As the national conversation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic shifts to discussion and coordination of gradually reopening some businesses, many faithful in the Diocese of Scranton are wondering when the suspension of public Masses will be lifted.

In our Diocese, leadership has started discussing ways to safely return to sacramental life and other parish activities, even if on a limited basis, but stress it is still too early to determine any timelines.

The Diocese of Scranton will rely on the guidance of both governmental and health care professionals as this process moves forward.

On Monday, April 20, 2020, Governor Tom Wolf extended the state’s stay-at-home order until at least May 8, 2020, which he set as a “target date” to begin opening parts of the state’s economy but reiterated the process would be slow and gradual.

“As time unfolds, people coming back into normal activities will probably happen a little more slowly than some might expect,” Bishop Joseph C. Bambera said. “We have to be extremely cautious that we do it in such a way that we protect those individuals entrusted to our care and that we do it mindful of our need to be good to one another.”

The Diocese recognizes that it will need to be cognizant of the important balance between allowing people the ability to gather while still protecting their health and safety.

“People have often said to me, can’t we do something to experience the sacraments? Isn’t there some way that we can participate in the life of the Church, especially the Eucharist? No one wants to gather to celebrate the Eucharist with the faithful of our Diocese more than me. Yet, I am also charged by God to care for all the lives that are given to me. Our faith is far, far more powerful and more significant than any other reality or power in the world. But God has also given us common sense and places us in the midst of the world to care for what we’ve been given. That’s why we must be careful during these particular days as we plan the best steps moving forward,” Bishop Bambera added.