WILLIAMSPORT – More than two months after in-person Masses were suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most churches in the Diocese of Scranton have started the gradual reopening process. “It  was  like  Chris tmas .  It  w as wonderful,” Tammy Youmans, parishioner at  Saint Joseph the Worker Parish in Williamsport, said as she returned to Mass for the first time on Sunday, May 24, 2020. “I missed being here. I missed my parish. I  couldn’t wait to get up this morning and be able to actually come and be with everybody.”

The Trout Run mother says during her time away from church her longing for the Eucharist only grew deeper.

“Being without Christ within you has been really hard. Spiritual communion is fine but to receive Him in person, fully, you can’t beat it,” Youmans added.

As of this past Monday, parishes in Luzerne, Monroe, Pike, Susquehanna, Wayne and Wyoming counties could resume Masses. Parishes in Bradford, Lycoming, Sullivan and Tioga counties were able to resume in-person worship on May 18, 2020.

On Monday, June 8, parishes in Lackawanna County will be able to reopen.

“For the last ten weeks, I know many of our faithful parishioners have been longing to return to church, participate in Mass and receive the Holy Eucharist,” Bishop Joseph C. Bambera said. “The  Diocese has been working hard to resume in-person worship in a safe, comfortable and reverent manner.” The exact timetable for an individual parish to reopen will be the decision of its pastor with regard to preparedness, especially in regards to maintaining proper social distancing and sanitization.

Mass attendance at all parishes will be limited to no more than 25-percent of a church’s seating capacity. Parishioners will be required to wear face coverings and remain a proper social distance of at least six feet away from other individuals and families.

The obligation to attend Sunday Mass remains suspended at this time. During a video message to lay faithful, Bishop Bambera encouraged anyone feeling ill to stay home and stay safe. He also asked anyone who is part of a vulnerable population, whether by age or because of an underlying medical condition, to continue participating in Mass by livestreaming or CTV: Catholic Television. “While our reopening process will be gradual, please know we are trying to balance two things: your deep faith and longing for the Eucharist and the dangers of this highly contagious coronavirus,” Bishop Bambera said.

At Saint Joseph the Worker Parish in Williamsport, one of the first to resume daily and weekend Masses, the faithful were both thrilled and thankful to  resume in-person worship.

“It is wonderful to be back,” Virginia Borek of Williamsport said. “It was emotional just being at Mass. It would have been okay if the church was full or I was the only one there.”

Borek described her return to Mass as peaceful. While acknowledging this has been a challenging time, her faith has not waivered at all.

“It makes me appreciate being able to go to Mass every week. I thought that during Mass.”

The Bubb family of Montoursville served Saint Joseph the Worker Parish in several ways as in-person Masses resumed. John Bubb served as lector at the parish’s first 10:30 a.m. Sunday Mass.

“It’s  nice  to  get  the  community together,” Bubb said. “Just to sit in there and find peace and to be in front of the tabernacle, knowing Jesus is  right there, present, body, blood, soul and divinity.”

Bubb’s two eldest daughters, Elizabeth and Victoria, served as greeters and ushers

for parishioners returning to the church for

the first time.

“I just wanted them to feel welcome and to feel we were going to be there and help them through the process so they weren’t nervous about anything. I just wanted to be a friendly face,” Elizabeth Bubb said.

While Elizabeth Bubb appreciated livestream Masses during the pandemic, she said things were not the same during that time.

“We sit on the couch at our house and watch the livestream but it’s not the same because you’re sitting in your house and you’re not dressed as nicely so it’s nice for us to be all together, dressed up, ready to receive the Lord into our hearts,” she added.

Father Brian Van Fossen, pastor, Saint Joseph the Worker, said livestream Masses also pose challenges for clergy.

“When you’re saying the Mass online

or livestreaming it, you don’t hear the

responses so you have to pause a little bit. Also, when you’re giving the homily, you try to give a joke and you hope that it’s funny and they’re laughing but you don’t get that response back.”

Now that in-person Masses have resumed, Father Van Fossen says it is the small things, like a baby crying or cell phone going off that brings  the reality of community back to the celebration.

While his parish livestreaming will continue at this time, he says people as far away as the Philippines have been tuning in. “People have been streaming that and

have been showing off the church. This itty-bitty parish from Williamsport, PA, has really rocked the world in many ways, in just simple ways, that many parishes across our country are doing,” Father Van Fossen

explained.

 

 

SCRANTON – Bishop Joseph C. Bambera will serve as ordaining prelate when three men are ordained to the sacred priesthood for service
in the Diocese of Scranton on Saturday, June 27, at 10 a.m. in the Cathedral of Saint Peter.

CTV: Catholic Television of the Diocese of Scranton will broadcast the ordination ceremony live.

The Sacrament of Holy Orders will be conferred on the three native sons of the Diocese, who were ordained transitional deacons a year ago
to take their final step toward priestly ordination.

 

The ordinandi include: Rev. Mr. Jonathan P. Kuhar, 36, of Mountain Top, son of Joan Kuhar and the late Gerald Kuhar. He is a member of Saint Jude Parish in Mountain Top.

 

 

Rev. Mr. Kevin M. Miller, 55, of Wilkes-Barre, son of Maureen Miller, Laurel Lakes, and the late Ronald Miller. He is a member of Saint Nicholas Parish in Wilkes-Barre.

 

 

Rev. Mr. Shawn M . Simchock, 44, of Hazleton, son of the late William and Janet Simchock. He is a member of Queen of Heaven Parish in Hazleton.

 

Deacons Miller and Simchock completed their theological training and priestly formation at Pope Saint John XXIII National Seminary i n Weston, Mass.

Deacon Kuhar completed his preparatory studies for the priesthood at Saint Mary’s Seminary and  University in Baltimore, Md.

 

WILLIAMSPORT  –  A  massive structure which will hopefully educate people around the world in the importance of ecology  can trace  its roots back to Lycoming County.

Pennsylvania College of Technology, based in Williamsport, recently embarked on a substantial  undertaking  that may get the attention of Pope Francis since it celebrates a pressing worldwide issue near and dear to his heart.

The Holy Father’s 2015 encyclical on the care for our common home, Laudato Si’, provided much of the inspiration for the project, which employed the welding expertise and facilities offered at the Penn College.

Referred to as an impressive structure to encourage the “ecological awakening of humanity,” the so-called “Living Chapel” is  a  fabricated  structural  framework engineered and created by nine of  the college’s instructors and 15 students over a ten-week period.

Coinciding with the fifth anniversary of the eco-friendly papal document, the Living Chapel was  previewed recently at the Botanical Garden of Rome during Global  Catholic  Climate  Movement activities. Its formal unveiling – via a livestreaming video – is scheduled for the United Nations’ World Environment Day on June 5.

When  social  distancing  rules permit, the open-air sanctuary – made of aluminum and recyclable/repurposed materials  –  will  visit  the Vatican  in Rome before moving to its permanent home  in Assisi,  Italy.  The  ultimate destination proves quite fitting since it is the birthplace of Saint Francis, patron saint of the environment,  whose small church provided  the footprint  for the Living Chapel.

“I don’t think it has sunk in yet, what it’s going to mean to everybody,” James N. Colton II, assistant professor of welding who led the Penn College fabrication team, said. “It’s definitely a big deal.”

The Penn College crew worked 3,500- plus hours and used nearly 5,000 feet of aluminum to build the four walls for the chapel, designed to integrate nature, art, music and architecture. Two sections separate to create a space in the shape of a cross. The other walls connect to form a geometric symphony  of angles. The structure measures approximately 45 feet long by 30 feet wide, with heights ranging between 10 and 15 feet.

“When you enter into the space, you’re enveloped by this holistic experience that is intended to be this instance of serene harmony between humanity and nature,” Julian Revie, creative director of the Living Chapel and associate director of music at the Center for Music and Liturgy of Saint Thomas More Chapel at Yale University, said.

Revie’s discussions with the Vatican ecology division led to the concept for the Living Chapel in order to create a unique combination of music with architecture influenced by Porziuncola, the chapel in Assisi rebuilt by Saint Francis in the early 13th century.

“The initial (plans) that we saw didn’t show  the complexity  of the project,” Colton said. “We were definitely a little bit more overwhelmed once we got into it.”

Sara  Stafford,  a  welding  and fabrication engineering student from West Chester, commented, “It’s just amazing to say, ‘I have a couple  welds on that.’ Penn College creating a huge structure and piece of art for Italy. Who would have thought?”

 

 

MUNCY – It was Fall 2015 when the social justice reading group at the Church of the Resurrection decided to take an in-depth look at the recently released papal encyclical Laudato Si’, Pope Francis’ treatise on the “care for our common home,” in which he implored the world’s inhabitants to make safeguarding planet Earth an “urgent priority.” The examination of the Holy Father’s historic document inspired a small team of parishioners to put the environmental encyclical into serious action and spread their message of care for creation to the parish at large. Creation-appreciation walks were organized, along with plant giveaways and disseminating educational messages. However, according to group spokesperson Irmgard Seidl-Adams, it was not until they acted upon a suggestion by their pastor, Father Glenn McCreary, to get their hands dirty and turn a field on the church property into a living, visible sign of their commitment that the project began to resonate with the greater parish community.

“After several planning meetings we decided to start planting a blueberry patch of fifteen bushes,” Seidl-Adams said.

“We prepared the ground (last) fall and we planted the bushes this spring.” Long-term plans also call for a small grove of native trees, any one of which parishioners can dedicate to the memory of a loved one, and a separate space for theme gardens. “These can be a meditative garden, a prayer labyrinth or a pollinator garden,” she explained. Thoughtful consideration has also been given to a garden plot, whose harvests will benefit area families in need.

“By now, our small group has grown to ten active members,” said Seidl-Adams, who indicated the project has been aided by two successful fundraisers, including the sale of nature greeting cards decorated with original depictions by local artists. Since 2017, the Muncy parish’s ecological endeavor has been supported by the Social Justice Trust Fund Grant Program of the Diocese of Scranton.

“(The grants) have provided training for the initial team members, seed money for our fundraisers and, now, the essentials for the blueberry patch,” she said. The fruits of the undertaking literally came to bear during the recent celebration of Laudato Si’ Week (May 16-24) – in commemoration of the fifth anniversary of the Pope’s landmark encyclical – when the blueberry patch and larger field at the Church of the Resurrection were blessed and dedicated by Father McCreary. Coming up with a name for the hallowed ground was easy: “Saint Francis Field” (of course) in tribute to the patron saint of ecology and the natural environment.

 

SCRANTON – When Mark DeCelles was ordained to the diaconate Saturday, May 23, 2020, at the Cathedral of Saint Peter, the event looked different from ordinations in the past but that didn’t make it any less special or significant.

“This was certainly not what anyone expected,” DeCelles said. “We’re forced in this moment to recognize that we’re not in control, God is in control, so I’m just really leaning on the Lord.” With only 12 people in attendance at the Mass, all wore face coverings and remained socially distant from one another due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite uncertainty around the virus, DeCelles said he finds consolation in the Lord Jesus.

“I look up at the Cross and I see Jesus saying to me, ‘I’ve got this,’” DeCelles explained. “I don’t know what the next week or the next two weeks will look like, but Jesus is here and he’s with us.” DeCelles, 38, began the final step of his formation for the priesthood during his diaconate ordination. Ordination as a transitional deacon generally occurs after a seminarian has completed at least three years of study in theology and takes place usually one year prior to priestly ordination. The deacon’s mother, Mildred DeCelles, R.N., attended the Mass. His father watched the event on CTV: Catholic Television. The ordination was also livestreamed on the Diocese of Scranton’s YouTube channel, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

“I was so grateful that my mom could be here and that my dad could be here in spirit. My thoughts are certainly with him. They’ve always been my inspiration. They’ve given me such a profound foundation in faith. I never grew out of that,” DeCelles said. “We, as a Church, we’re made for each other. We build each other up with our gifts. I really feel built up by my family and I hope that, I too, can build others up in my role as a deacon.” During his ordination to the diaconate, DeCelles promised obedience to the bishop and his successors and took on the vow of celibacy. Once ordained, he was vested with a stole and dalmatic. The vestments are worn by deacons during liturgies. Bishop Joseph C. Bambera then presented DeCelles with the Book of the Gospels so that he may proclaim the Good News and model his life after Christ. As he presented the Book of the Gospels, the bishop said to him, “Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.” During his homily, Bishop Bambera reminded DeCelles that to be an authentic disciple of Jesus means being a servant to others. “If you want your ministry as a deacon to be fruitful Mark, you must root yourself in Jesus’ life and love. The disciplines of prayer, obedience and celibacy that you are called to embrace this day are meant to enable you to grow in the same spirit of service and mercy that so characterized Jesus’ ministry,” the bishop said.

As a deacon, DeCelles will proclaim the Gospel, preach homilies, serve at the altar of the Lord, distribute Holy Communion to the faithful, baptize, and preside at weddings and funerals and other prayer services. He is also called to be the living and working expression of charity of the Church.

“As Pope Francis has reminded us, you are to go to the margins of our world where you will find the poor and the broken. Be generous in your service Mark, imitating the Lord who washed the feet of the apostles at the Last Supper,” Bishop Bambera added. When asked if he is ready to accept these duties, DeCelles did not waiver, thanking those who have aided in his formation.

“I’ve had a number of opportunities and I know that I will have many more opportunities to serve the poor. We’re all in the position of being poor. We’re all in need of God’s grace. The Lord is going to put in front of me those that he wants me to serve. I will also have to search them out a little bit but the Bishop’s words ring true that I’m not going to have to search very far. The poor are always among us,” DeCelles said. A member of Immaculate Conception Parish in Scranton’s Hill Section, DeCelles has been serving in his pastoral year at Saint Matthew Parish in East Stroudsburg. He also had a 2018 summer assignment at the parish communities of Blessed Sacrament and Holy Cross in the Mid Valley region of Lackawanna County.

“I’m here as a minister but I’m also a son. I’m a son of this Church and I’m a son of these communities so I owe them a lot. I owe them so much,” DeCelles said after his ordination Mass.

 

SCRANTON – On Corpus Christi Sunday, the Diocese of Scranton celebrated not only Jesus’ gift of the Eucharist but also the gift and blessing of marital love.

Bishop Joseph C. Bambara served as principal celebrant and homilist for the 2020 Wedding Anniversary Mass at the Cathedral of Saint Peter.

Couples celebrating milestone wedding anniversaries of 25, 50, 60 or more years were invited to take part in the Mass from their homes because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“In so many respects, the link between what the Church celebrates on Corpus Christi Sunday and what we acknowledge in your lives as husbands and wives speaks profoundly to the power of authentic, Christ-like love as it has grown in your lives through the gift of the sacrament of marriage,” Bishop Bambera said. “In fact, in the Church’s ritual for marriage, the words of blessing bestowed on a newly married couple acknowledge the fact that the union of man and woman is so holy a mystery that it symbolizes the marriage of Christ and His Church.”

Considering the stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Wedding Anniversary Mass was a valuable opportunity for all married couples to pause and reflect upon the beauty of the vocation of marriage in their lives and in the life of our Church.

During his homily, the bishop also highlighted the words that Pope Francis asked married couples some time ago.

“He asked the couples assembled with him a question. ‘Are you prepared to seriously accept the responsibility that every marriage is meant to follow the path of love which Christ has with the Church?’ That is a pretty powerful question, isn’t it? Are you willing to love each other and the lives that God has entrusted to your care, as generously and completely as Jesus has loved us?” Bishop Bambera asked.

As a special tribute for the 2020 anniversary couples, they were invited to submit photos and share wisdom that they have learned or a blessing they have received through their marriage.

The full Wedding Anniversary Mass photo album is currently available to be viewed on the Diocese of Scranton website at: https://www.dioceseofscranton.org/parish-life/community/marriage/enrichment/wedding-anniversary-mass-june-14-2020/

 

DORRANCE TWP. – The Annual Vocations Golf Classic, held each July to benefit Diocesan seminarians and vocations programs, will not take place this summer. In consideration of health and financial concerns, Bishop Joseph Bambera has accepted the golf committee’s recommendation to schedule the 11th Vocations Classic for next year on Monday, July 12, 2021, at Blue Ridge Trail Golf Club.

“Parishioners and friends have expressed their overwhelming support for the priesthood through Vocations Golf Classics for the past 10 years,” Bishop Joseph C. Bambera, tournament honorary chair, said. “Donors and golfers from throughout the 11 counties of our Diocese faithfully participate in this event to help foster vocations and provide direct assistance to seminarians on their journey to the priesthood. We are very grateful. We look forward to renewing this wonderful event next year.”

The Vocation tournaments average 285 sponsors and 176 golfers each year who have collectively contributed nearly $1 million to the Saint John Vianney Endowment for Seminarians. The endowment, named for the patron saint of parish priests, supports programs to foster discipleship in youth and young adults and help men discerning vocations to the Diocesan priesthood. Funds are also used to alleviate financial concerns for men responding to God’s call who have prior financial obligations.

Contributions to Vocations programs will be welcome from those able to assist in this time of financial challenge. Those who wish to donate may mail checks to the Diocese of Scranton, Vocations Office, 300 Wyoming Ave., Scranton, PA 18503, made payable to Vocations Golf Classics. Credit card donations may be made by calling (570) 702-2459. The golf classics are a collaboration of the Diocesan Vocations Office and the Development Office.

SCRANTON – Dozens of young adults from the Diocese of Scranton came together earlier this month for a virtual retreat.

The Diocesan Office for Parish Life and Vocations Office held its popular “Bold Choices: Finding Your Passion and Living It Fully” retreat online from June 8-10, 2020.

The virtual retreat began with an opening session via video conferencing, readings and resources for participants to do at their own pace and a closing session via video conferencing.

As expected, the video conferencing sessions focused on the impact of the coronavirus on participants. Young adults took part in virtual icebreakers and discussed how COVID-19 has affected their lives in addition to the important decisions – or ‘bold choices’ – they may be facing.

This is the first time the Bold Choices retreat has ever been offered online.

“This is really an exciting adventure,” Sister Mindy Welding, I.H.M., Director of Vocations for the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, said.

“This is a new moment for us. We’re only going to be limited by our ability to think outside the box,” Father Don Williams, Director of Vocations and Seminarians for the Diocese of Scranton, said as the virtual retreat began.

Participants were told that whenever you face important choices, no choice is ever a mistake. The young adults were encouraged to ask God for help in determining the right next step.

Participant Sam Matrisciano, parishioner at Saint Matthew Parish, East Stroudsburg, says the retreat was a great experience.

“I got to learn a lot about how others have discerned and gone through the troubles of being a young adult. I gained a new perspective on how I will make life decisions going forward,” Matrisciano said.

Alyssa Stencavage, a young adult from Saint Jude Parish, Mountain Top, agreed.

“I participated for the interaction and some peace and clarity. It’s nice to talk through challenges,” Stencavage said. “It felt good to have something going on to look forward to and it’s always good to share insights and have discussions with others.”

 

WILKES-BARRE, PA (June 12, 2020) – Catholic Social Services of the Diocese of Scranton announces today that the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bridge program will become an independent non-profit agency as of June 15, 2020.

The new agency will be known as Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeastern Pennsylvania, Inc. Many of the current Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bridge advisory board members have agreed to be part of a governing board for the new agency, which has already been approved to operate by Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. Other advisory board members in Luzerne, Monroe and Lycoming counties will continue to support the new agency as well by continuing to serve in their current roles.

Since 1974, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bridge has helped to create, foster and support one-to-one mentoring relationships between adult volunteers and children across northeastern and north central Pennsylvania. This transition will allow those meaningful matches to continue uninterrupted, providing a direct and lasting effect on the lives of local young people. As of June 15, 2020, Catholic Social Services of the Diocese of Scranton will no longer be affiliated with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.

“This is an exciting opportunity for the Big Brothers Big Sisters program in our region,” Jim Roberts, board chair for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeastern Pennsylvania, said. “The families and mentors currently involved in this impactful and worthwhile program will see the same great services and attention that they normally would as this transition takes place. The current COVID-19 pandemic is reinforcing just how important these connections, and professionally facilitated mentoring, are for the young people in our community.”

“Over the last 46 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bridge has touched countless lives across our region. Because of the caring adults who have generously become mentors, statistics have shown the children they partner with are more confident of their performance in schoolwork and get along better with their families, while at the same time are less likely to skip school or begin other bad habits,” Mary Theresa Malandro, Chief Executive Officer of Catholic Social Services, said. “The members of the Big Brothers Big Sisters advisory board are passionate about this program and will continue to advocate for this valuable service. My hope is that the community will continue to support them.”

In late 2019, advisory board members of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bridge approached Catholic Social Services leadership inquiring about transitioning into an independent agency so that it can focus exclusively on opportunities to grow the community-based mentoring program. After extensive discussion and planning, the decision to allow Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bridge to become an independent agency was approved by leadership of Catholic Social Services of the Diocese of Scranton.

For the last several months, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bridge and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeastern Pennsylvania, Inc., have been working collaboratively to make this a seamless transition for families and mentors already involved in the program. Both agencies have been sharing policies and procedures to the greatest extent possible.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bridge currently can operate in Luzerne, Monroe, Wyoming, Carbon, Columbia and Lycoming counties. The agency serves children between the ages of seven and 17. There are currently 224 Big Brother Big Sister matches in the program but also more than 300 children on a waiting list locally.

The new, independent agency, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeastern Pennsylvania, will continue to serve all of those counties. It will also expand into Lackawanna County to support youth in that important community. A vast majority of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bridge employees have also been offered employment with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeastern Pennsylvania, Inc.

“We are pleased to announce that Michelle Hamilton has been selected to serve as the Executive Director of the new organization, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeastern Pennsylvania,” Roberts added. “With more than 25 years of experience leading youth development programs, including mentoring, juvenile justice, behavioral health and childcare, she is fully committed to this mission.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters relies on community, corporate and private donations to fulfill its mission and serve hundreds of children in northeastern and north central Pennsylvania. Donations for the program are still being accepted and will continue to help recruit, screen, train and match Big Brothers and Big Sisters with the children that are on the waiting list throughout this transition process.

For more information about the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program, call (570) 824-8756 or visit bbbsnepa.org.

 

(June 12, 2020) – In August 2019, Bishop Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of the Diocese of Scranton, announced an investigation of allegations  of personal misconduct on the part of Monsignor Walter Rossi, Rector of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Monsignor Rossi was ordained to the priesthood in the Diocese of Scranton in 1987 and remains incardinated in the Diocese of Scranton at this time. Since 2005, he has served as Rector of the Basilica.

The  investigation of allegations of personal misconduct was led by outside counsel assisted by a retired  FBI agent with over thirty years of investigative experience. The investigation included interviews with numerous witnesses who have known Monsignor Rossi throughout his years in ministry. These witnesses included current and former Basilica employees, former CUA students, and current and former members of the clergy who were assigned to the Basilica or who worked with Monsignor Rossi.

Several witnesses were critical of Monsignor Rossi, including his managerial style at the Basilica, but none were aware of or could provide first-hand knowledge of sexual impropriety. By contrast, some  of the witnesses merely re-stated  unsupported and unsubstantiated  rumors that  previously appeared in certain publications.  The investigator attempted unsuccessfully to interview many additional witnesses and searched   diligently for witnesses who could possibly support the rumors against Monsignor Rossi, but found  none. The investigator also tried to locate the unnamed “sources” for the critical articles, but could not.

The purpose of the Diocese’s investigation was to seek out credible  evidence of sexual impropriety and, if found, to determine an appropriate response.  At the conclusion of its comprehensive investigation, the Diocese of Scranton found no such credible evidence.

 

STATEMENT OF ARCHBISHOP WILTON D. GREGORY, CHAIR OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES,
BASILICA OF THE NATIONAL SHRINE OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION
REGARDING  FINANCIAL INVESTIGATION

In August, 2019, Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and Bishop Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of the Diocese of Scranton, announced an investigation of allegations of personal misconduct and possible financial improprieties on the part of Monsignor Walter Rossi, Rector of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (“Basilica”).  The Diocese of Scranton will issue its findings on the investigation of allegations of personal misconduct. Archbishop Gregory oversaw, as the Chair of the Board of the Basilica, the financial investigation which found no improprieties and confirmed sound fiscal management of the Basilica.

The investigation of possible financial improprieties related to Basilica assets and resources was led by an independent accounting firm with significant experience in non-profit administration and audit.

During the course of investigation, numerous individuals were interviewed, including those responsible for fiscal administration at the Basilica.  Additionally, the accounting experts performed an in-depth review of expenditures, general ledgers, credit card statements, receipts, invoices, capital budgets, bank and investment account statements as well as certain investment account reconciliations and other financial worksheets.

The investigation of the finances of the Basilica found no unreasonable or inappropriate expenditures or significant issues in the financial administration of the Basilica. The investigations did assist in suggesting certain improvements in management and policy enhancements that will benefit the Basilica and will be implemented.