SCRANTON – Having celebrated their second wedding anniversary just days earlier, Chris and Veronica Morrison of Dunmore found themselves at the Cathedral of Saint Peter on Nov. 1, 2020.

The young couple felt called to participate in the Diocese of Scranton’s annual Leave a Mark Mass because it presented an opportunity to strengthen their commitment to one another, in addition to being around other young adults

“After you get out of college, it’s really hard for younger people to get involved, to make friends and feel a part of the Church community,” Veronica, 26, said.

“I’m all for community, getting connected, getting young people connected,” Chris, 27, added. “It’s really great that they can have something like this and that people show up.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, attendees had to pre-register to attend the Mass in person. Attendance was limited to comply with social distancing regulations but the Mass was broadcast live on CTV: Catholic Television and livestreamed on Diocesan social media platforms.

“For me it’s definitely something important to make connections and keep my faith alive and keep it going,” Veronica explained.

This year marked the fifth anniversary for the Leave a Mark Mass. The idea for the Mass came after Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims at World Youth Day in Poland in 2016. The Holy Father said, “It is very sad to pass through life without leaving a mark.”

Bridget Barnic, 24, of Moosic helped launch the Leave a Mark Mass five years ago while a student at Marywood University.

“I’ve found being with other peers my age very encouraging. It makes me want to share my faith more,” she said.

As a parishioner of Divine Mercy Parish in Scranton, Barnic believes the Leave a Mark Mass is important for young adults in the diocese.

“I feel that there is strength in numbers and when you’re surrounded by faithful people, it’s easier to go out in the world and not be afraid to speak your faith,” she added.

The Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera served as principal celebrant for the Mass, which was held on the Solemnity of All Saints. Reverend Jonathan Kuhar, Assistant Pastor, Saint John Neumann Parish, Scranton, served as homilist.

“Your task right now is to welcome others into the kingdom of God and do so by carrying the kingdom of God wherever you go, by living your lives as God’s holy people, by living your lives as saints,” Rev. Kuhar said during his homily.

Rev. Kuhar also encouraged the young adults to ask a simple question every day: ‘What does God want from me?’

“If you ask this question honestly and faithfully, God will answer your simple prayer,” he said.

Reverend Alex Roche, Diocesan Vocations Director, welcomed the participants at the start of Mass.

“This (Mass) is always a great opportunity for us to come together as a young Church, to listen to God’s call in our life, to discern what it is we’re supposed to do, how we’re supposed to discern our vocation and of course today to pray for the intercession of all of the saints that go before us,” Rev. Roche said.





A total of 684 young adults from across the Diocese of Scranton are being honored this fall for their commitment to their faith and service to their parishes and schools.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Bishop’s Youth Awards are not being handed out in large regional Masses. Instead, the nominees are being recognized in their individual parishes and schools. The Bishop’s Youth Awards Masses began on Nov. 8 and are expected to continue through the rest of the month.

The awards recognize eighth grade and 12th grade students who have shown exceptional service and leadership skills.

Bishop Joseph C. Bambera taped a video message to all of the students receiving the awards, thanking them for their commitment to service.

“I want to remind you that holiness is often found in the little things – not just the big things. More than you might realize, you are already making a difference in your parish and school communities,” the bishop said. “Whether you are serving at your parish Mass as a lector, altar server or cantor; taking part in youth ministry or religious education programs; being an example of faith to your peers, or helping with vacation bible schools – you are thinking of others more than yourselves.”

Bishop Bambera encouraged all students to continue sharing their gifts and talents wherever they may be.

“We are so proud of all of you for everything that you do and all that you are,” the bishop said in his message to honorees. “We need you now more than ever to be living saints, doing things both big and small for your community and our diocese.”



SCRANTON – Bishop Joseph C. Bambera will preside as ordaining prelate and principal celebrant on Saturday, Nov. 28, for the ordination of eight men to the Permanent Diaconate for service as permanent deacons in the Diocese of Scranton.

The newly ordained deacons will join the ranks of clergy who minister to the faithful in parishes and other settings throughout the Diocese.

During the Mass of Ordination, scheduled for 10:00 a.m. in the Cathedral of Saint Peter, Bishop Bambera will ordain the following men to serve permanently in the Order of Deacon: Eugene N. Blockus, Joseph J. Chmiola, John C. Jorda, Peter J. Lemoncelli, Joseph R. Marcellus, Gerard P. Pernot, Angel Luis Rivera and Joseph Sudano.

These men will complete a five-year formation program and become members of the threefold ordained ministry that consists of bishops, priests and deacons.

The deacon’s service has three aspects: word, worship and charity. He can perform certain ministerial functions such as administering baptism; serving as the deacon at the Mass, including proclaiming the Gospel, preaching the homily and distributing Holy Communion; bringing viaticum to the sick; presiding at wake services, funeral liturgies and burial rites and with permission by the pastor, may celebrate the Sacrament of Matrimony.

Deacons also minister to the needs of families, single parents, students, the aged and infirmed, the imprisoned and those who suffer from poverty or addictions.

Due to COVID-19, attendance at the Mass will be limited and by invitation-only. CTV: Catholic Television of the Diocese of Scranton will broadcast the Mass live.

The following are brief biographies of the permanent deacon-candidates for ordination:

Eugene N. Blockus

Eugene N. Blockus, 63, lives in Hunlock Creek, where he is a member of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish. He is married to his wife, Patricia, for 31 years and has two stepsons.

Following graduation in 1975 from John S. Fine High School, Nanticoke, the deacon-candidate pursued certification as an emergency medical technician (EMT) and paramedic at Luzerne County Community College (LCCC) and became a nationally registered EMT-paramedic in 1990.

In 1998, he received his associate’s degree in applied science from LCCC and was licensed as a registered nurse.

Blockus earned his pre-hospital registered nurse certification in 2005, having served as an ALS responder for Mercy Health Partners, and EMT-paramedic at Bloomsburg Hospital and Wilkes-Barre Mercy Hospital, where he also served and a PCU/ER registered nurse.

During 2009-2012, the future deacon was a registered nurse for Geisinger Health System in Wilkes-Barre/Danville, and served as an emergency room nurse at Lehigh Valley Hospital, Hazleton, for five years prior to his retirement from the nursing field in 2017.


Joseph J. Chmiola

Air Force veteran Joseph J. Chmiola, 59, is a parishioner at Saint Jude Parish in Mountain Top, where he resides with his wife of 18 years, Cecelia.

The 1979 graduate of Meyers High School, Wilkes-Barre, earned his bachelor’s degree in history in 1983 from Wilkes University, followed by his teacher’s certification in 1986. He received his master’s degree in secondary education/history from Wilkes in 1995 and an administrative certificate in education from Temple University in Philadelphia in 1998.

Chmiola retired after serving for 30 years on the faculty at Crestwood High School, Mountain Top, as a social studies teacher.


John C. Jorda

A resident of Dallas, where he is a member of Gate of Heaven Parish and Our Lady of Victory Parish, Harveys Lake, John C. Jorda, 59, is the father of two sons.

He graduated from Bishop O’Reilly High School in Kingston in 1979, after which he received his municipal police officer training certification from the Pennsylvania State Police in 1989.

The deacon-candidate retired in July 2011 as captain of detectives for the Municipality of Kingston Police Department. He would later serve as operations manager in the Safety & Security Department at Misericordia University, Dallas, retiring in August.


Peter J. Lemoncelli

Peter J. Lemoncelli, 66, is a parishioner at the Basilica of Saint Ann in West Scranton and resides in Hughestown with his wife, Lorine. The couple has been married for 33 years and are the parents of two children.

After graduating from Lakeland High School in Jermyn in 1972, Lemoncelli earned an associate’s degree in business from Penn State University. He received his bachelor’s degree from The University of Scranton, where he was awarded his M.B.A. degree in 1978.

The future deacon is retired from the United States Postal Service following a 36-year career in the statistical programs division.


Joseph R. Marcellus

Deacon-candidate Joseph R. Marcellus, 60, and his wife of 12 years, Terri, reside in the community of Lake Ariel, where they belong to the Parish of Saint Thomas More.

A 1978 graduate of Wilson High School in Easton, Marcellus earned his bachelor’s degree in architecture from Syracuse University in 1986.

He currently serves in a principal position with BDA Architects, an architectural/interior design firm in Clarks Summit.


Gerard P. Pernot

Gerard P. Pernot, 58, and his wife, Patricia, have been married for 31 years and have three children. They are residents of Duryea and members of Nativity of Our Lord Parish in the borough.

The deacon-candidate is a 1979 graduate of Pittston Area High School and received his associate’s degree in banking from Luzerne County Community College in 1984.

He later earned a bachelor’s in business administration and economics from Wilkes University in 1988 and a master’s in business administration, with a concentration in finance, from The University of Scranton in 1992.

Pernot is currently a relationship manager for retirement plan clients with CUNA Mutual Group.


Angel Luis Rivera

Future deacon and East Stroudsburg resident Angel Luis Rivera, 56, and his wife, Lizbeth, have three children and are parishioners at Saint Luke Parish in Stroudsburg.

He is a 1982 graduate of Luis Muñoz Rivera High School in Salinas, Puerto Rico.

Currently employed by Notre Dame High School in East Stroudsburg, Rivera received his bachelor’s degree in Spanish from the College of Mount Saint Vincent, Riverdale, N.Y., in 2002. He also earned a graduate degree in religious education and Latino studies from Fordham University in New York.


Joseph Sudano

Joseph Sudano, 50, of Milford, is a member of Saint Nicholas Parish in Wilkes-Barre, where he currently serves as full-time Director of Faith Formation. He is married to his wife, Barbara, for 27 years and they are the parents of three children.

Sudano graduated from New York City’s Archbishop Molloy High School in 1988 and received his undergraduate degree in liberal arts & sciences from City University of New York in 1992.

The deacon-candidate previously held a sales management position with Canon USA and was also campus minister at East Stroudsburg University.


November 16, 2020

In response to the Holy See’s publication of its report on former Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, the Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, issued the following statement:

“The long-awaited report from the Holy See is an important document that brings greater transparency and accountability to the decision-making process regarding Theodore McCarrick. I am grateful to Pope Francis for following through on his commitment to make public this two-year investigation, despite its difficult content. I believe it is critical that we have an honest accounting of what transpired.

This report is yet another reminder of the sin of sexual abuse within the Church. The release of this voluminous report has rightly sparked a wide range of emotions, ranging from shock to anger to frustration. Even one case of sexual abuse is one too many. No matter one’s rank, privilege or prestige, nothing gives them the right to abuse their power.

This report will no doubt be upsetting to those who have suffered sexual abuse, as well as their loved ones and friends, given the failures and missed opportunities that are outlined. I believe this report highlights and emphasizes the need for all of us to take seriously any rumor of abuse or improper behavior.

I remain committed to supporting all survivors of sexual abuse. I hope all people of good will join me in praying for healing and reconciliation within the Church. If you are a survivor of sexual abuse in the Diocese of Scranton I encourage you to immediately contact law enforcement. Survivors are also encouraged to reach out to the Diocese’s Victim Assistance Coordinator.



Friends, we invite you to view a special message from Bishop Joseph Bambera about this weekend’s Appeal Online Commitment Weekend.

Please consider making a gift by going to between now and November 22 and help your parish reach its Annual Appeal goal.  Thank you.


Pope Francis leads his general audience in the library of the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican Nov. 11, 2020. A day after the Vatican released its extensive report on former Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, the pope renewed the Catholic Church’s pledge to uproot the scourge of sexual abuse. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — After the Vatican released its extensive report on Theodore E. McCarrick, Pope Francis renewed the Catholic Church’s pledge to uproot the scourge of sexual abuse.

Before concluding his weekly general audience Nov. 11, the pope made his first public statement on the release of the report regarding the “painful case” of the former cardinal.

“I renew my closeness to all victims of every form of abuse and the church’s commitment to eradicate this evil,” he said.

After reading his brief comment on the report, the pope bowed his head and closed his eyes in silent prayer.

The 460-page report, which was published by the Vatican Nov. 10, chronicled McCarrick’s rise through the church’s hierarchal ranks despite decades of accusations of sexual abuse and abuse of power.

Before his comment on the report, the pope continued his series of audience talks on prayer, reflecting on the importance of perseverance.

He began by saying he was told by someone that he “speaks too much about prayer” and that it was unnecessary.

However, he said, “it is necessary, because if we do not pray, we will not have the strength to go forward in life. Prayer is like the oxygen of life; prayer draws upon us the Holy Spirit who always carries us forward. That is why I speak so much about prayer.”

Jesus taught people to engage in “constant dialogue” with God not only with the example of his own prayer, but also with parables that highlighted the importance of perseverance in prayer.

Reflecting on Jesus’ parable of the tenacious person who knocks unceasingly at his friend’s door asking for bread, the pope said that unlike the friend who relents after constant insistence, God “is more patient with us and the person who knocks with faith and perseverance on the door of his heart will not be disappointed.”

“Our Father knows well what we need; insistence is necessary not to inform him or to convince him, but it is necessary to nurture the desire and expectation in us,” the pope said.

Jesus’ parable of the widow who persistently sought and eventually obtained justice from an unscrupulous judge, he continued, serves as a reminder that faith “is not a momentary choice but a courageous disposition to call on God, even to ‘argue’ with him, without resigning oneself to evil and injustice.”

Finally, the parable of the Pharisee who boasted his merits during prayer while the publican feels unworthy to enter the temple reveals that “there is no true prayer without humility,” he said.

Pope Francis said the Gospel encourages Christians to pray always, “even when everything seems in vain, when God appears to be deaf and mute and it seems we are wasting time.”

“There are many days of our life when faith seems to be an illusion, a sterile exertion,” the pope said. “But the practice of prayer means accepting even this exertion. Many saints experienced the night of faith and God’s silence, and they were persevering.”

True Christians, the pope added, do not fear anything but instead “entrust themselves to the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us a gift and who prays with us.”


Then-Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington faces the press in the shadow of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican April 24, 2002. U.S cardinals met for a summit with Pope John Paul II at the Vatican April 23-24, 2002, as the sex abuse crisis unfolded in the United States. Cardinal McCarrick was a key spokesman for the bishops during the summit. (CNS photo/Paolo Cocco, Reuters)

Archbishop Jose Gomez called the just-released McCarrick report “another tragic chapter in the church’s long struggle to confront the crimes of sexual abuse by clergy.” It is indeed that, but it is also an unprecedented effort at transparency and openness on the part of the church.

For two years U.S. Catholics have waited for this accounting. It is a painful, at times graphic story of moral corruption and institutional mistakes. Yet this report is an important moment in the life of the church, following Pope Francis’ lead to bring the truth to light without fear or favor.

The McCarrick Report:
A Tragic Chapter, A Full Accounting

Two years after Pope Francis called for a full accounting of how Theodore McCarrick was able to rise through church ranks and promised to make the report public, the McCarrick Report, issued Nov. 10, is a devastating portrait of  personal deception and institutional blindness, of opportunities missed and faith shattered.

At the same time, it is also the story of an unparalleled effort at transparency, revealing a church that is committed to the accountability of its leaders at all levels. Today and in the week ahead, Catholic News Service is examining all aspects of the report. It is also reminding readers of the vulnerability of victims who will suffer further pain as incidents of abuse are brought to light.


Overview of the investigation’s findings, including St. John Paul II’s reluctance to believe allegations against Theodore McCarrick.

Leaders of Catholic communities where McCarrick served welcome the report.

McCarrick investigation includes unprecedented interviews with both Pope Francis and Pope Benedict.

Pope Francis has taken a series of ground-breaking initiatives to address abuse and the toleration of abusers and is holding bishops and cardinals accountable.

Victim survivors acknowledge that while a recurrence of PTSD can occur when high- profile news about clergy abusers breaks, such news does raise awareness.

Video report considers reasons St. John Paul II did not heed warnings regarding McCarrick’s suitability for heading the Washington Archdiocese.


Bishop BamberaSCRANTON (November 7, 2020) – The Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Scranton, has issued the follow statement on the 2020 Presidential Election:

“Millions of people across our great nation have exercised their right to vote. While acknowledging the election results are not yet formally certified, I pray for President-elect Joseph R. Biden, Jr. and Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris. I also pray for President Donald J. Trump during this time of transition.

As a proud native of Scranton, President-elect Biden’s faith was first nurtured in the parishes and schools of this Diocese. I hope that he, and elected leaders in all levels of government, will continue to reflect upon their faith and allow it to guide their decisions as they seek to strengthen and unite our nation.

I pray that as they strive to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development, serve the poor and reconcile social injustices, our political leaders are reminded of the words that Pope Francis spoke to the United States Congress in 2015: “Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated. Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves. Let us help others grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves.”

Please join me in praying for our nation’s leaders, that they may find the strength and grace to help all those that will be entrusted to their care.”


Pope Francis speaks with Valentina Alazraki of the Mexican television station Televisa during an interview that aired in May 2019. The Vatican Secretariat of State has sent a note to nuncios around the world explaining the pope’s comments about civil unions in the documentary “Francesco” by Evgeny Afineevsky. (CNS screenshot/Noticieros Televisa via YouTube)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Vatican Secretariat of State has sent an explanatory note to nuncios around the world insisting that when Pope Francis spoke about civil unions, he was not changing or challenging “the doctrine of the church, which he has reaffirmed numerous times over the years.”

The note, which was not signed, explained that the pope’s remarks about gay people in the recent film, “Francesco,” come from his responses to two separate questions in a 2019 interview for Mexico’s Televisa network.

The pope’s comments were “edited and published as a single answer without the necessary contextualization,” the note said.

As Catholic News Service reported Oct. 26, when Pope Francis said gay people have a right to be in a family and that gay couples needed some form of civil law to protect their rights, he was not advocating any form of “marriage” or marriage rights for gay couples.

Yet, in his documentary “Francesco,” director Evgeny Afineevsky presented the statements as if Pope Francis had been talking about the right of gay couples to form a family, including with children.

Afineevsky, who a Vatican official said was never granted an on-camera interview with the pope, pulled the quotes about families and the quote about civil unions from the interview by Valentina Alazraki, correspondent Televisa, CNS had reported.

The clips used in Afineevsky’s film put together quotes from three separate moments of the Televisa interview, so the pope appears to say: “They are children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable over it. What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered.”

The note from the Secretariat of State also noted that Pope Francis repeatedly has insisted that gay unions cannot be equated to marriage, pointing to a 2014 interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

In the interview six years ago, Pope Francis was asked about moves across Europe to legalize gay marriage or adopt civil union laws.

“Marriage is between a man and a woman,” he said. “Secular states want to validate civil unions to regulate different situations of cohabitation, driven by the need to regulate economic aspects between people, such as ensuring health care. These are cohabitation pacts of various kinds, of which I could not list the different forms.”

“It is necessary to see the different cases and evaluate them in their variety,” he said, implying that some forms of civil unions would be acceptable.

From the unedited interview with Televisa, the pope’s remarks to Corriere della Sera and similar distinctions he has made on other occasions, the Secretariat of State’s note said, “It is clear that Pope Francis was referring to particular state regulations, certainly not the doctrine of the church, which he has reaffirmed numerous times over the years.”



Pope Francis celebrates a private Mass in the church of the Pontifical Teutonic College at the Vatican on All Souls’ Day, Nov. 2, 2020. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — When life is difficult and when one is mourning the passing of a loved one, it is time to pray for the gift of hope and the ability to say with the prophet Job, “I know that my redeemer lives,” Pope Francis said.

Celebrating Mass on the feast of All Souls, Nov. 2, the pope said that remembering loved ones who have died is a particularly important time to “hold tightly to the rope” of the anchor of hope, which is Christ.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced Pope Francis to forego his usual practice of celebrating Mass on the feast of All Souls in a cemetery — in Rome or nearby — with people who were visiting the graves of their loved ones.

Instead, he presided over a private Mass inside the Vatican, in the chapel of the Pontifical Teutonic College, then visited and blessed graves in the Teutonic Cemetery, which has existed since the Middle Ages and now is reserved mainly for the burial of German-speaking priests and members of religious orders.

Pope Francis prays at the tomb of St. Paul VI in the crypt of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on All Souls’ Day, Nov. 2, 2020. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

Later, he went into the grotto of St. Peter’s Basilica to pray at the tombs of deceased popes.

The pope began his homily at the Mass by describing the hope demonstrated in the Book of Job, when the prophet is “defeated” and on the point of death. Job says, “I know that my vindicator lives” and “my own eyes, not another’s, will behold him.”

“This certainty at almost the last moment of life, this is Christian hope,” the pope said. “It’s a hope that is a gift.”

“So many things lead us to despair, to think that everything will end up in defeat and that after death there is nothing,” he said. But the voice of Job should resound in the hearts of Christians, saying, “I know that my redeemer lives.”

Pope Francis prays at tombs in the cemetery of the Pontifical Teutonic College at the Vatican on All Souls’ Day, Nov. 2, 2020. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

St. Paul, in the Letter to the Romans, says “hope does not disappoint,” he said; “hope attracts us and gives meaning to life. I don’t see in the beyond, but hope is a gift of God that draws us to life, toward the joy of eternal life.”

“Hope is an anchor,” the pope said, and believers must cling to the rope that leads to it “in moments of joy and in terrible moments.”

The kind of certainty Job exhibited is “a gift of God,” something that people cannot simply muster up for themselves without God’s help, he said. It is a gift that must be requested from God.

Jesus confirms the promise that hope will not disappoint in the Gospel of St. John, when he says, “Everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day,” the pope said.

Knowing that Jesus is the anchor, he said, living in Christian hope means hanging on to the anchor’s rope; “it will not disappoint.”