SCRANTON – A Pontifical Mass in celebration of World Mission Sunday will be celebrated at the Cathedral of Saint Peter at 12:15 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 22, 2023.

The Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, will be the principal celebrant. Deacon Edward Kelly, Interim Diocesan Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies, will be the homilist.

All people of goodwill are invited to attend the Mass.

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

This global Eucharistic celebration for the Church’s missions is an opportunity to remind our parishioners of their own call to be missionary disciples. We assist the Holy Father to exercise his Petrine obligation to support the Church in the missions by praying for our missionaries and financially supporting their ministry.

World Mission Sunday, organized by the Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith, one of the four Pontifical Mission Societies, is the only canonically mandated collection in the Church. This year, the spirit of Pope Francis’ theme, “Hearts on fire, feet on the move,” resonates with us as we are reminded of the energetic and unwavering faith that fuels our shared mission.

For the past 201 years, the Society for the Propagation of the Faith has extended its arms to support growing churches globally, reaching more than 1,100 mission dioceses across Asia, Africa, the Pacific Islands, Latin America, and parts of Europe.

This assistance bolsters the proclamation of the Gospel, the building of the Church, and service to the poor. Let us echo this spirit in our parishes, inspiring our congregations to contribute both prayer and sacrifice to this cause on World Mission Sunday.

As new Cardinal Christophe Pierre wrote to the bishops in the United States last year, our support to World Mission Sunday “makes possible the proclamation of the Gospel, the celebration of the Sacraments, and service to the poor in mission dioceses. For the first decades of its life, the fledgling Church in the United States received essential support from the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, and the Catholics of this country have returned that generosity in abundance.”

Your role in echoing this call is paramount. Your voices collectively carry great influence and can be the spark that inspires the “hearts on fire, feet on the move” spirit that Pope Francis calls us to embody.

ATHENS – Thirty-five years after her first medical mission trip to Africa, a Bradford County woman will be recognized as the ‘Catholic Doctor of the Year’ later this month by the Mission Doctors Association.

Dr. Cathy Schanzer, MD, FACS, will be presented with the ‘World of Difference Award’ on Oct. 22, 2023, at the Los Angeles Archdiocese’s Annual Mass for Healthcare Professionals at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

“I’m very proud of the award but I didn’t do this by myself,” Dr. Schanzer said.

Dr. Schanzer was first inspired to follow a call to missionary service in the third grade when she heard a Maryknoll priest speak about his mission work in Africa.

“I was just enamored with the work that he was doing for all these poor people that were living in underdeveloped countries and I decided as a kid it was something that needed to be a part of my life,” the Bradford County doctor said.

After attending the University of Texas Medical School and completing her Ophthalmology residency at Baylor College of Medicine, Dr. Schanzer married her husband, Tom, who became her partner in mission work.

“After I finished residency, I still felt God calling me to do mission work,” she said.
In 1988, the couple went on their first medical mission trip to a Catholic Mission Hospital in Abak, Nigeria.

“Neither of us knew exactly what we were doing,” Dr. Schanzer admitted.

“I remember them having all these paper signs attached to trees all over the area saying the American eye doctor is coming. That is how they got the word out,” Tom added.

Spending two weeks in the Nigerian village, Dr. Schanzer did approximately 75 surgeries and saw 200 patients.

“All of them had these rock-hard cataracts,” she remembered.

During her most recent trip this summer to Sierra Leone, Dr. Schanzer was accompanied by Elizabeth and Leah Reid of Athens, PA. “Lizzie” and Leah spent most of their missionary time teaching grade school children in the schools of Serabu, a remote village in Southeastern Sierra Leone. Dr. Schanzer, Tom and the Reid sisters are parishioners of Epiphany Catholic Church in Sayre, PA.

The couple continued with annual mission trips to other African countries including Zimbabwe and Mozambique with the Volunteers in Mission program until the early 2000s. In 2006, Dr. Schanzer and her husband were asked by Archbishop Joseph Ganda, first native priest and bishop of Sierra Leone, to establish the Southern Eye Clinic in the village of Serabu.

The challenges were immense.

“The village had no water and no power. Obviously, since then we’ve dug nine water wells and used several generators,” Cathy explained.

In addition to establishing nine water wells, Cathy and Tom also support numerous community development projects including a computer center, sports activities, food and feeding programs, and educational scholarships and stipends.

“The invitation was kind of like when we adopted our seven children,” Tom said. “The conversations were fairly short. We said, God is calling us to do this, he’ll see us through this.”

Because Sierra Leone is a very male-dominated country, it took a long time for Dr. Schanzer to receive respect.

“The chiefs weren’t interested in talking to me about building the eye clinic. They would only talk to Tom,” she said. “They would watch me do the surgeries, turn to Tom, and say, ‘Oh Tom, you bring very fine woman with you.’”

Regardless of the challenges, the work has been extremely rewarding.

“It is very life giving. Tom and I both come back from our trips physically exhausted but spiritually uplifted. We feel God’s presence in everything that we’re doing, whether it’s me in the operating room or Tom helping to organize something in the village. We truly know that this is something that God has called us to and guides my hands and guides Tom in doing things in the village,” Dr. Schanzer said.

Volunteer mission teams have traveled with Cathy and Tom during the months of January and June each year. This past January they had their busiest trip ever, as five surgeons and one medical student conducted a total of 476 eye surgeries, including on 21 children.

During the rest of the year, 64 employees keep the primary clinic and 10 satellite clinics in nearby villages running.

The clinic is one hundred percent charity to all patients for examinations, treatments, medicines, glasses, and surgeries. Patients come to the clinic from seven West African nations.

When they are not serving the village of Serabu, Dr. Schanzer and her husband are active in the Epiphany Parish community, serving on the Pastoral Council, Spiritual Development Committee, and RCIA faculty. The couple are also lectors, Eucharistic Ministers and attend daily Mass.

Earlier this year, Dr. Schanzer was diagnosed with Glioblastoma (brain cancer), a diagnosis that is often terminal in less than two years. Dr. Schanzer had surgery to remove the primary tumor, followed by radiation therapy and continues with chemotherapy. Cathy and Tom feel grateful for their deep faith and the strong worldwide support of family and friends.

“Cathy’s future is unknown, of course, but we’ve developed a strong relationship with ophthalmologists, so our future mission trips are already staffed. Cathy will be able to come and go as her health allows. She can go without pressure,” Tom explained.

The mission program started by Dr. Schanzer and her husband, Southern Eye Institute, is funded by private donations and every dollar received is used to assist the needy people in Sierra Leone. For more information, visit or or donate to Southern Eye Institute, P.O. Box 771317, Memphis, TN 38177.

PITTSTON –– Our Lady of the Eucharist Parish will host its 66th Annual Novena to Saint Jude, patron saint of hopeless cases and things despaired of, at Saint Mary, Help of Christians Church, 535 North Main St., Pittston, beginning Thursday, Oct. 19, and concluding on the Feast of Saint Jude, Saturday, Oct. 28.

Mass, homily, Novena prayers and veneration of the relic of Saint Jude will be held Monday through Friday at noon & 7 p.m. Saturday devotions are offered at noon & 4 p.m., and the Sunday Novena is held at 11 a.m. & 5 p.m.

Recitation of the Rosary and Sacramental confessions (except Sunday) precede all Novena devotions.

Scheduled Novena celebrants/ homilists are as follows:

Thursday, Oct. 19, noon, Monsignor John Jordan, and 7 p.m., Father Louis Grippe;

Friday, Oct. 20, noon & 7 p.m., Father Joseph Verespy.

Saturday, Oct. 21, noon & 4 p.m., Father Kenneth Seegar; Sunday, Oct. 22, 11 a.m. & 5 p.m., Father Seegar.

Monday, Oct. 23, noon & 7 p.m., Saint Joseph Oblate Father Paul McDonnell

Tuesday, Oct. 24, noon, & 7 p.m., Father Sam Ferretti; Wednesday, Oct. 25, noon, Father Seth Wasnock, and 7 p.m., Father Alex Roche.

Thursday, Oct. 26, noon & 7 p.m., Monsignor Dale Rupert; Friday, Oct. 27, noon & 7 p.m., Father Michael Bryant.

On the Feast of Saint Jude, Saturday, Oct. 28, Father Seegar will celebrate both the noon liturgy and the Novena’s closing Mass at 4 p.m.

Novena prayer cards are provided. For more information, contact the parish office at (570) 654-0263.

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Warning against a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza and ongoing conflicts elsewhere, Pope Francis has called for a day of fasting, penance and prayer for peace in the world Oct. 27.

“War does not solve any problems, it only sows death and destruction. It increases hatred, multiplies revenge. War erases the future,” he said at the end of his general audience talk in St. Peter’s Square Oct. 18.

Pope Francis prays during his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Oct. 18, 2023. (CNS photo/Lola Gomez)

“Our thoughts go to Palestine and Israel,” he said to applause.

“Casualties are rising and the situation in Gaza is desperate,” he said. “Please, may everything possible be done to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe.”

What is also “disturbing,” he said, is the possibility the conflict will spread just as so many other battles of war are being waged in the world.

“Please,” he said, “let us continue to pray for peace in the world, especially in tormented Ukraine,” a tragedy that is no longer talked about but continues.

“Silence the weapons. Listen to the cry of the poor, the people, the children, for peace,” the pope said.

He urged all people of faith to take “just one side in this conflict: that of peace. But not with words, with prayer, with total dedication.”

For this reason, he said, he has decided to call for a day of fasting, prayer and penance Oct. 27.

The pope invited men and women of every Christian denomination and other religions as well as those committed to the cause of peace to participate in any way they feel is appropriate.

There will be an hour of prayer starting at 6 p.m. Rome time in St. Peter’s “imploring for peace in the world,” he said, and local churches are invited to organize similar initiatives.

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis will celebrate a memorial Mass Nov. 3 for Pope Benedict XVI and cardinals and bishops who have died in the past year.

The Mass will take place at the main altar in St. Peter’s Basilica at 11 a.m., the Vatican announced.

Pope Francis touches the casket of Pope Benedict XVI at the conclusion of his funeral Mass in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Jan. 5, 2023. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

Pope Benedict died Dec. 31 at the age of 95.

The previous day, the Nov. 2 feast of All Souls, the pope will celebrate Mass at the Rome War Cemetery, the burial place of members of the military forces of the Commonwealth who died during and immediately after World War II. The 426 men buried there died between November 1942 and February 1947. They came from the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand and South Africa.

While Pope Francis often goes to a cemetery to pray for the faithful departed with their family members on the feast of All Souls, he also marked the feast day at the French Military Cemetery in Rome in 2021 and at the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery in Nettuno, Italy, in 2017.

Also on the pope’s liturgical calendar for November is his celebration of Mass for the World Day of the Poor. He will preside over the liturgy Nov. 19 in St. Peter’s Basilica.

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – As the Catholic Church learns to be more “synodal,” to listen to all its members, value their gifts and seek together the Holy Spirit’s guidance, Catholics will need to be patient in awaiting responses to their questions and concerns, said several synod members.

After close to two weeks of discussion — including on issues such as synodality itself, the role of women in the church, welcome for LGBTQ Catholics, better education and formation of Catholics and more collaborative relationships between priests and laypeople — “there is a sense that things are tightening up, emerging, but through that process of hopeful patience,” said Renee Kohler-Ryan, a synod member from Australia.

Jesuit Father Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator, dean of the Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University in California, speaks during a briefing about the assembly of the Synod of Bishops as Cardinal Cristóbal López Romero of Rabat, Morocco, listen at the Vatican Oct. 17, 2023. (CNS photo/Lola Gomez)

“It is going to take time, but it has to in order to give all of those issues the seriousness that they deserve,” she said Oct. 17 at the press briefing for the assembly of the Synod of Bishops.

“Are these issues being discussed in the synodal hall seriously and passionately? I testify, yes,” said Jesuit Father Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator, dean of the Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University in California.

“It is important to remember that the synod is a consultative body; it doesn’t make decisions,” he said. But “the process is important,” and if synod members and the church at large do not focus on “niche issues” at this point, but on forming a synodal church, “it becomes possible for us to address these issues in a way that is constructive and not confrontational.”

Especially as a theologian, he said, he sees this as a “privileged moment” in the life of the church, “an experience of a process of the church making and remaking itself in a way that is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

“I remain convinced that the process is probably going to be more important than the outcome,” the Jesuit said.

The synodal process can help the church experience “a new way of being where people, no matter who they are, no matter their status, station or situation in the church, are able to be part of a process where they are not only heard, but they also are able to contribute to the process of discernment.”

Kohler-Ryan insisted that the synod discussions, including about women, are much broader than the media would have people believe. With members from around the globe, including lay women and men – some of whom are mothers and fathers – participating as members for the first time, the discussion about women is not focused on the possibility of women deacons, but on a myriad of issues related to their lives in the church and the world, including supporting their families and educating their children in the faith.

Paolo Ruffini, prefect of the Dicastery for Communication and head of the synod’s information committee, told reporters some of the topics discussed in the synod hall late Oct. 16 included “overcoming clerical models” that prevent cooperation and shared responsibility, the importance of inclusive language, the example of Jesus including women among his followers, the relationship between leadership and service, and the possibility of allowing women to preach at Mass given that women were the first to proclaim Jesus’ resurrection to the apostles.

Sheila Leocádia Pires, secretary of the commission, said much of the focus Oct. 17 was on the ministry and role of bishops, their role in promoting ecumenical and interreligious relations, a suggestion that more people be consulted in the appointment of bishops, the importance of bishops listening to victims of clerical sexual abuse and the need for Catholics to pray for their bishops.

Bishop Anthony Randazzo of Broken Bay, Australia, told reporters, “One of the geniuses of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, is that this (synodality) is not something that is born in a vacuum.”

“He has reflected very deeply and sincerely upon the human reality of the community of people around the world, and how we experience life together on this planet, but also how we as Catholic Christians live our faith and how we proclaim the Gospel in every single moment of our day, regularly by what we say but always by who we are as a community of Christ’s faithful and disciples of the Lord.

Cardinal Cristóbal López Romero of Rabat, Morocco, told reporters, “I’m enthusiastic for synodality” and for learning to live that way on a local level as well as on the level of the universal church. “Even if the synod were interrupted tomorrow, it would be worth it,” he said.

Synodality, he said, must become the “concrete modus operandi” of the church, but it is important to remember that the current synodal process, which began in October 2021, is set to go through October 2024 when the second assembly gathers in Rome.

In the meantime, he said, people must have “patience and hope.”

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The Catholic Church’s highest ranking prelate in the Holy Land offered his “absolute availability” to be exchanged for Israeli children taken hostage by Hamas.

Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, told reporters during an online meeting Oct. 16 that he is willing to do “anything” to “bring to freedom and bring home the children” taken into Gaza during Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel, in which more than 1,300 Israelis were killed. The Israeli military said Oct. 16 that some 200 people, including children and elderly persons, are being held hostage.

Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, poses for a photo while speaking to reporters at the Vatican Sept. 28, 2023. (CNS photo/Carol Glatz)

Returning the hostages held in Gaza is “absolutely necessary” to stopping the ongoing violence between Israel and Hamas, the cardinal said. He expressed the Vatican’s willingness to assist in de-escalation and mediation efforts but said they had not been able to speak with Hamas.

Cardinal Pizzaballa said some 1,000 Christians in Gaza are currently sheltering in church-affiliated buildings because “they don’t know where to go and moving is dangerous.”

While Christians concentrated in northern Gaza were told to leave the area by the Israeli military, “practically all have chosen to stay there because it is safer for them to stay, since the situation is even more delicate elsewhere.” The cardinal said none of the Christians sheltering in Gaza have been killed, though some have suffered light wounds.

“Moving is dangerous because many die in transfers,” and “possible places of refuge are already overflowing; there is no place to go,” he said.

The cardinal said that some 500 Christians are sheltering at a Latin-rite church, some 400 are in a Greek Orthodox church and approximately 300 are at a YMCA. “Supplies are beginning to run short,” he said. “We try, through our contacts, to make as many physical supplies as possible reach (them), provisions such as medicine, water, even generators.”

Cardinal Pizzaballa said the Catholic Church, in coordination with humanitarian agencies, is “trying to insist” that a humanitarian corridor can be opened into Gaza to allow basic necessities to be brought in.

After praying the Angelus Oct. 15, Pope Francis publicly called for humanitarian law to be respected “especially in Gaza, where it is urgent and necessary to ensure humanitarian corridors and to come to the aid of the entire population.”  

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – St. Thérèse of Lisieux, long one of Pope Francis’ favorite saints, teaches Christians “the little way” of love, self-giving, concern for others and complete trust in the mercy of God, the pope said in a new document.

“At a time when human beings are obsessed with grandeur and new forms of power, she points out to us the little way,” he wrote. “In an age that casts aside so many of our brothers and sisters, she teaches us the beauty of concern and responsibility for one another.”

Pope Francis carries a white rose as he approaches a reliquary containing the relics of St. Thérèse of Lisieux before the start of his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican June 7, 2023. He announced he was planning on issuing an apostolic letter dedicated to her for the 150th anniversary of her birth. (CNS photo/Lola Gomez)

Published Oct. 15, the pope’s letter is titled, “C’est la Confiance,” the opening words of her phrase, “It is confidence and nothing but confidence that must lead us to Love.”

The papal letter is subtitled, “On confidence in the merciful love of God.”

“At a time of great complexity, she can help us rediscover the importance of simplicity, the absolute primacy of love, trust and abandonment, and thus move beyond a legalistic or moralistic mindset that would fill the Christian life with rules and regulations and cause the joy of the Gospel to grow cold,” the pope wrote.

In the letter, the pope explained that he chose not to release the document on her feast day, Oct. 1, or the 150th anniversary of her birth last Jan. 2 or the 100th anniversary of her beatification, which was celebrated in April, because he wanted to “transcend” those celebrations and emphasize how her life and writings are part of the “spiritual treasury” of the church.

Pope Francis has spoken often about his devotion to St. Thérèse of Lisieux, who also is known by her religious name, St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, or as St. Thérèse, the Little Flower, because she described herself as a little flower in God’s garden.

But there is another flower connection as well. While still archbishop of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis told journalist Sergio Rubin in 2010, “When I have a problem I ask the saint, not to solve it, but to take it in her hands and help me accept it, and, as a sign, I almost always receive a white rose.”

And the pope closed his new exhortation with a prayer: “Dear St. Thérèse, the church needs to radiate the brightness, the fragrance and the joy of the Gospel. Send us your roses! Help us to be, like yourself, ever confident in God’s immense love for us, so that we may imitate each day your ‘little way’ of holiness.”

Although she died at the age of 24 in a cloistered convent, her passion for sharing the Gospel through her prayers and example led Pope Pius XI to declare her patroness of the missions in 1927, and her writings led St. John Paul II to proclaim her a doctor of the church in 1997.

“In the heart of Thérèse,” Pope Francis wrote, “the grace of baptism became this impetuous torrent flowing into the ocean of Christ’s love and dragging in its wake a multitude of brothers and sisters. This is what happened, especially after her death. It was her promised ‘shower of roses.'”

The “little way” of St. Thérèse is a path to holiness anyone can follow, the pope said. It is about recognizing one’s own smallness and trusting completely in God’s mercy.

“This is the ‘sweet way of love’ that Jesus sets before the little and the poor, before everyone. It is the way of true happiness,” the pope said.

In place of a notion of holiness that is individualistic and elitist, one “more ascetic than mystical, that primarily emphasizes human effort,” he said, “Thérèse always stresses the primacy of God’s work, his gift of grace,” trusting that he would bring her to heaven one day.

Even in speaking about the Eucharist, her desire to receive Communion took second place to “the desire of Jesus to unite himself to us and to dwell in our hearts,” the pope said. “Her gaze remained fixed not on herself and her own needs, but on Christ, who loves, seeks, desires and dwells within.”

In his exhortation, Pope Francis focused on St. Thérèse’s reflection of St. Paul’s description of the church as the body of Christ with each part or member having a role to play in the functioning of the entire body.

But she did not see herself as the foot or the ear or the eye or the hand, as described in First Corinthians, the pope said. “In the heart of the church, my mother, I shall be love,” she wrote.

“This heart was not that of a triumphalistic church, but of a loving, humble and merciful church,” the pope wrote. “Thérèse never set herself above others but took the lowest place together with the Son of God, who for our sake became a slave and humbled himself, becoming obedient, even to death on a cross.”

Rediscovering love as the heart of the church can be “a great source of light” for Catholics today, Pope Francis said. “It preserves us from being scandalized by the limitations and weaknesses of the ecclesiastical institution with its shadows and sins, and enables us to enter into the church’s ‘heart burning with love,’ which burst into flame at Pentecost thanks to the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

“It is that heart whose fire is rekindled with each of our acts of charity,” he wrote. “‘I shall be love.’ This was the radical option of Thérèse, her definitive synthesis and her deepest spiritual identity.”

(OSV News) – As war between Israel and Hamas rages, Catholics in the U.S. are heeding a call to pray and fast for peace in the Holy Land.

In an Oct. 13 statement, the patriarchs and heads of the churches of Jerusalem urged “the people of our congregations and all those of goodwill around the world to observe a Day of Prayer and Fasting” on Oct. 17.

People mourn during the funeral for Israeli solider Roy Joseph Levy at Mount Herzl Military Cemetery in Jerusalem Oct. 15, 2023. Levy was killed following a deadly infiltration by Hamas gunmen from the Gaza Strip. (OSV News photo/Lisi Niesner, Reuters)

The efforts are “in support of all those who have suffered in this war and of the families reeling from the violence,” said the statement.

On Oct. 7, Hamas militants stormed from the Gaza Strip into approximately 22 locations in Israel, gunning down civilians and taking at least 199 hostages, according to Israel, including infants, the elderly and people with disabilities.

The coordinated attack took place on a Sabbath that marked the final day of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, which celebrates the gathering of the harvest and the divine protection of the ancient Israelites as they escaped from slavery in Egypt.

Israel declared war on Hamas Oct. 8, placing Gaza under siege and pounding the region with airstrikes. Hamas has continued to launch strikes against Israel. To date, some 1,400 in Israel, including at least 30 U.S. citizens, and more than 2,700 in Gaza have been killed. Israel placed Gaza under siege, and has warned some 1.1 million in Gaza to move south within the enclave ahead of an expected ground offensive by Israeli forces. So far, half a million in Gaza have heeded the evacuation order, according to the Israel Defense Forces, as United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said the Middle East is “on the verge of the abyss.”

“There is yet time to stop the hatred,” said the Jerusalem patriarchs and heads of churches in their statement.

Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem — who has offered himself in exchange for the hostages — particularly urged “prayer times with Eucharistic adoration and with the recitation of the rosary to Our Blessed Virgin Mary.”

“This is the way we all come together despite everything, and unite collectively in prayer, to deliver to God the Father our thirst for peace, justice and reconciliation,” said Cardinal Pizzaballa in an Oct. 11 letter.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops posted to X, formally known as Twitter, Oct. 12 that they “join Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, and all the Ordinaries of the Holy Land in calling for a day of fasting, abstinence and prayer” Oct. 17.

Bishop David M. O’Connell of Trenton, New Jersey, echoed that exhortation, saying “we need to pray.”

He directed faithful “in this month of the rosary” to “pray this most effective prayer that our Blessed Mother will intercede with her Divine Son for the people affected by the current war. Pray for peace.”

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington asked faithful in his diocese to join him “in participating in this sacrificial offering to God with the intention to end the violence and hatred in the midst of this crisis.”

“May the Lord Jesus, Prince of Peace, transform hearts, bring an end to war, violence and suffering, and grant peace to the world,” said Bishop Burbidge.

The Diocese of Grand Rapids, Michigan listed a number of parishes offering Mass, Eucharistic adoration, the sacrament of Reconciliation and recitations of the rosary and the Divine Mercy chaplet.

Women religious have also rallied around the observance. The International Union of Superiors General invited its members to observe the day of fasting and prayer, saying in a message to members that “in this moment of deep concern and sorrow for the situation we are facing, we wish to share a ray of hope.”

“This is a time when we want to come together as a global community, praying together for a world where peace prevails over violence, justice over discord, and reconciliation over hatred,” they said. “United in prayer, we can bring our desire for peace and justice to God the Father.”

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious reiterated that message, adding that congregations may want to organize their members “for a specific time of prayer together.”


Friends of the Poor is proud to once again announce three community-based programs to help those in need this Thanksgiving: The Thanksgiving Dinner for Adults and Elderly, the Family-to-Family Thanksgiving Food Basket Program, and the Interfaith Prayer Service. In addition, we are thrilled that this year’s program incorporates several new collaborative partners.

The Thanksgiving Community Program has never been one to operate in a silo. From its humble beginnings feeding a few dozen community members, our Thanksgiving Community Program has relied on the generosity of area businesses, families, and other institutions to make the holiday special for those who often go without. The same is true today, 47 years later, as we prepare to again serve 3,500 cooked meals and provide 3,500 families with Thanksgiving groceries. Our regular partners have once again returned. As a sponsored work of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM), the core of who we are flows from the values brought forth by the Sisters. In addition, we are sustained day in and out by the most giving community we could hope to be a part of: the Scranton Cultural Center, the Scranton Area Multifaith Ministerium, Gentex, Stirna’s, the Junior League of Scranton, Marywood University, University of Scranton, Lackawanna College, Chartwells, Hilton Scranton, Schiff’s Food Service, Schiff’s Marketplace, Scranton Housing Authority, City of Scranton, Lackawanna County Area Agency on Aging, Waste Management, and dozens more who come together to provide the ingredients and support needed to create this nutritious holiday meal. This year, we officially welcome the Catherine McAuley Center and Weinberg Northeast Regional Food Bank as official partners for our Thanksgiving Community Program, proving further that we are stronger together than we ever could be alone. The Catherine McAuley Center will offer the support of their staff to each event to help us accommodate the projected increase in need. The Weinberg Northeast Regional Food Bank has also stepped in to provide the turkeys for the Thanksgiving meal.

The holiday celebrations kick off on Friday, November 17th at 7PM with the Interfaith Prayer Service at Temple Hesed, 1 Knox Road, Scranton, at 7 p.m.  All are invited and welcome to attend and take part in a beautiful service celebrating gratitude as the cornerstone of each of our faith traditions and the true meaning of the holiday we celebrate.

Sunday, November 19th gives University of Scranton students a peek into the inner workings of our Family to Family program as we join the University’s Center for Service and Social Justice to provide Thanksgiving groceries to 200 families in the Hilltop and Valley View Housing Developments within the Scranton Housing Authority.

Our Thanksgiving Dinner for Adults and Elderly will be distributed for the fourth year in a row take-out style. On Tuesday, November 21st in front of the Scranton Cultural Center, 420 N Washington Ave, Scranton, PA 18503, from 2:30-5:30PM, anyone in need of a cooked Thanksgiving meal can drive-through or walk-up for a meal. No pre-registration or proof of income is required. Note that the 400 & 500 of N. Washington Avenue and Vine Street closed for traffic control. We ask that no one begin lining up earlier than 2PM, as we will be delivering approximately 1,500 meals to pre-registered, low-income seniors with the continued help of our dedicated volunteer drivers from the Junior League of Scranton.

The Family-to-Family Thanksgiving Food Basket Program, directed by the Robeson family, will pick up where the dinner leaves off the very next morning on November 22nd. Beginning at 9AM, we will provide all grocery items needed to prepare a traditional Thanksgiving meal to families in need in front of the Scranton Cultural Center. We will be there until 5PM or our supplies run out. This event will also be a drive-through, but we will have a dedicated tent with supplies and volunteers for those that need to walk up. No pre-registration or proof of income is required. Understanding that transportation is a barrier, we ask that those with access to their own vehicles serve as proxies for those who cannot get to the event.

We’ve all seen an incredible increase in need in our area over the last several years. The number of families seeking assistance from Friends of the Poor every day is astonishing, and the holidays add to that number. While many families struggle to make ends meet each week, the holidays bring with them additional expenses many simply cannot afford. We are making every effort to extend as much as we can to meet this need, but we cannot do it without the help of the dozens of organizations already listed and every member of our community who wants to share the magic of the holidays with a neighbor in need.

A $60 donation sponsors the cost for the average size family we serve. We are prepared to serve 3,500 families, and we must raise at least $250,000 to cover Thanksgiving alone, including food and other supplies. Donations of any amount help us towards our goal, and can be mailed to Family to Family, PO Box 13, Scranton, PA 18503 or given online at

Additionally, if any additional businesses or community groups would like to participate in the cooked Thanksgiving dinner portion of our programming, we are in desperate need of supplies, including microwavable, sealable takeout containers, individually wrapped disposable utensils, plastic grocery bags, and more. Please contact us via email ( or phone (570-340-6086) if you can support the event in any way.