Pope Francis is seen in a window greeting a few nuns standing in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican March 22, 2020, after reciting his weekly Angelus prayer from the library of the Apostolic Palace. The pope announced he will give an extraordinary blessing “urbi et orbi” (to the city and the world) at 6 p.m. Rome time March 27 in an “empty” St. Peter’s Square because all of Italy is on lockdown to prevent further spread of the coronavirus. (CNS photo/Alberto Lingria, Reuters)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Pope Francis said he will give an extraordinary blessing “urbi et orbi” (to the city and the world) at 6 p.m. Rome time March 27.

The formal blessing — usually given only immediately after a new pope’s election and on Christmas and Easter — carries with it a plenary indulgence for all who follow by television, internet or radio, are sorry for their sins, recite a few prescribed prayers and promise to go to confession and to receive the Eucharist as soon as possible.

After reciting the Angelus prayer March 22 from the library of the Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis announced his plans for the special blessing, which, he said, would be given in an “empty” St. Peter’s Square because all of Italy is on lockdown to prevent further spread of the virus.

With the public joining him only by television, internet or radio, “we will listen to the word of God, raise our prayer (and) adore the Blessed Sacrament,” he said. “At the end, I will give the benediction ‘urbi et orbi,’ to which will be connected the possibility of receiving a plenary indulgence.”

An indulgence is an ancient practice of prayer and penance for the remission of the temporal punishment a person is due for sins that have been forgiven. In Catholic teaching, a person can draw on the merits of Jesus and the saints to claim the indulgence for themselves or offer it on behalf of someone who has died.

In addition to announcing the special blessing, Pope Francis said that at a time “when humanity trembles” because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he was asking Christians of every denomination to join together at noon March 25 to recite the Lord’s Prayer. The Catholic Church and many others mark March 25 as the feast of the Annunciation.

“To the pandemic of the virus we want to respond with the universality of prayer, compassion and tenderness,” he said. “Let’s stay united. Let us make those who are alone and tested feel our closeness,” as well as doctors, nurses, other healthcare workers and volunteers.

Pope Francis also expressed concern for “authorities who have to take strong measures for our good” and the police and soldiers maintaining public order and enforcing the lockdown.

 

March 16, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Effective immediately, and until further notice, I have suspended the celebration of Masses open to the public and all public gatherings in all diocesan parishes, worship sites, college campuses, chapels and health care facilities in the eleven counties of the Diocese of Scranton.

Churches of the Diocese will remain open daily for individual private prayer. The time frame for each parish is to be determined by its pastor or parish life coordinator. The dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass during this time remains in effect.

Scheduled sacramental celebrations such as weddings, baptisms or funerals will be permitted, but attendance will be limited to immediate family members and follow any guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The sacraments of the Anointing of the Sick and Reconciliation will be available, when requested individually, by the faithful in cases of serious need.

It deeply saddens me to take this temporary action, knowing the depth of your faith and your desire to celebrate the Holy Eucharist on a regular basis. In light of continued concerns surrounding COVID-19, and upon the advice of medical experts, it is clear that we, as a faith community, must do our part in order to help slow the spread of this virus.

The number of faithful souls who filled our churches this past weekend, even with the dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass, was deeply consoling to me. As you always have, so many of you are turning to your faith as the surest place where we will find God’s peace, consolation and hope.

Unfortunately, the presence of such great numbers of worshippers in our churches is not serving our efforts to help mitigate the spread of the Coronavirus. In an effort to prevent overwhelming our hospitals and health care facilities, national, state and local leaders have urged people to avoid large gatherings of people and keep appropriate social distancing from one another.

As your bishop, in addition to the care of souls, the safety and health of all of our faithful parishioners, friends and those we welcome through our outreach and service, is of utmost importance to me. As such, the decision that I have announced, while difficult, is the best way for us to work together to serve the common good of all, both in our parishes and in our communities.

During these challenging times, it is also crucial that we not forget who we are as Christians. May we continue to offer, in whatever way we can, care and concern for those who are most vulnerable, including the poor, our senior citizens and those who are ill. I also urge those who can do so to maintain support for your parishes during these difficult days in order to sustain the ministries and outreach services for parishioners and those most in need.

Despite the suspension of public Masses, a private Mass will be celebrated daily in the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton, and made available on CTV: Catholic Television of the Diocese of Scranton. On weekdays, the Mass will be broadcast at 12:10 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. On weekends, the Saturday Vigil Mass will be broadcast at 4:00 p.m. and rebroadcast on Sunday morning at 10:00 a.m. The Masses will also be streamed on the Diocese of Scranton’s website (www.dioceseofscranton.org), made available on the Diocese of Scranton’s social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) and will be accessible on the Diocese of Scranton’s YouTube channel.

Additional resources for individual parishioners to deepen their faith during Lent are also available on the Diocese of Scranton’s website.

During this sacred season of Lent, we are being asked to sacrifice more than ever before – particularly with the loss of cherished religious practices, most especially the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. May we do so mindful of the selfless sacrifice of Jesus and for the sake of our brothers and sisters who are most vulnerable and in need of our help.

The Diocese of Scranton continues to monitor the rapidly evolving health situation regarding the coronavirus. We are constantly monitoring directives from national, state and local officials. This policy will be reassessed on a regular basis, in addition to the plans for Holy Week and Easter.

God bless you and keep each of you in His care. Let us continue to pray for one another.

Faithfully yours in Christ,
†Joseph C. Bambera
Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, D.D., J.C.L.
Bishop of Scranton

 

 

SCRANTON, PA (March 16, 2020) – Due to the closure of local schools and the pressing need to help our community in regards to COVID-19, Catholic Social Services of the Diocese of Scranton will be offering two additional community food distributions to people in need. The events will take place at the following times/locations:

  • Thursday, March 19 from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. at 640 Hemlock Street in Scranton
  • Saturday, March 21 from 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at the Family Center Basement of Saint Rose of Lima Parish in Carbondale

(March 13, 2020) – At the direction of Governor Tom Wolf, the Diocese of Scranton Catholic School System will now close for two weeks effective immediately.

The Diocese of Scranton Catholic School System will be moving to distance learning effective Monday, March 16, 2020. All teachers have prepared to deliver instruction to our students through the use of our email system. Administrators have been sending regular communication to parents/students through the use of our email system.

As a result of all K-12 school districts in the commonwealth closing, all faith formation classes in parishes should also be cancelled immediately. Programs are encouraged to offer remote or online learning if possible.

The closure decision impacts the following schools:

BRADFORD COUNTY

Epiphany School, Sayre
Saint Agnes School, Towanda 

LACKAWANNA COUNTY

All Saints Academy, Scranton
Holy Cross High School, Dunmore
La Salle Academy, Jessup
Our Lady of Peace School, Clarks Green
St. Clare/St. Paul School, Scranton
Saint Mary of Mount Carmel School, Dunmore 

LUZERNE COUNTY

Good Shepherd Academy, Kingston
Holy Family Academy, Hazleton
Holy Redeemer High School, Wilkes-Barre
Holy Rosary School, Duryea
Saint Jude School, Mountain Top
Saint Nicholas/Saint Mary School, Wilkes-Barre
Wyoming Area Catholic School, Exeter

MONROE COUNTY

Monsignor McHugh School, Cresco
Notre Dame Elementary School, East Stroudsburg
Notre Dame Jr./Sr. High School, East Stroudsburg

LYCOMING COUNTY

Saint John Neumann Elementary School, Williamsport
Saint John Neumann Jr./Sr. High School, Williamsport

Additional information is available at www.dioceseofscranton.org/catholic-schools.

This document reflects the most recent guidance from the Diocese of Scranton regarding the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and steps our communities can take to help prevent its spread. The Diocese of Scranton will be updating this guidance in accordance with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Pennsylvania Department of Health and local public health officials.

 

General Prevention and Preparedness

The health and safety of our parishioners, staff, students, families and clients that we serve are of paramount interest to the Diocese of Scranton. While there is much to learn about the coronavirus, based on what is currently known about the virus, spread from person-to-person happens most frequently among close contacts (within about six feet). Current evidence suggests that the coronavirus may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces made of a variety of materials.

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus a pandemic, because of its severity and the rapid rates at which it has spread. However, the WHO stressed that deliberate preventative actions can stop the virus from spreading.

We ask that all members of our parishes, schools and human/social service agencies assist with the prevention of spreading viruses by following the following recommendations:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

 

Travel Considerations

The Centers for Disease Control continues to update the Risk Level for each country. The Diocese of Scranton will continue to monitor this information and work to prevent this virus from spreading in our community. With that in mind, the Diocese of Scranton may require employees, students and/or families and clients that we serve who have been exposed to COVID-19 or are returning from countries designated as Risk Level 3 to remain home for 14 days upon returning to the United States or after contact with someone known to have or someone who may have been exposed to COVID-19. Those individuals will also be required to provide a notice from a healthcare professional that they are free from flu-like symptoms in order to return to work or school.

As of March 12, 2020, the CDC indicated the following risk levels related to COVID-19:

Level 3: China, Iran, Italy and South Korea

If you have travelled or are planning to travel to countries indicated with Risk Level 3, please contact your supervisor or principal to discuss plans for return to work or school.

 

Parish Gatherings

During a news conference Thursday afternoon (3/12/20), Governor Tom Wolf encouraged religious leaders statewide to exercise discretion in order to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus and encouraged the suspension of large gatherings and events of 250 individuals or more. In the Diocese of Scranton, it is now strongly recommended that all non-essential parish and Diocesan events be temporarily cancelled or postponed.

 

Parish/Liturgical Recommendations

 

Effective immediately (3/12/20), and until further notice, Bishop Joseph C. Bambera, in union with the Bishops of Pennsylvania, has dispensed the faithful of the Diocese of Scranton from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass. Despite the suspension of the obligation to attend Sunday Mass, all regularly scheduled Masses will remain open to the public for those who wish to attend.

Masses continue to be offered at parish churches across the Diocese of Scranton and churches remain open.

It is important that Catholics use vigilance when deciding to attend Mass. If you are sick, especially with flu-like symptoms, you should stay home for your own well-being and that of others. If parishioners are sick or suspect they are sick with a contagious illness, they are not bound by the Sunday Mass obligation.

Elderly parishioners who are not sick, but are concerned about being in crowded spaces, are also not bound by the Sunday Mass obligation.

The faithful are strongly encouraged at this time to receive the Body of Christ (via the Sacred Host) in the hand, but the right of each individual to receive on the tongue, as guaranteed by the universal law of the Church, remains in place and is to be respected. This request is made in order to curtail the spread of germs to the communicant, the minister of Holy Communion and other communicants.

The faithful should refrain from the use of holy water upon entering and exiting our churches. Out of an abundance of caution, pastors should remove holy water from fonts in an effort to reduce the possible transmission of the virus.

Parishes should make proper provisions for persons with celiac disease who cannot digest the gluten in wheat hosts or have other sensitivities.

The distribution of the Precious Blood via the Chalice is temporarily suspended.

The Sign of Peace will now be exchanged without physical contact.

Priests, deacons and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion should practice good hygiene, washing their hands before Mass begins or even using an alcohol based anti-bacterial solution before and after distributing Holy Communion.

 

Catholic Education

At this time, all schools within the Diocese of Scranton remain open and under the most recent guidance from the Governor, we will not be holding mass gatherings – especially those with more than 250 attendees.

Plans for continued “distance learning” have been developed and teachers and administrators are prepared to distribute information to parents/students should the need arise.

The Diocesan School System is following the travel considerations listed above and may require students and families who have been exposed to COVID-19 or are returning from countries designated at Risk Level 3 to wait a full 14 days after arriving in the United States and have notice from a healthcare professional that they are free from flu-like symptoms in order to return to school and school functions.

The Diocesan School System continues to take additional precautions in an effort to protect our classrooms and shared areas from any viruses. Custodial staff from each school thoroughly clean our classrooms and common areas (including door handles, desks and cafeterias) daily with proper sanitary materials to minimize the spread of viruses. In order to support the prevention of viruses at all schools, we recommend that your child stay home from school if experiencing flu or cold symptoms. To decide whether or not to send your child to school, please consider the following guidelines, and keep your student home if they show any of the following:

  • Fever‐greater than 100°F and your child should stay home until at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever. This should be determined without the use of fever‐reducing medicines (any medicine that contains ibuprofen or acetaminophen).
  • Vomiting (even once)
  • Diarrhea
  • Chills
  • General malaise or feelings of fatigue, discomfort, weakness or muscle aches
  • Frequent congested (wet) or croup cough
  • Lots of nasal congestion with frequent blowing of nose

In regards to parish faith formation programs, Catechists should remind students of proper handwashing techniques and coughing and sneezing etiquette.

If threat is moderate to severe, faith formation programs or other parish gatherings should be postponed or canceled.  Parishes should follow the lead of their Diocesan school or local public school districts in canceling Religious Education classes.

Parish Religious Education programs should plan on offering remote or online learning if possible.

 

Catholic Human/Social Services

Catholic Human/Social Services of the Diocese of Scranton remains strongly committed to providing critical services to our brothers and sisters in need. In the midst of the coronavirus crisis, Catholic Human/Social Services is working to ensure the safety and well-being of both our staff and the members of the community that we serve.

At this time, Catholic Human/Social Services is following all guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control Prevention and other agencies.

Proper cleaning and disinfection procedures are being followed at all kitchens, shelters and pantries under the operation of Catholic Human/Social Services.

At the kitchens, specific procedures are being followed each morning, which include cleaning bathrooms with professional cleaner, wiping down all surfaces with an all-purpose disinfectant, sweeping all floors and using a designated bleach mix and wiping down tables and work surfaces with an all-purpose disinfectant. After lunch and/or dinner service, similar sweeping, mopping and cleaning procedures are also followed in the dining room, kitchen area and dish room.

All volunteers and staff are being reminded of proper precautionary protocols, including urging individuals to stay home and limit their contact with others if they are sick and the importance of proper hand washing, especially when it comes to food preparation.

Catholic Human/Social Services is also following the previously mentioned CDC guidelines and recommendations for any staff members or volunteers who have travelled to a Risk Level 3 country.

All ongoing programs and large public events/gatherings are also being evaluated at this time.

Catholic Human/Social Services also has ongoing communication with its housing and residential facilities in regards to best practices/procedures.

 

Catholic Youth Center

All state regulations are being strictly followed. Any child with a fever will be immediately sent home. In addition, any student with a fever will immediately be isolated from other children.

Parents have been provided information on the coronavirus and are instructed not to bring their child to the Catholic Youth Center if their child displays any of the symptoms.

Staff members have been told to stay home if they have any symptoms of the coronavirus or flu-like symptoms.

Toys and classroom items that children use during the day are normally cleaned/disinfected multiple times during the day. The importance of this procedure has been reinforced with staff and additional time has been given to each teacher’s schedule to stay after their shift to give the classroom a thorough cleaning and disinfection once the room is empty.

As per existing policy, all children and staff wash their hands multiple times during the day. All children must wash their hands upon arrival, prior to-and-after meals, after outdoor play time and before/after naps. Children typically wash their hands at a minimum of five times per day.

Staff members have also been instructed to wash their hands often during the day.

All hand rails and door handles will be disinfected after high traffic periods. Approximate times for this disinfection each day is 9:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.

Hand sanitizer stations will be placed at both entrances and at the entrance to every classroom as soon as possible. Staff members are working with Cintas to provide the dispensers and sanitizer.

 

Effective immediately, and until further notice, Bishop Joseph C. Bambera, in union with the Bishops of Pennsylvania, has dispensed the faithful of the Diocese of Scranton from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass. Despite the suspension of the obligation to attend Sunday Mass, all regularly scheduled Masses will remain open to the public for those who wish to attend.

Also, during a news conference Thursday afternoon (3/12/20), Governor Wolf encouraged religious leaders statewide to exercise discretion in order to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus and encouraged the suspension of large gatherings and events of 250 individuals or more. In the Diocese of Scranton, it is now strongly recommended that all non-essential parish and Diocesan events be temporarily cancelled or postponed.

Also, attached to this letter, is the latest updates regarding the Diocese of Scranton’s response to COVID-19.

Your careful adherence to these important matters is appreciated.  Let us continue to pray for one another.

Diocese of Scranton Coronavirus Update
March 12, 2020

This document reflects the most recent guidance from the Diocese of Scranton regarding the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and steps our communities can take to help prevent its spread. The Diocese of Scranton will be updating this guidance in accordance with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Pennsylvania Department of Health and local public health officials.

General Prevention and Preparedness

The health and safety of our parishioners, staff, students, families and clients that we serve are of paramount interest to the Diocese of Scranton. While there is much to learn about the coronavirus, based on what is currently known about the virus, spread from person-to-person happens most frequently among close contacts (within about six feet). Current evidence suggests that the coronavirus may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces made of a variety of materials.

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus a pandemic, because of its severity and the rapid rates at which it has spread. However, the WHO stressed that deliberate preventative actions can stop the virus from spreading.

We ask that all members of our parishes, schools and human/social service agencies assist with the prevention of spreading viruses by following the following recommendations:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

 

Travel Considerations

The Centers for Disease Control continues to update the Risk Level for each country. The Diocese of Scranton will continue to monitor this information and work to prevent this virus from spreading in our community. With that in mind, the Diocese of Scranton may require employees, students and/or families and clients that we serve who have been exposed to COVID-19 or are returning from countries designated as Risk Level 3 to remain home for 14 days upon returning to the United States or after contact with someone known to have or someone who may have been exposed to COVID-19. Those individuals will also be required to provide a notice from a healthcare professional that they are free from flu-like symptoms in order to return to work or school.

As of March 12, 2020, the CDC indicated the following risk levels related to COVID-19:

Level 3: China, Iran, Italy and South Korea

If you have travelled or are planning to travel to countries indicated with Risk Level 3, please contact your supervisor or principal to discuss plans for return to work or school.

 

Parish Gatherings

During a news conference Thursday afternoon (3/12/20), Governor Tom Wolf encouraged religious leaders statewide to exercise discretion in order to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus and encouraged the suspension of large gatherings and events of 250 individuals or more. In the Diocese of Scranton, it is now strongly recommended that all non-essential parish and Diocesan events be temporarily cancelled or postponed.

 

Parish/Liturgical Recommendations

Effective immediately (3/12/20), and until further notice, Bishop Joseph C. Bambera, in union with the Bishops of Pennsylvania, has dispensed the faithful of the Diocese of Scranton from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass. Despite the suspension of the obligation to attend Sunday Mass, all regularly scheduled Masses will remain open to the public for those who wish to attend.

Masses continue to be offered at parish churches across the Diocese of Scranton and churches remain open.

It is important that Catholics use vigilance when deciding to attend Mass. If you are sick, especially with flu-like symptoms, you should stay home for your own well-being and that of others. If parishioners are sick or suspect they are sick with a contagious illness, they are not bound by the Sunday Mass obligation.

Elderly parishioners who are not sick, but are concerned about being in crowded spaces, are also not bound by the Sunday Mass obligation.

The faithful are strongly encouraged at this time to receive the Body of Christ (via the Sacred Host) in the hand, but the right of each individual to receive on the tongue, as guaranteed by the universal law of the Church, remains in place and is to be respected. This request is made in order to curtail the spread of germs to the communicant, the minister of Holy Communion and other communicants.

The faithful should refrain from the use of holy water upon entering and exiting our churches. Out of an abundance of caution, pastors should remove holy water from fonts in an effort to reduce the possible transmission of the virus.

Parishes should make proper provisions for persons with celiac disease who cannot digest the gluten in wheat hosts or have other sensitivities.

The distribution of the Precious Blood via the Chalice is temporarily suspended.

The Sign of Peace will now be exchanged without physical contact.

Priests, deacons and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion should practice good hygiene, washing their hands before Mass begins or even using an alcohol based anti-bacterial solution before and after distributing Holy Communion.

 

Catholic Education

(UPDATE 3/13/20) At the direction of Governor Tom Wolf, the Diocese of Scranton Catholic School System will close for two weeks effective immediately.

The Diocese of Scranton Catholic School System will be moving to distance learning effective Monday, March 16, 2020. All teachers have prepared to deliver instruction to our students through the use of our email system. Administrators have been sending regular communication to parents/students through the use of our email system.

As a result of all K-12 school districts in the commonwealth closing, all faith formation classes in parishes should also be cancelled immediately. Programs are encouraged to offer remote or online learning if possible.

Diocese of Scranton Catholic School System to close schools and begin “distance learning” effective Monday
March 13, 2020 

Follow-up on COVID-19 March 12, 2020

COVID-19 March 12, 2020

At this time, all schools within the Diocese of Scranton remain open and under the most recent guidance from the Governor, we will not be holding mass gatherings – especially those with more than 250 attendees.

Plans for continued “distance learning” have been developed and teachers and administrators are prepared to distribute information to parents/students should the need arise.

The Diocesan School System is following the travel considerations listed above and may require students and families who have been exposed to COVID-19 or are returning from countries designated at Risk Level 3 to wait a full 14 days after arriving in the United States and have notice from a healthcare professional that they are free from flu-like symptoms in order to return to school and school functions.

The Diocesan School System continues to take additional precautions in an effort to protect our classrooms and shared areas from any viruses. Custodial staff from each school thoroughly clean our classrooms and common areas (including door handles, desks and cafeterias) daily with proper sanitary materials to minimize the spread of viruses. In order to support the prevention of viruses at all schools, we recommend that your child stay home from school if experiencing flu or cold symptoms. To decide whether or not to send your child to school, please consider the following guidelines, and keep your student home if they show any of the following:

  • Fever‐greater than 100°F and your child should stay home until at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever. This should be determined without the use of fever‐reducing medicines (any medicine that contains ibuprofen or acetaminophen).
  • Vomiting (even once)
  • Diarrhea
  • Chills
  • General malaise or feelings of fatigue, discomfort, weakness or muscle aches
  • Frequent congested (wet) or croup cough
  • Lots of nasal congestion with frequent blowing of nose

In regards to parish faith formation programs, Catechists should remind students of proper handwashing techniques and coughing and sneezing etiquette.

If threat is moderate to severe, faith formation programs or other parish gatherings should be postponed or canceled.  Parishes should follow the lead of their Diocesan school or local public school districts in canceling Religious Education classes.

Parish Religious Education programs should plan on offering remote or online learning if possible.

 

Catholic Human/Social Services

(UPDATE 3/13/20) Due to the closure of local schools and the pressing need to help our community in regards to COVID-19, Catholic Human/Social Services will be offering two community food distributions to people in need. The events will take place at the following times/locations:

  • Thursday, March 19 from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. at 640 Hemlock Street in Scranton
  • Saturday, March 21 from 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at the Family Center Basement of Saint Rose of Lima Parish in Carbondale

Catholic Human/Social Services of the Diocese of Scranton remains strongly committed to providing critical services to our brothers and sisters in need. In the midst of the coronavirus crisis, Catholic Human/Social Services is working to ensure the safety and well-being of both our staff and the members of the community that we serve.

At this time, Catholic Human/Social Services is following all guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control Prevention and other agencies.

Proper cleaning and disinfection procedures are being followed at all kitchens, shelters and pantries under the operation of Catholic Human/Social Services.

At the kitchens, specific procedures are being followed each morning, which include cleaning bathrooms with professional cleaner, wiping down all surfaces with an all-purpose disinfectant, sweeping all floors and using a designated bleach mix and wiping down tables and work surfaces with an all-purpose disinfectant. After lunch and/or dinner service, similar sweeping, mopping and cleaning procedures are also followed in the dining room, kitchen area and dish room.

All volunteers and staff are being reminded of proper precautionary protocols, including urging individuals to stay home and limit their contact with others if they are sick and the importance of proper hand washing, especially when it comes to food preparation.

Catholic Human/Social Services is also following the previously mentioned CDC guidelines and recommendations for any staff members or volunteers who have travelled to a Risk Level 3 country.

All ongoing programs and large public events/gatherings are also being evaluated at this time.

Catholic Human/Social Services also has ongoing communication with its housing and residential facilities in regards to best practices/procedures.

 

Catholic Youth Center

All state regulations are being strictly followed. Any child with a fever will be immediately sent home. In addition, any student with a fever will immediately be isolated from other children.

Parents have been provided information on the coronavirus and are instructed not to bring their child to the Catholic Youth Center if their child displays any of the symptoms.

Staff members have been told to stay home if they have any symptoms of the coronavirus or flu-like symptoms.

Toys and classroom items that children use during the day are normally cleaned/disinfected multiple times during the day. The importance of this procedure has been reinforced with staff and additional time has been given to each teacher’s schedule to stay after their shift to give the classroom a thorough cleaning and disinfection once the room is empty.

As per existing policy, all children and staff wash their hands multiple times during the day. All children must wash their hands upon arrival, prior to-and-after meals, after outdoor play time and before/after naps. Children typically wash their hands at a minimum of five times per day.

Staff members have also been instructed to wash their hands often during the day.

All hand rails and door handles will be disinfected after high traffic periods. Approximate times for this disinfection each day is 9:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.

Hand sanitizer stations will be placed at both entrances and at the entrance to every classroom as soon as possible. Staff members are working with Cintas to provide the dispensers and sanitizer.

 

Resources

 

Center for Disease Control

Pennsylvania Department of Health

Catholic Response to Outbreak of Coronavirus

 

 

Passionist Father Lee Havey, C.P., will be the homilist for a two night Lenten Mission to be offered at Saint Mary of the Lake Church, 1872 Dalton Road, Lake Winola, on Tuesday, March 31, and Wednesday, April 1.  Father Havey conducts parish missions, Eucharistic devotions, novenas, and retreats throughout the country while residing in the Passionist Community located at St. Ann’s Monastery, Scranton, PA.

“Discovering Holiness in the Stories of Life” has been chosen as the theme for the mission.  According to Father Patrick Albert, pastor of Saint Mary of the Lake, “We are hoping that this Mission will provide all people of faith with the opportunity to add to their Lenten journey through worship, prayer, and service.” Each evening will include a vespers service, the mission message, and benediction.

In addition, Tuesday, March 31 will be “Reconciliation Night”, with confessions offered from 6:00 PM to 6:45 PM, and the Mission Service at 7:00 PM.  Wednesday’s schedule will include Eucharistic Adoration from 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM, and the Mission service at 7:00PM.  Wednesday’s service will also be “Ministry Night”.  A special invitation is extended to all who contribute to the life of their church through involvement in any ministry.

An additional component of the Wednesday service will be the collection of nonperishable food items for the Lower Wyoming County Food Pantry and St. Francis of Assisi Kitchen.  Each participant is asked to bring an item which will be donated.  According to Mary Lou Franko, chair of the Service Committee at Saint Mary’s, “We have recently doubled the hours of operation of the Food Pantry because of the need”.

All people of faith from throughout the area invited to join the parishioners of Saint Mary’s for the mission.  For more information, see www.nativitystmary.org or call 570 – 836 – 3275.

 

As public health officials in Pennsylvania and beyond continue to track the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and widespread flu activity, Bishop Joseph C. Bambera of the Diocese of Scranton is announcing new precautions for the celebration of Mass in the 11 counties of the Diocese of Scranton.

Effective immediately, Bishop Bambera has implemented the following directives:

  • The distribution of the Precious Blood via the Chalice is temporarily suspended
  • The Sign of Peace will now be exchanged without physical contact

“As of today, it is important to emphasize that there are no confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Pennsylvania, but the situation across the country is changing rapidly,” Bishop Bambera said. “The safety and health of our local faith community and all of northeastern and north central Pennsylvania is a priority for me.”

At this time, the Diocese is monitoring all information and updates being provided by federal, state and local government officials.

In addition to the temporary changes that are taking effect immediately, Bishop Bambera also issues the following reminders:

  • Priests, deacons and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion should practice good hygiene, washing their hands before Mass begins or even using an alcohol based anti-bacterial solution before and after distributing Holy Communion
  • Parishioners are also reminded that if they are sick, especially with flu-like symptoms, they should stay home for their own well-being and that of others. If parishioners are sick or suspect they are sick with a contagious illness, they are not bound by the Sunday Mass obligation

In addition to the new directives being implemented today, Bishop Bambera reminds everyone of basic personal hygiene practices which are outlined by the Pennsylvania Department of Health. They include:

  • Covering coughs or sneezes with your elbow instead of hands
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available
  • Clean surfaces frequently, including countertops, light switches, cell phones, remotes and other frequently touched items

The new precautions will continue as long as deemed necessary by the Bishop.

“We will continue to monitor the situation and be ready to make any updates as needed,” Bishop Bambera added.

 

 

Six parishes in Lycoming County are joining forces for a special event during Lent and people from north central and northeastern Pennsylvania and beyond are invited to attend.

Saint Boniface Catholic Church, 326 Washington Boulevard, Williamsport, will host Made for More: Visions from the Promised Land on Tuesday, March 31, 2020 beginning at 7:00 p.m.

The event will feature Christopher West, best-selling author, speaker and teacher, along with folk/Americana musician Mike Mangione.

“Where do we come from and where are we going? If we don’t have compelling answers to these questions, we have no orientation in our lives,” West said.

West is known around the world for his teaching of Saint John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body.” He is co-founder of the Theology of the Body Institute. Written by the late Pope John Paul II, the Theology of the Body offers an in-depth biblical exploration of the meaning of our creation as male and female in the divine image.

“We’re taking people on a journey through some particular words of Christ. We start with: ‘They look but do not see.’ So we’ve been trained to look at the world, but not see it; to look at the human body, for instance, but not see it. All of creation has a message, and Jesus says, ‘Come and become one who sees.’ He’s in the business of giving sight to the blind,” West added.

Makenzie Conner, director of youth ministry for Saint Joseph the Worker Parish, says the program will include live music, videos, images and the spoken word.

“It will give you a greater understanding of what we are celebrating as Easter people and what we’re looking for in the resurrection of Christ,” Conner said about the timing of the program, which will be right before Holy Week.

Organizers are hoping for several hundred people to attend.

“My hope and goal personally for this event is that people attend, are open minded about it, gain something from it and then use that later in their everyday life or parish life,” Conner added.

The evening is being hosted by Saint Joseph the Worker Parish in Williamsport and co-hosted by Saint Ann, Saint Boniface/Saint Lawrence and Immaculate Conception/Saint Luke parishes in Williamsport; The Church of the Resurrection Parish in Muncy; and Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Montoursville.

“Every pastor is fully committed and fully involved in the process of bringing Christopher West and Mike Mangione and the Made for More project here to Williamsport,” Conner said. “We wanted to be able to bring an experience, not just a speaker or workshop, but an actual experience!”

The event is open to everyone in the community, not just Catholic parishioners.

“This event is for married, single, celibate, Catholic, non-Catholic, devout, skeptic, youth and experienced,” Mangione said.

When asked to describe the Made for More program, Mangione called it a special and unique opportunity.

“It’s a presentation meant to meet you where you are and bring you to a place of communion. It is the culmination of Christopher’s 25 years in this work, my 15 in music and our friendship. It is a conversation through sight and sound about how God reveals himself through creation and how our desires are meant to draw us closer to Him,” he said.

Made for More: Visions of the Promised Land is a ticketed event. The cost to attend is $25 and tickets may be purchased at corproject.com/Williamsport.

Tickets may also be purchased by contacting any of the sponsoring parishes – or by contacting Makenzie Conner at (570) 323-9456 or emailing youthmin@sjwparish.com.