TUNKHANNOCK – As Christine Aydelotte prayed before our Eucharistic Lord at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish on Feb. 29, she was overcome with emotion.

“I felt like I had a hug from Jesus,” she said.

Aydelotte was one of roughly 100 people who attended a special Lenten Holy Hour with the Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton.

“It is such a special occasion to have the Bishop with us and to have him here in our little town. He helps to strengthen our bond with Jesus,” she added. “He’s an inspiration and a reminder that we all play a small part in our one Holy Catholic Apostolic Church.”

Dozens of faithful from the Williamsport Deanery participate in a Lenten Holy Hour at Saint Joseph the Worker Parish in Williamsport on Feb. 28, 2024.

For the last four weeks, Bishop Bambera has been traveling to each of the 12 deaneries in the Diocese of Scranton to celebrate a Holy Hour in conjunction with the second year of the National Eucharistic Revival.

“We were stunned tonight at the amount of people who came. It was shocking, actually, so you can tell there is a hunger for this,” Father Pat Albert, Pastor, Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish, said. “I think it was just great to see … and I hope they leave filled with a sense of joy.”

Ruth Tewksbury described the Lenten Holy Hour as “beautiful” and said she appreciated the moments of silent, contemplative prayer.

“During the Lenten journey, we become closer and closer to Jesus, as He lives His life, suffers, and dies on the cross. This brings it in the forefront of our minds. We have no interference, just the exposure to God,” Tewksbury explained.

Well over 1,000 people have participated in the Lenten Holy Hours since they began on Feb. 15 at Holy Family Parish in Luzerne. Since that time, Holy Hours have taken place at Our Lady of Victory Parish in Tannersville, Most Precious Blood Parish in Hazleton, Christ the King Parish in Archbald, Saint Eulalia Parish in Roaring Brook Township, Saint Joseph the Worker Parish in Williamsport, Saint Joseph Marello Parish in Pittston, and Saint John Neumann Parish in Lords Valley.

Deacon Leonard Jinselli, left, Rev. Richard E. Czachor, V.E., and Bishop Bambera participate in a Lenten Holy Hour at Our Lady of Victory Parish in Tannersville on Feb. 20, 2024. (Photo/Kenneth Schurman)

A Lenten Holy Hour is scheduled for this evening (Thursday, March 7) at Epiphany Parish in Sayre and next week in Wilkes-Barre and Scranton. Parishioners in the Wilkes-Barre Deanery are invited to Our Lady of Hope Parish, 40 Park Avenue, Wilkes-Barre, at 7 p.m. on March 18. Likewise, the faithful of the Scranton Deanery will gather together at Saint Teresa of Calcutta Parish, 1217 Prospect Avenue, Scranton, at 7 p.m. on March 20.

“This is great way for all of us to come together for one purpose only – to praise the Lord – and I think doing this was a great way to bring all the parishes together,” Patricia McAndrew, a parishioner of Christ the King Parish, said after the Lenten Holy Hour for the Carbondale Deanery on Feb. 22.

Ellen Marie Faliskie was particularly touched by the words Bishop Bambera shared during his homily.

“As the leader of our Diocese, he gives us the words and wisdom, as all priests do, to come closer to that connection with the Body of Christ,” Faliskie said. “He gave us four great steps to what the Body of Christ is, and we continue to reflect on that, especially during this Lenten time to become closer to Christ.”

Father Ryan Glenn, Pastor, Christ the King Parish, Archbald, and Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Parish, Jermyn, called the Lenten Holy Hour at his parish a “gift” that drew parishioners together.

“The more that we have opportunities to emphasize what we believe … there will be this growing appreciation and this deepening belief that Christ is truly alive and He’s truly present in the Eucharist,” Father Glenn explained.