donors.
• Saint Clare/Saint Paul School in Scranton will host a creative kindergarten art show and butterfly art show.
• La Salle Academy in Jessup will offer science and STREAM displays plus a live drone demonstration.

Father Paisley’s and Father Elston’s performances will be livestream on the Diocese of Scranton Facebook page, as will live Leaderboard updates throughout the evening.

Sandra Snyder, Diocesan director of foundation relations and special events and organizer of the Diocese’s NEPA Gives efforts, said the rally/cause fair was planned to both raise money and thank donors.

“Our donors have always shown up in force virtually for this fun day,” Snyder said. “We’re thrilled we can offer a safe and socially distanced mini-event to allow them this year to actually ‘come and see’ where their dollars go.”

Donations of checks or cash received by June 3 also will count toward the Diocese’s tally. They can be mailed to:

Diocese of Scranton
Attn: Sandra Snyder/NEPA Gives
300 Wyoming Ave.
Scranton, PA 18503

 

 

Parishes in the Diocese of Scranton will take up a second collection for the Catholic Communication Campaign on the weekend of May 28-29, 2022.

If you enjoy reading The Catholic Light or watching CTV: Catholic Television of the Diocese of Scranton, half of all the money raised from this collection

stays within the Diocese of Scranton to promote communication and evangelization efforts.

The other half supports national and international initiatives to aid the Church in communicating the Gospel message.

The Catholic Communication Campaign distributed more than $3 million in national and international grants in 2021. In addition to traditional media, the Catholic Communication Campaign works to share the good news through digital media and other communications initiatives.

We hope you will consider giving generously when your parish takes up the collection for the Catholic Communication Campaign. Your gift will spread the faith, hope and love of Jesus Christ, and of his Church, to people and places where the word of God is needed most.

The Diocesan Vocations Office is gearing up for their annual Quo Vadis Days at Marywood University in Scranton, which will be held June 19-21, 2022.

The camp is designed for Catholic men in high school to:
• Deepen their faith
• Learn more about all vocations
• Better discern God’s call in their lives.

It will once again feature dynamic talks, prayer, games, sports, activities and music. Participants will have the opportunity to meet Bishop Bambera, priests, college students and young adults serving on the leadership team, and seminarians of the Diocese of Scranton.

For more information and/or to register visit vocations.dioceseofscranton.org or call (570) 207-1452.

WILKES-BARRE – “Go to the poor: You will find God.”

Those words, written by Saint Vincent de Paul, a tireless servant of the poor and marginalized, come to life each day at the Wilkes-Barre kitchen that bears his name.

Saint Vincent de Paul Kitchen, located at 39 East Jackson Street, serves hot, nutritious meals to anyone in the community every day of the week, including weekends and holidays. Besides providing nutrition, the daily meals also provide an opportunity for socialization for many in the community.

In 2021, Saint Vincent de Paul Kitchen served 67,616 meals and assisted 4,051 households through the Saint Vincent de Paul Food Pantry.

Generous individuals, businesses and community groups help to keep the mission of Saint Vincent de Paul Kitchen going each day. On May 2, the Kitchen launched its main fundraiser of the year, “Sponsor for a Day.”

For a donation of $125, people in the community can become a “Sponsor for a Day.” Monies raised from the fundraising campaign will continue to provide nourishing meals to everyone who needs one.

Andy Reno, a member of the Saint Vincent de Paul Kitchen Advisory Board, is serving as chairperson for this year’s event. He recently sent a letter to past donors and community members looking for them to renew their commitment to the Kitchen. Reno is also now extending the invitation to new donors and people interested in helping those in need.

“Today more than ever, many folks in our community need clothing, shelter and most importantly, food. Food is often something we take for granted,” Reno wrote. “We grocery shop, plan meals or make reservations at a restaurant for dinner with family and friends. Unfortunately, many in our community do not have this luxury. They don’t know where or when they’ll have their next meal and sadly, so many of those who go hungry are children.”

Catholic Social Services of the Diocese of Scranton operates Saint Vincent de Paul Kitchen. For nearly 40 years, the kitchen has served countless meals to the community. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, the mission of the kitchen continued as meals were served daily in take-out containers until the kitchen’s dining room reopened to guests.

Anyone who donates to the Saint Vincent de Paul Kitchen “Sponsor for a Day” fundraiser gets their name, or the name of a loved one, prominently displayed on the Sponsor board at the kitchen with recognition also provided on the Saint Vincent de Paul Kitchen Facebook page as one of the providers of the meal on that day.

Individuals can select a date that is special to them or their loved one by including the request with the donation.

Anyone who would like to become a “Sponsor for a Day” can send a donation to Saint Vincent de Paul Kitchen, P.O. Box 1088, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18703. While the community is asked to consider becoming a “Sponsor for a Day,” any gift that you can make is always greatly appreciated and will help feed those in need.

Calling all Scouts!

Please mark your calendars for the return of the Diocese of Scranton’s annual Scout Mass on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, at 7:00 p.m. at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton.

All Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Venturing and Campfire Girls and their troops, packs and families from all Scout Councils across the 11 counties of the Diocese are invited to attend. Please wear your Class A dress uniform, no hats please.

Scouts receiving religious badges and their Scout Leaders will meet at the Diocesan Pastoral Center at 6:15 p.m. for the entrance procession. Other troop members and families should proceed directly to the Cathedral. To confirm your award or for any other questions, please email Amy Huntington, Diocesan Scouting Committee Chair, at dccs@dioceseofscranton.org.

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

SCRANTON – All women of the Diocese of Scranton are invited to experience this year’s Catholic Women’s Conference, “Full of Grace.” The focus of this year’s event is the special relationship all women have with Mary, the Mother of God. The event takes place Saturday, June 11, 2022, at Marywood University.

The day will begin with opening remarks at 8 a.m. followed by Mass with the Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, at 8:30 a.m. After a short break, featured speaker Father Jeffrey Kirby with talk about Catholic devotion to Mary, our Mother, as our powerful intercessor and as a model of discipleship.

Without missing a beat, Keynote Speaker Colleen Carroll Campbell will take the stage and share her journey from successful author, journalist and former speechwriter to President George W. Bush to a frazzled, sleep deprived mother of twins who discovered God’s vision for her was quite different from her own visions of perfection. Her path of enlightenment and discovery will inspire women to trust in God’s perfect love for them.

When attendees break at noon for lunch, they will be entertained by a musical concert from Molly McManus while they dine. Listening to Ms. McManus sing, “Take my heart, have my soul…perfect love” you will know without a doubt that such a voice could only have come from God. The twenty-four-year-old worship artist from Steubenville, Ohio sings of her past, her sadness, shame, and her encounter with the Holy Spirit and now, experiencing His Perfect Love.

Following the lunch break, featured speaker Deb Hadley will share how the trajectory of her life changed when unimaginable tragedy struck her family, not once, but twice. The loss of two children in separate accidents only nine months apart sent her spiraling into despair. Her journey of faith and restoration led her on a new path as a bereavement manager; helping people who have lost a loved one rediscover joy in a world so defined by loss.

Dunmore native and acclaimed Catholic speaker, Megan Murphy, will also speak to those in attendance. Ms. Murphy had a father who struggled with addictions resulting in a turbulent childhood. Megan’s journey from a misspent youth to her ultimate conversion to the beauty and forgiveness of God’s love was aided by her special relationship with the Blessed Mother. Attendees will accompany Ms. Murphy on the scriptural journey with Mary to discover the profound depth of Our Lady’s role in each woman’s own personal search for joy. Meghan will then lead the audience in saying the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary.

After a brief break, the day will conclude with Father Kirby leading Eucharistic Adoration, with musical accompaniment by Molly McManus. The conference concludes at 4 p.m. with the announcement of raffle winners and a musical finale.

Olyphant resident and radio personality Natalie Gubala-Magden will moderate the day and keep the program flowing. Participants will enjoy a continental breakfast, lunch and shopping at the Catholic Vendor Marketplace. Cost to attend the conference is $45 for in person ($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 cwcnepa.com.

Dozens of people came together on April 21, 2022, at the Church of Saint John in East Stroudsburg to celebrate the success of the ‘Small Groups’ program launched by the parish. More than 115 parishioners signed up to participate in small group discussions about their faith, spiritual growth and life experiences.

EAST STROUDSBURG – In a big parish, sometimes it is better to go small.

That is the lesson that the ministry team at the Church of Saint John is learning as they recently launched a pilot program known as “Small Groups.”

At the beginning of Lent, the parish began offering parishioners the opportunity to participate in small group discussions about their faith, spiritual growth and real life experiences.

“It is the power of sharing testimony and sharing your faith and making those connections matter,” Kathy Fisher, Small Groups Leader, said.

Fisher helps to coordinate a team of facilitators who run 11 different small group meetings each week. Participants range in age from people in their 20s to mid-80s.

“I believe that it has been inspiring, having other members of the group speak about their day to day struggles, faith sharing and how God plays a role in helping them through their struggles or questions,” Leslie Pettenati said.

Pettenati facilitates a small group of men and women that meets on Monday afternoon. Having moved to the Poconos only three years ago, she only knew one of the people who was initially in her group.

“So many people are hungry and thirsty to have connections and know more. The small groups are a safe space where everything you say is kept confidential and respected,” she added. “Everyone can speak freely and without judgment. It is a safe space to say, ‘I’m struggling with this or I have questions about that.’”

Reverend Gregory A. Reichlen, pastor, Church of Saint John, said the “Small Groups” initiative is part of the REBUILT network that consists of parishes all around the country that are striving to apply certain strategic priorities and ideas in their community.

“The small group becomes a school of discipleship, where people are learning from each other and their own life experiences and that is where the spiritual growth is happening. People who didn’t know each other previously are connecting, sharing, becoming vulnerable, opening up and trusting each other,” Father Reichlen said. “We have seen the immediate, very positive impact of all of this.”

As the parish was developing its “Small Groups” program, organizers said they would have been happy to have 50 people participate. Instead, more than 115 signed up.

“We were amazed,” Father Reichlen admitted.

“I was expecting a big response,” Fisher said. “Coming out of COVID, people need more opportunities to connect with each other than ever so I knew it was going to be big.”

Each week, the “Small Groups” conversation is rooted in the previous weekend homily given by Father Reichlen. Questions are even included in each weekend bulletin to get participants thinking ahead.

“We are all called to be life-long learners of the faith. It’s just a continual learning process and that is the beauty of it, learning from each other,” Pettenati said.

Participants in the “Small Groups” program recently came together for a Potluck dinner at the parish. They shared their thoughts on the program so far.

“It gives me so much hope about the Catholic Church,” Pettenati said following the first nine weeks of the program. “To me, it is inspiring. People take it very seriously when they’re in the group.”

Fisher said the power of the “Small Groups” was recently on display when a parishioner who is participating in a group suffered a medical emergency during a weekend Mass. While an EMT quickly attended to the man, all of the other individuals in the man’s group also quickly came to his aid.

“Every single group member was around him, supporting him,” Fisher said, noting the bond that quickly develops between people.

While the “Small Groups” will take a break during the summer, the initiative is expected to continue in September at the Church of Saint John.

Douglas Howe, a veteran living at Saint Francis Commons in Scranton, snuggles with his dog, Rosey, who is able to live with him because of the Curative Companions Program. (Photo/Dan Gallagher)

SCRANTON – Rosey, who just turned 14 years old last month, can be described in many ways. The Jack Russell/Pug mix is both a confidant and family member to her human companion, Douglas Howe, but he describes her in one additional way.

“She has been my protector,” he said.

As a veteran, Howe does not use those words lightly.

“She has been around me from birth … I take her everywhere. I take her to the store, I take her to the hospital when I have my appointments. She gets more attention than I think I’ll ever get,” he joked.

When Howe moved into Saint Francis Commons, an affordable, transitional housing facility for veterans experiencing homelessness last August, he was initially concerned he wouldn’t be able to bring Rosey.

“It was a huge concern. We stick to each other like glue. I take care of her all the time and she takes care of me,” Howe said.

It turns out Howe’s fears would be unfounded.

Catholic Social Services of the Diocese of Scranton operates Saint Francis Commons. In 2019, the agency launched its Curative Companions Program that allows veterans and other traumatized persons who are living in Catholic Social Services housing and shelters to have the opportunity to heal and thrive through the love of a therapeutic pet.

“We noticed almost immediately how much of an impact the animals made on the veterans, Ryan Pollock, Program Director of Saint Francis Commons, said. “We had veterans that would be coming out of their rooms to interact with the animals that didn’t typically interact with the other veterans.”

Scott Pence has been living at Saint Francis Commons for eight months. Four months ago, he got a newborn German shepherd named Sasha.

“She is my best friend. She’s a companion and she just means the world to me,” Pence said. “I’m with her 24 hours a day. We play together all the time and she’s just adorable.”

Pence believes Sasha has helped him ‘break the ice’ and get to know many of the other veterans staying at Saint Francis Commons.

“They all love her. She’s just a pup and easily excited,” he explained.

John Lipscomb, who cares for Angel, a two-year-old black lab, agrees.

“We have a couple other vets here who even will take her for walks because I can’t walk very far,” Lipscomb explained.

He says the love and companionship Angel provides him is extremely important since he recently left rehab.

“She’s the reason I want to keep living and want to do better … It gives me a purpose in life. I lost everything and she gives me good reason to get out of bed in the morning,” he added.

The Curative Companions Program is in need of financial assistance to stay in operation and provide services to even more veterans.
Pollock says several other veterans have asked about getting an animal.

“All of our veterans are low income and anybody that wants to have an emotional support dog, we don’t want finances to be a barrier,” he explained.
On average, it costs $2,000 annually for a pet between food, supplies, vet visits and other expenses.

The Curative Companions Program was made possible through the generosity of its initial funder The Robert H. Spitz Foundation, and then a later sustaining contribution by the PNC Foundation. Through its administration of the Spitz Foundation, the Scranton Area Community Foundation, which additionally has supported other Catholic Social Services programs, also has been an instrumental partner.

Dr. Paws of Scranton has also made substantial in-kind contributions and has provided some no-charge veterinary and follow-up care to some animals.

Anyone looking to support the Curative Companions Program can contact Ryan Pollock at (570) 209-9200, x2302. People will also be able to support the program on NEPA Gives Day, Friday June, 3, 2022, at nepagives.org.