In a visible sign of the Church as the People of God, faithful from throughout northeastern and north central Pennsylvania gathered in the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton to participate in the Mass of Thanksgiving to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the founding of the Diocese of Scranton.
The Mass on March 4, 2018 was celebrated on the Sesquicentennial Sunday marking the formal establishment of the Diocese by Pope Pius IX on March 3, 1868.
The Cathedral was filled with clergy, religious, and lay representatives of various Diocesan institutions, agencies, and councils; delegates from the 120 parishes, and representatives from Diocesan Catholic schools. Many others watched the live broadcast by CTV: Catholic Television, live streaming on the internet, and later on the website: www.www.dioceseofscranton.org.
With reverent prayer and uplifting music led by the Diocesan Festival Choir, all were joined in a spirit of unity and gratitude to God for the many blessings he has bestowed on this local Church since its very beginning 150 years ago and to the present.
The Most Reverend Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., D.D., Archbishop of Philadelphia and Metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province of Pennsylvania, was the principal celebrant of the Pontifical Mass. Bishop Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop Emeritus James C. Timlin, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus John M. Dougherty, and priests of the Diocese concelebrated. Bishop Bambera gave the homily.
Archbishop Chaput had the opportunity to offer remarks as the liturgy was coming to a close.
“I’m deeply grateful for the invitation to come and celebrate with you and I bring with me the best wishes and congratulations of the clergy and faithful of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia (and), I think in some sense, since I am the Metropolitan Archbishop of Pennsylvania, greetings from all the other seven local churches here in Pennsylvania,” he said.
“You have good reason to be proud of your Bishop and of your local church; you certainly have a beautiful way of celebrating the liturgy, something you can be very proud of. Bishop Bambera, thank you for your beautiful homily – and we’re all grateful to him for his great leadership, aren’t we?”
The Archbishop cited the anniversary as an appropriate time to look to the past in gratitude, but also a call to commit ourselves to being a better church in the future.
Referring to the alternate Gospel reading for that Sunday, in which Jesus cleanses the temple of those using it as a place of business, he noted that the church is not just the building, but the church community is primarily a place where we meet God.
As we celebrate anniversaries, he explained, a church community is where we encounter Jesus Christ in His word and in His sacraments, and the love of our neighbors and our service to the poor.
“It’s all about Jesus, not all about us, except how we might help and serve Him,” Archbishop Chaput said. “So as you celebrate, recommit yourself – the next hundred and fifty years still lie ahead of us, and it’s important that you do your part to make the next people who gather here in celebration twenty five years from now or whenever, proud of the things not only that your ancestors did, but what you are doing.”
This special liturgy is part of a year-long Sesquicentennial Celebration that began on the First Sunday of Advent, December 3, 2017, with a Pontifical Mass in the Cathedral celebrated by Bishop Bambera. Justin Cardinal Rigali, Archbishop Emeritus of Philadelphia and former Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Scranton, presided.
Numerous annually occurring and specially focused events throughout the year are spotlighting our Anniversary and the history of our Diocese. Among them was a Diocesan Day of Service on March 3 (see a report in this edition), and a Jubilee Year Pilgrimage to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., that Bishop Bambera will lead on September 22.
The celebration will close with the Anniversary Year Concluding Mass in November at the Cathedral. The Most Reverend Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, will be the principal celebrant.