SCRANTON – In less than one week an expected 1.5 million young Catholics will descend on the capital city of Portugal for World Youth Day 2023. Among them will be 21 pilgrims from the Diocese of Scranton.

World Youth Day 2023 is scheduled to take place in Lisbon, Aug. 1-6, and the motto for this year’s event is a passage from Luke’s Gospel: “Mary arose and went with haste.”

Diocesan pilgrims who will be attending World Youth Day 2023 gathered for a retreat on June 11 at the Diocesan Pastoral Center in Scranton.

As a part of their trip, those young people and chaperones in the Diocese of Scranton delegation will also visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima.

“Our Diocesan delegation will visit the site of the apparitions and the miracle of Fatima. We’re also going to visit the Shrine of the Eucharistic Miracle of Santarem which is exciting and then we’re going to dive into the experiences of World Youth Day themselves,” Shannon Kowalski, Diocesan Director of Service and Mission, said.

Only six of the pilgrims from the Diocese of Scranton have attended World Youth Day before.

“It is certainly exciting for me because this will be my first time attending World Youth Day,” seminarian Jacob Mutchler said. “I’m very much interested and excited to visit Fatima. I think that it is going to be a very powerful experience. I think we can expect a very powerful experience having people from all parts of the world coming together to share their faith and worship the Lord and really grow in their relationship with Him.”

Maggie Guarnieri of Pittston, a parishioner of Saint Maria Goretti Parish in Laflin, will be traveling with her two sisters.

“The fact that we all get to do this together is going to bring us even closer than we already are so I’m really excited for that,” Guarnieri explained. “I’m very excited to be incredibly present along the way and almost unplug from reality and be fully immersed in this experience.”

Pope Francis is expected to have nine events with young people, including hearing their confessions and eating lunch with them. He will arrive in Lisbon Aug. 2 where he will be welcomed by Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, president of Portugal and pray vespers with local bishops, priests, religious, seminarians and pastoral workers.

The highlight of the trip will come Aug. 6 when the pope will end his trip to Portugal by celebrating the closing Mass for World Youth Day along the Portuguese coast.

“I’m really excited to gather with so many young people from around the world and also just to see Pope Francis. I think he has such a calling for young people to get involved in the church,” Tommy Flynn, Director of Youth and Family Ministry at Saint John the Evangelist and Saint Joseph Marello Parishes in Pittston, stated.

Pope Francis has called World Youth Day an antidote against indifference, isolation and lethargy.

“This is a great opportunity for young people around the world to see that there are young people in the church and they’re not the church of the future but they’re the church of today,” Flynn added.

At 23, Flynn says he will be excited to take the energy and excitement he experiences and bring it back home.

“Even if we don’t experience Mass in the same language, it is still a Mass to everyone and we know the special things that happen during Mass,” Flynn said. “I’m just really excited to get to know some of the other pilgrims from across the diocese, across the world and deepen my faith a little bit.”

Kowalski, who has been planning the pilgrimage for several years, echoes those sentiments.

“There is just no other experience like it. There is no way you can go to World Youth Day and not come back a changed person. There are literally millions of people from all over the world – United States, Europe, Asia, Africa – all coming together for the same reason,” Kowalski explained. “They want to have an experience of faith rooted in the Catholic experience, to pray with our Holy Father, Pope Francis, to learn more about our faith and to take advantage of the Sacraments.”

Following their experiences at World Youth Day 2023, many of the Diocese of Scranton pilgrims will also visit Barcelona, Spain, to visit the Basilica de la Sagrada Familia before returning home to the United States.

SCRANTON – The Cathedral of Saint Peter will be the setting on Saturday, June 24, 2023, as Reverend Mr. Michael J. Boris is ordained to the Order of the Priesthood for service in the Diocese of Scranton.

The Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, will serve as ordaining prelate for the Mass that will be celebrated at 10 a.m.

The public is welcome and encouraged to attend the Ordination Mass.

CTV: Catholic Television of the Diocese of Scranton will broadcast the Mass live and provide livestreaming on the Diocese of Scranton’s website, YouTube channel and social media platforms.

Boris, a native of Dallas, was ordained a transitional deacon in 2022 and is now ready to take his final steps toward priestly ordination.

“I’m very excited, a little nervous, of course, but that is natural,” Boris said. “I feel a lot of peace about my discernment and all of the great work that the Diocese has done for me.”

Boris, 27, is the son of Joseph and Susan Boris. He is a graduate of Holy Redeemer High School and King’s College where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Theology and Philosophy. Boris entered Saint Mary’s Seminary and University in the fall of 2018 and completed his studies this May.

“Saint Mary’s is a wonderful place. They helped me to pray and discern what God is calling me to do,” Boris explained.

During his priestly formation, Boris served a summer assignment in 2019 in the parish communities of Holy Cross Parish, Olyphant, and Blessed Sacrament Parish, Throop. He also served a pastoral year (2020-2021) in the parish communities of Saint Rose of Lima Parish and Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish, both in Carbondale.

Boris said he never seriously considered the priesthood until he was a senior in high school and Father Don Williams, Vocations Director for the Diocese of Scranton at the time, met with potential candidates recommended by teachers. Following that conversation, Boris began attending more discernment events, followed by a retreat and he ultimately made the decision to enter seminary.

As he prepares for this next step in his Christian journey, Boris has been thinking back to what one of his seminary professors said shortly before the end of classes.

“He said a lot of things are going to happen in the next few weeks and months, you’ll be ordained and it will be easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle,” Boris said. “But he said don’t forget the amazing gift and power of the priesthood and that you’re being ordained to serve Christ and His Church.”

Boris adds he is thankful to all those who have supported him on this journey.

“Thank you for your prayers and support over the years,” he explained.

The Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, celebrates the Chrism Mass on April 4, 2023, at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton with priests, deacons and laity from around the Diocese of Scranton. (Photos/Mike Melisky)


SCRANTON — A brilliant spring afternoon was matched by the radiant joy emanating from the Cathedral of Saint Peter for the celebration of the Diocese of Scranton’s Chrism Mass on April 4, 2023 – Tuesday of the holiest week of the Christian calendar year.

While the heavens provided a most comfortable day for the venerable gathering, the Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, as principal celebrant and homilist, warmly welcomed to the Mother Church of the Diocese the hundreds of worshippers of all ages who turned out for the annual Eucharistic liturgy concelebrated by the priests ministering in the 11-county local Church.

The traditional Holy Week observance and gathering of the priests of the Diocese — customarily the largest of its kind each year — celebrates their clerical brotherhood and shared divine vocation.

During the Mass, priests and deacons, along with lay representatives from Diocesan parishes, acknowledge the Bishop’s role as the unifying symbol for Church governance and pastoral guidance.

All of the priests also recommit themselves to their office by renewing the promises they made on the day of their ordination to the priesthood, including their vow of obedience to the Bishop.

Before saying the Prayer of Consecration of the Chrism Oil, Bishop Bambera breathes upon the opening of the vessel.

Father Paschal Mbagwu, who serves as administrator of Saint Maximilian Kolbe Parish in Pocono Pines, said prior to the liturgical celebration, “The Chrism Mass is so important since it shows the unity and communion in the Church. It is very symbolic of the oneness Christ prayed for under one shepherd — our Bishop.”

Holding to age-old tradition, the Mass is highlighted by the blessing of the Holy Oils used during the conferral of sacraments throughout the Church year. They include the Sacred Chrism, the Oil of the Sick, and the Oil of Catechumens, which are used in the celebration of Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Orders, the Anointing of the Sick, and the Rites of the Catechumenate.

As he joins Bishop Bambera in celebrating his 40th anniversary of ordination this year, Father Don Williams, pastor of Saint Matthew Parish, Stroudsburg, noted, “By being here today we bring everything together in this beautiful gathering of clergy, deacons, women and men religious, and laity.”

Father Williams continued by emphasizing the importance of the renewal of priestly vows that the Chrism Mass affords the concelebrants.

“It is always very special how the blessed oils go out to the four corners of the Diocese with the priests, who are sent forth to return to their parishes for the Sacred Triduum and the celebration of Easter,” he added.

In addressing the faithful during his homily, Bishop Bambera implored all to heed Jesus’ words from Saint Luke’s Gospel that had just been proclaimed: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; therefore he has anointed me. He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives, recovery of sight to the blind and release to prisoners, to announce a year of favor from the Lord.”

“The good news for us, brothers and sisters, is that the same Spirit that set Jesus apart for mission during his inaugural address in the synagogue of Nazareth rests upon us as well,” the Bishop imparted. “We are not alone on this journey. Every experience, no matter how hopeful or challenging, is an opportunity for growth and a deepening of God’s life within us.”

Among the lay faithful in attendance was Jennifer Dunn, a member of Saint Robert Bellarmine Parish in Wilkes-Barre, who arrived early to participate in her first Chrism Mass.

“I am here to support the Diocese and our pastor, Father Richard Cirba, who has done so much for our parish and our community,” she said. “I’m honored to be here to support our Bishop. It is really humbling to be in the presence of all these great priests.”

Currently in his second year of formation for the Permanent Diaconate program, Frank Fanelli of Lackawaxen was invited, along with his wife Nancy, to be at their first Chrism Mass last year. “This Mass is just so impressive,” he said. “Even if we weren’t invited we would be coming back this year.”

Nancy added, “We’re just so honored and privileged to be here for such a great celebration, with all of the beautiful music.”

Sara Jenkins of Larksville and a parishioner at All Saints Parish, Plymouth, remarked, “It is really impressive to be able to see all the priests of the Diocese come together as one. It’s always great to experience the loud round of applause they receive on their way out of the Cathedral after Mass.”

SCRANTON – The Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, has announced that parishes may once again resume the practice of distributing the Precious Blood to the faithful at Masses beginning with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, April 6, 2023.

For the last three years during the COVID-19 pandemic, the distribution of the Precious Blood at Mass had been suspended out of an abundance of caution to protect the health and safety of the faithful.

In making his announcement, Bishop Bambera stressed that resuming the practice of distributing the Precious Blood to the faithful is at the discretion of the pastor, administrator or parish life coordinator.

Altar wine is is seen in this 2019 file photo. (CNS photo/Philippe Vaillancourt, Presence)

Not every parish may be ready to immediately resume this practice and Communion from the chalice was optional even before the pandemic. Some parishes may feel it is better to reintroduce the Precious Blood from the chalice gradually or even wait until after flu season is completely over.

As always, it is the choice of each individual whether to receive under both forms or under one form only. Those who receive under only one species are not deprived in any way of the fullness of the Lord’s Presence.

The Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown has also announced that its parishes may begin offering the Precious Blood at Masses beginning Holy Thursday as well.

Many other dioceses – including Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Youngstown, Ohio – have already lifted this restriction and have not seen any significant increases in viral transmission.

SCRANTON – Throughout the Diocese of Scranton’s 155-year history, teaching the Catholic faith to its young people has been one of its most fundamental missions.

To ensure Catholic school education will continue for decades to come, the Diocese of Scranton is launching “Our Faith. Our Students. Our Future.” – a new strategic growth planning process.

The process will build upon the many successes the 19 Catholic schools in the Diocese of Scranton have seen over the last few years and proactively address challenges along the way.

“As we examine our current state, we are poised and ready for this planning process and see it as an opportunity to make our extraordinary Catholic school education in the Diocese of Scranton available for generations to come,” Kristen Donohue, Diocesan Secretary of Catholic Education/Superintendent of Catholic Schools, said.

Over the last several years, Catholic schools in the Diocese of Scranton have distinguished themselves in several different ways. During the COVID-19 pandemic, students, families, educators, administrators and priests worked together to be innovative and became a benchmark for other schools to follow.

“In the safest learning environment possible, schools not only opened their doors for in-person education, but did so with compassion,” Donohue continued. “We continued to focus on allowing each student the opportunities to grow to his/her God-given potential. We continued to monitor academic growth through regular assessments, using this data to provide responsive and appropriately rigorous, differentiated instruction.”

It is from this position of strength that Diocesan Catholic schools will plan for the future.

“I am hopeful that when this process is complete, we won’t simply set goals and objectives for our 19 schools for the next five or 10 years,” the Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to continue to make Catholic education affordable and accessible to a new generation of students who we will welcome into our schools.”

Bishop Bambera is hopeful the strategic growth planning process will give everyone a voice in shaping the future. Whether it is through surveys, interviews, working groups or simply praying for the planning process, the bishop is hopeful everyone will participate.

“I want to stress that we are not going into this process with some preconceived ideas or plans to change or to reorganize our system. We did that already,” Bishop Bambera added. “Instead, we need to assess the current reality, we need to define what our priorities are and we need to continue to do everything we can to develop a strong, financially sustainable vision for our Catholic schools allowing them to remain vibrant and strong.”

For the last two years, enrollment in many Catholic schools has increased, so one of the challenges ahead is examining best practices for recruitment and retention of students and school families in order to continue seeing increases in enrollment.

Likewise, overall financial stability, addressing aging infrastructure, and recruiting and retaining dedicated teachers and administrators will be critical.

“We need to face our challenges with the same strength, creativity and confidence seen throughout the past four years,” Donohue noted.

The areas of focus for the strategic growth planning process will align with the National Standards and Benchmarks of Effective Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools: vibrant Catholic identity; academic excellence; governance, leadership and engagement; and operational vitality and financial stability.

The timeline for “Our Faith. Our Students. Our Future” will be divided into phases and take between one and two years to complete. The first phase involves data collection and analysis. The second phase focuses on the development of the strategic plan itself and the third phase involves implementation.

Bishop Bambera said the planning process will allow our Catholic schools an opportunity to grow, learn, change, improve, and move closer to the vision that God has for us.

“It’s important for us to look at where we are, to take this moment and be proactive, to reflect, to think, to pray and to plan for how we can be better – and how we can take where we are – and really carry it into the future,” he said.

Additional information and updates on “Our Faith. Our Students. Our Future” will be available on the Diocese of Scranton website as the process progresses.