Pope Francis receives a gift of flowers in Bahrain, Nov. 6, 2022. Monsignor Christopher Washington, seen behind Pope Francis, a Diocese of Scranton priest, accompanied the Holy Father on his Apostolic Journey. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)
Pope gives his blessing at the end of a meeting with young people at Sacred Heart School in Awali, Bahrain, Nov. 5, 2022. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

AWALI, BAHRAIN – As a member of the Diplomatic Corps of the Holy See, Scranton diocesan priest Monsignor Christopher Washington was among the traveling entourage of His Holiness, Pope Francis, when the Holy Father made his recent Apostolic Journey to the Kingdom of Bahrain.

During the papal visit, the Pope met with the King of Bahrain, civil authorities, diplomats and principal leaders from the Islamic world and other Christian denominations. He also celebrated Mass and met with the vibrant Catholic community in the region.

Ordained for the Diocese of Scranton in 2006, Monsignor Washington, a Wilkes-Barre native, began his diplomatic service for the Vatican in 2015, having served as Deputy Head of Mission of the Apostolic Nunciature (Embassy of the Holy See) in Bolivia and Lithuania prior to his appointment to Rome. He has fulfilled the role as a personal aide and translator for Pope Francis since 2021.

Mary Siejak, right, works with students in her Individualized Instruction classroom at Good Shepherd Academy in Kingston on Oct. 28, 2022. Siejak has been named ‘2022 Educator of the Year’ by Wilkes University. (Photo/Eric Deabill)

KINGSTON – One minute, Mary Siejak is helping a group of students learn to say colors in Spanish. The next, the Good Shepherd Academy educator is across the room helping others cut-and-paste the words of the Hail Mary onto a piece of paper.

Siejak’s classroom is a constant source of activity and empowerment – and there is nothing that she would change.

On Nov. 15, 2022, Siejak’s hard work and dedication paid off as Wilkes University named her its ‘2022 Educator of the Year.’ The award celebrates excellence by a caring and ethical educator who has dedication to all students in his/her learning community.

“It was a complete surprise,” Siejak said upon learning she won the award.

After working throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Siejak admitted she is honored by the designation.

“For someone to say, what you did and what you’re doing is really great and we’d like to celebrate you and the children and your school community, that really does mean a lot,” she explained.

For the last seven years, Siejak has been an Individualized Instruction teacher at Good Shepherd Academy. She excels at helping students with exceptionalities become the best person they can be and to exposing them to life outside a special education classroom.

“They are the reason why I get up in the morning. If it wasn’t for them, I don’t know where I would be. They have changed my life so much,” Siejak said. “Their journey may not be a typical one but they can still accomplish their goals, they can still be active, engaged participants, not only in a school community but society at large.”

Siejak is a product of the Diocese of Scranton Catholic School System itself, having attended Pope John Paul II School in Nanticoke. She was also part of the first graduating class of Holy Redeemer High School. Siejak says she fell in love with special education after helping a friend’s daughter who was visually impaired.

“Mary is the best of the best. There are a lot of moving parts in the Individualized Instruction classroom,” Jim Jones, Good Shepherd Academy principal, said. “We are blessed with these children that God has entrusted to us. Their parents believe in us and we have an obligation to teach them in the Catholic faith.”

After observing Siejak in her classroom for only a few minutes, Jones says her love for her students becomes clear.

“She doesn’t stop from the minute she walks in until the minute she leaves,” Jones added. “She eats with her children. She doesn’t take any breaks.

She is in specials with them. Wherever they are, she is there and that is nice to know. It’s a comfort for families to know their children are not only safe but entrusted with teachers who love them.”

Jennie Kopka started last year as an aide in Siejak’s Individualized Instruction classroom.

“She is kind and gentle and safe. I think all the children feel safe with Ms. S. and know that she always has their best interests in mind,” Kopka said.

Directly outside the door of her Individualized Instruction classroom, Good Shepherd Academy has a bulletin board highlighting how Miss Siejak makes a difference every day. While describing her tremendous talent, strength and grace, the words of her extraordinary students speak the loudest.

“Miss S. is fun and takes us outside to get fresh air,” one student wrote.

“She’s beautiful, lovely, and very kind,” another said.

“Miss S. is awesome, what more could I say,” a third wrote.

As she celebrates receiving the ‘2022 Educator of the Year’ award from Wilkes University, Siejak says it is those words that truly matter.

“You can’t help but get emotional because they speak the truth, especially students of this population. They wear their heart on their sleeve, so to hear that, coming from them about me, tells me that I’m doing something right and I need to continue to do that for them because it makes them better people,” she said.

Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services smiles Nov. 15, 2022, after being elected president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops during a session of the fall general assembly of the bishops in Baltimore. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)
Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, speaks during a Nov. 15, 2022, news conference at a session of the fall general assembly of the bishops in Baltimore. Archbishop Lori was elected the new vice president of the conference during the assembly. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

BALTIMORE (CNS) – Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services was elected Nov. 15 to a three-year term as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops during the bishops’ fall general assembly in Baltimore.

The native of suburban Cleveland was chosen from a slate of 10 nominees, winning with 138 votes.

In subsequent voting, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore was elected to serve a three-year term as conference vice president. He was elected on the third ballot by 143-96 in a runoff with Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana.

Under USCCB bylaws, the vice president is elected from the remaining nine candidates.

The two top officers begin their terms at the conclusion of the fall assembly Nov. 17.

Archbishop Broglio, 70, worked in the Vatican diplomatic corps before being named the head of the military archdiocese in 2007. He has served as conference secretary for the past three years.

The prelate has been an advocate for members of the U.S. military around the world. He regularly visits U.S. service members as part of his responsibilities in leading the archdiocese. Archbishop Broglio also has been an advocate for pro-life causes.

Because Archbishop Broglio is conference secretary, the bishops planned to vote Nov. 16 for his replacement. Likewise, Archbishop Lori, 71, is chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities and his successor will be voted on after the election of conference secretary.

Archbishop Broglio has served as chairman of the bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace and their Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance and as a member of the Task Force for the 2013 Special Assembly.

He also served on the committees for Religious Freedom and International Justice and Peace and the subcommittees for the Defense of Marriage and Health Care.

He was ordained a priest in the Diocese of Cleveland in 1977. In the Vatican diplomatic corps, he served as secretary in the apostolic nunciature in Ivory Coast and later in Paraguay. From 1990 to 2001 he was chief of cabinet to Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state under St. John Paul II and desk officer for Central America.

In 2001, he was named nuncio to the Dominican Republic and apostolic delegate to Puerto Rico.

Archbishop Lori was appointed the 16th archbishop of Baltimore by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012.

He is the former chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Doctrine and its Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty. He began a three-year term as the bishops’ pro-life chairman at the end of the USCCB’s 2021 fall assembly.

Archbishop Lori is chancellor and chairman of the board of St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore, chancellor of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Maryland, and past chairman of the board of trustees of The Catholic University of America in Washington.

He also is currently supreme chaplain of the Knights of Columbus.

A native of Louisville, Kentucky, he was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Washington in 1977 in St. Matthew Cathedral in Washington.

His first assignment was as associate pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Landover, Maryland. Then he served as secretary to Washington Cardinal James A. Hickey as well as chancellor, moderator of the curia and vicar general.

In 1995, Archbishop Lori was ordained as an auxiliary bishop of Washington. In 2001, he was appointed bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut.

In other voting Nov. 15, bishops were elected for three episcopal seats on the board of Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. bishops’ overseas relief and development agency.

Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer of Atlanta was elected to his first term to the CRS board, while Bishop Mark J. Seitz of El Paso, Texas, and Bishop Anthony B. Taylor of Little Rock, Arkansas, were reelected for a second term.

A Priesthood Perspective by Fr. Gregory Reichlen

When I was 17 years old, an Adoration Chapel dedicated to Saint John Neumann was founded in my home parish, Saint Brigid in Friendsville, Susquehanna County (at the time Saint Joseph and St. Augustine).

I was a senior in high school and I don’t recall ever having experienced Adoration before this moment in my life or even knowing what it was! My parents had signed up for a weekly Holy Hour in the chapel. My memory is a bit fuzzy, but I believe that one day my parents asked if I could substitute for their weekly hour.

Suddenly, I was praying in silence, for an entire hour, in front of the Blessed Sacrament. I didn’t know at the time anything about prayer or how to pray, and this was my first time in front of a monstrance, just Jesus and me. This moment and a few subsequent Holy Hours were the seeds of my vocation, simply being in the Presence of Jesus and learning that prayer is a conversation with God, and not just saying prayers. I blame it on my parents!

As our Lord nourished my vocation through college and in the seminary, Jesus’ Real Presence in the Eucharist has always been at the center of my calling and formation.

Now having been ordained a priest for almost 15 years, I am just beginning to more fully grasp the gift of Christ who feeds us through this great mystery, and who speaks to us about His life and love.

In ministry, we priests are privileged to witness in people’s everyday lives the amazing connection between the celebration of the Sunday Mass, the preaching of God’s Word, the experience of an encounter with Christ, and the relationships that we nurture outside the walls of the church. We are the hands and feet of Christ!

All these things – Word, Real Presence, Encounter, and Relationship – are connected in the gift of the Eucharist, and Jesus’ great desire to revive and rebuild His Body, the Church, in this time and this generation.

Our generation is facing the greatest crisis that the Church has faced in hundreds of years. The sins and crimes of church leaders and shifting cultural winds have led us to a point where most people are not angry at the Church, but simply indifferent. Church doesn’t matter.

More than 90 percent of baptized Catholics under 50 years old do not participate whatsoever in the life of the Church. Ninety percent of congregations and other religious institutions, Catholic or otherwise, are dying a slow death.

It’s not just about lack of knowledge and belief in the Real Presence in the Eucharist and catechesis in general – it’s about reviving that connection for people between a welcoming experience, a moving encounter, and Christian relationships. It’s about forming disciples in this time and generation who are equipped and empowered to revive the Church. They give credible witness in their homes, schools, and the community that Christ is alive, forming relationships and inviting others!

At my current assignment, Saint John the Apostle Parish in East Stroudsburg, we are striving to do this. Our strategy of welcoming the unchurched and de-churched is focused on an irresistible experience of the weekend Mass for people of all ages.

Music inspires and uplifts people to come in the door and lift up their hearts in worship in the Sunday Mass. I work very hard to prepare my preaching series to nourish and challenge people to come back week to week.

Ministries, especially children’s ministries during Mass and hospitality ministers at the door, signal to people that they belong here! All along, we are striving to make a space for experience, relationship, and forming leaders.

Recently we held a Family Holy Hour after Mass where more than 200 people attended. Our adult Small Groups have brought over 135 people into deeper relationships in our parish, and it is inherently connected to the celebration of Sunday Mass because the same homily preached each week is the topic of the Small Groups.

Volunteers at our parish, nourished by the Eucharist, go out and serve the community in our Mission Partners program. An encounter with Christ is so fundamental to our faith that we founded an Adoration Chapel dedicated to Saint Joseph, to provide people the same opportunity that I had some 30 years ago to experience Christ’s calling in silent prayer.

In my home parish, Adoration has continued at Saint Brigid, a small country parish, to this very day! My parents still have their Holy Hour! Above all the Eucharist reminds me every day that Christ has not abandoned His Church. Wherever the Eucharist is celebrated and the Word of God is preached, Christ is Present and Alive!

Let us together lead a revival of our Church. May we have the courage to share in a hopeful and realistic vision for the future.

Father Reichlen was ordained to the Priesthood in June 2008. He has been Pastor of Saint John the Apostle Parish since 2015 and also currently serves as an Assistant Vocation Director

Father Fred Jenga, C.S.C., President, Holy Cross Family Ministries, leads a rosary for the sainthood cause of Father Patrick Peyton at the Cathedral of Saint Peter on Nov. 3, 2022. (Photo/Dan Gallagher)

SCRANTON – Clutching a rosary that Father Patrick Peyton once used decades ago, Father Fred Jenga, C.S.C., President, Holy Cross Family Ministries, led the faithful of Scranton in a special recitation of the rosary on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022, at the Cathedral of Saint Peter.

Father Peyton, a Candidate for Sainthood, is well known for his famous message, “The family that prays together stays together.” Best known as “The Rosary Priest,” Peyton traveled the world conducting hundreds of rosary rallies with more than 28 million people in attendance.

“Father Peyton is a pioneer of Catholic media in this country but also around the world,” Father Jenga said in an interview with The Catholic Light.

Peyton died in 1992. The Vatican declared him a “Servant of God” in 2001. That is the first title on the four-step path to canonization. In 2017, Pope Francis declared him “Venerable,” fulfills the second step.

Before he can get the title “Blessed,” a medical miracle attributed to Peyton’s intercession must be verified.

“We have one (miracle) which is being investigated by Rome, so that he can be able to be taken to the next stage and be ‘Blessed,’” Father Jenga stated.

A second miracle will be needed before Peyton can be declared a saint.

Father Jenga said reciting the rosary in Scranton is significant because Peyton had a special connection to the Electric City and the very Cathedral where the rosary took place.

In 1928, at the age of 19, Peyton served as a sexton at the Cathedral of Saint Peter after arriving from his native Ireland.

“Today is a powerful, emotional day in my life,” Father Jenga said. “It was in this very cathedral that an Irishman served as a janitor or a custodian and was able to rediscover his vocation to the priesthood.”

Father Jenga said after becoming a priest, Father Peyton committed years of his life going around the world encouraging people to pray in their homes.

“This is the place where it all started from,” Father Jenga said. “This very space, this man, who used to open the doors of this Cathedral … this man is on the road to sainthood now.”

Father Jeffrey D. Tudgay, Pastor of the Cathedral of Saint Peter, talked about Peyton during the 12:10 p.m. Mass right before the rosary.

“He worked in this very cathedral, and every time I talk about it in this cathedral, I get goosebumps,” Father Tudgay said.

Holy Cross Family Ministries continues Father Peyton’s ministry to this day, encouraging family prayer and the power of prayer in homes. The organization serves 18 counties and has 27 ministry offices around the world, including in Latin America, Africa, Europe and Canada.

Father Jenga says there is a growing devotion to Father Peyton’s legacy around the world, especially in countries like Uganda, Tanzania and the Philippines.

“The rest of the world is on fire for this man. We have institutions named after him and rallies and concerts being prepared in honor of this man,” Father Jenga related. “His message is still relevant.”

Father Jenga said he is thrilled people in Scranton stand behind Peyton’s Cause for Sainthood.

“It’s the gift that this cathedral is giving to the rest of the world because we need a saint for the families and we’ve never needed a saint for the families more than how it is right now,” Father Jenga stated.

Dave Hollander, right, president of the board of directors at Saint Francis of Assisi Kitchen, attaches the license plate to the Kitchen’s new mobile clothing trailer on Oct. 27, 2022, in Carbondale, while Michele Bannon and Rob Williams assist. (Photos/Eric Deabill)

CARBONDALE – What started as a dream only ten months ago is now becoming reality.

On Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022, Rob Williams, executive director of Saint Francis of Assisi Kitchen, took possession of a brand new trailer that will soon become the Saint Francis Free Mobile Clothing Store, providing free clothing to people across northeastern Pennsylvania.

“We’re going to try and serve as many people as we can,” Williams said.

The idea started when Teddy Michel, director of the Ignatian Volunteer Corps, started discussing the work of Saint Francis Kitchen’s free clothing store with two of his volunteers.

“They were bragging about the quality of clothes and they said, ‘It’s a shame that we can’t get them out into the community,’” Michel said.

Michel initially joked that if he ever won the lottery – he would buy Saint Francis Kitchen a trailer – but it turns out he won’t need to strike it rich.

The idea was so good – the advisory board of Saint Francis Kitchen didn’t want to wait. They gave Williams permission to pursue the idea.

Williams quickly got in touch with ITI Cargo in Carbondale, which is a division of Novae LLC, which agreed to build the trailer at a deep discount.

“Their company has been amazing. They gave us a 50-percent discount. On the open market, this trailer would cost about $15,000 but they sold it to us for $7,500,” Williams explained.

Saint Francis of Assisi Kitchen took possession of a new custom-built trailer at ITI Cargo in Carbondale on Oct. 27, 2022. The trailer will become the Kitchen’s new mobile clothing store in the new year once renovations to it are completed.

Mari Lucas, general manager of ITI Cargo, said her employees were excited to help. Dozens of workers who helped build the trailer stood outside the facility as the trailer was officially handed over.

“Community service is something that the company really believes in,” she explained. “One of our employees, as we were working on it, said, let us give them a good start so our team has donated 32 bags of clothing as well.”

The Saint Francis Free Clothing Store already gives out more than 2,000 articles of clothing a month at its facility in downtown Scranton but the new mobile clothing store will let the agency help people in need by going right to their doorsteps.

Williams envisions parking the Saint Francis Free Mobile Clothing Store outside churches and high-rises when they are already providing meals in Olyphant and Carbondale.

“We are also going to be proactive about collaborating with other non-profits. If they’re gathering 100 people for a food distribution and they want to add clothing to that mix, we’ll give it to them,” Williams said. “Our goal is to collaborate with whoever wants to collaborate with us.”

The trailer is expected to hit the road for the first time in early 2023 after being retrofitted with cabinets and cubbies to hold all the clothing. The exterior of the trailer is also being decorated so that it will be recognizable to people in the community.

“This is a way for us to reach more people with the huge amount of donated clothing that we have,” Williams said.

John Lind of Plains Township enjoys socializing with friends at Saint Vincent de Paul Kitchen in Wilkes-Barre on a daily basis. As prices rise dramatically because of inflation, Lind says eating at the Kitchen helps to save him roughly $10 a day. (Photo/Eric Deabill)

WILKES-BARRE – On almost any day of the week around noontime, John Lind of Plains Township can be found sitting at a table with friends enjoying the Daily Meal at Saint Vincent de Paul Kitchen.

“I come here every day,” Lind said.

With the cost of groceries, gas, heating oil and many other essentials continuing to skyrocket, the 78 year old says eating at the Kitchen is one way he is able to save money.

“I would say it’s a minimum of $10 a day this place saves me,” he admitted. “I put that right in the gas tank.”

In addition to enjoying the Daily meal, Lind also frequently takes home fresh fruits, vegetables, and desserts that are regularly made available to guests.

In the midst of decades-high inflation, Mike Cianciotta, Executive Director of Saint Vincent de Paul Kitchen, says more people are turning to places like their facility on East Jackson Street for assistance.

“We have definitely seen an increase of new clients coming in,” Cianciotta said. “I hear them talking about the price of gas, their utilities going up and the general cost of living at this point.”

Saint Vincent de Paul Kitchen serves a warm, nutritious meal to the community every day of the year, including weekends and holidays, between 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

Everyone is welcome, no questions are asked.

Saint Vincent de Paul Kitchen is located at 39 East Jackson Street in Wilkes-Barre. It serves a daily meal from 11 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. every day of the year.

Every Thursday, the Kitchen also provides 14 meals to veterans living at Saint Hedwig’s Village in Kingston and 60-70 meals to the Women in Crisis program in Hazleton. The Kitchen also delivers 25 meals to Mother Teresa’s Haven, an emergency shelter for people in Wilkes-Barre, six nights a week.

In addition to the Kitchen, Saint Vincent de Paul Food Pantry is open every Tuesday and Thursday from 9 until 11 a.m. In addition to receiving canned goods and meat products, visitors also receive fresh fruits and vegetables.

Saint Vincent de Paul Kitchen accomplishes all of its work with just six full-time staff members – but relies on the kindness and generosity of volunteers, community groups and donors.

“Our staff is phenomenal. We all worked through COVID, through the whole pandemic, everyone came in and took care of the clients. We wouldn’t survive without the volunteers obviously,” Cianciotta said. “It costs us close to $500,000 a year to run this place. People don’t realize that, so monetary donations are very important.”

Ann Marie Harley, a parishioner at Saint Nicholas Parish in Wilkes-Barre, has been volunteering at the Kitchen for two years.

When asked to describe how important the Kitchen is to the community, she responded, “It is an answer for a lot of people just to have a warm meal every day.”

Harley not only knows most of the Kitchen guests by name, she knows their stories and favorite meals.

“I get upset when I have something going on and I can’t come because I feel like I’m letting them down,” she explained.

Joan Robinson, left, and Nancy Prebish have been volunteering at Saint Vincent de Paul Kitchen in Wilkes-Barre for nearly 17 years. Over that time, they have not only served the community, but developed a close friendship. (Photo/Eric Deabill)

WILKES-BARRE – Saint Francis of Assisi once said, “For it is in giving that we receive.” Those words could not be truer for two longtime volunteers at Saint Vincent de Paul Kitchen.

For nearly 17 years, Joan Robinson, 84, of Wilkes-Barre, and Nancy Prebish, 79, of Sugar Notch, have been donning aprons, prepping vegetables and serving those in need on a weekly basis.

“My husband got cancer and passed away,” Prebish said. “We weren’t lucky enough to have children but I felt I had to do something to get out and be with people so I decided to come to Saint Vincent de Paul and volunteer.”

That is where she met Robinson and the duo quickly struck up a friendship.

“We used to go on vacations together, we used to go on bus trips together,” Robinson explained of their friendship. “She’s the angel on my shoulder. I feel great just having her as a friend.”

“I could say the same thing for her too. It is surprising because you come to help people, but in the meantime, you meet so many volunteers that are in the same boat as you are. They lost somebody and want to give back to the community and are thankful for what they have,” Prebish explained.

Both Prebish and Robinson continue to serve at the Kitchen together every Friday. They enjoy getting to interact with the Kitchen guests just as much as they enjoy interacting with each other.

“You make good acquaintances with them. You joke around and you’re glad to see them and when you don’t see them, you wonder how they are doing,” Robinson said.

Both women encourage those people thinking about volunteering at Saint Vincent de Paul Kitchen to try it.

“I get a lot of joy out of it. It is a good place to socialize. A lot of us are by ourselves so it’s good to be out among other people,” Robinson stated.

Men and Women Religious celebrating 25, 50, 60, 70, 75 and 80 years of religious profession in 2022 were recognized during a Jubilee Mass on Nov. 6, 2022, at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton. Shown in the photo, left to right: Sister Elizabeth M. Pearson, I.H.M.; Sister Patricia Walsh, I.H.M.; Sister Maryalice Jacquinot, I.H.M.; Sister Ruth Neely, R.S.M.; Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton; Sister Teresa Ann Jacobs, S.C.C.; Sister Maria Goretti Timperio, I.H.M,; Father Michael Salvagna, C.P.; Brother Andre Mathieu, C.P.; and Sister Kathryn Kurdziel, I.H.M., Diocesan Delegate for Religious. (Photo/Mike Melisky)

SCRANTON – Thirty-five women and men religious who are celebrating milestone ordination anniversaries in 2022 were honored this month at a special Mass at the Cathedral of Saint Peter.

The Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, served as principal celebrant and homilist for a Jubilee Mass for Women and Men Religious on Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022.

“We celebrate your lives and we give thanks this day for your unique and singular contribution to the Church,” Bishop Bambera said during his homily.

“More than you likely realize or appreciate, you continually challenge us to trust in the mercy, love and forgiveness of God. That is something that many of us in this Church forget, all too often.”

The theme of trust played heavily into the bishop’s homily as he reflected on the Gospel for the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time. The Gospel involved the Sadducees questioning Jesus about eternal life and the resurrection.

The bishop helped explain Jesus’ answer saying that Heaven is “beyond time and experience” and only faith counts and remains.

“It really does come down to this: believe deeply that Jesus loves you with a love that endures through time and eternity. That alone should be enough for us,” Bishop Bambera stated.

As he brought the attention back to those in consecrated life being recognized at the Mass, Bishop Bambera said it is clear each jubilarian understands that message.

“We give thanks for those women and men who have understood the heart of today’s Gospel and have embraced the Lord’s call to holiness and mission because they have come to believe in the enduring love of God,” he said.

Those celebrating at the Mass are celebrating ordination anniversaries of 25, 50, 60, 70, 75 and 80 years. In all, 2,125 years of service were recognized.

“As I look at all of you who gather today in our Cathedral, many of whom I’ve known for years, I can only conclude that most of you entered religious life when you were five. You are amazing!” Bishop Bambera said with a smile.

As he wrapped up his homily, the bishop thanked all those in religious life who feed, heal, teach, pray for and build up the Kingdom of God – so often in quiet and simple ways.

“Thank you for challenging us to put our trust in the God who has filled your lives with hope. Thank you for inviting us to lift our eyes beyond the finite realities of life that so often overwhelm us,” the bishop said. “And thank you for reminding us of the treasure that is ours when we live not so much for ourselves, but for Christ, in service of our sisters and brothers.”

More than 335 men attended the ‘Be A Catholic Man Conference’ at Holy Redeemer High School on Oct. 8, 2022. (Photos/Mike Melisky)

WILKES-BARRE – When Ted Mike of Saint Therese Parish in Shavertown had a spiritual renewal in the late 1970s, he credited the book, Hungry for God, and its author, Dr. Ralph Martin, for being a big influence in his life.

“It totally changed my prayer life. It showed me how important prayer was, to have a daily time of prayer and quiet before the Lord,” Mike said. “He’s a real prophet for our time.”

On Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, Mike got a chance to hear directly from Dr. Martin, and even personally speak with him, at the seventh annual ‘Be A Catholic Man Conference’ at Holy Redeemer High School.

“It was wonderful to see so many men come together,” Mike explained.

More than 335 men attended this year’s conference. In addition to listening to three speakers, attendees also celebrated Mass and Eucharistic Adoration together and had the opportunity to participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

“Gathering together with other like-minded men, sharing your faith, sharing your prayer experiences, helps to encourage you and strengthen your faith,” Mike added.

During his speech, Dr. Martin gave those in attendance several practical tips about staying connected to Jesus Christ and relying on God in a deeper way.

Father Stan Fortuna, C.F.R., right center, speaks with men attending the seventh annual ‘Be A Catholic Man Conference’ on Oct. 8, 2022.

“The challenges of our time can seem absolutely overpowering and lead to anxiety and fear, if we’re not relying on the Lord,” Dr. Martin explained.

Martin told the men at the conference to unconditionally surrender to Jesus, do whatever it takes to get rid of serious sin, and take time each day to be with the Lord in prayer.

“The most important thing we can do for our families, for relatives, neighbors, fellow parishioners, is to grow in union with the Lord. The more we grow in union with the Lord, the more we’ll be a blessing for other people, the more we’ll be a source of peace, a source of wisdom, a source of courage,” he said.

Author and former sports reporter Kevin Wells, another speaker at the conference, also encouraged attendees to carve out at least 30 minutes every day to pray.

“From the depths of her heart, she (Blessed Virgin Mary) calls for strong men today to reveal her son to this aching world,” Wells said.

The words of the speakers spoke loudly to George Coyoy, a parishioner of Saint Michael Parish in Scranton. This was the first time he attended the ‘Be A Catholic Man Conference.’

“It reminds me of what my responsibilities and duties are as a Catholic man, father and husband,” Coyoy explained. “It gives me more strength and confidence in going out and proclaiming my faith and living out my faith unapologetically.”

John Schwear, a parishioner of Most Precious Blood Parish in Hazleton, brought his son, John Schwear III, to the men’s conference.

“It helps restore a lot of our faith and also keeps us looking forward,” the elder Schwear explained. “So many of the topics that we’re experiencing today, we talk about at home.”

As they left the conference, many of the conference attendees held fast to the words that Father Stan Fortuna, C.F.R., spoke about. Fortuna, the final speaker of the conference, was one of the eight founding members of the Community of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal.

“Do not be afraid to open wide the doors to Christ and to His power,” Father Fortuna said.