SCRANTON – The Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, presided over an Ecumenical Celebration of the Word of God on Jan. 19, 2023, at the Cathedral of Saint Peter.

Dozens of people from varying Christian denominations participated in the annual event that highlights the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in the Diocese of Scranton.

“As we gather in prayer during this Week of Christian Unity, we are reminded always of the Prayer of Jesus and we realize that Prayer is far from being fulfilled,” Bishop Bambera said near the conclusion of the Prayer Service. “May we see this time of Prayer as a reminder to us of what ‘can be’ as all that God calls us to be in Jesus Christ.”

Referencing this year’s theme, “Do Good; Seek Justice,” taken from the first chapter of Isaiah, the bishop alluded to divisions between Christian churches not being the way God intended for us to operate.

“May we resolve not only to pray, one with another, but may we resolve to work, to build up the Christian community through our acts of service and love for one another and the world in which we live.”

Proto Deacon Sergei Kapral, from Holy Resurrection Orthodox Cathedral in Wilkes-Barre, gave the sermon during the Prayer Service.

“Our prayer here today is what we believe. What we believe is how we pray,” he said.
The choir from Holy Rosary School in Duryea provided beautiful music for the Prayer Service. The young students enthusiastically took part in the program.

“We’ve been practicing for a couple weeks now. We practiced on the bus ride here. It was really exciting,” eighth grader Lauren Marranca said.

“I wasn’t expecting that many people. I thought it would just be the bishop and a few other people,” seventh grader Emma DeSanto added.

During the ‘Call to Gather,’ Monsignor Vincent J. Grimalia, Diocesan Coordinator for Ecumenism and Interfaith Relations, reminded everyone in attendance that by the waters of baptism we become members of the Body of Christ.

“We need God’s grace to overcome our divisions and to address systems and structures that have contributed to the fracturing of our communities. We gather to pray to reinforce the unity that we have as Christians,” he stated.

While meeting in the Vatican with an ecumenical delegation from Finland Jan. 19, Pope Francis also spoke about the importance of fully living the common call, shared by all Christians baptized in Christ.

“By proclaiming (the Gospel) together we rediscover ourselves as brothers and sisters” and bear witness to “the beauty of unity,” the pope told the delegation.
The sacrament of baptism, shared by Christians, reconciles an individual with God, he said, and in the same way, “we are called to be more and more reconciled with one another and to be agents of reconciliation in the world.”

The Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, presided over an Ecumenical Celebration of the Word of God Jan. 19, 2023, at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton as part of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Presenters at the Prayer Service included, from left: Reverend Rebecca Tanner, Presbyterian Church, USA; Reverend Rebecca Barnes, Pastor, Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church, Scranton, and President, Scranton Area Ministerium; Bishop Bambera; Most Reverend Anthony Mikovsky, Prime Bishop, Polish National Catholic Church, Scranton; Proto Deacon Sergei Kapral, Holy Resurrection Orthodox Cathedral, Wilkes-Barre; Pastor Dave Twiss, Assemblies of God Lead Pastor, Green Ridge Assembly of God Church, Scranton, Presbyter, North East Section of the Pennsylvania Delaware Ministry Network of the Assemblies of God; and Reverend Carmen Bolock, Ecumenical Officer for the Central Diocese of the Polish National Catholic Church. Also presenting, but not pictured, is Monsignor Vincent J. Grimalia, Coordinator for Ecumenism and Interfaith Relations, Diocese of Scranton and Coordinator of the Ecumenical Celebration.