SCRANTON – Young people from around the Diocese of Scranton will come together on Sunday, Nov. 6 for the annual #Leave a Mark Mass, which will celebrate its seventh anniversary in 2022.

The Mass will be held at 5:00 p.m. at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton and there will be a reception featuring live music and a food truck immediately afterward.

The idea for the #Leave a Mark Mass came after Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims at World Youth Day 2016 in Poland.

The Pope said, “Dear young people, we didn’t come into this world to ‘vegetate,’ to take it easy, to make our lives a comfortable sofa to fall asleep on. No, we came for another reason: to leave a mark. It is very sad to pass through life without leaving a mark.”

The Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, will serve as principal celebrant of the Mass.  Father Jeffrey Tudgay, Pastor at the Cathedral of Saint Peter, will serve as homilist.

Hundreds of young people traditionally attend the #Leave a Mark Mass, which helps to kick off National Vocation Awareness Week in the Diocese of Scranton.

CTV: Catholic Television of the Diocese of Scranton will broadcast the #Leave a Mark Mass for those who are unable to attend. The Mass will also be available on the Diocese of Scranton website, YouTube channel and across all Diocesan social media platforms. Donations to the 2022 Diocesan Annual Appeal help to make all CTV broadcasts possible.

Spanish Missionary of Charity Sister Paul supports a patient at the House for the Dying in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in this Oct. 16, 2009, file photo. The Vatican released Pope Francis’ message for World Mission Sunday, which will be celebrated Oct. 23 with the theme, “You shall be my witnesses.” (CNS photo/Paul Jeffrey)

Living out and proclaiming the Gospel are inseparable aspects at the heart of an authentically Christian life and witness, Pope Francis said in his message for World Mission Sunday.

“Every Christian is called to be a missionary and witness to Christ. And the church, the community of Christ’s disciples, has no other mission than that of bringing the Gospel to the entire world by bearing witness to Christ,” the pope wrote in his message for the celebration, which will be held Oct. 23.

The theme chosen for the 2022 celebration is taken from the Acts of the Apostles: “You will be my witnesses.” The Vatican released the pope’s message Jan. 6.

In his message, the pope reflected on three key “foundations of the life and mission of every disciple,” beginning with the call to bear witness to Christ.

While all who are baptized are called to evangelize, the pope said the mission is carried out in communion with the church and not on “one’s own initiative.”

“Indeed, it was no coincidence that the Lord Jesus sent his disciples out on mission in pairs; the witness of Christians to Christ is primarily communitarian in nature,” the pope wrote. “Hence, in carrying out the mission, the presence of a community, regardless of its size, is of fundamental importance.”

Furthermore, he added, those who follow Jesus are called not only to proclaim the Gospel, but to bear witness to it by the way their live their lives.

“Missionaries of Christ are not sent to communicate themselves, to exhibit their persuasive qualities and abilities or their managerial skills,” he said. “The example of a Christian life and the proclamation of Christ are inseparable. One is at the service of the other. They are the two lungs with which any community must breathe if it is to be missionary.”

Jesus sent and continues to send his disciples out to evangelize the whole world, the pope said, and that has and continues to involve bearing witness to Christ even amid persecution.

“Due to religious persecution and situations of war and violence, many Christians are forced to flee from their homelands to other countries. We are grateful to these brothers and sisters who do not remain locked in their own suffering but bear witness to Christ and to the love of God in the countries that accept them,” the wrote.

Catholics must acknowledge how “the presence of faithful of various nationalities enriches the face of parishes and makes them more universal, more Catholic,” he said. “Consequently, the pastoral care of migrants should be valued as an important missionary activity that can also help the local faithful to rediscover the joy of the Christian faith they have received.”

“Christ’s church will continue to ‘go forth’ toward new geographical, social and existential horizons, toward ‘borderline’ places and human situations, in order to bear witness to Christ and his love to men and women of every people, culture and social status,” he wrote.

Lastly, the pope said the call to bear witness must be “strengthened and guided by the Spirit,” especially through prayer “when we feel tired, unmotivated or confused.”

“Let me emphasize once again that prayer plays a fundamental role in the missionary life, for it allows us to be refreshed and strengthened by the Spirit as the inexhaustible divine source of renewed energy and joy in sharing Christ’s life with others,” he wrote.

Recalling the example of lay and religious men and women who tirelessly worked to promote evangelization, Pope Francis said that “the same Spirit who guides the universal church also inspires ordinary men and women for extraordinary missions.”

“I continue to dream of a completely missionary church, and a new era of missionary activity among Christian communities,” the pope wrote. “Indeed, would that all of us in the church were what we already are by virtue of baptism: prophets, witnesses, missionaries of the Lord, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to the ends of the earth!”

SCRANTON – World Mission Sunday is quickly approaching. A Pontifical Mass in celebration of this important date will be held at the Cathedral of Saint Peter at 12:15 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022.

The Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, will be the principal celebrant and homilist. Father Brian J.T. Clarke, Diocesan Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies, will concelebrate.

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

In recognition of World Mission Month, Bishop Bambera provided the following message in the Oct. 13, 2022, edition of The Catholic Light:


Just a few days ago, I was privileged to spend time with my brother priests during our annual clergy convocation. This annual event brings together the priests of our diocese for days of prayer, continuing formation and fraternity. I treasure these days with them.

This year, as with other years, we introduced the 21 international priests who serve throughout our diocese. Many of them, you know well. As each priest approached the dais and spoke about himself, I was in awe of the beautiful diversity: a unique story, a different land, an openness to leave his home and serve in a foreign land for the sake of the people of God.

What a blessing! By God’s Providence – and flowing from the generosity of bishops and priests from seven countries – we are enriched by God’s grace through the Sacraments they celebrate and the Word of God that they proclaim. Through the generosity of these men who serve alongside of the faithful native sons of our Diocese, we continue to come face-to-face with Jesus, despite the fact that we have been confronted with a scarcity of priestly vocations for many years.

This year, World Mission Sunday falls at a time when its motto, “You shall be my witnesses” (Acts 1:18), is as crucial and relevant as ever. Just as so many men and women come from throughout the world to serve our needs, and just as so many throughout the world count on us to serve their needs, I implore you during this missionary month to take to heart that we are all in this together. Yes, for generations we have sent missionaries to preach the Gospel to continents beyond our shores. Now, in return, they come back to serve us in our need. In the collections and opportunities that will be set before you to support them in the weeks to come, I humbly ask you to be as generous as you are able.

We are indeed witnesses to the wonders of God’s acts of love and mercy. In this bicentennial year of the founding of the Society of the Propagation of the Faith by Blessed Pauline Jaricot, may the words of our Holy Father, Pope Francis, remind us of the mission that lies before us: “Albeit in poor health, [Pauline Jaricot] accepted God’s inspiration to establish a network of prayer and collection for missionaries, so that the faithful could actively participate in the mission ‘to the ends of the earth.’ We may be poor and from a world beyond our home, but we are called to serve and to be witnesses to the ends of the earth.”

Whether we are firmly missioned in the place of our birth, or sent miles away, I pray that each of us will faithfully embrace the mission to be the Lord’s witnesses to the ends of the earth.

Faithfully yours in Christ,

Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, D.D., J.C.L.

Bishop of Scranton

A man makes his confession in a confessional booth at Old St. Mary’s Church in Detroit in this file photo. (CNS photo/Mike Stechschulte, The Michigan Catholic)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Every year, for more than three decades, the Vatican tribunal dealing with matters of conscience has offered a course to help priests in their “ministry of mercy” as confessors.

The huge number of participants, from 500 to 800 ordained and soon-to-be ordained men, who attend the course sponsored by the Apostolic Penitentiary each year attests to the importance and need for adequate formation concerning the sacrament of reconciliation, particularly when confession, as well as “the sense of sin,” is in crisis, Pope Francis told participants in 2019.

It is a crisis on both sides of the confessional screen.

Priests need better formation so that those seeking God’s forgiveness truly experience “a real encounter with salvation in which the Lord’s embrace can be perceived in all its strength, capable of changing, converting, healing and forgiving,” the pope had said.

And the laity need to understand better the importance and joy of confession, according to the Apostolic Penitentiary, which decided to respond by offering a special seminar specifically for laypeople. The seminar was held in Rome and online Oct. 13-14.

Of the more than half-dozen talks covering the usual biblical, theological and spiritual aspects of the sacrament, the most practical presentation was given by Msgr. Krzysztof Nykiel, regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary.

He gave a Top 10 rundown of the most common “good” reasons people give for not going to confession, followed by a faith-based response to each objection.

Highlights from the monsignor’s list of “I don’t go to confession because …” are summarized here:

1. “… I speak directly to God.” Speaking with God is “excellent,” he said, and it should be done throughout the day with prayer to know God’s will. While “it is not impossible to obtain forgiveness” from God this way, “we would never be sure.”

Only God can forgive sins, he said. So, before the birth of Christ and a life lived without him, humanity could only “hope” to have their sins forgiven. “With Christ, this mercy has descended onto earth and is accessible” to everyone, and only through confession with a priest can one be certain of receiving that forgiveness.


2. “… I don’t like talking about my personal life” with another person. A priest is not just any other person but is one upon whom God has conferred his power to forgive on earth, Msgr. Nykiel said.

Verbalizing and owning up to one’s sins can be difficult or frightening, he said, but “we feel truly loved when everything about us is loved, not just the good or nice things we display” or when the lies and partial truths are believed. When people present their true selves completely to God, they let themselves be loved fully and completely by God.


3. “… The priest may be a worse sinner than me.” It is true that priests are not God, and it is “certainly easier and more uplifting to confess to a holy priest, like St. John Vianney and St. Padre Pio,” he said.

But “the moral condition of the priest at the moment of absolution is wholly irrelevant to the validity of absolution,” because the one absolving the sin is God through the priest, he said. A parallel argument, he added, would be to refuse medical care from a doctor whose own health status is unknown.


4. “… I don’t know what to say.” This excuse is “the most prevalent,” but also the easiest to overcome, Msgr. Nykiel said. Just tell the priest, “I want to confess, but I don’t know what to say. Can you help me?”

Learning how to do “a good examination of conscience is helpful,” he said, but what really counts is a sincere desire “to think about the truth of one’s life before God.”


5. “… I’ll be embarrassed.” Feeling ashamed for one’s sins “is already the first healthy sign” of a conscience that has not grown numb or blind to evil, he said. It also should be seen as part of contrition and a form of penance that can strengthen the desire for conversion.


6. “… I always say the same things.” While it may be good there are no new sins to add to the list, confession is exactly what is needed, he said, to humbly plead with God for his mercy to fight and win the daily battle against one’s vices.


7. “… I’m not committing serious sins.” One may not be guilty of committing theft or murder, but there are still eight other commandments to keep, Msgr. Nykiel said. Believing only serious crimes count as sin can also be a kind of “self-justification” and DIY redemption.

The unworthiness one feels before God “is always directly proportional to one’s closeness to him,” which is why the greatest saints always felt like the greatest sinners. “If we don’t feel like we are sinners, then we still are not saints.”


8. “… I didn’t like it the last time I went.” Confessors might be distracted, unprepared, too “rigorous because he wanted to send me straight to hell” or too lax because “he wanted to almost canonize me despite my serious sins,” the monsignor said.

People can always seek out a different confessor, he said. But people also may be expecting more than the sacrament is meant for: to wipe away sin and experience God’s healing through forgiveness, he said. It is not meant to fix one’s problems or make feelings of guilt disappear.

Msgr. Nykiel concluded that every objection comes from the same root: “a resistance to love.”

“The sacrament of reconciliation is too important and too essential to give up for any reason,” he said. “Divine mercy is always waiting for us. Let us not run away like capricious children, making up excuses not even we believe.”

Pope Francis speaks to members of the general chapter of the Mariannhill Missionaries during an audience Oct. 20, 2022, in the Consistory Hall of the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican. Also pictured is Msgr. Leonardo Sapienza, an official of the prefecture of the Papal Household, and Msgr. Luis Maria Rodrigo Ewart. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – A key part of fostering “the communion, participation and missionary commitment of all the baptized,” a key goal of the current synodal process, is recognizing the responsibility lay Catholics share for the future of the church and helping them recognize it, too, Pope Francis told members of the Mariannhill Missionaries.

“An essential element of the synodal journey is the development of a greater sense of co-responsibility of the lay faithful for the life and future of the church,” the pope said Oct. 20 as he welcomed the 36 members of the congregation’s general chapter to the Vatican.

Bishop Thulani Victor Mbuyisa of Kokstad, South Africa, who was superior general until being appointed head of the diocese in April attended the chapter as an observer and was present for the meeting with the pope. The chapter Oct. 10 elected Father Michael Mass, a German member of the order, as superior.

The theme of the chapter meeting was “Solidarity: Called to be of One Mind and One Purpose,” which Pope Francis said was “particularly relevant” in light of the synod process currently underway.

The synod, he said, aims to foster that same oneness of mind and purpose “through a process of spiritual discernment centered on encounter, listening and reflection, leading to an ever-greater openness to the newness of the Spirit and his promptings.”

Pope Francis urged the missionaries to continue their order’s work to encourage local vocations, promote development and help their people foster “a spirit of shared responsibility for the common good.”

At the same time, he said, members of the order must strive for “a constant pastoral conversion” in every dimension of their life and activity, “from the priestly and spiritual formation of the laity to the concrete planning of apostolic projects.”

“If the synodality to which- the church is called in our time implies walking together and listening together, surely the first voice to which we must listen must be that of the Holy Spirit,” the pope said.

Pope Francis greets the crowd during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Oct. 19, 2022. (CNS photo/Yara Nardi, Reuters)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Reviewing one’s life is an essential step in discerning God’s call because it helps one see places where God was at work, even in small things, and also helps one recognize “toxic” thoughts of self-doubt, Pope Francis said.

A daily review of one’s actions and feelings is not mainly about acknowledging one’s sins — “we sin a lot, don’t we,” the pope said. Instead, regularly reviewing the day educates one’s perspective and helps one recognize “the small miracles that the good God works for us every day.”

At his weekly general audience Oct. 19 in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis continued his series of audience talks explaining the key steps in spiritual discernment, focusing on how a daily practice of review and introspection trains a person how to look at the bigger picture of his or her life in order to discern God’s call.

Learning to see that God was at work even in small things, “we notice other possible directions” that can be taken and that “strengthen our inner enthusiasm, peace and creativity,” the pope said. “Above all, it makes us freer from toxic stereotypes,” such as thinking, “I am worthless” or “I will never achieve anything worthwhile.”

Pope Francis said he once knew a person who others described as being worthy of receiving “the Nobel Prize for Negativity,” but finally he encountered someone who forced him to say something positive about himself every time he voiced a self-criticism. “Little by little, it helped him to move forward, to read his own life well, both the bad things and the good things.”

“We need to read our lives,” the pope said, and “see the things that are not good but also the good things that God sows in us.”

So many things that happen in one’s life seem unimportant at first, the pope said, but when put together and examined for how they bring one peace and joy, or sadness and agitation, they turn out to be important clues about the direction God is calling one to follow.

“Stopping and acknowledging this is essential to discernment,” he said, because discernment involves “gathering those precious and hidden pearls that the Lord has scattered in our soil.”

Discernment, Pope Francis said, “is the narrative reading of the consolations and desolations we experience in the course of our lives. It is the heart that speaks to us about God, and we must learn to understand its language.”

Pope Francis waves to the crowd as he leads the Angelus from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Oct. 16, 2022. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Saying he did not want to rush the process of discerning how the Holy Spirit is calling the church to grow in “synodality,” Pope Francis announced that the next assembly of the Synod of Bishops would take place in two sessions.

The synod assembly, with mostly bishops as voting members, will meet Oct. 4-29, 2023, as previously announced, the pope said, but the assembly will have a second session in October 2024 as well.

Pope Francis made the announcement Oct. 16 at the end of his Angelus address. He had met Oct. 14 with the synod leadership.

The pope and local bishops kicked off the listening and discernment process for the “synod on synodality” in October 2021, and by November the synod secretariat is expected to release a working document for continental assemblies.

With 112 of the 114 bishops’ conference in the world having sent in a synthesis of what emerged in the listening sessions in their countries, Pope Francis said that “the fruits of the synodal process underway are many, but so that they might come to full maturity, it is necessary not to be in a rush.”

“To have a more relaxed period of discernment,” the pope announced, “I have established that this synodal assembly will take place in two sessions” rather than the one originally planned.

“I trust that this decision will promote the understanding of synodality as a constitutive dimension of the church and help everyone to live it as the journey of brothers and sisters who proclaim the joy of the Gospel,” Pope Francis told thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Sunday Angelus prayer.

The website of the synod secretariat describes synodality as a style seen in the church’s life and mission that reflects its nature as “the people of God journeying together and gathering in assembly, summoned by the Lord Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit to proclaim the Gospel.”

While it does not imply everyone has a vote on issues facing the church, it does mean that all the members of the church — ordained or lay — have a responsibility to contribute to the church’s mission and to pray, offer suggestions and join in discerning the voice of the Holy Spirit.

A statement from the synod secretariat Oct. 16 said Pope Francis’ decision to add a second assembly “stems from the desire that the theme of a ‘synodal church,’ because of its breadth and importance, might be the subject of prolonged discernment not only by the members of the synodal assembly, but by the whole church.”

Although it did not feature the same widespread, grassroots listening sessions, the deliberations of the Synod of Bishops on challenges and joys facing families also met in two sessions. First, Pope Francis convoked in 2014 an “extraordinary general assembly” on “the pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization.” Then, using the 2014 gathering’s final report as an outline, the ordinary general assembly of the Synod of Bishops met in 2015 to look at “the vocation and mission of the family in the church and contemporary world.”

Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, then secretary-general of the synod, wrote to bishops’ conferences at the time explaining that, “the two synodal assemblies, sharing the same topic of the family, become part of a single synodal process, which includes not only the two celebrative phases but also the intervening time between synods, a time to reflect on the reaction to the first synod and to make a thorough theological examination of the church’s pastoral activity in light of the succeeding one.”


In accord with Canon 553 of the Code of Canon Law, Bishop Bambera has appointed the following priests to serve as deans in the twelve Deaneries of the Diocese of Scranton for a term of three years, effective October 6, 2022:

  • Scranton Deanery                  –           Monsignor Neil J. Van Loon, V.F.
  • Dunmore Deanery                 –           Reverend David P. Cappelloni, V.F.
  • Clarks Summit Deanery       –           Monsignor Joseph G. Quinn, V.F.
  • Carbondale Deanery             –           Reverend Seth Wasnock, V.F.
  • Pittston Deanery                    –           Reverend Joseph P. Elston, V.F.
  • Wilkes-Barre Deanery           –           Reverend Richard J. Cirba, V.F.
  • Kingston Deanery                  –           Reverend Brian VanFossen, V.F.
  • Hazleton Deanery                  –           Reverend Michael J. Piccola, V.F.
  • Honesdale Deanery               –           Reverend Joseph J. Manarchuck, V.F.
  • Stroudsburg Deanery           –           Reverend Brian J. W. Clarke, V.F.
  • Sayre Deanery                         –           Reverend Kevin M. Miller, V.F.
  • Williamsport Deanery           –           Reverend Bert S. Kozen, V.F.
Jessica poses with her infant son, Jaylin, who was born on July 28, 2022. Both are currently being assisted by Catholic Social Services.

EAST STROUDSBURG – When she was just 20 weeks pregnant, Jessica found herself in need of a place to live. Not knowing where to turn, she was encouraged to contact Shepherd’s Maternity House in East Stroudsburg.

Within days, Jessica was staying in a safe, comfortable home where she was able to prepare for the birth of her son.

“I am so grateful for the fact that I found this, just for the simple fact of being here while I was pregnant. I got to get comfortable,” Jessica said. “I worked almost my entire pregnancy. They took me to and from work and took me to my doctor appointments.”

Operated by Catholic Social Services of the Diocese of Scranton, Shepherd’s Maternity House is a transitional housing facility for women who are single and pregnant, or who have just given birth.

“The staff here is wonderful. This is one of the greatest opportunities that I’ve ever experienced,” she explained.

On July 28, 2022, the world was blessed by the birth of Jessica’s son, Jaylin.

“He is fantastic. He sleeps four to five hours and eats every four hours when he’s not sleeping,” Jessica said. “I am so happy to have him.”

Without Shepherd’s Maternity House, Jessica does not know where she would have ended up.

“Without this place, I have no idea what I would have done. It was scary as far as being pregnant and just having no answers and then coming here and actually being able to have somewhere comfortable to stay,” she added.

Christie, who has been staying at Shepherd’s Maternity House in East Stroudsburg since Oct. 2021, plays with her daughter Abigail.

Christie’s story is very similar.

She came to Shepherd’s Maternity House in October 2021 and gave birth to her daughter, Abigail, six months later in April 2022.

“Abigail is a very happy baby. She’s very sweet. Her name means ‘joy’ so it’s very suiting for her. She’s very joyful and she loves it here. She loves everyone here, all of the staff,” Christie said.

Christie was referred to Shepherd’s Maternity House by a local pregnancy resource center. Staff members quickly helped to get her settled and comfortable.

“I’ve gotten donations, even maternity clothes, things for the baby and other resources,” she explained. “They have pointed me in the right direction so I can get on my feet.”

From the minute she walked into Shepherd’s Maternity House, Christie said she was given a warm welcome.

“I was surprised to see it was such a home-like atmosphere,” Christie said. “All of the moms staying here are here for one another. We support one another. We have our own challenges but we’ve been able to learn from one another.”

Every mother and baby who comes through the door of Shepherd’s Maternity House is loved beyond measure. As many as eight women and eight infants at a time are able to stay at the facility for up to 18 months.

Shepherd’s Maternity House, which is operated by Catholic Social Services of the Diocese of Scranton, is located in East Stroudsburg, Monroe County.

More than just a roof over their heads and safe place to sleep, Shepherd’s Maternity House staff provide resources and support for the women to become self-reliant.

From parenting classes, rides to doctor’s appointments, and providing donated clothing, diapers, bottles and toys – every need of both mothers and babies is met.

“It is a blessing and it is so needed. I’m so grateful because I didn’t know where I was going to go when I first got pregnant and I wasn’t aware that there were even maternity shelters so it was a relief,” Christie explained. “There are so many women, like me, who don’t know where to go. They may be afraid and they need a safe place.”

Donations to the 2022 Diocesan Annual Appeal benefit Catholic Social Services and help to keep the doors of Shepherd’s Maternity House open.

“We are so grateful for all the donations from all the local parishes and parishes in our diocese who have given Shepherd’s Maternity (House) so much. The girls and the infants have no need,” Kathy Chelednik said.

For the last five years, Chelednik has served as supervisor of Shepherd’s Maternity House.

“Shepherd’s Maternity House is not your typical shelter. It becomes a home and it gives the women a home to be in,” she explained.

Chelednik has seen first-hand how gifts to the Diocesan Annual Appeal directly benefit mothers like Jessica and Christie. She has also seen how little miracles, like Jaylin and Abigail, are provided a loving and nurturing place to call home for the first months of their lives.

“A lot of women come in with nothing and leave with a lot of dignity,” Chelednik said.