Bishop Joseph C. Bambera was born in Carbondale, Pa. on March 21, 1956, the son of Irene Kucharski Bambera and the late Joseph Bambera.
Bishop Bambera attended Saint Rose of Lima Elementary School and graduated from Saint Rose of Lima High School in 1974. Following graduation, he enrolled in the University of Pittsburgh and was awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1978.
In 1978, Bishop Bambera was accepted for studies for the priesthood for the Diocese of Scranton and entered Saint Pius X Seminary in Dalton in September of the same year. During that time, he attended the University of Scranton, pursuing courses in theology and philosophy. In 1979, Bishop Bambera continued his studies for priesthood at Mary Immaculate Seminary, Northampton, Pa., where he was awarded a Master of Divinity degree in 1982. He was ordained to the Diaconate on May 14, 1983 by Bishop J. Carroll McCormick and was ordained to the Priesthood on November 5, 1983 by Bishop John J. O’Connor.
Bishop Bambera’s first priestly assignment was as Assistant Pastor of the Church of Saint Mary of the Assumption, Scranton. He served in this position until September 1987, when he was appointed Assistant Pastor of the Cathedral of Saint Peter, Scranton. During the years in which he served as an Assistant Pastor, Bishop Bambera also served as an Auditor in the Tribunal of the Diocese of Scranton, Diocesan Spiritual Director of the Legion of Mary, Campus Minister at Lackawanna Junior College and Diocesan Director of Pilgrimages.
In 1989, Bishop Bambera was appointed to further studies in Canon Law. In 1991, he was awarded a Licentiate in Canon Law from Saint Paul’s University, Ottawa, Canada and a Master’s Degree in Canon Law from the University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada. Following the completion of graduate studies, Bishop Bambera was appointed a Judge in the Tribunal of the Diocese of Scranton.
Bishop Bambera was appointed as the Diocesan Director of Ecumenism and Interfaith Affairs in January 1993, and served in that capacity for three years. During that time, he represented the Diocese of Scranton on the Pennsylvania Conference on Interchurch Cooperation. In July 1995, Bishop Bambera was appointed by Bishop James C. Timlin to assume the role of Vicar for Priests for the Diocese of Scranton. At the same time, he became the Diocesan Director of Continuing Education for Priests.
While serving in numerous Diocesan positions, Bishop Bambera was appointed Administrator and then Pastor of the Church of the Holy Name of Jesus, Scranton. He served the parish from January 1994 until July 1997, at which time he assumed the role of Director of Formation at Saint Pius X Seminary, Dalton.
Bishop Bambera was made a Prelate of Honor by His Holiness, Pope John Paul II in March, 1997.
He was appointed Pastor of the Church of Saint John Bosco, Conyngham, in July 1998. In July 2001, Bishop Bambera was appointed Pastor of the Church of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Dickson City.
Bishop Bambera served as an ex-officio member of the Presbyteral Council and a member of the College of Diocesan Consultors. In June 2000, he was elected Chairman of the Presbyteral Council and reelected as Chairman for a second term in June 2002.
He is a past member of the Diocesan Ecumenical and Interfaith Commission, the Diocesan Seminary Admissions Committee, the Diaconate Advisory Board, the Office of Continuing Education for Priests Advisory Board, the Diocesan Independent Review Board, the Priests’ Retirement Board, the Vocations Advisory Board and the Diocesan Liturgical Commission.
He is a past president of the Board of Pastors at the former Bishop Hafey High School, Hazleton, and Bishop O’Hara High School, Dunmore. He continues to serve as a Judge on the Diocesan Tribunal and as Defender of the Bond for the Eparchy of St. Maron, Brooklyn.
In August 2000, Bishop Timlin appointed Bishop Bambera moderator of The Diocesan Annual Appeal for 2001, 2002 and 2003.
Bishop Bambera was a member of the Board of Trustees for the University of Scranton from 2003 to 2009. He also served on the Board of Trustees of St. Michael’s School, Hoban Heights.
In June 2005, Bishop Bambera was appointed by Bishop Joseph F. Martino to serve as an Episcopal Vicar for the Central Region of the Diocese of Scranton, a position that he maintained for two years.
Bishop Bambera was appointed pastor of the Church of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Archbald, and the Church of Saint Mary of Czestochowa, Eynon, in July 2007. He was also appointed Canonical Consultant for Pastoral Planning for the Diocese of Scranton at that time.
On August 31, 2009, Bishop Bambera was named Delegate of Cardinal Justin Rigali, who on that day became Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Scranton in conjunction with the retirement of Bishop Martino.
On February 23, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Bishop Bambera to be the tenth Bishop of Scranton. Bishop Bambera’s Episcopal Ordination and Installation Mass was celebrated in the Cathedral of Saint Peter on April 26, 2010.
In 2016 Bishop Bambera was elected to a three-year term as chairman of the Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). This Committee consists of 25 bishops who specialize in relations between Christians and inter-faith groups. The committee is the U.S. Bishops’ liaison with the Holy See for ecumenical matters.
Bishop Bambera has been serving on several other USCCB committees for the past year. He is the regional (Pennsylvania and New Jersey) representative to the Administrative Committee, which sets the agenda for the Conference and conducts the work of the Conference between plenary sessions. In conjunction with that committee, he is on the Committee for Priorities and Plans, which develops strategic plans and recommendations for USCCB and nominates the bishops for the various committees for election by the general assembly. He also serves on the National Advisory Council, which is made up of lay faithful, priests, deacons and religious who represent the Catholic Church of the U.S.
In addition, the Bishop has been co-chairing, with the chairman for the Polish National Catholic Church, the meeting of the Roman Catholic-Polish National Catholic dialogue for the designated members from the Roman Catholic and Polish National Catholic clergy. This continuing dialogue, sponsored by the Ecumenical Committee of the USCCB, was established in 1984.
Bishop Bambera has one sister, Mrs. Karen Hoffman, who along with her husband Charles and their daughter Elizabeth and son Charles, live in Stroudsburg.