The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has put out a proposed regulation that would require employers to accommodate employees who choose to get abortions, such as by giving them leave to obtain one. The proposal misinterprets the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which is a new law meant to help working mothers keep their job, if they wish, while protecting their health and that of their preborn children. The EEOC is now twisting that law to promote abortion instead, the exact opposite of pregnancy. But there is nothing fair about ending an innocent baby’s life, or about forcing employers to go along with it.
Join USCCB in telling the EEOC to leave abortion out of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act!
AVOCA – Queen of the Apostles Parish, Avoca, is having a day of prayer dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe on Thursday, Sept. 7, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
At 7 p.m., the parish will have a special Holy Hour of Prayer for the unborn. The Silver Rose Prayer Service and a Silver Rose dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe, will be present. It is traveling from Canada to the United States to Mexico and will end at the Shrine of Our Lady in Mexico City.
Every stop the Silver Rose makes throughout the pilgrimage is a rosary-centered occasion for Knights of Columbus, parishioners and community members to pray for respect for life, for the spiritual renewal of each nation, and for the advancement of the message of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
All are invited to the parish throughout the day on Sept. 7 for Adoration and prayer and all are especially encouraged to attend the Holy Hour at 7 p.m.
LAFLIN –– The Congregation of the Oblates of Saint Joseph will host their 41st Annual Labor Day Weekend Triduum and Labor Day Mass in honor of Saint Joseph the Worker during the upcoming holiday weekend, Sept. 1-4, at the Oblates chapel, located at 1880 Route 315 in Laflin.
Masses during the Triduum –– Friday, Sept. 1, through Sunday, Sept. 3 –– will be celebrated at noon and 7 p.m., followed by devotional prayers to Saint Joseph as the patron saint of laborers. A blessing with the first-class relic of Saint Joseph Marello, founder of the Oblates of Saint Joseph, will conclude the devotions.
Guest celebrant and preacher for this year’s Labor Day Triduum will be Saint Joseph Oblate Father Gustavo Lopez, who ministers with the Oblates’ USA Province as assistant pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Bakersfield, Calif. A California native and ordained to the priesthood in 2009, Father Gustavo also serves in deliverance/exorcism ministry and as prison chaplain for the Diocese of Fresno.
The Triduum will conclude with a special Labor Day Mass honoring Saint Joseph the Worker on Monday, Sept. 4, at 11 a.m., concelebrated by OSJ priests serving in the Diocese of Scranton.
At the conclusion of the Mass, bread will be blessed and distributed to the faithful as a symbol of the “fruit of our labor.”
Masses celebrated during the Triduum and on Labor Day morning will be broadcast live on JMJ Catholic Radio 104.5 FM.
All are welcome to attend the devotions. For more information, contact the Oblates’ main office at (570) 654-7542, or by email: email@example.com.
DEDHAM, Mass. (OSV News) – The Massachusetts sex abuse case against former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick fell apart Wednesday as all criminal charges were dismissed due to the disgraced former cleric being deemed no longer mentally competent.
Dedham District Court Judge Michael Pomarole ruled McCarrick is unable to stand trial after receiving a medical report from prosecutors which agreed with the earlier defense report that McCarrick, 93, is suffering from dementia.
“The Commonwealth’s independent evaluator concurred that he is not competent,” said David Traub, spokesman for Norfolk County District Attorney Michael Morrissey.
Traub said the state moved to drop all charges after Pomarole’s ruling.
The substance of the reports on McCarrick’s mental capacities were not made public.
McCarrick’s lawyers, Barry Coburn and Daniel Marx, first raised the competency issue in February when they filed a motion to have the charges dismissed based on a report from a medical expert they hired. The defense attorneys claimed McCarrick suffers from advancing and irreversible dementia.
“While he has a limited understanding of the criminal proceedings against him, his progressive and irreparable cognitive deficits render him unable to meaningfully consult with his counsel or to effectively assist in his own defense,” Coburn and Marx wrote at the time.
McCarrick was charged in Dedham District Court in 2021 for allegedly assaulting a teen boy 50 years ago. He is one of the highest ranking Catholic prelates to be charged for sexual abuse since the church’s abuse scandal first broke out into the open in Boston in 2002.
Mitchell Garabedian, the lawyer who represented many of the original sex abuse victims in Boston and the attorney for McCarrick’s alleged victim, said the judge’s Aug. 30 ruling does not change what McCarrick did to his victims.
“In spite of the criminal court’s decision today, many clergy sexual abuse victims feel as though former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick is and will always be the permanent personification of evil within the Catholic Church,” Garabedian said.
McCarrick was charged with three counts of indecent assault and battery on a person over the age of 14. Each count carried a potential five-year prison sentence.
According to court records, McCarrick was close to the victim’s family, celebrating Mass at their home and even going on trips with them. The victim told investigators that McCarrick abused him during trips out of state. It was also under the guise of providing spiritual direction to the victim that the alleged abuse took place, according to the criminal complaint.
One incident allegedly took place in the 1970s at the wedding reception for the victim’s brother, which was held on Massachusetts’ Wellesley College campus. According to the criminal complaint, McCarrick is alleged to have gotten the victim, 16 at this time, to go outside with him to talk about the victim not attending Mass, and then fondled the victim.
The pair went back to the reception and McCarrick allegedly told the victim he had to go to confession, using a closet for privacy. Then, using the sacrament of reconciliation as a cover, McCarrick allegedly continued to abuse the boy, according to the complaint, giving him three Our Fathers and a Hail Mary as penance.
Once one of the most powerful men in the Catholic Church, McCarrick was accused in 2018 of decades of sexual abuse, including allegedly targeting young men in seminaries. He was found guilty of abuse in 2019 by the Congregation (now Dicastery) for the Doctrine of the Faith and removed from the clerical state by Pope Francis.
McCarrick is facing criminal prosecution for sexual abuse alleged to have taken place in 1977 in Wisconsin, although it is now likely his attorneys will move to have that case dismissed on similar grounds. Walworth County District Attorney Zeke Wiedenfeld, who is overseeing McCarrick’s prosecution, was not immediately available for comment.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – People must end the “senseless war against creation” and help victims of environmental and climate injustice, Pope Francis said.
“We must do this by resolving to transform our hearts, our lifestyles and the public policies ruling our societies,” the pope said in his message for the 2023 World Day of Prayer for Creation.
Some injustices needing immediate responses are “economic policies that promote scandalous wealth for a privileged few and degrading conditions for many others,” the continued exploration and expansion of fossil fuel infrastructures, and “predatory industries” depleting and polluting freshwater sources, he wrote in his message.
The World Day of Prayer for Creation, which will be celebrated Sept. 1, marks the start of the ecumenical Season of Creation. The season concludes Oct. 4, the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of ecology. The theme for 2023 is “Let justice and peace flow,” based on the verse from Book of Amos (5:24), “Let justice surge like waters and righteousness like an unfailing stream.”
The verse describes how God wants justice to reign and to “flow forth wherever it is needed,” the pope said in his message.
“God wants everyone to strive to be just in every situation, to live according to his laws and thus to enable life to flourish,” he wrote. When the faithful keep “a right relationship with God, humanity and nature, then justice and peace can flow like a never-failing stream of pure water, nourishing humanity and all creatures.”
The pope recalled his visit to the shores of Lac Ste. Anne in Alberta, Canada, in July 2022, and how many generations of Indigenous peoples found consolation and strength there. It is imperative, he added, that people “harmonize our own rhythms of life with those of creation, which gives us life.”
Unfortunately, he wrote, the heartbeats of so many people do not beat in harmony with the heartbeat of creation and God; “they are not harmonized in justice and peace.”
Too many people “are prevented from drinking from that mighty river,” the pope wrote. “Let us heed our call to stand with the victims of environmental and climate injustice and to put an end to the senseless war against creation.”
Some effects of that war include polluted waterways and rivers drying up, he wrote.
“Consumerist greed, fueled by selfish hearts, is disrupting the planet’s water cycle,” he wrote. “The unrestrained burning of fossil fuels and the destruction of forests are pushing temperatures higher and leading to massive droughts.”
“Moreover, predatory industries are depleting and polluting our freshwater sources through extreme practices such as fracking for oil and gas extraction, unchecked mega-mining projects and intensive animal farming,” he added.
Christians can “contribute to the mighty river of justice and peace in this season of creation” by transforming hearts, lifestyles and public policies, he wrote.
Individuals must rediscover creation as a gift of love from God and repent of their own personal “ecological sins,” he said in his message. “Let us adopt lifestyles marked by less waste and unnecessary consumption,” put an end to unjust economic policies and phase out fossil fuel development and dependency.
World leaders who will gather for the COP28 summit in Dubai Nov. 30-Dec. 12, he wrote, “must listen to science and institute a rapid and equitable transition to end the era of fossil fuel.”
Based on the commitments nations made with the Paris Agreement to restrain global warming, “it is absurd to permit the continued exploration and expansion of fossil fuel infrastructures,” he added.
“We can and we must prevent the worst from happening,” Pope Francis said. People must come together “like so many streams, brooks and rivulets, merging finally in a mighty river to irrigate the life of our marvelous planet and our human family for generations to come.”
“Let us join hands and take bold steps to ‘let justice and peace flow’ throughout our world,” he wrote.
Presenting the pope’s message at a news conference at the Vatican May 25, Canadian Cardinal Michael Czerny, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, provided a few examples of what people can do.
He said people can: organize community screenings of the film, “The Letter: A Message for Our Earth,” which is available free on YouTube Originals and TheLetterFilm.org; join the Laudato Si’ Action Platform at laudatosiactionplatform.org; and join networks such as Caritas and the Laudato Si’ Movement.
Tomás Insua, executive director of the Laudato Si’ Movement, said at the news conference that “while most other global leaders, particularly the most powerful ones, remain lukewarm and subservient in way too many cases to corporate interests, Pope Francis continues to be a beacon of moral leadership on this critical issue.”
NOTICE OF COMMUNICATION TO PARISHIONERS OF SAINT NICHOLAS PARISH AND OUR LADY OF FATIMA PARISH
SEPTEMBER 9-10, 2023
For the last several years, the Diocese of Scranton has been working proactively to address the realities of our local church while striving to meet the opportunities and challenges of the coming decade. The Diocese created its Vision 2030 Pastoral Planning Process in order to create vibrant expressions of parish life rooted in the life of Jesus Christ.
The process addresses ongoing parish needs by examining four distinct priority drivers: Vibrancy of Parish Life
Condition of Facilities
Financial Viability of a Parish
Distribution and Availability of Clergy
When a concern regarding one or more priority drivers are present in a parish, or deemed critical by the needs of the diocese overall, the Diocese of Scranton looks to make modifications to parishes in a proactive way so that the Gospel can be announced and the Church’s sacraments celebrated in vibrant parish communities.
Since July 2021, when Saint Nicholas Parish and Our Lady of Fatima Parish came together in a linkage under the leadership of one pastor, numerous meetings and town halls have provided information and resources to parishioners regarding the established priority drivers. Between the two parishes, the number of registered parishioners has dropped by more than 26 percent between 2014 and 2021. In addition, Our Lady of Fatima Parish maintains a significant outstanding parish assessment debt and the two campuses are projected to need more than $1.5 million in facility upgrades over the next decade. In the spirit of the Vision 2030 process, conversation and consultation has taken place within both parish communities in the following ways:
• On March 31, 2022, a Joint Meeting of the Saint Nicholas & Our Lady of Fatima Parish Pastoral and Finance Councils took place focused on the Vision 2030 priority drivers. Small group discussion and large group reporting took place.
• Between May 14/15 and June 11/12, 2022, a series of five weekly bulletin inserts regarding the Vision 2030 priority drivers was distributed to all parishioners in both parishes via the weekly bulletin and parish website.
• On June 14 and June 16, 2022, two Town Hall Meetings were held for parishioners of Saint Nicholas and Our Lady of Fatima Parishes to discuss the Vision 2030 priority drivers. One Town Hall meeting was held at each church.
• On September 27, 2022, more than 50 parishioners attended a Parish Meeting regarding a possible revenue-generating idea involving the possibility of renovating space at Our Lady of Fatima Parish for childcare programs.
• Between October 2022 and March 2023, an extensive study was performed to determined whether it was financially feasible and in the best interest of all parties to pursue childcare programs for Our Lady of Fatima Parish.
• On January 1, 2023, a bulletin insert was sent to all parishioners indicating that a Transition Team had been formed with representatives of both parishes to continue the process of moving both parishes closer toward consolidation.
• During a series of meetings in March 2023, it was agreed upon by parish and diocesan leadership that the childcare program proposal would not move forward. Discussions regarding next steps for parish consolidation took place.
• On May 11, 2023, a Joint Meeting of the Saint Nicholas and Our Lady of Fatima Pastoral and Finance Councils took place. Transition Team members announced the desire to formally bring both parishes together in a consolidation.
• On May 13/14, 2023, all parishioners were informed of the Transition Team’s recommendation to bring the two parishes together in a consolidation via bulletin insert and Mass announcements. A Frequently Asked Questions document was also prepared and distributed to help explain the parish consolidation process.
• On May 24, 2023, more than 100 parishioners attended a Joint Parish Meeting at Saint Nicholas Church regarding the proposed parish consolidation. More than 25 questions or comments were addressed by the Transition Team.
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• On May 27/28, 2023, and June 3/4, 2023, a bulletin insert was shared with all parishioners regarding a two-phase approach to consolidation. The first phase will involve bringing the two parishes together in a consolidation. The second phase will involve studying all aspects of the newly formed parish to determine if a building should be closed/sold.
• On June 27, 2023, at a Joint Meeting of the Saint Nicholas and Our Lady of Fatima Pastoral and Finance Councils, parish leaders discussed feedback they had received and began discussing the need for a revised Mass schedule and the prospect of a new name for the consolidated parish.
• On July 12, 2023, Rev. Joseph Verespy sent a letter requesting a consolidation of Saint Nicholas and Our Lady of Fatima Parishes to the Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton.
• On August 1, 2023, Bishop Bambera consulted the Diocesan Presbyteral Council (a consultative body of priests from throughout the Diocese) regarding the possible consolidation (extinctive union) between the two parishes. Following a presentation of data, the Presbyteral Council voted in unanimous agreement to the proposal.
As a result of this conversation and consultation, on September 5, 2023, Bishop Bambera signed a formal decree (which is a document that formalizes a decision within the Church) to best address the spiritual needs of the faithful as well as the needs of the Diocese of Scranton. The information from the decree is:
1. The parish of Our Lady of Fatima in Wilkes-Barre, with its sole church of Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception, 134 South Washington Street, will be consolidated with the parish of Saint Nicholas in Wilkes-Barre, with its sole church of Saint Nicholas, 226 South Washington Street, effective October 7, 2023.
2. The name of the newly consolidated parish will be Saint Nicholas-Saint Mary Parish.
3. As a result of this consolidation, Saint Nicholas Church will be designated as the principal church of the newly consolidated parish and Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception Church will be designated as the secondary church of the newly-modified parish.
According to Church law, diocesan bishops alone have the power to “erect, suppress or alter parishes” but can only do so after speaking to the Presbyteral Council and consulting parishioners. In this case, Bishop Bambera has determined that the newly-modified Saint Nicholas-Saint Mary Parish has more than adequate resources to serve the liturgical and sacramental needs of parishioners.
Any parishioner who wishes to read the official decree regarding the consolidation (extinctive union) between Saint Nicholas Parish and Our Lady of Fatima Parish may do so by visiting the Vision 2030 section Diocese of Scranton website (dioceseofscranton.org) or by contacting Rev. Joseph Verespy, pastor, Saint Nicholas Parish and Our Lady of Fatima Parish.
(OSV News) – As they open their doors for a new academic year, the nation’s Catholic schools are enjoying overall strong growth, along with a firm commitment to mission, experts told OSV News.
“Our school system has grown two years in a row,” said Lincoln Snyder, president and CEO of the National Catholic Educational Association.
Based in Leesburg, Virginia, the NCEA, an organization which traces its origins to a 1904 conference held in St. Louis, represents close to 140,000 Catholic educators serving 1.6 million students.
Snyder told OSV News that Catholic schools in the U.S. on balance experienced a bump in enrollment amid the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a 3.8% growth from 2021-2022 and 0.3% growth during the 2022-2023 year.
In addition, “most retention rates are pretty high,” said Snyder. “Dioceses last year retained 93% to 98% of students who came (during) COVID.”
The Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, for example, has seen a three-year rise in enrollment, with the overall student population – now at 18,400 in 41 diocesan schools – up 10% since the 2020-2021 academic year.
Snyder attributed such sustained growth to factors that transcended the pandemic.
“By all indications, families who came to Catholic schools were very happy with the community and they established relationships” with the schools, he said. “Once people have children in a positive environment, they tend not to change it.”
At the same time, some Catholic schools saw an uptick in numbers due to straightforward demographic shifts, he said.
While declines “tended to be in the Northeast and the Midwest … most of our growth was seen in southeastern Florida, and some in the (U.S.) Southwest,” said Snyder.
“We’ve recovered from the pandemic and then some,” said Jim Rigg, superintendent of Catholic schools and secretary of education for the Archdiocese of Miami. “We have the highest enrollment in eight years, up about 3.6% year over year.”
One formerly closed school – St. Malachy in Tamarac, Florida – has even reopened for the 2023-2024 academic year after a 14-year hiatus, he said.
Rigg cited an influx of new Florida residents as one factor in enrollment surges. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Florida is the nation’s third most populous state, as well as the fastest-growing one.
“Substantial numbers of people move here from the northern U.S., and we have continuous waves of immigration from Latin America and the Caribbean, the majority of whom identify as Catholic,” he told OSV News.
Christopher Pastura, superintendent of Catholic schools for the Diocese of St. Petersburg, Florida, agreed. He said Florida’s “robust school choice programs” also have worked to fill classrooms.
“Florida has moved to a 100% choice scholarship program, so everybody has access to that regardless of income,” Pastura told OSV News. “It’s helped our low- and middle-income folks be able to afford a Catholic school education.”
Making Catholic education accessible to students with disabilities also is key, said Andrew McLaughlin, secretary for elementary education at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
“We are really pushing for full inclusion for children with disabilities, rather than have separate schools for them,” said McLaughlin, whose schools have seen strong growth and — in contrast to national trends — little learning loss during the COVID-19 pandemic, as evidenced by standardized testing.
“Ensuring every school can support students with identified special needs is a vital part of our Catholic mission, to serve all who wish to come to our schools,” said Rigg.
Along with expanding access, school administrators with whom OSV News spoke are focused on addressing both mental health and school security concerns.
While their students are not immune from national increases in mental health challenges — a trend highlighted by Surgeon General Vivek Murthy in a 2021 advisory — Catholic schools, equipped with psychological and spiritual resources, can provide a strongly supportive environment for students and families navigating such issues.
“Often we hear families say, ‘Thank God this happened in a Catholic school, because there is a community of care,'” said Rigg. “(The) community will rally around a family in crisis.”
School security also is a priority for Rigg, given the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which killed 17.
“That weighs heavily on the psyche of everyone in South Florida,” said Rigg, whose safety investments include on-site police officers, cameras and enhanced standards for ensuring campus doors are locked appropriately.
But the biggest draw at many schools is the fundamental nature of Catholic education itself, said experts.
“When you create the type of Catholic culture that people want to be part of, you don’t have to worry about enrollment,” said Kevin Ferdinandt, headmaster of St. Agnes School in St. Paul, Minnesota.
The preK-12 school draws students from dozens of area ZIP codes, drawing from “a really broad area” and functioning “a lot like a regional school,” he told OSV News.
Admitting that St. Agnes had “almost closed in 2007” due to financial struggles, Ferdinandt said the school revisited its roots — and bore fruit as a result.
“We’ve got a very clear mission, and we serve Catholic families that are really serious about engaging their kids in education, and making sure their kids get a chance to learn what we as Catholics really believe,” he said. “If we’re going to call ourselves a Catholic school and not be serious about teaching the faith … then we’re just private schools with a religion department. We worked hard for a lot of years to establish an extraordinary student and faculty culture (of Catholic education), and with that came the success of our school.”
“Our first role as Catholic schools is forming disciples,” said Snyder. “We are a ministry of the church, and we want to form children who love Jesus Christ.”
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis asked a group of Italian journalists to shun fake news and a love of scandal, including when covering the Catholic Church and the upcoming assembly of the Synod of Bishops.
“Help me to narrate this process for what it really is, leaving behind the logic of slogans and pre-packaged stories,” he asked the group Aug. 26 as he accepted the “È Giornalismo” prize, which recognizes outstanding contributions to journalism.
Pope Francis told the group he realizes how “speaking of a ‘synod on synodality’ may seem something abstruse, self-referential, excessively technical, of little interest to the general public,” but the whole process, which began in 2021 with listening sessions on the local, national and regional levels “is something truly important for the church.”
At a moment in history “when there is much talk and little listening, and when the sense of the common good is in danger of weakening,” he said, “the church as a whole has embarked on a journey to rediscover the word ‘together.'”
All the baptized must “walk together, question together, take responsibility together for communal discernment, which for us is prayer, as it was for the first apostles: this is synodality,” the pope told the group.
The synod assembly Oct. 4-29 at the Vatican, he said, will bring together bishops, priests, religious and laypeople from around the world with the purpose of “listening together, discerning together, praying together.”
With so much of the world experiencing a “culture of exclusion,” the pope said, the church can model a better way, one in which everyone finds a welcome and no one echoes the prayer of the Pharisee in Luke’s Gospel who says, “I thank you, Lord, because I am not like this, I am not like that” rather than thanking God for his gifts.
Pope Francis explained to the group that St. Paul VI reinstituted the Synod of Bishops at the end of the Second Vatican Council “because he realized that in the Western church synodality had disappeared, whereas in the Eastern church they still have this dimension.”
“Please, let us get used to listening to each other, to talking, not cutting someone’s head off over a word,” but rather learning “to listen, to discuss in a mature way.”
“This is a grace we all need in order to move forward. And it is something the church today offers the world, a world so often so incapable of making decisions, even when our very survival is at stake,” Pope Francis said.
The Catholic Church, he said, is “trying to learn a new way of living relationships, listening to one another in order to hear and follow the voice of the Spirit.”
“We have opened our doors, we have offered everyone the opportunity to participate, we have taken into account everyone’s needs and suggestions,” he said. “We want to contribute together to building a church where everyone feels at home, where no one is excluded.”
The church is for everyone, he said. “There are no first-, second- or third-class Catholics, no. All together. Everyone. It is the Lord’s invitation.”
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – In the eyes of the world it would appear “absurd” to begin helping the poor and struggling for justice by spending time in adoration before the Eucharist, Pope Francis said, but that is precisely what an Italy-based religious order has been doing for 100 years.
“In the face of immense needs and with almost no resources at their disposal, what sense did it have to tell the sisters to get on their knees in adoration and reparation,” the pope said Aug. 25 as he joined a celebration of the centenary of the Sister Disciples of Jesus in the Eucharist.
But the practice worked, Pope Francis told the sisters and their collaborators at the meeting in the Vatican audience hall.
The prayers and adoration of the early members of the congregation “generated a contagious force, which soon led them to undertake and promote works of material, cultural and spiritual redemption far exceeding all expectations,” he said.
August 29, 2023
His Excellency, Bishop Joseph C. Bambera, announces the following appointments, effective as follows:
Reverend Andrew Amankwaa, from Parochial Vicar, Most Holy Trinity Parish, Susquehanna and Saint Brigid Parish, Friendsville, to Administrator Pro Tem, Most Holy Trinity Parish, Susquehanna and Saint Brigid Parish, Friendsville, effective August 29, 2023.
Reverend Stephen Brenyah, from ministry in the Diocese of Sunyani, Ghana, to Parochial Vicar, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish and Saint Anthony and Saint Rocco Parish, Dunmore, effective September 7, 2023.
Reverend Mark J. DeCelles, from Parochial Vicar, Saint Therese Parish, Shavertown, and Saint Frances X. Cabrini Parish, Carverton, to Parochial Vicar, Saint John Neumann Parish and Saint Paul of the Cross Parish, Scranton, effective September 7, 2023. Father will continue to serve as Associate Director of the Permanent Diaconate.
Reverend Shawn M. Simchock, from Parochial Vicar, Saint Ignatius of Loyola Parish, Kingston, and Holy Family Parish, Luzerne, to Administrator Pro Tem, Saint Ann Parish, Williamsport, effective September 7, 2023.
Reverend Paul Yeboah, from ministry in the Diocese of Sunyani, Ghana, to Parochial Vicar, Saint Ignatius of Loyola Parish, Kingston, and Holy Family Parish, Luzerne, effective September 7, 2023.
Deacon Paul Jennings, to Diaconal Ministry, Saint Lucy Parish, Scranton, effective September 6, 2023. Deacon Jennings will continue to serve in Diaconal Ministry at Saint Patrick Parish, Scranton.
HARRISBURG – Shortly after the budget was signed last week, the Shapiro Administration announced it would end Pennsylvania’s 30-year contractual relationship with Real Alternatives, an award-winning Pennsylvania Pregnancy and Parenting Support Services Program. Presently, 83 centers throughout the Commonwealth provide compassionate support services to 13,500 women a year, from the moment they find out they are pregnant through 12 months after the birth of the baby.
Approximately 60% of the women who come to Real Alternatives considering abortion choose to bring their baby to term. Also, 84% of women that have been pressured to abort choose to bring their baby to term. Terminating this program will result in an increase in abortions throughout the Commonwealth.
Even though the Shapiro Administration ended the Real Alternatives contract, the legislature must still pass “code bills” which will decide where to spend approximately $1 billion dollars. Those code bills could pass the Senate as early as next week.
You are asked to contact Senate leadership today and stress that funding for Real Alternatives and the families they serve must be restored. Below are the names and emails of PA Senate Republican leaders and a sample message you can send.
In conjunction with the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, I ask that you do whatever you can to help restore full funding to Real Alternatives.
This critical program has served close to 350,000 women through 1.9 million office visits over the past 30 years in Pennsylvania. As a social service program, Real Alternatives DOES NOT – and was never intended to – provide medical services. Their hundreds of counselors throughout the state instead REFER clients to health services.
In fact, based on calculations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the program last year benefitted the Commonwealth with $140 million in health cost savings. That was because their clients’ children’s immunizations were up to date. Additionally, $247 million in health costs were saved because their clients received proper prenatal care.
Full funding for this critical program must be maintained.