CARBONDALE – For the last several months, Father Seth Wasnock has used one phrase more than most others when talking about the two parishes he leads.

The saying, ‘Building Disciples, Sharing Love,’ has been gaining traction amongst his parishioners in Lackawanna County’s Up Valley.

Father Seth Wasnock, V.F., celebrates the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Feast Mass on July 18, 2023, at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Carbondale.

During Lent, the pastor of Saint Rose of Lima Parish and Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish launched a new stewardship program focused on that theme. In just a short amount of time, the success has been noticeable!

“We would like to change the mentality that you just have to come to Mass on Sunday,” Father Seth said. “It is about having a relationship and encounter with Jesus Christ every day and how we go out and share that love and be the disciples that we are called to be through the gift of our Baptism.”

With the help of Our Sunday Visitor, a resource company that partners with parishes and dioceses, Father Seth spoke at Masses of the many ways people can use their time, talent and treasure to better both parishes. He also sent mailings to parishioners and posted videos on his parish website.

“We always have to look at the traditional three ‘t’s’ – time, talent and treasure – but also move into prayer, service and giving. How do we pray? How do we serve and how do we give?” he explained.

Parishioners have responded in all three ways!

“We had several new parishioners come forward to embark on new initiatives,” Father Seth said. “One was to reinvigorate our weekly Holy Hours. About 30 people have signed up to devote an hour of their time in front of the Blessed Sacrament. It is something that we had at Saint Rose and Our Lady of Mount Carmel in years past but COVID changed some of that.”

The stewardship program also led to the creation of a new Marian Society for the two parishes.

“The Marian Society is focusing on social, spiritual and service efforts. Members have come together from both parishes to host events,” he added. “We’re looking forward to the fall and maybe hosting a baby pantry, back to school Mass and grandparents day.”

More than 40 percent of parishioners (440 households total) also pledged to increase their charitable giving to their parish, pledging an additional $89,105 to Saint Rose of Lima and Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parishes combined over the next calendar year. Parishioners of the two parishes donated $13,105 in one-time financial gifts as well.

“The stewardship effort is really just a way of re-engaging people,” Father Seth added.

In the months ahead, the Carbondale pastor plans to highlight different parish ministries in the joint bulletin, put together a ‘State of the Parish’ report and help his pastoral council become more of a “mission advancement team.”

“It is so important that we look at how we interact with one another and how we go out, as we are commissioned, to be a disciple of Jesus Christ,” Father Seth ended by saying.


MOUNTAIN TOP – After publishing the financial report and parish life statistics for Saint Jude Parish in January and February respectively, Father Joseph Evanko, V.E., made a conscious effort to focus on stewardship efforts this past spring.

“It really allows us to continue to build upon the mission of what a parish is,” Father Evanko said. “It allows us to continue to create new ministries with how our pastoral plan guides us.”

Father Joseph Evanko, V.E., confirms a RCIA candidate during the Easter Vigil Mass in April at Saint Jude Parish in Mountain Top.

Using the theme, “United by the Eucharist,” Father Evanko invited his parishioners to recommit themselves to financially supporting his Mountain Top parish as well as dedicating their time and talents to the church by hosting a ministry fair.

“It was an awareness, first and foremost, as well as educational and formational in the sense of stewardship,” he explained. “We’re not just asking for money. We’re putting it in the context of what it means to be a disciple and a good steward of the gifts and resources God has given to us as a parish and as individuals.”

The ministry fair featured information and an invitation for parishioners to join Saint Jude’s more than 30 ministry programs, which include hospitality ministers, peer grief support group, rosary makers and children’s choir.

Nearly 40 percent of parishioners at Saint Jude Parish pledged to increase their weekly commitment to the church, which will allow Father Evanko and parish staff to be creative in developing new programs.

“Some of the money will be used to have our second ECHO apprentice from Notre Dame. We had such a great success with that program last year, so that helped us commit to a second ECHO apprentice and that whole program which has provided a lot of different ministries for us that we wouldn’t have otherwise,” Father Evanko explained.

Last year, the parish’s ECHO apprentice helped to create many young adult and young adult family programs.

“We will use some of this money to make sure that young adult/young adult family ministry continues to be developed and have further outreach,” Father Evanko added. “It gives us that ability to be creative with outreach of all different types.”

Saint Jude Parish also stresses inter-generational faith formation. The parish invested in ‘FORMED’ that brings Catholic video content to families and individuals.
“The increase in offertory is going to help us continue to pay for FORMED and then do spin-off faith formation. We’re trying to do that on an adult level, obviously at a religious education level, as well as men’s and women’s groups with more formation and offering spiritual retreats,” Father Evanko added.

As more people return to church after the COVID-19 pandemic, evangelization efforts are also top of mind.

“We’re talking about how to reach out to those people on the margins that have not come back from COVID, or are not coming to church, and how to evangelize them,” Father ended by saying.

TOWANDA – Hundreds of people have already taken the opportunity to grow closer to Jesus this Lent at a series of Holy Hours with the Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton.

If you have not had the opportunity to participate yet, there is still plenty of time!

As we approach the middle of Lent, nearly half of the 12 Holy Hours have already taken place in communities including Carbondale, Cresco, Montoursville, Towanda, Scranton and Wilkes-Barre. At least six more Lenten Holy Hours will take place before Holy Week begins.

Bishop Bambera celebrated a Lenten Holy Hour at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Montoursville on Wednesday, March 8, 2023.

The Lenten Holy Hours are being held to commemorate the diocesan phase of the National Eucharistic Revival, which has the goal of renewing the Church and enkindling a living relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist.

Below is a roundup of some of the Holy Hours that have taken place so far:


The Lenten Holy Hours began in the Carbondale deanery on Thursday, Feb. 23, the day after Ash Wednesday, at Saint Rose of Lima Parish.

“This Holy Hour is a great way to start, to begin, the first step, because every journey begins with the first step,” Rev. Seth Wasnock, pastor of Saint Rose of Lima and Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parishes, said.

“To have our Bishop here is just a wonderful experience,” Bernadette Lepre, parishioner of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish, explained.

Each Holy Hour begins with Solemn Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, followed by a period of silent, personal prayer.

“I feel that a Holy Hour is a time for me to have a one-to-one talk with the Lord, to sit and just think of what he wants me to do,” Joan Scavo, parishioner of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish, added.


The faithful of the Stroudsburg deanery gathered at Most Holy Trinity Parish in Cresco on Tuesday, Feb. 28.

“Anytime the Sacrament is exposed, it is a time to be with Christ and be closer to Christ and it’s especially important during Lent,” Michael Ziobro, parishioner of Most Holy Trinity Parish, said. “During our Lenten journey, we’re supposed to be spending more time in prayer and having more quiet time and getting ourselves together.”

Many feel the time is well spent.

“It’s a time of very quiet thought and prayer and this gives our community the opportunity to sit together with these solemn services and pray as we should during Lent,” Midge Barron, parishioner of Most Holy Trinity Parish, added. “The silence of it brings us closer to Christ and I think that is what makes it for me.”

“When the whole deanery is represented and we have multiple congregations joining as one, I think it adds a heightened sense of community to the prayer,” Cheryl Lynott, parishioner of Most Holy Trinity Parish, explained. “It invigorates all of us and I think it’s a special way to pay homage to the Lord.”


The faithful of Lycoming and Tioga counties joined together on Wednesday, March 8, at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Montoursville.

“To be here with the Bishop tonight is just so special to me. I’ve never ever been here with a Bishop,” Sharon O’Malley, parishioner of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, said.

As the faithful gazed upon the consecrated host on the altar – many said they prayed about the great mystery of God’s love revealed to us in Christ.

“A Holy Hour is a great way to slow down from the pace of life, which these days seems to be crazier than ever,” Keith Kuzio, parishioner of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, added. “It is time to just be with our Lord in His peace and His love and to feel the grace that comes to us from the Eucharist and His sacrifice for us.”

Rev. Michael S. McCormick, host pastor, said a Lent without Jesus is a waste of time but a Lent with Jesus is worth the world.

“It is such a glorious gift that He has given us and to know that He is with us, in Adoration, we know that He is there substantially. He’s really, really present – body, blood, soul and divinity,” Rev. McCormick said.


As Father Kevin Miller, dean of the Sayre Deanery, welcomed the faithful to Saints Peter & Paul Parish in Towanda, he encouraged people to let Jesus’ holiness penetrate their souls and minds.

“It’s wonderful because you put everything else out of your mind and you just are in the moment and journeying with Christ,” Karen Stroud, parishioner of Saints Peter & Paul Parish, said.

Some people who attended had never participated in a Holy Hour before.

“This was really the first Holy Hour I’ve attended,” Patti Meredith, parishioner of Saints Peter and Paul Parish, said. “I thought the sense of community, where people came from other towns and priests were here from other towns and the Bishop was here providing a beautiful message.”

The Holy Hour was also a family affair for the Tavani family, who attended together.
“I think it is always nice to spend time in front of the Blessed Sacrament. The opportunity is usually time for private, quiet, meditative prayer,” Heidi Tavani said.

For Heidi’s daughter, Hannah, the Holy Hour emphasized the universality of the Church.

“I think Lent is sometimes overemphasizing, ‘What are you giving up?’ I think sometimes the prayer aspect of Lent gets overlooked so I think having the opportunity to have a Holy Hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament, during Lent, before Easter, helps emphasize the importance of prayer, leading up to Easter,” she said.