Shown, from left: Chris Bedwick, incoming advisory board president, St. Vincent de Paul Kitchen; Dr. Dave Shemo; Carl Frank, past advisory board president, St. Vincent de Paul Kitchen. St. Vincent de Paul Kitchen is a program of Catholic Social Services of the Diocese of Scranton.

The Advisory Board of St. Vincent de Paul Kitchen recently presented Dr. Dave Shemo, outgoing advisory board president, with a plaque of appreciation for his 15 years of service as President of the Advisory Board.

Dr. Shemo was also presented with a miniature statue of St. Vincent de Paul and a gift card to Freidman Hospitality restaurants.

Following his tenure as Advisory Board President, Dr. Shemo will remain a member of the Advisory Board.

For more information about the Kitchen, call (570) 829-7796 or visit www.facebook.com/stvincentkitchen

 
Pictured are Council, Amber District, Supreme officers, members and guests. Front row, from left to right, Mary Lidaka, Tom Wierbowski – Amber District Vice President, Linda Savinski, Annalyse Towns, Judy Stodolny, Barbara Miller – Amber District President, Anne Marie Distin- 4 th Degree recipient, Dennis Palladino, Mary Claire Voveris- 4 th Degree recipient, Janet Palladino, Eileen Kelly and Beverly Harnen. Second row, from left to right, Mary Portelli, June Supey, Les Distin – 3 rd Degree recipient, Tom Miller – Amber District Secretary, Elaine Elko, Don Waxmonsky, Shirley Skamarakus, Joe Francik and Mike Loncoski. Third row, from left to right, John Kovaleski, Irene Kovaleski, Fran Siklus, Marlene Warren – Supreme Financial Secretary, Sue Robinson – Amber District Trustee , Sylvia Waxmonsky, Steve Tichy – Amber District Trustee, Bill Sodnik, Camille Stanis and Larry Domalakes – Amber District Treasurer.

Knights of Lithuania Council 143, Pittston, PA celebrated the feast of St. Casimir with a Mass held on Sunday, March 3 at St. John the Evangelist Church in Pittston. Third and fourth degrees were also conferred at the Mass. A luncheon and Amber District meeting in the Monsignor Bendik Center followed the service.

 

 
 
On February 13, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to pass the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act of 2023 (H.R. 5856). This bipartisan measure would do several things to combat the scourge of human trafficking, including: 
 
• Reauthorize various programs under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 through Fiscal Year 2028 (which lapsed September 30, 2021), with approximately $1 billion in funding for anti-trafficking efforts over the next five years;
• Authorize the Secretary of Health and Human Services to carry out a Human Trafficking Survivors Employment and Education Program to prevent the re-exploitation of eligible individuals with services that help them to attain life skills, employment, and education necessary to achieve self-sufficiency;
• Authorize grants for programs that prevent and detect trafficking of school-age children in a “linguistically accessible, culturally responsive, age-appropriate, and trauma-informed fashion”; and
• Require the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to encourage integration of activities to counter human trafficking into its broader programming. 
 
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration formally endorsed the bill with other Catholic organizations during the previous Congress, stating at the time that “this legislation is critical for continuing and bolstering our nation’s efforts to eradicate human trafficking and assist human trafficking survivors.”
 
More recently, in a press release reaffirming the USCCB’s support for the bill, Bishop Mark Seitz, current chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration, emphasized that it “is incumbent upon all of us to unite in promoting efforts that prevent the evil of human trafficking. I join our Holy Father in inviting the faithful and all people of good will to uphold and affirm human dignity and grow in solidarity with those who are vulnerable to exploitation and have been impacted by this terrible evil of modern-day slavery.” 
 
You can learn more about human trafficking and the Church’s anti-trafficking efforts by reading this explainer and by visiting the Justice for Immigrants campaign’s Saint Josephine Bakhita webpage
 
Message to Congress
Please Pass H.R. 5856 to Combat Human Trafficking and Support Survivors
 
As a Catholic and your constituent, I urge you to take up and support the House-passed Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act of 2023 (H.R. 5856), an important, bipartisan bill that will help combat the evil of human trafficking. 
 
This bill would reauthorize important programs under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, provide about $1 billion in funding for anti-trafficking measures, authorize the creation of a Human Trafficking Survivors Employment and Education Program, support grants for programs that prevent and detect trafficking of school-age children, require that USAID encourage integration of activities to counter human trafficking in programs under its purview, and more. 
 
It is critical that our country continues to combat what Pope Francis has referred to as a “crime against humanity.” Please work with your colleagues in the Senate to pass H.R. 5856 without delay.
 
Click the link below to log in and send your message:
 
 
 

February 12, 2024 

WASHINGTON – At Masses on the weekend of March 9-10, Catholics across the United States will have an opportunity to help the most impoverished and marginalized by giving to The Catholic Relief Services Collection of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). This annual collection helps fund the U.S. bishops’ flagship international relief and development organization (Catholic Relief Services), but it also supports five other initiatives:

  • The U.S. bishops’ Office of International Justice and Peace, works to end conflicts and build just societies that respect human rights, religious freedom, and integral human development;
  • the Holy Father’s Relief Fund allows Pope Francis to send emergency aid to disaster victims worldwide;
  • the U.S. bishops’ Department of Migration and Refugee Services, promotes awareness of the plight of immigrants, migrants, refugees, trafficking victims, and people on the move, and assists with programmatic assistance and aid;
  • the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC), provides legal aid to immigrants and refugees seeking a legal path to work permits and citizenship; and
  • the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat on Cultural Diversity in the Church works to bring Catholics from various culturally diverse communities into fuller participation in the faith, life, and evangelizing mission of the Church. Its Pastoral Care for Migrants, Refugees and Travelers program ministers to the special pastoral and cultural needs of immigrants from Africa, the Caribbean Islands, and Europe, as well as itinerant people, including seafarers, traveling show performers, truckers and tourists, while its Asian and Pacific Island Affairs program engages Catholics from Asian and Pacific Island communities in the United States.

“The initiatives that benefit from The Catholic Relief Services Collection bring hope and change lives of the most impoverished and vulnerable among us,” said Bishop James S. Wall of Gallup, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on National Collections. “It is my hope that you consider the Lord’s graces and blessings at work in your lives and consider how you might make a difference in the lives of those who are struggling.”

This collection helped sponsor a conference to seek peace and justice between South and North Korea. And in drought-stricken Kenya, the collection underwrote the renovation of water systems that now bring life and hope to millions of people through Catholic Relief Services. A project funded by the U.S. bishops’ Department of Migration and Refugee Services trained thousands of parish volunteers to assist 21,000 refugees from countries as diverse as Ukraine and Venezuela as they were resettled in the United States and are adjusting to life in a new culture as they make a new start.  The Secretariat on Cultural Diversity in the Church brought together young Catholics from many ethnic backgrounds across the United States to build bridges of understanding that heal divisions in our Church, our country and our communities. And for the last 35 years, CLINIC has supported the needs of immigrants seeking legal services at the local level in communities across the country.

Most dioceses will take up the collection in their parishes on the weekend of March 9-10, though some choose a different date. #iGiveCatholicTogether also accepts funds for the collection.

For more information, please visit https://www.usccb.org/catholic-relief.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In his 2024 Lenten message to the Church, Pope Francis invites us to reflect upon the desert experience that is so prevalent in the life of Jesus and throughout the sacred scriptures. “Lent is the season of grace in which the desert can become once more – in the words of the prophet Hosea – the place of our first love (cf. Hos 2:16-17). God shapes his people, he enables us to leave our slavery behind and experience a Passover from death to life.” 

Jesus is depicted carrying his cross in a mosaic of the second station of the Stations of the Cross at St. Thomas More Church on the campus of St. John’s University in Jamaica, N.Y. (OSV News photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

Essentially, the sacred season of Lent encourages us to step apart from the frenetic pace of life that has consumed us and to reflect – in the desert of our hearts – what it means to be a disciple of Jesus and to embrace his life and saving grace.  In the midst of a world fraught with upheaval and pain as a result of wars, political and social polarization, and far too many “isms” and “phobias” that have proliferated throughout the globe, resulting in discrimination, hatred, pain and suffering, we need to step apart to assess our own role in contributing to the breakdown of peace and respect for the lives that God has placed within our own.  “If our celebration of Lent is to be fruitful,” Pope Francis asserts, “the first step is to desire to open our eyes to reality.”

In the liturgy of Ash Wednesday every year, we listen to the words of the prophet Joel, who sets the stage not only for the season of Lent but for our response to the Lord’s call to discipleship.  And he does so by challenging us to change our lives – not merely by performing religious gestures and practices – but by peering intensely into our hearts to insure that our spirit is honest and pure and open to the transforming power and presence of God.  Saint Matthew, in that same liturgy, reinforces the words of the prophet as he calls us to pray, fast, and to give alms in support of the poor – not because such behavior will make us righteous – but because such acts for the true follower of Jesus are simply the consequence of faithful lives rooted in Jesus, who teaches us how best to live.

Pope Francis puts these three pillars of our lives as followers of Jesus into perspective. “Today, the cry of so many of our oppressed brothers and sisters rises to heaven. Let us ask ourselves: Do we hear that cry? Does it trouble us? Does it move us?  …  It is time to act.  …  Love of God and love of neighbour are one love.  …  For this reason, prayer, almsgiving and fasting are not three unrelated acts, but a single movement of openness and self-emptying, in which we cast out the idols that weigh us down, the attachments that imprison us. …  In the presence of God, we become brothers and sisters, more sensitive to one another.  In place of threats and enemies, we discover companions and fellow travelers. This is God’s dream, the promised land to which we journey once we have left our slavery behind.” 

By providing greater opportunities for prayer and reflection, Lent then becomes both a time for personal conversion and a favorable season for opening the doors to all those in need and recognizing in them the face of Christ as it challenges us to consider the gift and blessing of the Sacrament of Baptism in our lives. 

On the First Sunday of Lent, we will welcome catechumens into the ranks of the elect; those from our midst who have begun the journey of conversion and who will soon experience the saving power of Jesus in the Easter mysteries of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist.  Their “yes” to the Lord’s call gives us hope and should encourage us to recommit ourselves to the vows that were made at our own baptisms.  Their “yes” reminds us that we too are called to look beyond ourselves to something more in life. 

As we continue to give thanks for the singular gift of God’s presence in the Holy Eucharist during the third year of Eucharistic Revival in our land, I will once again celebrate a Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament in each of our twelve deaneries throughout the weeks of Lent.  I look forward to praying with many of you as we seek God’s healing grace. 

Finally, I encourage all of us to avail ourselves of the Lord’s mercy and healing in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

My friends, in the desert of our hearts, Lent calls us to reflect upon our relationship with God and to recognize that God is ever faithful and present, particularly amid the challenges that envelop our broken world and fragile lives.  May we be humble enough to open our lives to God’s merciful presence and walk with him on the life-giving journey of conversion and renewal. 

Please know of my prayers for a fruitful observance of Lent.

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

 


CLICK HERE TO VOTE FOR YOUR FAVORITE PASTOR CHEF

SCRANTON – For the third year in a row, priests from across the Diocese of Scranton have taken to the kitchen, recording themselves cooking a favorite recipe, to raise money for anti-hunger, anti-homelessness initiatives of Catholic Social Services.

Rectory, Set, Cook! III began on Feb. 13 and will run for six weeks, wrapping up on March 26.

“I’m on the phone at least once a week with Catholic Social Services for something – somebody needing heating oil, somebody needing food,” Father Mike Kloton, Pastor, Good Shepherd Parish, Drums, and Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Parish, Freeland, said. “The employee who works the phones there recognizes my number!”

A total of 37 priests have participated in this year’s fundraiser – making a total of 30 videos. Some of the priests are being assisted by Catholic school students and other young people because the theme of this year’s effort is “Collars and Scholars.”

“By doing this, parishioners get a whole different view of us,” Father Kloton added. “They just want to see us as regular guys.”

For the last two years, Father James Paisley, who admits he has no culinary talent, has finished on top of the friendly culinary competition.

“It is a fun way to do something that a lot of priests have a little difficulty doing, which is asking for money,” Father Paisley said. “This is a fun way for us to put a good cause out there and have a lot of fun doing it.”

This year, Father Paisley says he decided on the perfect recipe after traveling all over the world to find ingredients for an “International Pizza.”

“It doesn’t matter if you have culinary skills. People see the fun that we’re having doing it and they’re thrilled to be able to support it,” he added.

Here is how the fundraiser works.

People who view the videos are asked to “support” their favorite recipe or priest by making a monetary donation of at least $10 per vote. People are welcome to donate as much money as they would like and are able to support as many priests as they desire.

“I try to come up with a recipe that hopefully everybody will like,” Father Jerry Gurka, Pastor, Saint John the Baptist Parish, Larksville, and All Saints Parish, Plymouth, explained. “As church and priests, we feed people spiritually and now we can feed people physically, helping people to be fed as well.”

This year, Father Gurka focused his culinary efforts around a key lime dessert.

“Key lime was my mom’s favorite recipe,” he said. “We are so happy to do this for people.”

Several philanthropic sponsors help to make Rectory, Set, Cook! possible, including our presenting sponsor, Hawk Family Foundation, and our Sous Chef Sponsors, M&T Bank and Mericle Commercial Real Estate Services and Discover NEPA.

To view all of the videos and vote for your favorite, scan the QR code in the graphic on this page or click on Rectory, Set, Cook! on the Diocese of Scranton website at dioceseofscranton.org.

HERSHEY – As state officials broke ground on a new Pennsylvania State Police Academy on Dec. 18, 2023, they turned to a local pastor to offer a blessing.

Governor Josh Shapiro, Lieutenant Governor Austin Davis, Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Colonel Christopher Paris, and Department of General Services (DGS) Secretary Reggie McNeil unveiled plans and broke ground on a new Pennsylvania State Police Academy. Pictured here is Father Thomas Muldowney, delivering remarks during the event.

Father Thomas M. Muldowney, Pastor, Saint Catherine of Siena Parish, Moscow, who also serves as Chaplain for the Pennsylvania State Police, participated in a press conference as design plans for the new training facility were released.

The new state-of-the-art facility is expected to be the most comprehensive update to the Academy since it opened in 1960. Multiple new buildings, totaling 366,000 square feet, are proposed for the 146-acre site in Hershey.

The transcript of Father Muldowney’s prayer is below:

“Today, with gratitude and anticipation, we gather for the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Pennsylvania State Police Academy. We invoke the spirit of dedication, unity, and commitment as we lay the foundation for a place that will shape the future guardians of our Commonwealth. May this ceremony mark the beginning of a home where knowledge, discipline, and honor will be instilled in those who will serve and protect our citizens. Let this groundbreaking be a symbol of progress, unity, and the enduring legacy of service to our state. May this academy stand as a testament to the values of integrity, courage, and excellence that will echo through the generations of law enforcement officers trained within its walls. With this groundbreaking, we embark on a journey toward a safer, stronger, and more just society. Invoking God’s blessing on the Pennsylvania State Police Academy, a beacon of hope, training, and service.

“We ask this in your holy name. Amen.”

 

In the coming days, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act of 2023 (H.R. 5856). This bipartisan bill would do several things to combat the scourge of human trafficking, including:  

  • Reauthorize various programs under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 through Fiscal Year 2028 (which lapsed September 30, 2021), with approximately $1 billion in funding for anti-trafficking efforts over the next five years; 
  • Authorize the Secretary of Health and Human Services to carry out a Human Trafficking Survivors Employment and Education Program to prevent the re-exploitation of eligible individuals with services that help them to attain life skills, employment, and education necessary to achieve self-sufficiency; 
  • Authorize grants for programs that prevent and detect trafficking of school-age children in a “linguistically accessible, culturally responsive, age-appropriate, and trauma-informed fashion”; and 
  • Require the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to encourage integration of activities to counter human trafficking into its broader programming.  

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration formally endorsed the bill with other Catholic organizations during the previous Congress, stating at the time that “this legislation is critical for continuing and bolstering our nation’s efforts to eradicate human trafficking and assist human trafficking survivors. I join our Holy Father in inviting the faithful and all people of good will to uphold and affirm human dignity and grow in solidarity with those who are vulnerable to exploitation and have been impacted by this terrible evil of modern-day slavery.”  

More recently, in a press release reaffirming the USCCB’s support for the bill, Bishop Mark Seitz, current chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration, emphasized that it “is incumbent upon all of us to unite in promoting efforts that prevent the evil of human trafficking.”  

With the Catholic Church around the world commemorating the Feast of Saint Josephine Bakhita, patroness of trafficking victims, and the International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking on February 8, now is a perfect time to stand with survivors of human trafficking by completing this action alert in support of H.R. 5856.  

You can learn more about human trafficking and the Church’s anti-trafficking efforts by reading this explainer and by visiting the Justice for Immigrants campaign’s Saint Josephine Bakhita webpage.  

Click the link below to log in and send your message:
https://www.votervoice.net/BroadcastLinks/Q0xUaT8OPzYnVHIV_x4Sog

 

 

Over the past several months, a handful of senators have negotiated behind closed doors to reach an agreement on potential changes to U.S. immigration law. This is in response to calls by some members of Congress to condition the enactment of supplemental funding on the inclusion of extraneous policy provisions for which there is no precedent in the appropriations process. These proposed changes have been included in the Senate’s version of H.R. 815, the “Emergency National Security Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2024″. 

In a February 6 letter to Senate leadership, Bishop Mark Seitz, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, expressed no position on the overall measure but stated that “this effort to make sweeping changes to immigration law—particularly in the context of this supplemental funding bill—is flawed, both in terms of substance and form. Rather than sustainably reducing migration to the U.S.-Mexico border, consistent with the common good and the good-faith intentions of many lawmakers, several changes proposed in this bill would unjustly undermine due process and pave the way for avoidable and potentially life-threatening harm to be inflicted on vulnerable persons seeking humanitarian protection in the United States.” 

In his letter, Bishop Seitz addressed several specific provisions that warranted concern, including those that would severely limit due process for noncitizens, make it even more difficult than it already is under current law for those with bona fide asylum claims to pursue protection in the United States, and create the opportunity for harmful, arbitrary, and counterproductive treatment of vulnerable persons.

At the same time, the USCCB has expressed support for several aspects of the bill, including supplemental funding for humanitarian relief efforts, refugee resettlement, the Shelter and Services Program, the Nonprofit Security Grant Program, and related efforts to address the root causes of conflict and migration, as well as long-term relief for Afghans relocated to the United States and improved access to protection for at-risk Afghans abroad, increased opportunities for family reunification and employment-based immigration, expanded access to work authorization for newcomers, and ensuring vulnerable children have assistance navigating their immigration proceedings.

Complete this action alert to join with the U.S. bishops in opposing harmful and counterproductive changes to immigration law as a condition for supplemental funding.

You can also learn more about the changes contained in H.R. 815 by reading this policy brief from the American Immigration Lawyers Association and viewing these recent resources from the USCCB, which address two different mechanisms that would be employed extensively under H.R. 815’s changes: 
Rapid Expulsions at the U.S.-Mexico Border and their Consequences
Expedited Removal of Noncitizens in the United States

Click the link below to log in and send your message:
https://www.votervoice.net/BroadcastLinks/SLc-dYpQkXLkObhndujDEA

 

 

 

Front row left to right Doreen Gilbride, Ellen Perry, Nori Conner, Lynn Walsh, Eucharistic minister; Patty Gaughan, Amanda Gavin, Mary Ann Abdo, Lector; Maureen Wallace, Nancy Earyes, Kathy Connor, Karen Savage. Second row Judy Krell, Kathy McDonnell, Mary Jane Sears, Terese Pelligrino, Pat Savitts, Deacon Paul Jennings, Father Richard Fox, Sister Kathleen Smith, Sister Terese Marques, Carolynn Wahl, Nancy Yavoroski  Third row Jeff Sears, Paul Hart, Conal McHugh, Mary Anne McAndrew,  Gennette  Rotherforth, Mary Claire Kingsley, Mary Connor, Mary Ellen Richards

On Saturday January 27th members of the Lackawanna County Mens and Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians celebrated the Feast of Saint Brigid, at the Parish Community of St Patrick Church in Scranton.

LAOH County Board Officer, Maureen Wallace was our Lector at St. Brigid’s Mass.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Symbols associated with Saint Brigid of Ireland were carried up the aisle with the Gifts by members of the LAOH and presented to Father Fox who placed them on the altar.