Youth at Mass for Life thanked for offering sign of hope for the future
By Mark Zimmermann Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — They came from near and far, and even from Down Under, united in prayer and in standing together for life at the Archdiocese of Washington’s annual Youth Rally and Mass for Life, held Jan. 18 at the Capital One Arena in Washington.

The estimated crowd of 18,000 came from the Washington area and from across the country and were joined by young adults from Sydney on their way to World Youth Day in Panama.

The main celebrant at the Mass, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the apostolic nuncio to the United States, entered and left the arena smiling and waving a blessing to the spirited crowd of teens and young adults, many of whom wore colorful, matching hats or sweatshirts along with their school uniforms.

They had come, the archbishop said, for a day of prayer for the legal protection of unborn children and to stand up and speak out for all those who are vulnerable in society, and also “to give thanks to God for the gift of life.”

“Dear young people, thank you for the witness of your Catholic faith, both now in holy Mass, on the streets of Washington, and more importantly, when you return home to your families and neighborhoods,” he said.

Archbishop Pierre read a message from Pope Francis, who said he was united in prayer with the thousands of young people who had come to Washington to join the March for Life. The pontiff in his message said the challenging task for each generation is “to uphold the inviolable dignity of human life.” The pope’s message said respect for the sacredness of every life is essential in building a just society, where every child, and every person, is welcomed as a brother and sister.

Fifteen other bishops concelebrated the Mass including the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher who was accompanying the Australian pilgrims. About 175 priests also concelebrated the Mass, assisted by about 30 permanent deacons.

The arena crowd also included an estimated 500 seminarians and 100 women religious.

Opening his homily at the Mass, Father Robert Boxie III, the parochial vicar at St. Joseph Parish in Largo, Maryland, said, “To see this arena filled with the Body of Christ, I’m looking out and seeing hope for the future of our church, and hope for the future of our country. It’s an awesome and beautiful sight!”

Noting that the first reading at the Mass included the passage from Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you,” the priest added, “The womb is the first place God encounters us. God encounters us in the womb and seeks to encounter us in each moment of our lives.”

He said abortion is a symptom of a sickness in society and it shows “our failure to encounter one another and see the image of God and the face of Jesus Christ in our brothers and sisters. Simply put, it’s our failure to love.”

Echoing concerns raised by Pope Francis, the priest called on young people to counteract society’s culture of indifference with a culture of encounter.

“Truly building a culture of life depends on how we encounter each other,” he said, encouraging people not only to march for life, but to “stand up for every human life inside and outside the womb,” including people in all stages of life, and also the poor, the neglected, immigrants and refugees. “All of these lives,” he added, “are sacred and precious in the eyes of God.”

Archbishop Fisher then greeted the young people at the arena with a friendly, “G’day!” and jokingly added that is the Australian way of saying, “The Lord be with you.”

He said it was a great joy for him to accompany the young Aussies on the March for Life.

The Australian prelate said he hoped some of the young people in the arena would become priests or women religious or become “spouses and parents of the next generation of Christians… Whatever God’s plan for you, know you are precious in his eyes,” from the moment of conception until death, he said.

Sister Maria Juan, a Religious Sister of Mercy of Alma, Michigan, served as a master of ceremony for the youth rally, and at the end of Mass, she noted the bishops and the large numbers of priests, women religious and seminarians there, and the crowd gave them sustained applause. Some of the young people stood to indicate that they were discerning a vocation, and they too were applauded.

The sister noted that “in the church today, we are experiencing a lot of trials,” but she added through the 2,000-year history of the church, “at those exact moments, God also raises up great saints to be light in the darkness.”

She added, “Always remember it is Jesus Christ calling you to this, the church loves you and the world needs you.”

The Mass’s program encouraged young people to continue their advocacy for life after the march, by doing things like volunteering at a pregnancy center, starting or joining a pro-life club, educating peers on chastity and the church’s teaching on life, being open and loving to teens in crisis, and praying for mothers, fathers and unborn children.

The Mass ended on a joyful note, as the congregation sang the song, “Your Grace is Enough,” and some of the bishops and priests as they processed out, waved to young people in the different sections of the arena.



‘Deception’ guided court cases that legalized abortion, archbishop says
By Mark Pattison Catholic News Service

“The late Norma McCorvey, Jane Roe of Roe v. Wade, lied about being gang-raped,” said Archbishop Naumann, new chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities. “After her pro-life conversion, Norma acknowledged that she was deceived by her attorneys about the reality of abortion. For the last 20 years of her life, Norma McCorvey labored tirelessly to overturn Roe v. Wade.”

In his homily at the Jan. 17 March for Life vigil Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, Archbishop Naumann said, “The late Sandra Cano, the Jane Doe of the Doe v. Bolton decision, never wanted an abortion.”

He added, “Her lawyers, whom she had engaged to assist with regaining the custody of her children, used her difficult circumstances to advance their own ideological goal to legalize abortion. She actually fled the state of Georgia, when she feared that her lawyers and family members intended to pressure her to actually have an abortion.”

Archbishop Naumann also touted another early figure in the abortion debate, Dr. Bernard Nathanson.

“Nathanson, one of the founders of NARAL and himself an abortionist, became pro-life not because of theology or any religious sentiment, but from his own study of the scientific advancements in embryology and fetology,” he said. “While it is true that Dr. Nathanson eventually became Catholic, it was long after he had become a pro-life advocate because of science.”

Archbishop Naumann criticized one of the consequences of legal abortion.

“Protecting the life of the unborn children is the pre-eminent human rights issue of our time, not only because of the sheer magnitude of the numbers, but because abortion attacks the sanctuary of life, the family. Abortion advocates pit the welfare of the mother against the life of her child,” he said.

“Every abortion not only destroys the life of an innocent child, but it wounds and scars mothers and fathers who must live with the harsh reality that they hired someone to destroy their daughter or son. In reality, the welfare of parents and their child are always intimately linked.”

Archbishop Naumann also took note of the legal and political landscape surrounding abortion.

“We assemble in 2019 with some new hope that the recent changes in the membership of the Supreme Court may result in a re-examination and an admission by the court of its tragic error 46 years ago,” he said, referring to the addition of Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch. “We pray that state legislatures and the people of this country will again have the ability to protect the lives of unborn children.”

He added, “At the same time, we are sobered by the ferocity and the extremism of the proponents of legalized abortion as evidenced in the recent confirmation process to fill a vacancy on the U. S. Supreme Court. Recently, two members of the Senate Judiciary Committee questioned the suitability of a judicial nominee because of his membership in an extremist organization” — and here he paused to make a face, as if he couldn’t believe what he was about to say next — “the Knights of Columbus.”

Pro-life advocates gather in front of the Supreme Court during the March for Life Jan. 18. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

The Mass, which brought an estimated 10,000 people into the basilica’s Great Upper Church, was not as filled with pomp and grandeur. The entrance procession, for instance, lasted 17 minutes — less than half the 35 minutes recorded in some past years.

Also, after the prayers the faithful, all at Mass read aloud a “Prayer for Healing Victims of Abuse,” which read in part, “Gentle Jesus, shepherd of peace, join to your own suffering the pain of all who have been hurt in body mind, and spirit by those who betrayed the trust placed in them. Hear our cries as we agonize over the harm done to our brothers and sisters.”

Archbishop Naumann also mentioned the abuse crisis in his homily.

“For all Catholics, the last several months have been profoundly difficult. We’ve been devastated by the scandal of sexual misconduct by clergy and of past instances of the failure of bishops to respond with compassion to victims of abuse and to protect adequately the members of their flock,” he said.

“The abuse of children or minors upends the pro-life ethic because it is a grave injustice and an egregious offense against the dignity of the human person,” he said. “Moreover, the failure to respond effectively to the abuse crisis undermines every other ministry in the church.”



AllOne Charities, a Wilkes-Barre-based nonprofit organization whose mission is to enhance the health care delivery system of Northeastern and North Central Pennsylvania, recently awarded a $10,000 grant to Catholic Social Services of the Diocese of Scranton.

The grant launched Primary Care Pathfinders, a CSS pilot program that matches homeless clients one-on-one with a navigator whose role is to ensure that important service connections within the community are made and urgently needed medical treatment is received.

To date, CSS has received four grants totaling $202,500 from local foundations in support of this new program, which officially launched this month. Its goals are to help 60 homeless persons per year achieve significant health and housing outcomes while testing the value of intensive health-focused case management in the shelter system.

AllOne Charities funds are used to help sustain local and regional non-profit organizations whose initiatives address the region’s most pressing health challenges.

John Cosgrove, executive director of AllOne Foundation and Charities, accompanied AllOne program officer Mary Carroll Donahoe to the check presentation.

“The leadership of AllOne Charities is pleased to support this innovative and collaborative approach to significantly improving access to vital health care services for a most vulnerable sector of our community,” Cosgrove said.


We are committed to protecting the sanctity of life


Dear Friends in Christ,

The Catholic Church has long upheld a commitment to protecting the sanctity of life from conception until natural death. At times, this rhetoric has been a reality in the day-to-day actions of the Church, as our Catholic hospitals, universities, and institutions have strived to promote a pro-life ethic. At other times, however, our Church has failed to speak loudly enough against offenses in the world today and within our own ranks. At such points, we are challenged to reflect upon our beliefs, examine our moral world, and follow our call to action.

Last month, the Kirby Health Center revoked the lease of an established Planned Parenthood clinic in Wilkes-Barre. At the time, there was a serious question of whether or not this Planned Parenthood, which has not provided abortions in the past, would change its policies to provide abortions in the future. Some of the more prominent pro-life groups in our Diocese took action against this organization and fought hard to ensure that our values were expressed to the proper avenues. While this particular clinic has now clarified that it will not be providing abortion services at the new site, the dialogue surrounding this event serves as a reminder that we, as Catholics, are called to take action in representing our faith. If we are truly pro-life, then we must be consistently confident in establishing our values not only when issues like this arise, but in our daily lives, voting habits, and rhetoric.

As a Church dedicated to respecting life, we must see these issues on the real-life spectrum. In his 2013 encyclical, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), Pope Francis challenges us to examine the Church’s pro-life attitude not as a political belief, but as a commitment to protecting the innocent human person. This commitment is not subject to change based on current climate because it is not a fundamentally political value, but a moral one. Our pro-life values challenge us to protect the life of the child and his or her mother, providing all the resources that families need to thrive.

As such, we see a need to seek out the silences in our society and to protect those who are voiceless. In our daily actions and our advocacy efforts, we must strive to protect the unborn, the poor, immigrants and refugees, the disabled, and the elderly. In the Diocese of Scranton, we hope that this year will offer new opportunities to serve each and every one of these groups. At this time especially, we are grateful to all the groups and programs within our Diocese who have made an effort to protect the lives of the vulnerable in past decades. We have immense gratitude toward Saint Joseph’s Center, Catholic Social Services, Friends of the Poor, Rachel’s Vineyard, and organizations such as Pennsylvanians for Human Life for their existing work in serving the poor and vulnerable of Northeast and North-Central Pennsylvania. We hope that, in the coming years, we can continue to work with these organizations while expanding our Diocesan commitment to pro-life ministries of all kinds.

As you may know, the 2019 March for Life will be held January 18 in Washington, D.C. In an effort to show our commitment to Respect Life this month, we will be sending postcards to our senators and representatives to reiterate our stance toward the defense of life from conception until natural death. In the past few months, we have been reminded again and again that these views are relevant not only when Planned Parenthood renews its lease in one of our cities or when a new law is put into effect. Rather, our values must remain at the forefront of our minds and our hearts at all times – and they should be in the plain sight of our lawmakers. This month, we ask you to consider signing one of the cards that will be sent to each of our parishes here in the Diocese of Scranton and to share these with your friends and family.

Together, as a people of faith, we can set an example of what it means to be a people of life and a people of joy. This month, my prayer is that each of us will recognize our own ability and responsibility through our baptism to defend the lives of those on the margins of our society.

Faithfully yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, D.D., J.C.L.
Bishop of Scranton


Estamos comprometidos con proteger la santidad de la vida


Queridos amigos en Cristo,

La Iglesia Católica durante mucho tiempo ha mantenido un compromiso para proteger la santidad de la vida desde la concepción hasta la muerte natural. A veces, esta retórica ha sido una realidad en las acciones cotidianas de la iglesia, como nuestros hospitales católicos, universidades, y las instituciones se han esforzado para promover una ética de vida. En otras ocasiones, sin embargo, nuestra iglesia ha fallado en hablar en voz suficientemente alta contra delitos en el mundo de hoy y dentro de nuestras propias filas. En dichos puntos, nos desafía a reflexionar sobre nuestras creencias, examinar nuestro mundo moral y seguir nuestro llamado a la acción.

El mes pasado, el centro de salud de Kirby revocó la concesión de una clínica de Planned Parenthood (Planificacion familiar) establecida en Wilkes-Barre. Al tiempo, hubo una grave cuestión de si o no esta planificación de la familia, que no ha proporcionado los abortos en el pasado, iba a cambiar sus políticas para proporcionar abortos en el futuro. Algunos de los más prominentes grupos pro-vida en nuestra diócesis tomaron acción contra esta organización y lucharon para asegurar que nuestros valores se expresaron en las avenidas adecuadas. Mientras que esta clínica particular ahora ha aclarado que no  ofrecerá servicios de aborto en el nuevo sitio, el diálogo que rodean este evento sirve como un recordatorio de que, como católicos, estamos llamados a actuar en representación de nuestra fe. Si somos verdaderamente pro-vidas, debemos tener la confianza constante de establecer nuestros valores no sólo cuando temas como este se presentan, pero en nuestra vida cotidiana, hábitos de votación y el diálogo.

Como una iglesia dedicada al respeto de la vida, tenemos que ver estas cuestiones en el espectro de la vida real. En su encíclica del 2013, Evangelii Gaudium (la alegría del Evangelio), Papa Francisco nos desafía a examinar la actitud de pro vida de la iglesia no como una creencia política, sino como un compromiso con la protección de la persona humana inocente. Este compromiso no está sujeta a cambios basado en el clima actual ya no es un valor fundamentalmente político, sino moral. Nuestros valores de vida nos desafían para proteger la vida del niño y su madre, proporcionando todos los recursos que las familias necesitan para prosperar.

Así, vemos la necesidad de buscar a los silencios de nuestra sociedad y de proteger a aquellos que están sin voz. En nuestras acciones diarias y nuestros esfuerzos, debemos esforzarnos a proteger los no nacidos, los pobres, inmigrantes y refugiados, discapacitados y los ancianos. En la diócesis de Scranton, esperamos que este año ofrecerá nuevas oportunidades para servir a todos y cada uno de estos grupos. En este tiempo especialmente, agradecemos a todos los grupos y programas dentro de nuestra diócesis que han hecho un esfuerzo por proteger las vidas de las personas vulnerables en las últimas décadas. Tenemos inmensa gratitud hacia centro San José, Catholic Social Services, amigos de los pobres, Viña de  Raquel y organizaciones como residentes de Pennsylvania para la vida humana por su trabajo existente en el servicio a los pobres y vulnerables del noreste y Centro-norte de Pennsylvania. Esperamos que en los próximos años, podemos seguir trabajando con estas organizaciones ampliando nuestro compromiso Diocesano de ministerios de vida de todas las clases al mismo tiempo.

Como ustedes saben, el 2019 marcha por la vida se llevará a cabo el 18 de enero en Washington, D.C. En un esfuerzo por mostrar nuestro compromiso de respeto a la vida este mes, estaremos enviando postales a nuestros senadores y representantes para reiterar nuestra postura hacia la defensa de la vida desde la concepción hasta la muerte natural. En los últimos meses, nos recordaron una y otra vez que estos puntos de vista son relevantes no sólo cuando Planned Parenthood renueva su concesión en una de nuestras ciudades o cuando una nueva ley en vigor. Por el contrario, nuestros valores deben permanecer a la vanguardia de nuestras mentes y nuestros corazones en todo momento – y debe a la simple vista de nuestros legisladores. Este mes, le pedimos considerar firma una de las cartas que se enviarán a cada una de nuestras parroquias aquí en la diócesis de Scranton y compartir con tus amigos y familiares.

Juntos, como pueblo de fe, podemos establecer un ejemplo de lo que significa ser un pueblo de la vida y un pueblo de la alegría. Este mes, mi oración es que cada uno de nosotros reconozca nuestra propia capacidad y responsabilidad a través de nuestro bautismo para defender las vidas de ésos en los márgenes de nuestra sociedad.

Fielmente suyo en Cristo,

S.E.R. Joseph C. Bambera, D.D., J.C.L.
Obispo de Scranton

January 12 – Mass for Filipino Community, St. Peter’s Cathedral, Scranton, 6:00 p.m.

January 14 – Luzerne County Prison Mass

January 17 – Vigil Mass for Life, Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, D.C.

January 18 – Youth Mass and March for Life, Washington, D.C.

January 20 – Mass – Feast of Our Lady of Alta Gracia, Annunciation Parish, Hazleton, 12:00 noon

January 24 – Christian Unity Prayer Service, St. Peter’s Cathedral, Scranton, 12:10 p.m.






Official Notice
December 21, 2018

The faithful of the Diocese of Scranton are hereby advised that John Tokarick is not a Roman Catholic Priest and is not permitted to function as priest in the Roman Catholic Church.  Furthermore, the Catholic faithful should not receive the sacraments from Tokarick or attend his celebration of the sacraments, wherever they may be held.

Monsignor Thomas M. Muldowney
Vicar General
Diocese of Scranton

Dear Friends in Christ,

The first scripture reading during the Christmas Mass at midnight, taken from Isaiah the prophet, proclaims, “The people who walk in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwell in the land of gloom a light has shone. … For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.”(Isaiah 9:1,5)

Isaiah’s God-given task was to guide Judah through one of the most critical periods of her history. While the shadow of her neighbor’s conquest lay menacingly over the land, the spiritual crisis of Judah was even more serious than the threat of physical destruction. No one spoke more forthrightly than Isaiah in his denunciation of Judah’s pride, self-indulgence, and callous injustice toward the poor.

Yet, despite the reality of Judah’s immersion in the darkness of sin, Isaiah always proclaimed that God would never abandon his people. Instead, he would raise up a faithful remnant and restore the nation through One who would rule with mercy, justice and peace.

The promise of Isaiah is fulfilled in the Christmas event. Indeed, the very first spoken words recorded in Saint Luke’s Gospel as the evangelist chronicles this defining moment in salvation history are words of consolation and hope shared with poor shepherds who represent a broken, suffering people. “Do not be afraid. … A savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord.”(Luke 2:10,11)

My brothers and sisters, we need to sear these words into our hearts and to trust in the goodness and power of God today, more than ever. In so many respects, we’re not at all unlike the shepherds of Bethlehem or the people of Judah to whom Isaiah was sent. For all that we have been given in life – for all that we’ve accomplished as individuals and as a people – and for all that we dream and hope to experience for ourselves and those we love, we need the assurance of knowing that we are loved, that our lives matter, and that we have nothing to fear.

For as blessed as we are with God’s magnificent gift of life, our world has become a frightening and disappointing place. Random acts of violence are all too common in schools, entertainment venues and even in houses of worship. Life is still sadly disregarded, especially in the unborn, the poor, disabled and elderly. Immigrants and refugees seeking a better life are forced to the margins of society by discrimination, bigotry and hatred. And our Church has been robbed of so much of its beauty and promise by many of its own very leaders who have sexually abused the most innocent in our midst and have failed to create safe environments for those entrusted to their care.

Sadly, not unlike the initial response of the shepherds in Saint Luke’s Christmas Gospel, it seems that we do have much to fear from a world that seems to have gone awry. But for those of us who seek a way forward and who are wise enough to look at life with eyes of faith, the Word of God spoken by Isaiah the prophet reminds us that God is faithful, even when we are not. And we will be delivered from the brokenness of our world and our lives if only we place our trust in the Lord and walk in his ways.

A light has shone brightly in the midst of darkness. Jesus, our Savior, is among us and continues to walk our world and to fill hearts with hope and peace. In reflecting upon the heart of the Christmas message, Pope Francis offered these powerful words, “Let us set aside all fear and dread, for these do not befit men and women who are loved. Instead, let us experience the joy of encountering that grace which transforms all things.”

My friends, thank you for embracing the good news of Jesus’ birth. Thank you for living his Gospel in your generous service of one another – even and especially in challenging times. And thank you for your openness to the merciful love of God, the only sure way to our salvation and peace.

With gratitude for the privilege of serving as your Bishop and with prayers for a holy and blessed Christmas for you, your family and all you hold dear, I am

Faithfully yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, D.D., J.C.L.
Bishop of Scranton

His Excellency, Bishop Joseph C. Bambera, announces the following appointment, effective as indicated: 


Reverend Edward J. Casey, from Assistant Pastor, Our Lady of the Snows Parish, Clarks Summit, to Pastor, Saint Ann Parish, Shohola, and Saint John Neumann Parish, Lords Valley, effective January 3, 2019. 


Reverend Richard W. Beck, to Administrator, pro tem, Saint Ann Parish, Shohola, and Saint John Neumann Parish, Lords Valley, effective November 26, 2018. Father Beck will continue to serve as Pastor of Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace Parish, Hawley. 


Reverend Jose Joseph Kuriappilly, to Assistant Pastor, Epiphany Parish, Sayre, effective November 19, 2018.

Reverend Babu Muttickal, from the Diocese of Kottapuram, Kerala, India, to Assistant Pastor, Our Lady of the Snows Parish, Clarks Summit, effective January 3, 2019.

December 21 – Advent Mass for Chancery Staff, St. Peter’s Cathedral, Scranton, 12:10 p.m.

December 22 – Mass – SCI Waymart, Waymart, 9:00 a.m.

December 24 – Christmas Vigil Mass, St. Peter’s Cathedral, Scranton, 4:00 p.m.

Midnight Mass, St. Peter’s Cathedral, Scranton, Midnight

December 25 – Christmas Mass, Merli Veterans’ Center, Scranton, 9:30 a.m.

January 2-8 – U.S. Bishops’ Retreat, Mundelein Seminary, Chicago

January 9 – Mass – Capuchin Sisters, Tunkhannock, 4:00 p.m.