On Sept. 16, 2022, members of the Knights of Columbus presented Bishop Bambera with two charitable donations.
Present at the check presentations are, from left: Jordan Cook, Marywood University senior and Warden of the Northeast Board of District Deputies; former Knights of Columbus State Officer George Schneider; and the Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton.

SCRANTON – On Thursday, Sept. 16, 2022, members of the Knights of Columbus recently presented the Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, with two charitable donations.

The first, a check for $1,000 came from the Knights of Columbus Christopher Fund for the Bishop’s charitable donations.

A separate $1,766 check from the Pennsylvania State Council of the Knights of Columbus, which will be used for promoting vocations in the diocese, was also presented to Bishop Bambera.

The bishop was very grateful for both of the presentations from the Knights of Columbus – and expressed sincere thanks for all of the work that the Knights have been doing in our parish communities.

To learn more about the Pennsylvania Knights of Columbus State Council, visit their website at pakofc.us.


HARRISBURG – A best-selling author and movie producer will be one of the main speakers at the second annual Pennsylvania March for Life next week at the State Capitol.

Thousands of people are once again preparing to descend on Harrisburg on Monday, Sept. 19, to continue the fight for life and to advocate for pro-life policies.

Ann McElhinney, New York Times best-selling author and the director/producer of the movie, ‘Gosnell, the Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer,’ will serve as one of the headliners. She will address the crowd at an 11 a.m. rally, which will be held directly before marchers take to the streets.

Powerful testimonies from Dr. Monique Ruberu, pro-life OBGYN and speaker, and Kathy Barnette, author, veteran and spokesperson for 1776 Action, are also expected.

The 2022 Pennsylvania March for Life is an incredible opportunity for pro-life Pennsylvanians to come together to be a voice for the voiceless at the state legislature.

The Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, will attend the 2022 Pennsylvania March for Life. Several buses traveling from parishes and pro-life community groups within the territory of the Diocese of Scranton will join him.

Bishop Bambera will also join other bishops from throughout Pennsylvania in celebrating Mass directly following the March for Life at 1:30 p.m. at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral (212 State Street, Harrisburg). The principal celebrant for the Mass will be Archbishop Nelson J. Perez of Philadelphia.

The second annual PA March for Life was specifically planned for Sept. 19 because it is the first day when both the Pennsylvania House and Senate will be back in session in Harrisburg.

After we have seen a wave of exciting pro-life legislation across the states, now is a great time to continue the momentum and show our state lawmakers support for protecting the sanctity of life in Pennsylvania.

The 2022 Pennsylvania March for Life comes after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled June 24 that there is no constitutional right to abortion.

The ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization was a challenge to a Mississippi law banning abortion after 15 weeks. With a 6-3 majority, the court upheld the law, but the high court also voted 5-4 to overturn its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision and 1992’s Casey v. Planned Parenthood ruling, which affirmed Roe.

The court’s reversal of Roe now puts abortion policy decisions in the hands of the states.

All are welcome to attend the Pennsylvania March for Life and no advanced registration is required.

The 11 a.m. rally will take place on the front steps of the State Capitol Building. The address is 501 N. 3rd Street, Harrisburg, PA 17120. The front steps are on the corner of 3rd Street and State Street.

The March route will encircle the Capitol Complex, covering N. 3rd Street, North St., Commonwealth Avenue and Walnut Street. The length of the March route is approximately one mile.

For anyone planning to arrive early, there will also be Morning Mass at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral at 9:30 a.m. At 10 a.m., there will be prayer and a praise pre-rally on the main stage.

The Diocese of Scranton is sponsoring a bus trip that will depart from Scranton and will make a pick-up in Wilkes-Barre. Seating is limited and filling fast. To inquire about whether space is still available, please email/call Shannon Kowalski, Diocesan Director of Service and Mission, at SKowalski@dioceseofscranton.org or (570) 207-2213, x1155.

Other buses will be heading to the Pennsylvania March for Life from the Hazleton, Dallas, Pocono Pines and Towanda areas.

For more information on the 2022 Pennsylvania March for Life, visit marchforlife.org/Pennsylvania.

SCRANTON – Nearly two-percent of all deaths are from suicide. This has resulted in the tragic loss of many lives among our faithful and among our communities. It has also resulted in devastating grief for the loved ones mourning those losses.

Too many among our faithful and within our communities are unaware of current Church teaching about suicide. Many still believe the Church will not grant a Catholic funeral or burial of someone who has died by suicide.

To offer healing and comfort, and to increase awareness about the Church’s mercy and care for those who have died by suicide, the Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, will celebrate a Mass for Suicide Healing and Remembrance this Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022, at 12:15 p.m. at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton.

During the Mass, those attending will be invited to bring forward to the altar a flower, in remembrance of those lost. Registrations are kindly requested, but not required. Anyone who would like to register can call the Diocesan Office for Parish Life at (570) 207-2213.

Suicide affects all ages. In 2020, suicide was among the top nine leading causes of death for people ages 10-64. Suicide was the second leading cause of death for people ages 10-14 and 25-34.

Suicide and suicide attempts affect the health and well-being of friends, loved ones, co-workers, and the community. When people die by suicide, their surviving family and friends may experience shock, anger, guilt, symptoms of depression or anxiety and may even experience thoughts of suicide themselves.

Suicide is preventable. All people are encouraged to recognize the warning signs and identify ways to talk to someone who may be at risk.
Mental Health is of great concern not only for our faithful but also for those in our communities who we are called to serve. Numerous resources are available to everyone, no matter their circumstances.

First, the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available by calling or texting “988.” The Lifeline is available 24/7, 365 days a year.

In addition, the Veterans Crisis Line and Military Crisis Line is also available to connect veterans and service members in crisis and their families and friends with qualified, caring U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat or text. The number is 1-800-273-8255, Press 1.

The Association of Catholic Mental Health Ministers website, located at catholicmhm.org, allows people to view resources by topic, including resources related to suicide.

The Diocese of Scranton’s Mass for Suicide Healing & Remembrance will be broadcast by CTV: Catholic Television of the Diocese of Scranton and livestream on the Diocese of Scranton website, YouTube channel and social media platforms.

For more information on the Mass, visit dioceseofscranton.org or call (570) 207-2213.

An estimated 500 people attended the Diocese of Scranton’s annual Hispanic Heritage Mass at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022.

SCRANTON – As the entrance hymn ‘Vienen Con Alegria’ began, some people in the crowd happily clapped along with the fast-moving beat. Others clutched their cell phones to record the moment.

With the sound of joyful music echoing outside of the Cathedral of Saint Peter, there was no denying the presence of the Holy Spirit as the 2022 Hispanic Heritage Mass for the Diocese of Scranton got underway shortly after noon on Sept. 10, 2022.

“This is great for the Spanish community. We all come from different countries,” Rufino Cano, a parishioner from the linked parishes of Saint John Neumann and Saint Paul of the Cross in Scranton, said.

An estimated 500 people attended the Mass, which was celebrated entirely in Spanish. The Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, served as principal celebrant and homilist.

The Mass helps to kick off Hispanic Heritage Month that is a time to celebrate the history, culture and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

“It’s a way of acknowledging our culture,” Catalina Valladares, a parishioner of Most Holy Trinity Parish in Cresco, said. “I think this is a very big accomplishment for the Hispanic community in the diocese.”

Hispanic Heritage Month began on Sept. 15 and runs through Oct. 15 each year.

Brenda Bonilla, a parishioner of the linked parishes of Saint John Neumann and Saint Paul of the Cross in Scranton, was moved by the Eucharistic celebration.

“You feel alive. You always feel alive. It’s the music, it’s the people, it’s the prayers, it’s the hymns, it’s everything!” she said. “I was very humbled to see the whole Hispanic community from the whole diocese unified together in one place, in the Mass, which is the best place that we can be together.”

Michael Garcia, 19, and his brother Sebastien, 16, travelled nearly an hour from Saint Matthew Parish in East Stroudsburg specifically to attend the Eucharistic liturgy.

“It was amazing. It was breathtaking, seeing all the priests from all around the parishes and all these people gathered together to celebrate this beautiful Mass,” Michael said.

“It really means a lot to me, all these cultures are all together in one place,” Sebastien added.

During his homily, Bishop Bambera reminded the faithful of their true origins.

“No matter how justifiably proud we are of our countries of origin, the heritage that we cherish and seek to nurture and pass from one generation to the next – our origin is not Mexico, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, the United States or any other land,” the bishop noted. “Our true origin – the reason for our time together this day – and the source of our life, our hope and our salvation is Jesus Christ.”

The bishop encouraged unity among all people. He also encouraged the faithful to serve one another as brothers and sisters and to become credible witnesses of the Savior.

“Thank you for working together to build bridges, to make unity a reality in our communities and to serve those among us who are most in need,” Bishop Bambera said. “I am so grateful for you who represent the Hispanic community in our local Church. You are a blessing beyond words and our hope for the future.”

Following the Mass, a three-hour reception was held across the street from the Cathedral at the Diocesan Pastoral Center. The crowd enjoyed food and many musical and dance performances by parishioners from various parishes.

“That is important to create more community, to know other Spanish people from other corners of the diocese,” Cano said.

“It’s the only way that we can get to know that we’re not by ourselves. It’s not my parish in a little corner, it’s not the next parish in a little corner, it’s all of us together – bringing the whole community together walking in our faith,” Valladares added.

The Hispanic Ministry Office of the Diocese of Scranton put the Hispanic Heritage Month Mass and the reception together. Funding for many programs like this comes from generous gifts to the Diocesan Annual Appeal. We also thank The Slocum Firm, PC, for their sponsorship of the event.

More than 150 parishioners of Saint Barbara Parish and Corpus Christi Parish participated in a covered dish festival on Aug. 21.

EXETER – Food is known to bring people together and a first-of-its-kind event for two parishes in Luzerne County proved that.

On Sunday, Aug. 21, 2022, the linked parishes of Saint Barbara in Exeter and Corpus Christi in West Pittston held an inaugural covered dish festival. More than 150 people gathered at the outdoor pavilion of Saint Anthony Church in Exeter to enjoy food, fellowship and fun.

After filling their plates with homemade meatballs, hamburgers, pasta salads and desserts, parishioners from both parishes quickly broke down any and all barriers and began socializing and interacting.

“We worship very, very hard. We’re exceptional believers in the faith,” Corpus Christi parishioner Michael Liberski said. “But we also socialize very, very hard too.”

Michael Steinberger, 17, enjoyed the covered dish festival for many reasons.

“It’s not too crowded like a church bazaar,” he explained. “It’s also nice getting to meet new people.”

On May 1, 2022, the two parishes were brought together in a linkage with a single Pastor, Monsignor John J. Sempa of Corpus Christi Parish, after Father Michael E. Finn, Pastor of Saint Barbara Parish retired after 45 years of dedicated and faithful service to the Church of Scranton.

When the linkage was first announced in late February, a small transition team consisting of members from both parishes was established to help guide the process of the two parishes coming together.

Monsignor John J. Sempa, pastor of both parishes, plays pitcher during a wiffleball game at the festival. (Photos/Eric Deabill)

“As part of the transition team, we discussed certain ideas that we thought would bring the people together. This was an idea, kind of like a cookout on a Sunday afternoon, and it seems to have been very successful,” Corpus Christi parishioner Carmen Altavilla said.

Altavilla is one of the members of the small transition team.

“We got together and started from the basics, what was going to happen,” he explained.

One of the first topics that had to be tackled was creating a new Mass schedule that could be handled by just one pastor.

“I’m not going to lie to you, there were things we initially disagreed on but I think everybody realized you can’t have it your own way, so we always came to a consensus. That was the big thing,” Altavilla continued. “We had great direction from two women who came from the diocese. They threw out ideas and let us run with things.”

Barbara Russo has been a parishioner at Saint Barbara Parish for 57 years. She currently serves on her parish’s Pastoral Council. Since she belonged to the parish whose pastor was retiring, she admits there was some initial concern about what a ‘linkage’ would entail but said any fear quickly disappeared.

“I think in the beginning there was a little trepidation. We were used to Father Finn who was here nine years,” she explained. “As we got to know Monsignor, he made us feel so comfortable and always, always welcomed us to anything that he had. He said, ‘Let’s come together, let’s come together!’”

Russo credits the welcoming nature of Monsignor Sempa for the two parishes being able to ‘link’ so quickly and effortlessly.

“He said, ‘Don’t worry about it. Everything is going to be okay. Just give it a chance,’ Russo added. “We’re giving it a chance and it’s working beautifully.”

Deacon Walter Janoski, who used to be assigned only to Saint Barbara Parish, expanded his ministry to include Corpus Christi Parish when the linkage began.

“The members of the transition team that were picked were great. What they did is they sat down and informed everybody on what was going on. The first thing Monsignor wanted was a listing of church hours and a Mass schedule. That was probably the hardest thing to determine,” he explained.

Deacon Janoski thinks it is important to highlight the ongoing success of their linkage process so that others around the diocese can see that two parishes can come together with very few issues.

“Because of the transparency, people understood what it all meant,” the clergyman said.

“We talk, we discuss, and there is no fighting, no arguing. The transition team and the councils are working to keep this thing going,” he added.

When asked what he would say to people in other parishes that might soon need to come together in a linkage, Deacon Janoski would simply encourage everyone to “give change a chance.”

“Remember, you are a community. You are not a building. You are a community. You’ve known each other for years,” he said.

From his point of view as a transition team member, Altavilla also answered.

“The problem that a lot of parishes face is they don’t know the other people. What I said from Day One, when we started having meetings, is you can go to any of the three churches that are a part of our parishes because we’re all neighbors. People know one another. It wasn’t like, are you a republican, democrat or independent. It was, we’re all from the same area and we’re going to make this thing work,” he explained. “Everything up until this point has really gone seamless – the interaction, the ministries, sharing the churches. Nobody says, ‘I don’t want to be a Eucharistic Minister at this church, I don’t want to be a lector at that church.’”

As People of God, parishioners also now see the benefit of partnership too.

“I think it means everything. It means now we can work together. We know one another. We’re in such close proximity with one another. Most of us grew up with one another. We went to school together. We had children together. They went to catechism together. Now, we’re coming back together again. It’s renewing our friendship, renewing our faith,” Russo ended by saying.

Father Stephen Kow Bosomafi is installed as pastor of Saint Thomas More Parish, Lake Ariel.

Two parishes communities in the Diocese of Scranton have welcomed new pastors.

On Sunday, Aug. 14, 2022, Father Stephen Kow Bosomafi was installed as the 13th Pastor of Saint Thomas More Parish in Lake Ariel.

Father John Polednak, Diocesan Vicar for Clergy, attended the Mass and oversaw the installation ceremony.

Upon taking over as pastor, Father Bosomafi immediately paid tribute to all of the previous pastors and priests who have worked so hard over the years to make Saint Thomas More Church, Lake Ariel, and Saint Mary’s Church, Ledgedale, a spiritual home for the many residents and visitors in Wayne County.

“Counting on the support and cooperation of everyone, I trust that by God’s grace and the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we would be able to do our best to serve the needs of the Church and our community,” Father Bosomafi wrote in his parish bulletin.

The parishioners of Saints Peter & Paul Parish, Towanda, and Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish, Wyalusing, have welcomed Father Jose Joseph Kuriapilly as their new pastor.

Moving from Kerala, India, Father Jose has been in the United States for four years and was first assigned to Epiphany Parish in Sayre as an Assistant Pastor. He recently received his new assignment to take over as pastor of the new linkage of the Catholic parishes in Towanda and Wyalusing.

Father Jose is in the process of reaching out to the Lord’s sheep and is meeting the parishioners in the churches and out in the community.

Father’s interests are gardening, fishing, hunting, bicycling and soccer.

The Mass schedules of the two churches in Towanda and Wyalusing have been adjusted to give Father enough time to travel back-and-forth to each church.

SCRANTON — The Diocese of Scranton heralded in the new 2022-23 academic year two weeks ago when it enthusiastically welcomed back 4,430 students enrolled in 19 Catholic schools. There are four high schools and 15 elementary schools in the Diocesan educational system.

“Each school year we look forward to the excitement of new beginnings. This is especially true this year as we are able to enjoy more activities and celebrate the many successes of our students together,” Diocesan Secretary of Catholic Education/ Superintendent of Schools Kristen Donohue expressed. “We are looking forward to sharing these positive experiences with our school families.

With the start of a new school year, Donohue said, there is a renewed focus on the spiritual, academic and emotional growth of students. On a daily basis, Diocesan schools strive to strengthen their connection with Christ, as well as provide ways for students to collaborate, think critically and demonstrate their creativity.

“As we work with our students on these 21st-century skills, we do so as Christ would, with kind hearts and an awareness of the social and emotional needs of all involved,” the superintendent remarked. “We are blessed to have the most dedicated and compassionate administrators, teachers and staff.”

New Principal at Holy Family

On the administrative level, the Diocese welcomed a new principal to the helm of Holy Family Academy elementary school in Hazleton.

Thomas Kostic, a U.S. Air Force veteran with extensive experience in Catholic education, was recently appointed to the position after serving as a longtime faculty member at the former Bishop Hafey High School in Hazleton, where he was also director of religious formation.

Since then, Kostic, who is on track to be ordained a Permanent Deacon for the Diocese in November, has filled the roles of DRE and athletic director at Holy Family Academy. He has also served as acting principal on three occasions during his 32 years with Diocesan schools.

“Catholic education is different than public education, (and) that difference makes all the difference,” Kostic noted. “I would not be in the school business if I was not in the Catholic system.”

The new principal envisions a steady progression toward normalcy since the COVID-19 outbreak.

“We just celebrated our opening school liturgy with all grades in attendance. This was the first time in three years,” he said.

Social, Emotional Skills Learning

One of the many initiatives Scranton Diocesan schools are extremely proud of as the new academic year begins is the implementation of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) programs in Catholic schools.

According to Kara Kennedy Ware, principal of Saint Clare/Saint Paul School, Scranton, SEL is the process by which young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals.

“SEL emphasizes empathy for others, while establishing and maintaining supportive relationships and making responsible and caring decisions,” Ware explained.

She continued by highlighting four major points to cite why SEL is a crucial part of a school’s curriculum: relationships provide a foundation for learning; emotions affect how and what we learn; social and emotional skills can be taught; and SEL has a positive impact on academic performance, health, relationships and citizenship.

“SEL programming has truly become a focal point at Saint Clare/Saint Paul School,” Ware said. “We know that if we address the SEL pieces first, then true learning can occur with all of our students at every grade level.”

SCRANTON — Vending machines in schools are nothing new, but how about one that provides refreshment and sustenance for the mind?

Brittany Haynos-Krupski, principal of All Saints Academy in West Scranton, was effusive in discussing the Catholic elementary school’s new, creative concept of a vending machine that rewards student patrons with knowledge.

She was even more excited about detailing how there is no money required for the educational treats — just service to others, teamwork, personal accomplishments and even some random acts of kindness.

During the first days of the new academic year at All Saints, Haynos-Krupski explained, the Knights school community implemented a “House System” to help promote positive behavior and provide a little friendly competition.

After faculty and staff were assigned to one of the four “houses” — each named for one of the four Gospel writers (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John) — all students in grades pre-K thru eight discovered which “household” they would become part of.

“The energy in the gym was amazing,” Haynos-Krupski said. “The students were so excited to pick their house. As the houses grew, so did the energy. We want the students to feel that sense of community at All Saints Academy.”

Each student was given a wristband to signify their house color and pennants were created to decorate the houses, as the four separate “families” within the All Saints family afforded students an even deeper sense of identity and inclusion.

“The houses spent the entire day together,” the principal related. “They ate lunch together, enjoyed a special ice cream treat and bonded with students on all grade levels.”

During the presentations, faculty and staff stressed to the students the importance of kindness toward all and striving to be the best they can be — which led to the idea behind the book vending machine.

According to Haynos- Krupski, “house points” will be awarded throughout the year for helping others, community service, academic achievement, teamwork and other positive accomplishments.

“Faculty, staff and students will have monthly meetings to nominate students who have gone above and beyond during the month in their house,” she explained.

Those students who are chosen will be recognized at school Masses and receive tokens for the unique vending machine stocked with books for all grades.

“Students will keep the books that they receive. We need to keep books in the hands of students in all grades,” Haynos-Krupski noted.


Members of the Holy Redeemer girls volleyball team pose
with donations collected for the Blue Chip Farm Animal Refuge.

WILKES-BARRE — Holy Redeemer High School athletic teams and cheerleaders are playing and performing as hard off the field, as well as on, to be champions in every respect as the 2022-23 academic year kicks off.

The “Play Like A Royal!” service-project initiative at the Wilkes-Barre Catholic secondary school has team members uniting to address the social causes of the day, with the same competitive edge as taking on opponents on the opposite sidelines.

Cody Opalka, the school’s newly appointed vice principal, spearheads the project by echoing the “Play Like A Royal” mission that permeates the concept: “Holy Redeemer High School athletics is committed to educating ethically responsible student-athletes who uphold the pillar of servant-leadership as they put faith in action in their school, in athletic arenas and within the community at large.”

Team requirements that instill diligence in conditioning the athlete’s spirit state that at least one group service project is to be completed within the team’s season, along with a Catholic-identity faith component requiring prayer during every practice and competition and one seasonal Mass attended by the team.

Thus far, the Holy Redeemer girls volleyball team has led the way by organizing a donation drive to help offset the needs of the Blue Chip Farm Animal Refuge in the Back Mountain area, which has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The junior high golfers will participate in the “Adopt-a-Highway” project on Sept. 24, as team members do their part in collecting trash along the entrance and exit ramps of Interstate 81 near the Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre Township.

According to Opalka, the Royal cheerleading squads are volunteering at the third annual Drive-thru Trunk-or-Treat Supporting Autism Awareness NEPA on Oct. 9. As the cheerleaders lend their helping hands to the effort for a second time, they hope it becomes a yearly tradition.

A natural for the school’s cross country teams will be their participation in the “Walk to End Epilepsy” on Saturday, Oct. 15, at PNC Field in Moosic. All proceeds raised will benefit the Epilepsy Foundation of Eastern PA and the opening of a Wilkes-Barre community center serving those afflicted by the medical condition.

“This project resonates with the athletes,” Opalka noted, “as one of their own will benefit from the local community center.”

Also on Oct. 15, Holy Redeemer’s girls soccer program will host a “Pink Game,” with money raised from shirt sales and raffle baskets benefitting the “Paint Pittston Pink” annual crusade marking October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month in the battle against all cancers.

Girls on the field hockey team will volunteer at the annual “Pink Game” to fight breast cancer on Tuesday, Oct. 18. Players will be selling “Fight for a Cure” t-shirts to benefit the Saint John Paul II Cancer Research Institute, a non-profit medical research facility devoted to finding cures for various medical diseases. The event will also include a 50/50 drawing and gift basket raffles.

The boys soccer team at Holy Redeemer has already given of their time and efforts to the Weinberg Northeast Regional Food Bank, as their day was spent packaging food boxes for distribution to various food banks and senior centers in the area.

Upcoming service projects planned by the school’s athletic programs include the football team visiting the Graham Academy School in Kingston to assist students with autism and behavioral challenges, and varsity golfers volunteering at local nursing homes.

The Holy Redeemer girls tennis squad and junior high school soccer team are also preparing to participate in clean-up projects at Coal Street Park and Kirby Park in the Wilkes-Barre area.


SCRANTON – Nearly one thousand students, faculty and staff from The University of Scranton gathered in prayer on Sept. 8, 2022, as a new academic year got underway. The Byron Recreation Complex served as the setting for the college’s annual Mass of the Holy Spirit.

“There really is no better way to start off our academic year than by celebrating the Eucharist and inviting everyone to come together as a community at a university whose mission is Catholic and Jesuit to the core,” the Rev. Joseph G. Marina, S.J., President of The University of Scranton, said.

The Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, D.D., J.C.L., Bishop of Scranton, served as the principal celebrant and the Rev. James F. Duffy, S.J., M.D., the new superior for the Scranton Jesuit Community delivered the homily.

Father Duffy encouraged students to “let the spirit work” in their lives and to see the relationship between a greater intimacy with God and a greater reverence for their neighbor.

“The gifts that we’ve been given are for the benefit, not only of ourselves, but also that of our neighbor,” Rev. Duffy explained.

The Mass of the Holy Spirit is a tradition among Jesuit academic institutions dating back to the 16th century, in which the community gathers to thank God for the gifts of creation and salvation and to seek the guidance and wisdom of the Holy Spirit in the coming school year.

Fall semester classes began at The University of Scranton on Aug. 29. The incoming Class of 2026 is the most diverse in the history of the school with 285 members identifying as a student of color, representing nearly 27 percent of the incoming class. More than 30 percent of the incoming class identify as first generation college students.

As she enters her senior year, Kathleen Wallace of Maryland, says her time in Scranton has helped her learn more about her faith.

“To me, my Scranton journey faith-wise, has involved expanding my view of who God is and what God means to me and how much God really loves each one of us,” she said.

Wallace served as lector at the Mass of the Holy Spirit. She has been involved in campus ministry and many other service projects.

“Service is really what matters at the end of the day,” Wallace added. “What matters is making other people feel known and loved and cared for.”

Matthew Simms, a senior environmental science and philosophy major from Bucks County, says his experiences at The University of Scranton have opened his eyes in many ways.

“One of the most rewarding things that I’ve done here at the university is around Thanksgiving-time and Easter-time, when we go out to the Friends of the Poor and pack up different meals and bring them out to the low-income housing projects on the North Side. It is just a really rewarding experience,” he said.

With only two semesters until he graduates, Simms is thankful for getting to know more about his faith while serving as an altar server, Eucharistic minister and sacristan on campus.

“I’m a different man than when I came in four years ago,” he added.

As he closed the Mass of the Holy Spirit, Bishop Bambera welcomed all of the students to Scranton.

“We’re very, very happy to have you here in Scranton,” he said. “Enjoy your time here in Scranton. Use this time well and wisely.”

The bishop also quoted Pope Francis in encouraging them to get involved and make the most of the time they are given.

“Don’t be observers of life, get involved,” the Bishop said, referring to the words of the Holy Father. “Never be afraid to dream great things.”