His Excellency, Bishop Joseph C. Bambera, announces the following appointments, effective as follows:

Clergy Assignments:

Bryant, Rev. Michael M., from Pastor, St. John Neumann Parish, Scranton, effective July 20, 2021, to Pastor, Nativity of Our Lord Parish, Duryea, effective August 2, 2021.

Mosley, Rev. Joseph J., from Assistant Pastor, St. Ignatius Loyola Parish, Kingston, to Pastor, St. Peter’s Parish, Wellsboro, effective August 11, 2021.

Sterowski, Rev. Scott P., from Pastor, St. Paul of the Cross, Scranton, to Pastor, Holy Cross Parish, Olyphant, and Blessed Sacrament Parish, Throop, effective July 20, 2021.

Toomey, Rev. Daniel A., from Pastor, Gate of Heaven Parish, Dallas, and Our Lady of Victory Parish, Harvey’s Lake, to Pastor, Epiphany Parish, Sayre, effective August 11, 2021.

 

 

January 13, 2021           

HARRISBURG — The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference today condemned a campaign by Planned Parenthood to encourage and facilitate abortion procedures in the home.  The pro-abortion group is looking to use telehealth visits to prescribe pills for pregnant women so they can get abortion pills through the mail.

PCC Executive Director Eric Failing says this is more than a life issue for the child but also for the mother as well. He says it’s a move that will endanger people’s lives– all in the pursuit of what has been labeled as “reproductive rights.”

“We obviously object to any move to make abortions easier and to remove channels which encourage a woman to think about the move she is making,” Failing said. “But we also are alarmed at the health risks that this is presenting. These pills have been known to result in death and severe hemorrhaging. What happens when a mother has an adverse reaction at home and can’t get medical help in time?”

The PCC worked with legislators last year to gain the passage of Senate Bill 857 on Telemedicine in a safe form that retains protections against dangerous drugs identified by the FDA, including the drugs used for abortions.

“Telemedicine promises to be a life-saving measure across Pennsylvania,” Failing said at the time and re-emphasized today.  “Using Telemedicine for abortions is a stated goal for Planned Parenthood because it can do more chemical abortions, with fewer doctors and less overhead costs.”

The issue of Telemedicine remains in play in the PA legislature after Governor Tom Wolf vetoed Senate Bill 857 last year because he wanted Telemedicine to be used for abortions.

The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference is based in Harrisburg and is the public affairs arm of PA’s Catholic bishops.

 

Photo Courtesy of King’s College

January 9, 2021

I take this opportunity to congratulate Rev. Thomas P. Looney, C.S.C., Ph.D., on being selected to serve as the tenth president of King’s College. This is an exciting announcement in the history of King’s College and Rev. Looney will surely build upon the great work and incredible progress made under the leadership of Rev. John J. Ryan, C.S.C., Ph.D.

Father Looney brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the office of president of King’s College. Through Father Looney’s 35-year association with the King’s community, he is well-suited to lead this respected Catholic College into the future. As a friend and colleague in ministry, I look forward to collaborating with Father Looney in his new role as president of King’s College.

Rooted in Our Lord’s love and mercy, may Father Looney and all of the students, faculty and staff of King’s College enjoy a prosperous future now, and always.

 

Pope Francis walks near a figurine of the baby Jesus as he celebrates Mass on the feast of the Epiphany in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican Jan. 6, 2021. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

In times of doubt and suffering, Christians must not focus on their problems, but instead lift up their eyes to God, who leads them toward the hopeful promise of great things to come, Pope Francis said on the feast of the Epiphany.

“This does not mean denying reality, or deluding ourselves into thinking that all is well. Rather, it is a matter of viewing problems and anxieties in a new way, knowing that the Lord is aware of our troubles, attentive to our prayers and not indifferent to the tears we shed,” the pope said.

The pope celebrated Mass with a little over 100 people, all wearing masks and seated socially distanced from each other, at the Altar of the Chair St. Peter’s Basilica Jan. 6.

In accordance with an ancient tradition, after the proclamation of the Gospel on Epiphany, a singer from the Sistine Choir chanted the announcement of the date of Easter 2021 (April 4) and the dates of other feasts on the church calendar that are calculated according to the date of Easter.

After celebrating Mass, the pope prayed the Angelus in the library of the Apostolic Palace.

In his Angelus address, the pope said that Christ is “the star who appeared on the horizon, the awaited Messiah, the one through whom God would inaugurate his kingdom of love, of justice and of peace.

“He was born not only for some, but for all men and women, for all peoples,” the pope said.

Christians, he added, “must also be the star for our brothers and sisters” and shine bright “by drawing near to the other, encountering the other, assuming the reality of the other. This is the only way that the light of God, who is love, can shine in those who welcome it and attract others.”

“Woe to us if we think we possess it, that we only need to ‘manage’ it!” he exclaimed. “Like the Magi, we too are called to allow ourselves to be fascinated, attracted, guided, illuminated and converted by Christ.”

Earlier, in his homily at Mass, the pope focused on three phrases proclaimed in the day’s readings that offered “a few useful lessons from the Magi” on “what it means to be worshippers of the Lord.”

“Like them, we want to bow down and worship the Lord,” he said.

Reflecting on the first reading from the prophet Isaiah, the pope said the words of encouragement — “lift up your eyes” — spoken to the exiled people of Israel are a call to “lay aside their weariness and complaints, to escape the bottleneck of a narrow way of seeing things, to cast off the dictatorship of the self, the constant temptation to withdraw into ourselves and our own concerns.”

Trusting in the Lord, despite problems, gives rise to gratitude, he said, and “our hearts become open to worship.”

On the other hand, he said, focusing exclusively on problems and not looking to God for hope causes “fear and confusion to creep into our hearts, giving rise to anger, bewilderment, anxiety and depression.”

“When we lift up our eyes to God, life’s problems do not go away, but we feel certain that the Lord grants us the strength to deal with them,” the pope said. “The first step toward an attitude of worship, then, is to ‘lift up our eyes.'”

The second phrase — “to set out on a journey” — recalls the Magi’s journey to Bethlehem to worship baby Jesus, he continued.

A journey, he said, always sparks a “transformation, a change” in which one learns new things and finds “inner strength amid the hardships and risks” he or she may encounter along the way.

“Like the Magi, we too must allow ourselves to learn from the journey of life, marked by the inevitable inconveniences of travel,” he said. “We cannot let our weariness, our falls and our failings discourage us.”

Even one’s sins, when one recognizes and repents of them, “will help you to grow,” the pope added.

Pope Francis said the final phrase — “to see” — invites Christians to look “beyond the veil of things visible, which often prove deceptive,” and instead follow the example of the Magi who observed the world with a “theological realism” that allowed them to perceive “the objective reality of things and leads to the realization that God shuns all ostentation.”

It is “a way of ‘seeing’ that transcends the visible and makes it possible for us to worship the Lord who is often hidden in everyday situations, in the poor and those on the fringes,” the pope said. It is “a way of seeing things that is not impressed by sound and fury, but seeks in every situation the things that truly matter.”

 

Supporters of President Donald Trump climb on walls at the U.S. Capitol in Washington Jan. 6, 2021, during a protest against Congress certifying the 2020 presidential election. (CNS photo/Stephanie Keith, Reuters)

ROME (CNS) — The breach of the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6 sent shock waves around the world.

As Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, president of the Australian bishops’ conference tweeted: “I didn’t realize just how much the integrity of and respect for the democratic institutions of the U.S. matter to the rest of the world until this pandemonium erupted in D.C. From the other side of the world, I find myself shaken and disbelieving.”

“Washington: Democracy wounded” read the large headline on the front page of the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, Jan. 7. In smaller type, it explained that Congress reconvened to certify the presidential election of Joe Biden “after the violent assault committed by supporters of Trump and during which four people died.”

Under the headline, “A fragile good,” the newspaper’s assistant director, Giuseppe Fiorentino, wrote that the assault on the Capitol shows that “politics cannot ignore individual responsibility, especially on the part of the person who is in power and is able — through a polarizing narrative — to mobilize thousands of people. ‘He who sows the wind reaps the storm’ and at this point it is easy to tie the events in Washington to the accusations of fraud launched by Trump after the voting Nov. 3, accusations that never found objective confirmation.”

But the key lesson, Fiorentino wrote, is what Joe Biden said when he addressed the nation during the siege: “Democracy is a fragile commodity that must always be defended, even in countries, just like the United States, where democracy itself seems a largely acquired commodity.”

“The first step in defending democracy lies in accepting its rules,” he wrote, especially the rule of a peaceful transfer of power.

“Democracy under siege” read the banner headline on the front page of Avvenire, the daily newspaper owned by the Italian bishops’ conference.

In a video commentary, Andrea Lavazza, the paper’s editor-in-chief, said that whether outgoing President Donald Trump stays in office until the Jan. 20 inauguration of Joe Biden or is subjected to a “lightning impeachment,” the United States will have to grapple with “the heavy, negative heritage Donald Trump will leave behind. He has poisoned the wells of democracy, calling into doubt the results of an election that absolutely does not appear to have been compromised by fraud or conspiracies.”

Vatican News described what occurred as an “assault on Congress.”

Carlos Herrera, a famous morning show host on COPE, the radio network owned by the Spanish bishops’ conference, told his listeners Jan. 7 that he had “to chronicle the unheard of.”

“Who would have thought that one would speak of a violent assault on the U.S. Capitol to try to prevent the ratification of the winner of the presidential election in that country?” he said, calling the breach of the building and the deaths and injuries there “a grotesque end to the era of Donald Trump.”

At the World Council of Churches in Geneva, Romanian Orthodox Father Ioan Sauca, interim general secretary, issued a statement Jan. 6 saying, “The divisive populist politics of recent years have unleashed forces that threaten the foundations of democracy in the United States and — to the extent that it represents an example to other countries — in the wider world.”

“These developments have implications far beyond domestic American politics and are of serious international concern,” he said.

Father Sauca prayed that “the churches of America be empowered with wisdom and strength to provide leadership through this crisis, and on the path of peace, reconciliation and justice.”

In England, the violence at the Capitol also was the focus Jan. 7 of the popular early morning BBC Radio 4 program, “Thought for the Day,” which is described as “reflections from a faith perspective on issues and people in the news.”

Anglican Bishop Nicholas Baines of Leeds began his segment saying, “To be surprised by events in Washington is to ignore the fragility of democracy. If COVID has taught us that both human life and a stable economy are vulnerable, then the incited mob attack on the Capitol must reinforce the vital need for democracy, the rule of law and the peaceful transition of power to be treasured at all times.”

“The ancient wisdom of the Hebrew Scriptures dig deeply into the cry for justice, generosity, peace and the common good,” he said. “The prophets weep over how easily people can be seduced by words of strength or power or security that in the end undermine that very security itself.”

Bishop Baines also remarked on how many of the protesters were carrying signs proclaiming their faith in Jesus.

In Christianity, “strength and power have been powerfully reinterpreted in the scandal of a man on a cross. Not a man with a gun,” he said. The story of Jesus “challenges me to re-imagine what power looks like when colored by love and mercy rather than entitlement and fear.”

 

January 5, 2020

WASHINGTON– Catholics across the country are encouraged to observe a nationwide prayer vigil from Thursday, January 28 to Friday, January 29, 2021 marking the 48th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions legalizing abortion through nine months of pregnancy. Since those decisions, over 60 million abortions have been performed legally in the United States.

Each January, the National Prayer Vigil for Life is hosted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Pro-Life Secretariat, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and The Catholic University of America’s Office of Campus Ministry to pray for an end to abortion and a greater respect for all human life.

While thousands of pilgrims typically attend the vigil in person each year, the Basilica will not be open to the public for the 2021 vigil due to local attendance restrictions in place because of the coronavirus pandemic. In response, this year, for the first time ever, in addition to the televised Mass, bishops in dioceses across the country will be taking turns leading live-streamed holy hours every hour on the hour throughout the all-night vigil.

The vigil will begin with a live broadcast at 8:00 PM on Thursday, January 28 from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. with a rosary, followed by Mass opening the National Prayer Vigil for Life. The principal celebrant and homilist for the opening Mass will be Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, who is chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). After the Mass and throughout the night, holy hours led by bishops from various dioceses around the country will be broadcast on the USCCB’s website. The vigil concludes at 8:00 AM on Friday, January 29 with Mass celebrated by Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore.

“Now, more than ever, our nation is in need of prayer for the protection of the unborn and the dignity of all human life,” said Archbishop Naumann. “I am happy to be joined by bishops in dioceses across the country who are hosting pro-life prayer events, including during the overnight hours of Eucharistic adoration. I invite all Catholics to spend time with Our Lord and join in this nationwide vigil for life.”

The schedule of the 2021 National Prayer Vigil for Life is listed below. (All times are in Eastern Time.)

Thursday, January 28:

8:00 PM          National Rosary for Life

8:30 PM          Opening Mass with Archbishop Naumann

9:45 PM          Holy Hour for Life

11:00 PM ~     Live-stream of holy hours throughout the night

 

Friday, January 29:

~ 8:00 AM      Closing Mass with Archbishop Lori

The live television broadcasts on January 28 from 8:00-11:00 PM and on January 29 from 8:00-9:00 AM will be provided by the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) and will also be available via live-stream on the Basilica’s website. Live-streaming information for the overnight bishop-led holy hours from various dioceses will be provided on the USCCB’s website.

 

 

 

The Saint Faustina Mini/Youth Ministry partnered with the Greater Nanticoke Area Marching Band for Christmas Caroling this holiday season. The groups visited two local nursing homes, Guardian and Birchwood. The groups performed outside of the windows to put a smile on everyone’s faces during this challenging year.

 

Pope Francis delivers his Christmas message and blessing “urbi et orbi” (to the city and the world) from the Hall of Blessings at the Vatican Dec. 25, 2020. Also pictured are Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica, and Msgr. Guido Marini, papal master of ceremonies. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — On a Christmas like no other, Pope Francis prayed for people who could not be with their families because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but he urged everyone to recognize and help those who are suffering even more.

From inside the Hall of Blessings — a long, gold-hued room above the atrium of St. Peter’s Basilica lined on the east with enormous windows and balconies facing St. Peter’s Square — Pope Francis delivered his Christmas message and his blessing “urbi et orbi” (to the city and the world).

As announced by Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica, the solemn blessing included a plenary indulgence for everyone watching on television, listening by radio or following by computer.

Because of Italy’s renewed lockdown to slow the spread of the virus, the pope read his message in the presence of a representative group of about 50 people. The tens of thousands of people who usually would throng the square for the midday appointment Dec. 25 were all ordered to be at home, and St. Peter’s Square was closed to the public.

“My thoughts at this moment turn to families: to those who cannot come together today and to those forced to remain at home,” the pope said. “May Christmas be an opportunity for all of us to rediscover the family as a cradle of life and faith, a place of acceptance and love, dialogue, forgiveness, fraternal solidarity and shared joy, a source of peace for all humanity.”

In a last-minute addition to his text, Pope Francis called for “vaccines for all,” especially the world’s most vulnerable people.

“At Christmas, we celebrate the light of Christ that comes into the world, and he comes for all, not just for some,” the pope said. “Today, at this time of darkness and uncertainty because of the pandemic, there appear different lights of hope, such as the discovery of vaccines.”

“But so these lights may illuminate and bring light to the whole world, they must be available to all,” he said. “I cannot put myself before others, placing the laws of the market and of patents above the law of love and the health of humanity.”

Pope Francis pleaded with the leaders of governments, pharmaceutical companies and international agencies “to promote cooperation and not competition” in ensuring the widespread availability of the vaccines.

Peace and family — in the sense that all people are brothers and sisters — were the central themes of the pope’s message, echoing the teaching in his encyclical “Fratelli Tutti, on Fraternity and Social Friendship.”

“A birth is always a source of hope; it is life that blossoms, a promise of the future,” he said. But Jesus’ birth is even more powerful since he was born “‘to us’ — an ‘us’ without any borders, privileges or exclusions. The child born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem was born for everyone: he is the ‘son’ that God has given to the entire human family.”

“Thanks to this child, we can all call one another brothers and sisters, for so we truly are,” the pope said. “We come from every continent, from every language and culture, with our own identities and differences, yet we are all brothers and sisters.”

Recognizing that connection, he said, is even more important “at this moment in history, marked by the ecological crisis and grave economic and social imbalances only worsened by the coronavirus pandemic.”

As children of God and brothers and sisters to one another, the pope said, the kinship existing between everyone is not sentimental, but is “grounded in genuine love, making it possible for me to encounter others different from myself, feeling compassion for their sufferings, drawing near to them and caring for them even though they do not belong to my family, my ethnic group or my religion.”

“For all their differences, they are still my brothers and sisters,” he said “The same thing is true of relationships between peoples and nations.”

Pope Francis prayed that the newborn Jesus would help everyone “be generous, supportive and helpful, especially toward those who are vulnerable — the sick, those unemployed or experiencing hardship due to the economic effects of the pandemic, and women who have suffered domestic violence during these months of lockdown.”

Migrants, refugees and the innocent victims of wars around the world were also on the pope’s mind as he celebrated the birth of the Prince of Peace.

The faces of the suffering children in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, he said, should touch people’s consciences and make them pray and work for peace.

“May the Babe of Bethlehem grant the gift of fraternity to the land that witnessed his birth,” the pope said. “May Israelis and Palestinians regain mutual trust and seek a just and lasting peace through a direct dialogue capable of ending violence and overcoming endemic grievances, and thus bear witness before the world to the beauty of fraternity.”

Pope Francis also made specific pleas for reconciliation and an end to conflicts in eastern Ukraine, Nagorno-Karabakh, Ethiopia, northern Mozambique, South Sudan, Nigeria and Cameroon.

“May the Eternal Word of the Father be a source of hope for the American continent, particularly affected by the coronavirus, which has intensified its many sufferings, frequently aggravated by the effects of corruption and drug trafficking,” he prayed. “May he help to ease the recent social tensions in Chile and end the sufferings of the people of Venezuela.”

Praising those who “work to bring hope, comfort and help to those who suffer and those who are alone,” the pope insisted that Jesus’ birth “tells us that pain and evil are not the final word. To become resigned to violence and injustice would be to reject the joy and hope of Christmas.”

 

Forgiveness is love, as Pope Francis declared in his apostolic exhortation “Amoris Laetitia,” when he refers to “the Christian ideal” as “a love that never gives up.” (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

As the fifth anniversary of his apostolic exhortation “Amoris Laetitia” approaches, Pope Francis announced that the Catholic Church will dedicate more than a year to focusing on the family and conjugal love.

During his Sunday Angelus address Dec. 27, the pope commemorated the feast of the Holy Family and said that it served as a reminder “of the example of evangelizing with the family” as highlighted in his exhortation.

Beginning March 19, he said, the year of reflection on “Amoris Laetitia” will be an opportunity “to focus more closely on the contents of the document.”

“I invite everyone to take part in the initiatives that will be promoted during the year and that will be coordinated by the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life,” he added. “Let us entrust this journey, with families all over the world, to the Holy Family of Nazareth, in particular to St. Joseph, the devoted spouse and father.”

According to the dicastery’s website, the “Amoris Laetitia Family” year “aims to reach every family around the world through several spiritual, pastoral and cultural proposals that can be implemented within parishes, dioceses, universities, ecclesial movements and family associations.”

The dicastery said that the goals of the celebration include sharing the contents of the apostolic exhortation more widely, proclaiming the gift of the sacrament of marriage and enabling families to “become active agents of the family apostolate.”

The “Amoris Laetitia Family” year will include forums, symposiums, video projects and catechesis as well as providing resources for family spirituality, pastoral formation and marriage preparation.

The commemoration will conclude June 26, 2022, “on the occasion of the World Meeting of Families in Rome,” the dicastery said.

Pope Francis already had declared a year of St. Joseph, which began Dec. 8 and ends Dec. 8, 2021.

In his Angelus talk, the pope said that the Holy Family is a model in which “all families of the world can find their sure point of reference and sure inspiration.”

Through them, he said, “we are called to rediscover the educational value of the family unit; it must be founded on the love that always regenerates relationships, opening up horizons of hope.”

Families can experience sincere communion when they live in prayer, when forgiveness prevails over discord and “when the daily harshness of life is softened by mutual tenderness and serene adherence to God’s will,” he added.

“I would like to say something to you: If you quarrel within the family, do not end the day without making peace,” the pope said. “And do you know why? Because cold war, day after day, is extremely dangerous. It does not help.”

Pope Francis also reflected on the theme of forgiveness during his Angelus address on the feast of St. Stephen Dec. 26.

Recalling St. Stephen’s martyrdom, the pope said that although it may seem that his death was in vain, among those who witnessed and consented to his stoning was St. Paul, who eventually became “the greatest missionary in history.”

St. Stephen’s example “was the seed” of St. Paul’s conversion, he said. “This is the proof that loving actions change history: even the ones that are small, hidden, every day.”

Christians, he added, can become witnesses of Christ through their everyday actions, “even just by fleeing the shadow of gossip” or refusing to speak ill of others.

“When an argument starts at home, instead of trying to win it, let’s try to diffuse it,” and forgive one another, Pope Francis said. Small efforts and gestures, he said, “change history because they open the door, they open the window to Jesus’s light.”

 

 

 

Show in the photo, left to right: Mary Theresa Malandro, diocesan secretary for Catholic human services and CEO of Catholic Social Services, Bishop Joseph C. Bambera and Sandra Snyder, Diocesan Grant Writer.

The Robert H. Spitz Foundation, administered by the Scranton Area Community Foundation, supported Catholic Social Services of the Diocese of Scranton with a $20,000 grant for a project titled “Reviving a Core Model for Self-Sufficiency: A Return To Evidence-Based Relief Assistance.”
The grant is helping Catholic Social Services provide relief assistance in Luzerne and Lackawanna counties in a manner that has measurable impact on recipients’ lives. Clients who receive relief assistance, for example, are tracked in their progress toward achieving individualized goals, such as maintaining stable housing, obtaining or retaining employment or repairing family finances through better credit management.

“It has always been our goal to show that clients who benefit from our services have achieved meaningful milestones in their lives as a result,” said Mary Theresa Malandro, diocesan secretary for Catholic human services and CEO of Catholic Social Services. “This grant is helping us to revive a service delivery model with proven reliability as we strive to continue to measure impact even as client numbers greatly increase during the pandemic.”

Relief assistance, especially via case management, has always been a hallmark of Catholic Social Services’ work.

“We are especially grateful to the Robert H. Spitz Foundation and to the Scranton Area Community Foundation for their continued partnership during these particularly troubling times,” Malandro said.

For more information about Catholic Social Services’ relief assistance program, call (570) 207-3808.