WILLIAMSPORT — After nearly three months of silent dormancy, the bells of Saint Boniface Church at 326 Washington Blvd. are ringing out welcomed tones once again, much to the delight of parishioners and the surrounding community alike.

The venerable bell system has been a treasured extension of the Williamsport parish of Saint Boniface since its founding nearly 150 years ago in 1875, and the Saint Boniface bells survived a fire that destroyed the original parish church in 1972.

Nearly 50 years later, a routine maintenance inspection recently revealed nature’s elements had indeed taken their “toll” on the church bell tower, according to Saint Boniface pastor Father Bill Corcoran, who indicated the deterioration had presented a potentially dangerous situation.

“Our choice was to do repair work or shut them off,” Father Corcoran said. “During the pandemic, with reduced (church) attendance and a cautious spending approach, I was considering not repairing them for a period of time until we had clarity about the future.”

However, as the pastor noted, parishioners as well as non-parishioners felt very strongly about restoring the bells. “They loved the sound, especially from their nearby homes,” he remarked.

Father Corcoran explained that when the dilemma was put before the parish council, two parishioners came forward and offered to conduct a silent campaign for the $30,000 required for the restoration project. In a matter of weeks, the needed funds were raised through the generosity of 25 members of Saint Boniface and the community at large.

On Sunday, Oct. 31, the parish received an All Hallows Eve treat when Father Corcoran blessed and dedicated the refurbished church bells, followed by a special reception for those donors who made the joyous event possible.

Today, the Saint Boniface Church bells once again peal every quarter hour as a call to pause and pray, with their traditional chimes filling the local neighborhoods.

“To let (the bells) lay dormant would have been another defeat in the wake of COVID,” Father Corcoran concluded. “It was a great example of people’s desire to invest in the present and future of Saint Boniface and was truly a wonderful moment of community.”



Deacon Edward Shoener

SCRANTON — Through the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, His Holiness Pope Francis released in early November a video message in which he expressed his closeness to all those who are feeling overwhelmed in their daily life — especially those suffering from stress and depression — and implored the faithful to pray that they receive the help they need.

As the Pontiff turned his gaze toward the care, compassion and concern for those battling mental illness, his monthly intention for November led the Vatican to contact the Association of Catholic Mental Health Ministers and, in particular, the association’s president and founding member, Deacon Ed Shoener, who serves in diaconal ministry at the Cathedral Parish of Saint Peter.

Deacon Shoener said direct contact by the Holy See is not nearly as eventful as that of the Holy Father’s call to address a central issue in the lives of millions of people: mental health.

“Our mission is to support the growth of mental health ministry in the Church,” Deacon Shoener noted. “Pope Francis has said that we need to fully overcome the stigma with which mental illness has often been branded in order to ensure that a culture of community prevails over the mentality of rejection.”

Ordained to the permanent diaconate in 2004, Deacon Shoener launched his Catholic Mental Health Ministry based at the Scranton Cathedral in 2017. He began the support ministry following the death of his daughter Katie, who took her own life after a 12-year battle with depression in 2016.

“I now bring Katie’s joyfulness and exuberance into the world by transforming her suffering into service to those who suffer from mental illness,” he explained. “That was my inspiration for joining the dedicated people to establish the Association of Catholic Mental Health Ministers (ACMHM) in 2018.”

In the papal broadcast message, Pope Francis asserts that in many cases, “sadness, apathy and spiritual tiredness end up dominating people’s lives, which are overloaded due to the rhythm of life today.”

People experiencing depression often need someone to talk to, and they can benefit from psychological counseling and reading what Jesus has to say, the Holy Father offered. Thus, his Apostleship of Prayer intention for November reads: “Let us pray that people who suffer from depression or burnout will find support and a light that opens them up to life.”

The words resonated profoundly with the Saint Peter Cathedral deacon, who has been emphasizing the same precise message for years.

“We are committed to following the Pope’s call to build a community of warmth and affection where people who live with depression and other mental health challenges can find hope and healing,” Deacon Shoener explained.

A recently published study estimates that about one in ten people worldwide lives with a mental health disorder — that is to say, approximately 792 million, or 11% of the population. Among the various disorders that exist, the study identifies depression (264 million, 3%) and anxiety (284, 4%) as the most prevalent in people’s lives.

The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has caused the death of millions of people, but as also tried the mental and emotional resilience of countless others. Aware of this reality, the plea of Pope Francis is that we “be close to those who are exhausted, to those who are desperate, without hope. Often we should simply listen in silence.”

His Holiness continued, “Let us not forget that, along with the indispensable psychological counseling…Jesus’ words can also help,” alluding to the Lord’s urging in Matthew’s Gospel: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”

This month’s edition of the Pope’s video was created with the support of the ACMHM, which offers support to those suffering some form of mental illness and fosters actions to prevent any kind of discrimination that would impede them from participating fully in the life of the Church.

Deacon Shoener indicated the association views the legacies of Saint Dymphna and Saint John of God as models for mental health ministry, providing free prayer cards of the saints for us in mental health ministries.

“On each card there is an image of the saint turning from the darkness, which so often envelopes people who suffer with mental illness, and looking toward the light of Christ,” he explained. “At the bottom of the card is the phrase, ‘The Pain is Real — but so is Hope.’”

Inquiries about the Catholic Mental Health Ministers Association may be directed to info@catholicmhm.org and Deacon Ed Shoener at (570) 207-2229.


Men and Women Religious celebrating 25, 50, 60 and 70 years of religious profession in 2020 and 2021 were recognized during a Jubilee Mass on Nov. 7, 2021, at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton. Shown in the photo, front row, left to right: Sisters Catherine Ann Morris, SS.C.M.; Jean Louise Bachetti, IHM; Eric Marie Setlock, R.S.M.; Dorothy Marie Hagan, R.S.M.; Eleanor Marie Malanaphy, IHM; Babette Opferman, IHM; Marion Tarone, IHM; Myra Gilbert, IHM; Mary Alice Kane, IHM; and Rosella Salvato, IHM. Second row, left to right: Sisters Joan Paskert, IHM; Ellen Maroney, IHM; Tarcisius Tasselli, IHM; Jane Marie Connolly, IHM; Karen Marie O’Neill, IHM; Dorothy Kibler, IHM; Joel Marie Sheehe, IHM; Susan Hadzima, IHM; and Kathryn Kurdziel, IHM, Diocesan Delegate for Religious. Third row, left to right: Sister Susan Ellen Brown, IHM; the Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton; Sisters Ann Monica Bubser, IHM; and Kathryn Clauss, IHM. Absent from photo, concelebrant Rev. Leonard A. Martin, SJ, pastor, Saint Mary Byzantine Catholic Church, Scranton, and adminstrator, Saint John Byzantine Catholic Church, Scranton. (Photos/Mike Melisky)

SCRANTON – While waiting for the Jubilee Mass for Men and Women Religious to begin on Nov. 7, 2021, Sisters Rosella Salvato, IHM, and Myra Gilbert, IHM, sat in the first pew of the Cathedral of Saint Peter reflecting on their 60 years in ministry.

Sisters Mary Alice Kane, IHM; Ann Monica Bubser, IHM; and Kathryn Clauss, IHM, participate in the Renewal of Vows during the Jubilee Mass for Men & Women Religious at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton on Nov. 7, 2021.

“It is a glorious occasion for us to be able to celebrate our God-given vocation,” Sister Salvato said.

“It’s hard to express what the day means because I have all these feelings of joy and gratitude. I’m thinking of the many blessings I’ve had over the years,” Sister Gilbert added.

Both Sisters are celebrating 60 years of religious life with Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

“I taught for 56 years. A tremendous part of being a Religious was to be involved in the Legion of Mary,” Sister Salvato said. “I also had the privilege of going to Waymart prison to minister with the inmates. My vocation has been glorious and I thank God for this day and my parents who nurtured me in my faith.”

Sister Gilbert was also involved in teaching and also served as a minister to the sick and homebound

In addition to the Men & Women Religious being honored at the Jubilee, dozens of other religious sisters, family and friends attended the Jubilee Mass to honor those celebrating 25, 50, 60, 70, 75 and 80 years of religious profession.

“That was a beautiful ministry, to take Jesus to the people who could not get to Mass. They appreciated it so much,” she explained. “The Lord has given me a long life and he has given me many opportunities to share his goodness and blessings. I’m very joyous and very grateful for all the blessings that he has bestowed on me.”

After being postponed in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Diocese of Scranton celebrated its Jubilee Mass for Consecrated Life on Nov. 7, 2021. Women and Men Religious celebrating jubilee anniversaries of 25, 50, 60, 70, 75 and even 80 years were recognized during the Mass.

The Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, served as principal celebrant and homilist. Following the homily, the Men and Women Religious in attendance renewed their vows and sang the “Salve Regina.”

The bishop noted that, collectively, all of the jubilarians represent 3,895 years of service to the Church in Consecrated Life.

“Your openness to listening to the needs of God’s people, to dialoguing with them and discerning how we can walk together as sisters and brothers is a sign of your deep appreciation of how the Church best responds to the needs of a suffering world since its earliest days,” Bishop Bambera said during his homily.

“Your willingness to engage and serve the people of God – especially in your commitment to work for justice for the marginalized, immigrants, the poor and all those oppressed by far too many who deem themselves righteous – is a unique and powerful witness to the presence of God at work in our world.”

Bishop Bambera also noted how those in Consecrated Life do their work in quiet, simple ways.

“So much of what you do looks so ordinary and so natural,” the bishop noted. “Thank you for reminding us of the treasure that is ours when we live not so much for ourselves, but for Christ, in service of our sisters and brothers.”

Sister Dorothy Marie Hagan, R.S.M., is celebrating 60 years since she professed her vows.

“It’s a big privilege to be here with so many wonderful, dedicated women, who have spent their lives doing good for others,” Sister Hagan said.

As a Sister with the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, Sister Hagan said she has never regretted her decision.

“I’ve been very involved in so many different ministries, teaching I loved and then formation ministry with the younger sisters. I’ve been all over the United States and South America, so I’ve never had a dull moment,” she explained.


SCRANTON – Growing up in a small town in Ghana, West Africa, Father Stephen A. Asomah didn’t have a resident priest in his community to celebrate Mass every day or even every week.

“Sometimes it took several months to have a priest so our catechists would lead the services on weekdays and on Sundays with communion service,” Father Stephen said.

As the seventh of eight children, Father Stephen’s mother introduced him to the Catholic faith, taking him to church, devotions, Legion of Mary meetings and daily services.

“When the priest was visiting, it was such a great occasion and a great joy,” he explained.

Father Stephen explained his path to becoming a missionary as homilist for the World Mission Sunday Mass, which was held Oct. 31, 2021, at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton. Father Stephen has been in the United States nearly a decade. He became parochial vicar at Our Lady of the Snows Parish in

Clarks Summit in Feb. 2020 after serving seven years in the Archdiocese of New York.

“Many years ago, many of your sons and daughters made a big and loving sacrifice to go to Africa and to share the love of God they had encountered with us as missionaries. It’s time to reciprocate their love and their generous sacrifice,” he said.

Father Stephen said it was his interaction with a missionary priest, Father Michael O’Brien, which sparked his interest in the priesthood. Shockingly, Father Stephen didn’t understand English.

One day, when he was in fourth grade, Father Stephen decided to gift the missionary priest a pineapple from his family’s farm.

“Father smiled and patted (me) on the shoulder. He said, ‘God bless you to be like me,’ and that was it!” Father Stephen explained with a smile.

Father Stephen attended Saint Paul’s Major Seminary, Sowotuom, Accra, for spirituality and philosophy and Saint Peter’s Regional Seminary, Pedu, Cape Coast, for theological studies. He was ordained to the priesthood in July 2008.

“Mission is born out of love. Jesus’ own mission on earth was born out of the Father’s love for the world and his desire to save humanity,” Father Stephen told the Cathedral crowd during his homily.

He explained that all Catholics are missionaries. While some missionaries travel far away from their homes, others are called to support missionary work prayerfully and financially, and everyone is encouraged to make their homes a missionary outpost.

“At the end of this Mass, when you hear, ‘go the Mass has ended,’ know that you have a mission to accomplish,” he ended his homily by saying.

At the conclusion of the World Mission Sunday Mass, the Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, thanked Father Stephen for sharing his personal story and reminding parishioners of the importance that international priests play in the Diocese of Scranton.

There are currently 12 priests from countries such as Ghana, India, Bolivia, Columbia, Peru and the Dominican Republic currently sharing the love of Christ locally.

“For centuries before our present time, missionaries came from North America and Europe to go to all parts of the world to share the Good News and today, as Father said, missionaries are coming from other parts of the world to support and sustain us and preach the gospel,” Bishop Bambera noted. “We are

so, so blessed and so grateful for their presence and for their willingness to help us in our parish communities.”


SCRANTON – Six years after its launch, the Diocese of Scranton’s annual Leave a Mark Mass is still having a strong impact on young adults.

“It is nice to see the young Church all gathered in one place,” Thomas Cunningham, 28, said.

The Scranton man and his twin brother were among those who helped plan the first Leave a Mark Mass in 2016. They have continued to serve on the planning committee and always look forward to the special liturgy.

“It fosters a community among the young Church. We may be spread out, so to speak, but we’re all one body and one Church,” Matthew Cunningham added.

The Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, served as principal celebrant for the sixth annual Leave a Mark Mass on Nov. 7, 2021, at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton. Father Alex Roche, Diocesan Director of Vocations and Seminarians, served as homilist.

“Leave a Mark Mass is so important for young people because it’s so inspiring,” Bridget Barnic, 25, said. “After the pandemic, it has been very refreshing to be with everyone again today and to feed off the energy of each other.”

The idea for the Leave a Mark Mass developed out of comments made by Pope Francis at World Youth Day 2016 in Krakow, Poland. The pope said young adults do not come into the world to “vegetate,” but rather to “leave a mark.”

The Leave a Mark Mass helped to kick off National Vocation Awareness Week in the Diocese of Scranton. Young adults from around the diocese attended the event.

Sean Robbins, Director of Youth and College Ministry at Saint Matthew Parish in East Stroudsburg, made the trip to Scranton with a small group to participate.

“We all have a Baptismal call and we all have to participate and engage and I think that is what the Leave a Mark Mass does. It makes us realize that we’re all one, all one as a diocese, and we’re all on the same mission of spreading the Gospel,” he explained.

During his homily, Father Roche told young adults not to be timid in their faith, especially when facing big decisions in their lives.

“It is in the difficult moments and tough decisions that we should place our trust even more deeply, even more firmly, even more fervently, in what our God has promised us,” he said. “That is the time to lean in, that is the time to invest more.”

Father Roche also stressed the need to trust in the grace of God.

“Don’t be afraid to place your trust even more deeply in the path that Jesus Christ has for you,” he boldly proclaimed.

Father Roche’s homily resonated with many of the young people in the Cathedral crowd.

“It really touched me because I’m a fearful person. I try not to take big, huge leaps but as I’m getting older and more mature, it made me think about taking opportunities,” Maria Luna, 18, said.

This was the first time Luna and her friend Nancy Cortes, 28, who are both parishioners of Saint John Neumann Parish in Scranton, attended the Leave a Mark Mass. As members of the Hispanic community, they were delighted to see readings and music in both English and Spanish.

“I liked how they incorporated English and Spanish, that way the Spanish community could feel like we’re involved. Everything was beautiful,” Cortes said.

Following the Mass, the young adults were invited to a social at the Diocesan Pastoral Center. Two food trucks were set up in the parking lot, while attendees inside were able to meet one another, enjoy music from a live band and participate in games.

“Leave a Mark is so important because it allows the Church of tomorrow to really embrace the Church of today,” Thomas Flynn, a student at Marywood University, said.


This is the cover of the October 2021 report on the implementation of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,” released Nov. 9, 2021, by the USCCB, the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection and the National Review Board. (CNS photo/courtesy USCCB)

WASHINGTON (CNS) – More than 4,200 allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy and others were reported during the year ending June 30, 2020, a slight decline from the previous auditing period, according to a report on diocesan and eparchial compliance with the U.S. bishops’ “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.”

Released late Nov. 9, the 18th annual report from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection stated that 3,924 child sexual abuse survivors filed 4,228 allegations.

In the 2019 report, covering the 2018-2019 audit period, 4,220 adults filed 4,434 allegations.

The charter was adopted in 2002 by the U.S. bishops following widespread reports of clergy abuse and has been revised several times since to adapt to changing situations surrounding the question of clergy sexual abuse of minors.

Conducted by StoneBridge Business Partners of Rochester, New York, the new report covers the year from July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2020.

While the number of allegations remained high during the audit period, the report said only 22 allegations involve current cases of abuse.

The report said the number of allegations remained high in part because of changes in statutes of limitations on reporting abuse in several states. “It should be noted that the vast majority of these reports were historical in nature,” the report said.

The report attributed about 66% of allegations to lawsuits, compensation programs established by dioceses and other entities and bankruptcies. In addition, 1% of allegations emerged after a review of clergy personnel files, according to the report.

Of the 22 allegations for the current year, six were found to be substantiated. The report said they originated from five dioceses.

Of the remaining reported allegations, seven continued to be investigated, two were unsubstantiated, three were determined to be “unable to be proven,” and four were classified as “other.”

The report said nine of the allegations involved the use of child pornography. Seven of those cases remained under investigation, one was substantiated and one was referred to a provincial or a religious order.

The allegations involved 2,458 priests, 31 deacons and 282 unknown clerics, statistics in the report show.

The report indicated that 195 of 197 dioceses and eparchies participated in the audit. Auditors conducted 61 onsite visits with 10 in person before the pandemic erupted in early 2020. The other 51 were conducted online. Data also was collected from 135 other dioceses and eparchies.

The Syro-Malankara Eparchy of St. Mary Queen of Peace of the United States and Canada and the Chaldean Catholic Eparchy of St. Peter the Apostle of San Diego did not participate in the audit.

Of the 61 entities undergoing onsite audits, two dioceses and two eparchies were determined to be in noncompliance.

The dioceses of Fort Worth, Texas, and Helena, Montana, were noncompliant with charter’s requirement for not having their respective Diocesan Review Board meet during the audit period. Subsequent to the audit, the boards in each diocese were convened, making them compliant with the charter, the report said.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of St. Nicholas in Chicago and the Syriac Catholic Eparchy of Our Lady of Deliverance, which covers the United States and is based New Jersey, were found noncompliant with charter provisions that require background screening and training of adults working with minors.

The report also acknowledged the continuing work of church entities to ensure the safety of children and vulnerable adults. The USCCB said that expenditures on protective services rose 15% in 2020 with more than 2.5 million background checks of adults and training in safety measures for 3.1 million children.

Suzanne Healy, who chairs the National Review Board, said that as the charter enters its third decade of implementation it becomes important to continue evaluating incidents of abuse as well as understand trends of abuse and why they change.

In a letter to Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez, USCCB president, that accompanied the report, Healy said a board committee is examining the safe environment education programs for adults and children in dioceses throughout the country.

“The research is an attempt to determine which elements or combination of elements of these training programs is most effective in mitigating the occurrence of child abuse and ensuring that any suspicion of abuse is reported to authorities,” Healy wrote.

She also said the board recommended two procedures be added to the audit process and welcomed their edition for the 2020-2021 audit cycle. The first is “a three-year look-back window, which will eliminate any gaps that existed regarding the reporting of case resolution,” Healy said.

The second relates to onsite visits by StoneBridge that finds auditors meeting with all or most diocesan review board members rather than one or two individuals.

“The ministries of safe environments and victim assistance are here to stay. The protocols and procedures for letters of suitability, background checks, and safe environment training are the norm,” said Deacon Bernie Nojadera, executive director of the USCCB Secretariat for Child and Youth Protection.

“By the grace of God, the church is working toward being accessible, accountable, and safe. We continue to rely on the Holy Spirit and the intercession of Our Mother to guide our efforts as we promise to protect and pledge to heal,” he wrote in a letter addressed to Archbishop Gomez and Healy that was included in the report.

In his preface to the report, Archbishop Gomez said: “As we know, one allegation of abuse is too many. But my brother bishops and I remain firmly committed to maintain our vigilance in protecting children and vulnerable adults and providing compassion and outreach to victim-survivors of abuse.”

Speaking for himself and the body of bishops, the archbishop expressed their “sorrow and apologies to every person who has suffered at the hands of someone in the church.”

“While we cannot give you back what has been taken from you,” Archbishop Gomez said, “we do commit ourselves to doing everything in our power to help you to heal and to fight the scourge of abuse in the church and in the wider society.”

Note: The full annual report on compliance with the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops can be found online at https://bit.ly/3CYMQdX


A cross is silhouetted outside a Catholic church near Nantes, France, Oct. 5, 2021. French bishops have unveiled new measures against sexual abuse by clergy in the wake of an independent report released in October. (CNS photo/Stephane Mahe, Reuters)

LOURDES, France (CNS) – France’s Catholic bishops have unveiled new measures to counter sexual abuse by clergy after an October report by an independent commission estimated more than 330,000 children had been abused since the 1950s.

Among 26 measures finalized during the bishops’ plenary and announced Nov. 8, a new national independent unit for recognition and reparation will be headed by jurist Marie Derain de Vaucresson, while diocesan properties and assets will be sold to finance compensation payments.

The bishops also will establish a national canonical criminal court and external audit for victim support units, while arranging a confession facility for clergy and “systematic judicial record verification” for anyone working with minors. The third Sunday of Lent will be marked in France as a day of prayer for victims of “violence, sexual assault and abuse of power and conscience within the church.”

The new measures, expanding on 11 adopted at the bishops’ previous March plenary, will be accompanied by the formation of lay-led working groups on priestly formation, lay involvement, church governance and other reform areas recommended by the report. The bishops also asked Pope Francis to send a “visitor team” to evaluate the bishops’ mission.

In the future, the bishops said, seminary councils must include at least one woman with voting rights, while a charter of good conduct and “national repository of preventive measures” will be set up for dioceses, movements and communities.

Laypeople will serve on all bishops’ conference commissions and councils, while the bishops’ doctrinal commission will examine doctrinal issues highlighted in the abuse report, including sexual morality, anthropology, ministerial priesthood, and the “distinction between power of order and power of government” in time for a March follow-up plenary.

“This commission’s report into sexual abuse showed a reality we hadn’t been able to see,” said Archbishop Éric de Moulins-Beaufort, the French bishops’ conference president.

“It put before our eyes and those of the world that our Catholic Church in France was a place where acts of violence and sexual assault against minors had been committed in terrifying proportions. … We must recognize our church is a site of serious crimes, of formidable attacks on life and integrity. This cannot be a church of Jesus.”

The archbishop spoke at the close of the Nov. 2-8 plenary of the 120-member conference at the national shrine of Lourdes.

He said he was shocked by the image, displayed at the plenary, of a “petrified child” weeping alone under a cathedral vault, knowing it had been “multiplied thousands of times.”

Archbishop Moulins-Beaufort said the conference was grateful to those who had helped expose abuse in the church, adding that he and other French clergy had “not become priests to take part in murderous acts” or “increase our power and train up our regiments.”

The bishops’ conference president said the CIASE report had highlighted the need to “redouble our vigilance, be clear-sighted, not let ourselves be deceived by the words we use,” adding that he believed the “metaphor of fatherhood” in Christian teaching should now be “scrutinized from all angles” as the French church began a “new phase in its history.”

“These decisions mark our liberation — we can now demonstrate the church we belong to and wish to serve cannot be an institution be preoccupied with itself and hunched in self-glorification,” the 59-year-old archbishop said.

“We have everything to gain from concluding protocols with prosecutors, from relying with confidence on our country’ justice and police services. … It will undoubtedly have been worth the trouble of being humiliated, impoverished and diminished if this helps us better meet the poor, the excluded and the despised.”


Pope Francis gives the homily as he celebrates Mass marking World Day of the Poor in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican Nov. 15, 2020. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis plans to prepare for his celebration of the World Day of the Poor by meeting with and listening to some 500 poor people making a pilgrimage to Assisi, Italy, Nov. 12.

Two days later, on the World Day of the Poor, the pope will celebrate a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica with about 2,000 poor people and those who assist them, the Vatican said. Everyone will be offered a hot meal after Mass.

The Assisi pilgrims, assisted by a French and several Italian Catholic charitable organizations, will go home from Assisi with new backpacks containing winter sweaters, scarves, hats and jackets as well as fabric anti COVID-19 masks.

The Vatican said Nov. 8 the gifts will be packaged by the +Three project, “which promotes products made in respect of environmental and economic sustainability within an ethical and socially useful supply chain.”

The Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, which promotes and organizes the World Day of the Poor, said Pope Francis will pay particular attention this year to 40 groups homes that care for children or children and their mothers, delivering a two-month supply of personal care products and food, especially baby food.

With donations from a grocery store chain and a pasta manufacturer, it said, the group homes and local parishes and charities will share five tons of pasta, one ton of rice, two tons of tomato puree, 1,000 liters of oil and 3,000 liters of milk.

The Vatican also has prepared 5,000 kits filled with common over-the-counter medications for distribution to the poor through Rome parishes, the council said. And an Italian financial services company has made a donation that will allow the office of the papal almoner to help 500 families pay their gas and utility bills, the council said.



SCRANTON – The Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, will serve as principal celebrant and homilist for the Jubilee Mass for Men & Women Religious on Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021.

The Mass will be celebrated at 12:15 p.m. at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton. Everyone is invited to attend.

The Reverend Leonard A. Martin, S.J., pastor, Saint Mary Byzantine Catholic Church, Scranton and administrator, Saint John Byzantine Catholic Church, Scranton, will concelebrate the Mass.

Following the homily, the men and women religious in attendance will renew their vows followed by the singing of the “Salve Regina.”

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jubilarians from both 2020 and 2021 will be recognized that this weekend’s Mass.

CTV: Catholic Television of the Diocese of Scranton will provide live coverage of the Mass.

The list of 2020 – 2021 Jubilarians is:




70 Years

Sister Mary Ellen James, I.H.M.

Sister Kathleen McNulty, I.H.M.


60 Years

Sister Grace Campbell, I.H.M.

Sister Jane Marie Connolly, I.H.M.

Sister Eleanor Marie Malanapy, I.H.M.

Sister Karen Marie O’Neill, I.H.M.

Sister Mary Ann Remus, I.H.M.

Sister Joel Marie Sheehe, I.H.M.


50 Years

Sister Maria Peter Kratz, I.H.M.

Sister Therese O’Rourke, I.H.M.

Sister Mary Persico, I.H.M.


25 Years

Sister Susan Ellen Brown, I.H.M.


80 Years

Sister M. Daria McGinn, I.H.M.


75 Years

Sister M. Elsa Eckenrode, I.H.M.

Sister Margaret Loftus, I.H.M.

Sister M. Charlene Templeton, I.H.M.

70 Years

Sister M. Gracette Baker, I.H.M.

Sister M. Marguerite Carbone, I.H.M.

Sister Jean Conaty, I.H.M.

Sister Joan Paskert, I.H.M.

Sister M. Celeste Parry, I.H.M.

Sister M. Tarcisius Tasselli, I.H.M.


60 Years

Sister Jean Louise Bachetti, I.H.M.

Sister Dolores M. Banick, I.H.M.

Sister M. Carlita Bird, I.H.M.

Sister Josephine Cioffi, I.H.M.

Sister Jane Ellis, I.H.M.

Sister M. Myra Gilbert, I.H.M.

Sister Mary Alice Kane, I.H.M.

Sister Joan Katoski, I.H.M.

Sister Babette Opferman, I.H.M.

Sister M. Rosella Salvato, I.H.M.

Sister Sue Ann Steves, I.H.M.

Sister Marion Tarone, I.H.M.


50 Years

Sister Kathryn Clauss, I.H.M.

Sister Susan Hadzima, I.H.M.

Sister Dorothy Kibler, I.H.M.

Sister Ellen Maroney, I.H.M.

Sister Ann Monica Bubser, I.H.M.





75 Years

Sister Colman Krise, R.S.M.

70 Years

Sister Marie Genevieve Mannix, R.S.M.

Sister Barbara Craig, R.S.M.


60 Years

Sister Dorothy Marie Hagan, R.S.M.

Sister Eric Marie Setlock, R.S.M.

Sister Jane O’Donnell, R.S.M.

Sister Martha Hanlon, R.S.M.



75 Years

Sister Bride Pollard, R.S.M.


70 Years

Sister Mary Clare Dougherty, R.S.M.

Sister Ruth Ann Fox, R.S.M.


60 Years

Sister Carol Ann Gallagher, R.S.M.

Sister Annette Marie Diebold, R.S.M.

Sister Marilyn Karas, R.S.M.

Sister Dorothy Marie Reaver, R.S.M.

Sister Marie Noel Keller, R.S.M.

Sister Jayne Pruitt, R.S.M.

Sister Sara Sweeney, R.S.M.





60 Years

Sister Catherine Ann Morris, SS.C.M.



70 Years

Reverend Vincent Boney, C.P.





60 Years

Reverend Raymond Tabon, O.S.J.


25 Years

Reverend Victor Leon, O.S.J.





60 Years

Reverend Eugene A. Nolan, S.J.



60 Years

Reverend Leonard A. Martin, S.J.


50 Years

Reverend John J. Levko, S.J.

Reverend Eugene A. Nolan, S.J.



VATICAN CITY (CNS) – People experiencing depression often need someone to talk to, and they can benefit from psychological counseling and reading what Jesus has to say, Pope Francis said.

“Let us pray that people who suffer from depression or burnout will find support and a light that opens them up to life,” the pope said.

In a video message released by the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network Nov. 3, the pope offered his prayer intention for the month of November, which he dedicated to people experiencing depression. November and the start of shorter and colder days for the Northern Hemisphere sometimes trigger “seasonal affective disorder” and depressive symptoms, according to many medical experts.

In his video message, the pope said, “Overwork and work-related stress cause many people to experience extreme exhaustion — mental, emotional, affective and physical exhaustion.”

“Sadness, apathy and spiritual tiredness end up dominating the lives of people, who are overloaded due to the rhythm of life today,” he added.

The pope said, “Let us try to be close to those who are exhausted, to those who are desperate, without hope.”

“Often, we should just simply listen in silence because we cannot go and tell someone, ‘No, life’s not like that. Listen to me, I’ll give you the solution.’ There’s no solution,” he said.

“And besides, let us not forget that, along with the indispensable psychological counseling, which is useful and effective, Jesus’ words also help,” he said, such as, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28).

Pope Francis has spoken candidly in interviews about his own mental health.

He found help from a psychiatrist for how to manage his anxiety and “to avoid rushing when making decisions” when he was a priest in Argentina during the dictatorship, he has said. The stress and anxiety built as he was secretly taking people into hiding to get them out of the country and save their lives, he has said.

“I had to deal with situations I didn’t know how to deal with,” he recalled.

This edition of The Pope Video was created with the support of the Association of Catholic Mental Health Ministers, an association which offers spiritual support to people suffering some form of mental illness, and which fosters actions to prevent any kind of discrimination that would impede them from participating fully in the life of the Church.

A study published this year estimates that about one in ten people worldwide lives with a mental health disorder—that is to say, about 792 million people, or 11% of the population. Among the various disorders that exist, the study identifies depression (264 million, 3%) and anxiety (284 million, 4%) as the most prevalent in people’s lives.

The Pope’s message is shared by the Association of Catholic Mental Health Ministers, a lay association of the Christian faithful founded in the United States, whose members are called to be a healing presence in the lives of people with mental illness. Its president, Deacon Ed Shoener from the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton, explained the need to respond to Pope Francis’ call.

“Our mission is to support the growth of mental health ministry in the Church. Pope Francis has said that we need to fully overcome the stigma with which mental illness has often been branded in order to ensure that a culture of community prevails over the mentality of rejection. We are committed to following the Pope’s call to build a community of warmth and affection where people who live with depression and other mental health challenges can find hope and healing,” Deacon Shoener said.


About the Association of Catholic Mental Health Ministers

The Association for Catholic Mental Health Ministers is a Lay Association of the Christian Faithful whose members are called to be a healing presence in the lives of people with mental illness. The Association works to make mental health ministry an integral and common ministry in the Church that is available in every Catholic parish and community. Mental health ministry provides spiritual support to people living with a mental illness to assist them to live in holiness and educates and informs the Catholic community about the issues, struggles and joys that can be found in people living with a mental illness. The Association provides the tools, methods and insights that allow catholic leaders to confidently minister to people with a mental illness without fear or prejudice. You can learn more about mental health ministry by visiting the Association of Catholic Mental Health Ministers at: catholicmhm.org