SCRANTON – While in his first year studying at Saint Vincent Seminary in Latrobe, seminarian Daniel O’Brien made it a priority to come back to northeastern Pennsylvania to attend the 2023 Leave a Mark Mass at the Cathedral of Saint Peter on Nov. 5, 2023.

The Leave a Mark Mass is an annual opportunity for young Catholics from various parishes around the 11-county Diocese to come together in worship. The name of the Mass comes from remarks of Pope Francis at World Youth Day 2016 in which he told young people they didn’t come into this world to ‘vegetate’ but to ‘leave a mark.’

Young adults from parishes and Catholic colleges across the Diocese pray together at the 2023 ‘Leave a Mark’ Mass. (Photos/Mike Melisky)

“It was wonderful to be able to be back and celebrate with the youth of the Diocese of Scranton,” O’Brien said.

A parishioner of Saint John the Evangelist Parish in Pittston, O’Brien entered seminary this fall after graduating from Marywood University. He has been attending the Diocese’s annual gathering of the young Church since 2019.

“The Leave a Mark Mass is really one of the best things that our Diocese can do as part of a huge evangelization summit to bring all the youth from the Diocese together under one roof, to celebrate Mass, be in the presence of the Bishop, and to be in the presence of each other as missionary disciples,” O’Brien added.

The Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, served as principal celebrant of the 5 p.m. Mass, which is traditionally held at the start of National Vocation Awareness Week. Father Alex J. Roche, Diocesan Director of Vocations and Seminarians, delivered the homily.

During his remarks, Father Alex said being taught by the Sisters of Christian Charity at Saint Ann Parish in Williamsport played a role in his own vocation story.

“It was in that school and in that church as a young boy that the seeds of my vocation to the priesthood were planted and I could never offer the words to truly express my gratitude to thank the Sisters for their witness they showed me and the trust they inspired in me,” he said.

Father Alex encouraged the young people attending the Leave a Mark Mass to identity people they trust and receive faith from them.

“Trust those in your life that carry the peace of God with them. Trust God with your vocation, with your very life, and become people in the world that inspire trust in others,” he said.

In addition to praying for vocations to the priesthood, the Leave a Mark Mass is also an opportunity for people to pray for vocations to the diaconate, consecrated life and married life.

“Keep your hearts and your minds open to the word of God prompting you to walk his His disciples, prompting you in the best way that you can to answer His call in whatever way that might be extended to you and to leave your mark for good in Jesus’ name,” Bishop Bambera said at the conclusion of Mass.

Following the Mass, a social featuring food trucks, live music, games and more was held at the Diocesan Pastoral Center across the street.

Diana Lozinger, a student at The University of Scranton, first attended the Leave a Mark Mass last year and returned because she thinks young Catholics should be taking a more active role in the church.

“I think there is a growing movement of young people that I’ve seen, in my own life and even online, that are really committed to the church and I hope that we can continue this movement,” Lozinger said.

Ray Sabatini, a young adult from Saint Jude Parish in Mountain Top, said it doesn’t take much to leave a mark for good.

“All we have to do is change one person’s life to make a true difference in the world and if we just do that one person at a time, the world would be a much better place,” he said.

Events like the Leave a Mark Mass, which are sponsored by the Vocations Office, are made possible because of the gifts to the Diocesan Annual Appeal each year.