(OSV News) – Gov. Josh Shapiro called on Pennsylvania’s legislature Feb. 16 to end the death penalty, marking the first time a governor of the Keystone State has formally called on lawmakers to abolish the practice. Shapiro also said he will not authorize its use during his term.

Shapiro, a Democrat who was sworn in Jan. 17 as governor, announced his decision during remarks while visiting the Mosaic Community Church in West Philadelphia.

“I will not issue any execution warrants during my term as Governor,” Shapiro wrote in a statement posted on Twitter.

The death chamber table is seen in 2010 at the state penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas. Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro called on his state legislature Feb. 16, 2023, to end the death penalty, marking the first time a Pennsylvania governor has formally called on the legislature to abolish the practice. (CNS photo/courtesy Jenevieve Robbins, Texas Department of Criminal Justice handout via Reuters/OSV News)

“When one comes to my desk, I will sign a reprieve every time — and I’m asking the General Assembly to send me a bill abolishing the death penalty in Pennsylvania once and for all,” he said.

Shapiro, who has been vocal about his Jewish faith, cast his decision as a matter of conscience.

“I have considered every aspect of Pennsylvania’s capital sentencing system, reflected on my conscience and weighed the tremendous responsibilities I have,” he said. “Pennsylvania should do what 25 other states have done in outlawing the death penalty or refusing to impose it.”

Shapiro stressed that his decision not to authorize the practice “is not a statement on the integrity of individual capital convictions in Pennsylvania.”

“This is a fundamental statement of morality,” he said. “Of what’s right and wrong. And I believe Pennsylvania must be on the right side of this issue.”

Shapiro’s remarks dovetail with the Catholic Church’s call to abolish the death penalty worldwide.

In his 2020 encyclical, “Fratelli Tutti,” Pope Francis cited the writings of St. John Paul II, whom he said “stated clearly and firmly that the death penalty is inadequate from a moral standpoint and no longer necessary from that of penal justice.”

“There can be no stepping back from this position,” Pope Francis wrote. “Today we state clearly that ‘the death penalty is inadmissible’ and the church is firmly committed to calling for its abolition worldwide.”

The pontiff also revised the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC, No. 2267) in 2018 to reflect that position.

“We applaud Governor Shapiro’s decision to not issue any death warrants during his term as Pennsylvania’s governor,” Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy, executive director of the Catholic Mobilizing Network, told OSV News. The group she heads opposes capital punishment consistent with Catholic teaching.

“His announcement today went an important step further by urging Pennsylvania lawmakers to pursue repeal legislation, and to make a concerted effort to remove capital punishment from Pennsylvania’s books for good,” Vaillancourt Murphy said. “His announcement is an important reminder that governors have a critical role to play in moving states away from vengeful systems like capital punishment and toward more equitable and life-affirming approaches to justice.”

Vaillancourt Murphy said Shapiro “is correct in saying that ending capital punishment comes down to morality — the death penalty’s systemic flaws are plentiful, but the degree of its moral bankruptcy is interminable.”

“Because of this, it will take strong moral will from our political leaders to abolish it,” she added. “We were grateful to see an example of this kind of moral leadership coming from Gov. Shapiro today, and we pray that more governors in death penalty states will soon follow suit.”

Pennsylvania has carried out three executions since 1976, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, and currently has the country’s fifth largest death row.

In 2021, the Biden administration ordered a moratorium on carrying out federal death sentences. That policy suspended, but did not end, the practice at the federal level.

ROME (CNS) – What matters is the truth and the love that God sees, not what is superficial, showy and self-centered, Pope Francis said during a Mass to mark the beginning of Lent.

Lent is the time, he said, “to proclaim that God alone is Lord, to drop the pretense of being self-sufficient and the need to put ourselves at the center of things, to be the top of the class, to think that by our own abilities we can succeed in life and transform the world around us.”

“How many distractions and trifles distract us from the things that really count! How often do we get caught up in our own wants and needs, lose sight of the heart of the matter, and fail to embrace the true meaning of our lives in this world!” he said.

“Lent is a time of truth, a time to drop the masks we put on each day to appear perfect in the eyes of the world,” he said, and to “reject lies and hypocrisy. Not the lies and hypocrisies of others, but our own.”

Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, sprinkles ashes on the head of Pope Francis during Ash Wednesday Mass at the Basilica of Santa Sabina in Rome Feb. 22, 2023. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

Pope Francis, dressed in the purple vestments of the Lenten season, celebrated an Ash Wednesday Mass Feb. 22 at Rome’s Basilica of Santa Sabina. The liturgy began with a procession from the nearby Church of St. Anselm on the Aventine Hill. However, Pope Francis did not do the traditional walk because a painful knee has limited his mobility.

At the Basilica of Santa Sabina, the pope received ashes on the top of his head from Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, who also was the main celebrant at the altar. Cardinal Piacenza, who is head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, distributed ashes to a number of cardinals, bishops and others attending the Mass.

In his homily, the pope said the Lenten period is “the favorable time” for returning to what is essential and true, and to be reconciled with God and each other.

The rite of the imposition of ashes reminds people to “return to the truth about ourselves,” which is that “the Lord alone is God and we are the work of his hands.”

God, a tender and merciful father, always waits for his children to reconcile with him and he “constantly urges us not to despair, even when we lie fallen in the dust of our weakness and sin.”

The ashes also invite the faithful to rebuild their relationships with others, he said.

Lent, the pope said, is a time to “break the chains of our individualism” and to rediscover “our companions along the journey of each day” through encounter and listening, and “to learn once more to love them as brothers and sisters.”

The three great paths to take on this journey of truth and reconciliation, he said, are the paths of almsgiving, prayer and fasting.

However, they must be done with a heart that is truly renewed and sincere, he said.

“All too often, our gestures and rites have no impact on our lives; they remain superficial. Perhaps we perform them only to gain the admiration or esteem of others,” the pope said.

However, the pope warned, “outward displays, human judgments and the world’s approval count for nothing; the only thing that truly matters is the truth and love that God himself sees.”

He asked that the faithful use the 40 days of Lent to: “rediscover the joy, not of accumulating material goods, but of caring for those who are poor and afflicted”; to put God at the center of one’s life and pray and dialogue with him from the heart; and to become free “from the dictatorship of full schedules, crowded agendas and superficial needs, and choose the things that truly matter.”

“The ashes we receive this evening tell us that every presumption of self-sufficiency is false and that self-idolatry is destructive, imprisoning us in isolation and loneliness,” Pope Francis said. “Life is instead a relationship: we receive it from God and from our parents, and we can always revive and renew it thanks to the Lord and to those he puts at our side.”



Reverend Michael Edward Finn, died on the 18th day of February, 2023 at Commonwealth Regional Hospital, Scranton.

Reverend Michael Edward Finn, son of the late Patrick Joseph Finn and Sally A. McLane Finn, was born in Pittston on March 1, 1950.   He was a graduate of Pittston High School, attended St. Mary’s College, Kentucky, and was a graduate of the University of Scranton.  Father received his seminary education from Pope Saint Pius X Seminary, Dalton, Pennsylvania and Christ the King Seminary, Olean, New York.  He was ordained to the priesthood in the Cathedral of St. Peter, Scranton, on May 7, 1977 by Bishop J. Carroll McCormick, late Bishop of Scranton.   

Father Finn received a summer appointment as assistant pastor pro tem at St. Ann Church, Shohola in May 1977 and in September of that year, was appointed assistant pastor at St. Matthew Church, East Stroudsburg.  In September 1983, Father was appointed Assistant Pastor, Our Lady of the Snows, Clarks Summit.

Father received his first pastorate at Holy Child Church, Mansfield in July 1990.  He was next appointed Pastor, St. Catherine of Siena Parish, Moscow in July 1994 and served for thirteen years until his appointment as Pastor, St. Thomas More, Lake Ariel in July 2007.  In July 2013, Father was appointed Pastor, St. Barbara Church, Exeter where he remained until his retirement and appointment as Pastor Emeritus in May 2022.

Father also served the Diocese as Regional Coordinator of Religious Education (Monroe and Pike Counties); Deanery Coordinator for Pope Saint John Paul’s Visit in 1979; Dean of Tioga County and Dean of Dunmore deanery.  Having a great love for the scriptures, Father was able to take a sabbatical and studied in the Holy Land, Father would often lead tours to the Holy Land which were well appreciated for their in-depth insights into both the Bible and the pilgrimage sites.

Father Finn is survived by siblings, Ann Teresa Engleman, Pittston; Edward Finn (Peg), Brigantine, NJ; W. Gordon Finn, Pittston; Kathleen Masulis, Pittston; and Patricia Medico (Charles), Laflin; sister-in-law of the heart, Cheryl Finn, Plains; nieces, nephews, great nieces, great nephews and cousins. 

In addition to his parents, Father was preceded in death by brothers-in-law, Edward Masulis and George Engleman; and a nephew, Brian Engleman.

Viewing will take place Wednesday, February 22, 2023 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at St. John the Evangelist Church, 35 William Street, Pittston.  A Vesper Service will be celebrated at 8:00 p.m.

A Pontifical Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated by the Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, D.D., J.C.L., Bishop of Scranton, on Thursday, February 23 at 10:30 a.m. preceded by a viewing from 9:30 a.m. to 10:15 a.m.   Interment will be in St. John the Evangelist Cemetery, Pittston.  In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to St. Joseph’s Center, 2010 Adams Avenue, Scranton, PA  18510. Arrangements are entrusted to Adonizio Funeral Home, LLC, Pittston, Pa.   On-line condolences may be made by visiting Father Finn’s obituary at adoniziofuneralhome.com 

SCRANTON (Feb. 19, 2023) – The Diocese of Scranton is saddened to hear of the devastating fire at the former Saint Hedwig’s Catholic Church on Zerby Avenue on Sunday morning, February 19, 2023.

The Diocese is truly grateful for the response of so many fire departments in the area and for the bravery of the firefighters and first responders at the scene. The fire has caused significant damage to the structure of the former church.

Saint Hedwig’s closed for worship in 2007. The former church building was initially purchased by Catholic Social Services but later sold to another entity. Catholic Social Services retains the former school building, which currently operates as Saint Hedwig’s Veterans Village. That building was not impacted by Sunday’s fire.

The Diocese of Scranton extends its profound gratitude to all those who have offered prayers during this unfortunate event.

SCRANTON – On Ash Wednesday, February 22, 2023, the Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, will be principal celebrant and homilist for the 12:10 p.m. Mass at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton.

Ash Wednesday marks the start of Lent, a 40-day season of prayer, fasting and almsgiving that ends at sundown on Holy Thursday. It is a period of preparation to celebrate the Lord’s Resurrection at Easter.

Faithful from the Diocese of Scranton participate in Ash Wednesday Mass at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton on March 2, 2022. This year, Ash Wednesday is on Feb 22, 2023. Ash Wednesday Masses at the Cathedral of Saint Peter this year will be held at 6:30 a.m., 8 a.m., 12:10 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.

During Lent, the following fasting and abstinence regulations are observed:

FASTING is to be observed on Ash Wednesday (Feb. 22, 2023) and Good Friday (April 7, 2023) by all Catholics over 18 years of age to the beginning of their 60th year. On days of fasting, one full meal is allowed. Two smaller meals, sufficient to maintain strength, may be taken according to one’s needs, but together should not equal another full meal, unless dispensed or excused.

ABSTINENCE from meat is to be observed by all Catholics who are 14 years of age or older. Ash Wednesday, all of the Fridays of Lent, and Good Friday are days of abstinence.

“The Season of Lent provides us with many grace-filled opportunities to grow in our faith,” Bishop Bambera said. “May we be filled with awe and comforted by Jesus’ presence in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist – strengthened for mission – and ready to assume our responsibility in proclaiming the mercy and love of Christ for our world.”

In addition to the 12:10 p.m. Mass with Bishop Bambera, ashes will also be distributed at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton during Masses held at 6:30 a.m., 8 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. A full listing of Ash Wednesday Masses for all 114 parishes in the Diocese of Scranton is also available on the main page of dioceseofscranton.org.

Throughout the Season of Lent, Bishop Bambera will also visit every geographic area of the Diocese of Scranton holding a Lenten Holy Hour. A Holy Hour is a period of time spent in prayer before the Lord, present to all sacramentally in the Eucharist. A Holy Hour involves personal prayer, meditation readings from Scripture, hymns and more.

The dates and locations for Bishop Bambera’s Lenten Holy Hours across the Diocese of Scranton are:

Thursday, Feb. 23, 7 p.m.

Saint Rose of Lima Parish, Carbondale


Tuesday, Feb. 28, 7 p.m.

Most Holy Trinity Parish, Cresco


Wednesday, March 8, 7 p.m.

Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Montoursville


Thursday, March 9, 7 p.m.

Ss. Peter & Paul Parish, Towanda


Monday, March 13, 7 p.m.

St. Robert Bellarmine Parish, Wilkes-Barre


Tuesday, March 14, 7 p.m.

Mary, Mother of God Parish, Scranton


Monday, March 20, 7 p.m.

St. Gregory Parish, Clarks Green


Wednesday, March 22, 7 p.m.

Corpus Christi Parish, West Pittston


Thursday, March 23, 7 p.m.

Ss. Cyril and Methodius Parish, Hazleton


Monday, March 27, 7 p.m.

Queen of Peace Parish, Hawley


Tuesday, March 28, 7 p.m.

Ss. Anthony and Rocco Parish, Dunmore


Wednesday, March 29, 7 p.m.

St. John the Baptist Parish, Larksville

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Every year on Ash Wednesday, the prophet Joel sets the stage for the sacred season of Lent. “Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning. Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the Lord, your God. For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment” (Joel 2:12-13)

The prophet challenges us to reflect upon the essence of our lives as Christians and as authentic disciples of Jesus. He reminds us that pious actions and rituals, from the ancient practice of rending garments to express sorrow for sin, to the imposition of ashes on our foreheads, provide little support for our lives of faith unless they are rooted in – and flow from – the depths of our hearts where God is found.

Faithful from the Diocese of Scranton participate in Ash Wednesday Mass at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton on March 2, 2022. This year, Ash Wednesday is on Feb 22, 2023. Ash Wednesday Masses at the Cathedral of Saint Peter this year will be held at 6:30 a.m., 8 a.m., 12:10 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.

Rather, the humble acknowledgement of our need for God – the courage to set aside our own sense of righteousness in order to trust more deeply in God’s merciful presence – and the willingness to be used by God in building the Church and in caring for the suffering, broken world in which we live reflect the movements of our hearts that lead to true conversion.

Ash Wednesday and Lent, by their very nature, provide experiences for prayer and reflection to support us in the noble endeavor of conversion. This year’s celebration is no exception, as the Church provides us with two blessed opportunities that have the power to fortify us in our resolve to become one with Christ and to participate in the proclamation of his message of salvation.

This past year on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ – Corpus Christ Sunday – the Church in the United States initiated a three-year period of Eucharistic Revival. Its purpose is to both restore and refresh our understanding of this great mystery of our faith in which Jesus, our Savior and Lord, is truly present in the Sacrament of the Eucharist – his very Body and Blood. In announcing this time of revival, the Bishops of our land envisioned that it would lead to “a movement of Catholics across the United States, healed, converted, formed and unified by an encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist – and sent out in mission ‘for the life of the world.’”

In so many ways, the vision of this Eucharistic Revival reflects the heart of the season of Lent. I would encourage you, then, to take advantage of the times that have been set aside in your parish communities for Eucharistic adoration. Like no other experience, prayer in the presence of our Eucharistic Lord has the power to change our lives and to fill us with the peace that only God can give. In gratitude for the singular gift of the Eucharist in the life of the Church, I will celebrate a Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament in each of our twelve deaneries throughout the weeks of Lent. I look forward to praying with many of you as we seek God’s healing grace.

The second opportunity that the Church provides for our Lenten journey builds upon the first and our encounter with Christ in the Holy Eucharist. Several years ago, Pope Francis announced that a Synod of Bishops would convene at the Vatican in October 2023, the theme of which will be For a synodal Church: communion, participation and mission.

In focusing upon the notion of synodality, the Holy Father reminds us that by virtue of our Baptism into Christ, all of us are called to be active participants in the life of the Church through discernment, participation and co-responsibility.

During the last year, thousands of you responded to the call of Pope Francis by sharing your hopes, concerns and dreams for the Catholic Church in preparation for the 2023 General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. Yet, far from being a temporary or one-time experience in calling the Church to participate in the Synod process, the Holy Father has asserted repeatedly that the very mission of the Church requires the entire People of God – you and me – to be on a journey together, with each member playing his or her crucial role in building up the Body of Christ, united with each other. Nothing captures the spirit of our Lenten sojourn more than this!

Brothers and sisters, the season of Lent provides us with many grace-filled opportunities to grow in our faith. May we use these days well as we walk together with our brothers and sisters preparing for Baptism and full initiation into the Church. Like them, may we renew our commitment to change our hearts, through the healing gift of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. May we be filled with awe and comforted by Jesus’ presence in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist – strengthened for mission – and ready to assume our responsibility in proclaiming the mercy and love of Christ for our world. In so doing, we will surely find our way to life and peace.

Faithfully yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, D.D., J.C.L.
Bishop of Scranton

SCRANTON – For twenty consecutive years, independent audits have found the Diocese of Scranton to be in full compliance with U.S. bishops’ policies to prevent sexual abuse of children by clergy and other church personnel.

The Diocese recently received its 2022 compliance certification from StoneBridge Business Partners, a private auditing firm based in New York, which has been contracted to conduct compliance audits of the nation’s 195 dioceses.

The Diocese of Scranton has passed audits of its child protection procedures, policies and records every year since the policy was adopted by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in 2002.

The USCCB spells out the policies that dioceses must follow in its “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.” The Charter is a comprehensive action plan for addressing allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy. It also includes guidelines for reconciliation, healing, accountability and prevention of future acts of abuse.

The findings are a result of a review of data collected for the 2021/2022 Charter audit period. The annual audit evaluates each diocese’s efforts to ensure the protection of children, including criminal background checks and educational awareness programs on recognizing and preventing abuse.

Among the information reported to the auditors in this most recent period: 8,639 students currently enrolled in Catholic schools in the Diocese or in parish religious education programs have received Safe Environment training.

A total of 230 priests who are in active ministry, along with 79 permanent deacons and 18 seminarians and candidates for the Diaconate have also received that training.

More than 559 educators and administrators in Diocesan schools, more than 869 employees of the Diocese of its parishes across 11 counties and 2,670 volunteers at schools, parishes and Diocesan facilities have also received valuable information to keep children safe. Many more individuals have also completed training on Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse in Pennsylvania.

In receiving the latest compliance audit results, the Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, stated, “Our 20 year compliance record with child protection audits highlights the commitment that the Diocese of Scranton, along with its parishes and schools, has in ensuring the protection of children. While many steps have been taken to address clergy sexual abuse, we must continue to listen, care for and walk with survivors. Every one of us must remain committed to safeguarding and strengthening our policies against the sexual abuse of minors.”

The Diocese of Scranton’s Safe Environment Office ensures that Charter standards are continually met.

For more information on the Diocese of Scranton’s Safe Environment Program, or for a full overview of all policies and protocols, visit dioceseofscranton.org.

SCRANTON – With just five days left in the anti-hunger cook-off and fundraising marathon known as Rectory, Set, Cook! the 2023 fundraising total was hovering around $150,000 at press time, with the goal of surpassing last year’s total raised – $171,000 – well within reach.

This year’s all-digital event showcases 24 teams consisting of at least one – but up to five – collared chefs from across the Diocese cooking (or attempting to cook) a specially selected dish or dishes on video. Each $10 donation for a video represents one vote for the participating pastor chef or chefs.

Each pastor chef has been working hard to get out the votes primarily for the purpose of fighting local hunger, given all sponsorship dollars and 50 percent of voting dollars raised will benefit Catholic Social Services’ anti-hunger efforts. The other half of voting dollars raised will stay with the pastor chef’s or chefs’ parish and can be designated toward a priority project or a charitable cause of the pastor chef’s choice.

Event director Sandra Snyder of the Diocese of Scranton’s Development Office is thrilled with the results so far and notes that there has not been a day without donations since the event launched on Jan. 10. Donations have come in at all hours of the day, every day, with the vast majority of gifts from in state but also – so far – representing 27 states. The most out-of-state donations have come from New York, New Jersey, Florida and Texas, Snyder said. Gifts have come from as far away as Anchorage, Alaska, Snyder said, noting the geographic reach really speaks to the generosity of the universal church.

Snyder also said the competition at the top of the leaderboard has been especially intense, with Fr. Jim Paisley, of St. Therese/St. Frances Cabrini Church in Shavertown, last year’s winner, leading the pack at press time, having raised about $16,000 singlehandedly. In second place were Team Bradford – Fr. Jose Kuriappilly, Fr. Dan Toomey and Fr. Shinu Vazhakkoottathil. Following in a very close third place were the retired priests of Villa St. Joseph, whose team consists of Msgr. Jack Bendik, Msgr. Vincent Grimalia and Fr. Charles Cummings.

“This year’s competition has been especially invigorating,” Fr. Paisley said. “As part of the top five, I am in great company with my brother priests who rose to the occasion and succeeded in raising the funds needed to take a bite out of hunger. Those who will benefit by the fruits (meats and vegetables) of our labors are the true winners of the 2023 ‘Rectory, Set, Cook’ campaign.”

Members of the top five teams will receive Master Pastor Chef hats for 2023, which are more about bragging rights and fun than priests competing for valuable prizes, Snyder said, adding that she expects a few come-from-behind surprises. Last year, the 10th-place finisher entered the leaderboard at 11:59 p.m. on the final day, she said, so anything can happen.

Also in the top five as of press time was Msgr. David Tressler of St. Ignatius Parish in Kingston and Holy Family Parish in Luzerne. He baked two pies this year under the watchful eye of his young niece Julia.

“Rectory, Set, Cook! is a great way to help those in need in our communities and diocese,” he said. “It allows our people to see the priests in a more relaxed mode.”
The event also has helped parishes to bond as a family, Fr. Kuriappilly, who cooked several versions of his Indian meal to feed his parish school’s students and teachers, noted.

“Our parish is so happy to be watching videos and tasting new foods and voting for a great cause, to help the hungry and needy,” he said. “This has united us in a very special way and generated much enthusiasm among everyone, especially for our school kids.”

The official winners will be those with the most dollars raised by midnight on Fat Tuesday, Feb. 21.

Votes can be cast on clicking on the Rectory, Set, Cook! icon on dioceseofscranton.org.


SCRANTON – All of the faithful in the Diocese of Scranton are invited to a Lenten Holy Hour with the Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, to commemorate the diocesan phase of the National Eucharistic Revival.

These gatherings will take place in each of the twelve deaneries of the Diocese of Scranton so there is a Holy Hour in your community in which you can join the bishop in praying for a renewal of our devotion to Jesus Christ present in the Eucharist!

The goal of the National Eucharistic Revival is to renew the Church by enkindling a living relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist.

What is a Holy Hour?

A Holy Hour is a period of time (usually around an hour) spent in prayer before our Lord Jesus Christ present to us sacramentally in the Eucharist. This involves silent personal prayer, meditation, readings from Sacred Scripture, hymns, spoken prayers and litanies, and can even involve popular devotions such as recitation of the Rosary or the Divine Mercy Chaplet. As Catholic Christians, there are many different ways to pray, and a Holy Hour is a great time to be in the very presence of Jesus and to pray in whatever manner is most fruitful for our spirituality.

What is Eucharistic Adoration and Exposition?

Eucharistic adoration is praying before the Lord Jesus who is truly present to us in the Eucharist. This usually takes place during a period of Eucharistic exposition when a consecrated host, the Blessed Sacrament, is placed in a monstrance (from the Latin word meaning “to show”). This tradition in the Catholic Church began in the Middle Ages when the faithful did not feel worthy enough to consume Holy Communion at Mass. Instead, they would faithfully gaze upon the consecrated host as the great mystery of God’s love revealed to us in Christ and offer their prayers. While the frequent reception of Holy Communion at Mass is encouraged today, the Church still considers this tradition of Eucharistic Adoration an indispensable part of Catholic faith and spirituality.

What will happen during each Holy Hour?

This Lenten Holy Hour with Bishop Bambera commemorates the diocesan phase of the National Eucharistic Revival in which the bishops of the United States hope to rekindle in Catholics a living relationship with the Lord Jesus in the sacrament of the Eucharist. The evening begins with Solemn Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, followed by a period of silent, personal prayer and contemplation. Vespers, or Evening Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours, will then be offered with hymns, psalms and readings pertaining to the Eucharist. Bishop Bambera will give a homily on the Eucharist during Vespers, and the Holy Hour concludes with Benediction, or the Blessing of the Faithful with the Eucharist.

Why should I go to this Holy Hour?

The word “Eucharist” comes from the Greek word meaning “to give thanks” and this season of Lent is the perfect time for each of us to recognize our own brokenness and to express our gratitude for God’s grace manifested in the death and resurrection of Jesus. We are not alone on this Lenten journey: we join our prayers during these Holy Hours with the faithful all over the Diocese of Scranton, united with our Bishop, the Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, as well as Catholic all over the United States in praying for a renewal in our devotion to the Holy Eucharist.


(OSV News) – The experience of the sacrament of penance in the Roman rite will be slightly different this Lent, thanks to approved changes in the English translation set to take effect in a few weeks.

Starting Ash Wednesday – which takes place this year on Feb. 22 – the prayer of absolution will include three modifications, so that the revised version will read as follows:

“God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and poured out [formerly “sent”] the Holy Spirit for [previously “Holy Spirit among us for”] the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God grant [instead of “give”] you pardon and peace
And I absolve you from your sins in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

The new text was adopted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops during its Spring 2021 meeting, with the Vatican’s Dicastery (then-Congregation) for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments approving the text in April 2022. As of April 16, 2023, the Second Sunday of Easter known also as Divine Mercy Sunday, the revised formula for absolution is mandatory.

“The essential part of the absolution formula has not changed,” said Father Andrew Menke, executive director of the USCCB’s Secretariat for Divine Worship, during an Oct. 25, 2022, webinar co-sponsored by his office and the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions.

During his presentation, Father Menke admitted the bishops had debated whether the minor changes were worth undertaking.

However, he said the consensus favored striving for a more accurate translation from the Latin.

Father Menke noted penitents “who can be a little scrupulous” might panic if priests – many of whom “have said this prayer literally thousands of times” – inadvertently use the old form of absolution.

“They might be concerned (that absolution) doesn’t count,” he said. Yet he stressed that “the heart of the sacrament” remains intact, and the absolution is still valid.

While not a major alteration, the update to the text nonetheless offers “a wonderful opportunity to reiterate and teach the importance of the sacrament of penance as a staple for living the Christian life,” Father Dennis Gill, director of the Office for Divine Worship at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, told OSV News ahead of a Jan. 31 webinar he plans to give on the topic. “It’s also a wonderful opportunity to catechize about the sacrament itself.”

Father Menke noted in his October 2022 webinar that the updates are part of a broader effort by the Vatican to ensure accuracy in the translation of liturgical texts.
“It’s not due to anything against the Latin texts,” he said. “It’s based on the fact that the Holy See instructed the bishops of the world at the beginning of the 21st century that our translations needed to be more accurate.”

Liturgical texts have been revised throughout church history under papal direction: St. Pius V modified both the breviary and the missal in response to the Council of Trent, while St. Pius X, Pope Pius XII and St. John XXIII, who convened the Second Vatican Council, all significantly furthered such efforts.

The updates do not imply that “the (older versions) are heretical,” Father Menke told OSV News Jan. 30. “It’s just that church authorities have determined we might do better.”

The translation process is a rigorous one, with plenty of opportunities for bishops to review and reconsider the proposed updates, he added.