SCRANTON – With the cost of groceries, fuel and other household expenses continuing to rise, Christine Ward has often found herself in need of a helping hand.

She is very thankful for the dedicated volunteers of Saint Paul Parish in Scranton’s Green Ridge section, who operate a parish food pantry every Friday from the basement of Saint Clare Church.

“It is very important. We come twice a month and there is a lot of stuff that you can choose. They have a lot of choices,” Ward said.

Christine Ward of Scranton expresses her gratitude to the volunteers who operate the Saint Paul Parish food pantry on a weekly basis. The parish received a $5,000 Social Justice Grant this year from the Diocesan Annual Appeal to serve its community. (Photo/Dan Gallagher)

The pantry has seen its numbers skyrocket in recent years.

“People fall through the cracks every day that never thought they would fall between the cracks and sometimes we don’t recognize, just in the general public around us, who those people are,” food pantry volunteer Noreen Rowland said.

Ward says the volunteers are courteous and respectful and really want to help their community.

“It’s actually good to come here because you get there and they ask you what you want. You can choose what you want – like Corn Flakes or any kind of cereal – and then you can choose your coffee, hot chocolate, tea, fruits and all different things,” Ward added.

In just the last year, Saint Paul Parish food pantry volunteers distributed more than 22,500 pounds of food.

Barbara Burkhouse, who has helped coordinate distribution efforts for the last 16 years, says the food pantry might have helped only five families a week in the past.

Now, the number of families helped each week is usually upwards of 25 families.

“They have increased significantly this year. We could see that as some of the benefits that were being given to people were cut back,” Burkhouse explained.

While supported by parishioner donations and area businesses, gifts to the Diocesan Annual Appeal also play a critical role in helping the Saint Paul Parish food pantry fulfill its mission.

The parish is one of 24 parishes that has received a Social Justice Grant from the Diocesan Annual Appeal this year. The parish also received a grant for its food pantry in 2022.

The $5,000 grant that the parish requested directly helps people in their local community.

“It is amazing. We use every penny we get our hands on. With the grant, we do a lot of meat and seafood coupons. We actually give people a $20 meat/seafood coupon once a month so they can go to Gerrity’s and pick out their own choice. That is really appreciated,” Jody Maloney, co-coordinator of the Saint Paul Parish food pantry, said.

“The Diocesan grant, the $5,000, is extremely important to us and we’re delighted to receive it,” Burkhouse added.

As you consider how you are called to serve others, think about your brothers and sisters who receive a helping hand from the dedicated volunteers at the Saint Paul Parish food pantry.

“There are many clients that really rely on this and we see so many people that are raising grandchildren,” food pantry volunteer Kathleen Manley said. “Some of them are very outspoken as to just how grateful they are!”

ROCK LAKE – With a celebration as big as a 185th anniversary – the joy simply could not be contained to just one weekend!

Parishioners of Saint Juliana Church came together on two consecutive weekends in August to mark the dedication of their beloved house of worship in northern Wayne County.

The first – and largest celebration – was held on Saturday, Aug. 19 as part of the church’s annual “Rock Lake Picnic.” The church picnic, originating as early as 1838, has been held annually to financially support the church’s construction and upkeep.

Festivities included a traditional turkey and ham dinner, along with other food, children’s games and art, live music throughout the day, a huge finder’s market, homemade bake sale and raffles.

Participating in the Aug. 19, 2023 anniversary Mass at Saint Juliana Church are, Rev. Joseph Mosley, Deacon Carl Albright, Rev. Arun Lakra, pastor, Rev. Patrick Albert and Rev. Seth Wasnock.

Reverend Arun Lakra, pastor of Saint Katharine Drexel Parish, celebrated Mass at 5:30 p.m. in the church.

Concelebrating the liturgy were Rev. Patrick Albert, pastor of the parish from 2005-2015, as well as Rev. Seth Wasnock and Rev. Joseph Mosley, pastor and senior priest from Saint Rose of Lima Parish and Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Carbondale.

In his homily, Father Arun quoted Psalm 118:24, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

Father spoke of rejoicing with gladness for the beautiful day that was provided along with the blessing of past priests, friends, relatives and neighbors. He stressed that as individuals, families, a parish and community, “we are one.”

Reminding those in attendance of the unconditional love that God has for each of us, Father Arun said we are called to share the joy and blessings we receive.

His final question to parishioners – “Do I recognize the blessings of God in my life and am I grateful to Him?” – challenged those in the crowd to reflect on the many gifts they are given.

Parishioner Jim Biondo expressed gratitude for the presence of the priests and Deacon Carl Albright and provided a warm welcome to all attending the picnic Mass.

Biondo let those present know of how the picnic team and parishioners are mindful of, grateful for, and in awe of the sacrifices of those who came before them. He honored the pride and dedication of all the picnic volunteers and thanked the parishioners and friends of Saint Juliana Church who helped to make her “shine again.”

The Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, was present at Saint Juliana Church on Sunday, Aug. 27, to celebrate the church’s 185th anniversary.

He recalled visiting Saint Juliana’s for the Sacrament of Confirmation and commented that his father hunted in nearby Rileyville and had probably attended Mass at Saint Juliana’s as a young boy.

The bishop’s homily reflected on 185 years of faith being proclaimed and professed in this little corner of God’s kingdom, which was established 30 years before the Diocese of Scranton itself. He urged people to reflect less upon the building and more upon the celebration of the very presence of Jesus.

Bishop Bambera commented upon the fact that the Sacrament of the Eucharist has been celebrated in this area for nearly 200 years and asked parishioners to recall the people who once journeyed with them in faith and those who continue to walk the same journey.

The bishop invited parishioners to give thanks for the opportunity to share in Christ’s work by building up the Body of Christ, in living and proclaiming the Gospel message, reminding those in attendance, that as people of faith, they have cared for, consoled and celebrated with each other and have reason to be thankful.

“If we look carefully, we will see the result of Jesus in our hearts when we see people serving others by becoming the hands, hearts and voice of Christ,” Bishop Bambera said. “This church is a blessed opportunity for mercy and forgiveness. The power of Christ is in the church. This celebration reminds us that we gather for a mission. We gather to be fortified and to go forth to proclaim the Gospel and live in peace. The light of Christ has shown brightly in this community for 185 years. The power and presence of God is at the heart of who we are as Christians. We must have gratitude and hope for all that has been and all that will continue to be, in the grace of God present in our midst.”

After Mass, Bishop Bambera was warmly received by parishioners at a reception within the walls of the original horse and buggy barn, build in 1855. He graciously visited with all present and in departing, left them with smiles and fond memories.