MOUNTAIN TOP – A new academic year is underway for thousands of Catholic school students across the Diocese of Scranton.

As children and young adults return to their studies, they are returning to 19 schools that prioritize strong academic programs, a commitment to faith and a family-centered community where love and respect abound.

Students from Saint Jude School in Mountain Top walk through the halls of their school.

At Saint Jude School in Mountain Top, students, faculty and families work together to create a special environment.

“The kids that are in my class, that have been here since kindergarten, are all very close,” seventh grader Hannah Fauerbach said.

Dedicated teachers play an important role in the success of each school.

They plan interactive STREAM activities, connecting science, technology, religion, engineering, arts and math, in lessons for all grade levels.

“We have a lot of activities in social studies, literature, English and science,” seventh grader Leah Smith said.

“I feel like they know each kid individually and they get to know their kids and they care about their children and my kids see that and they connect with the teachers and they have a special bond,” parent Rebecca Cabrera explained.

It is clear Christ is the reason for Saint Jude School.

Through artwork on display in the hallways, He is the unseen – but ever present – teacher in each classroom. Students are invited to become His disciples by praying daily and celebrating Mass weekly in neighboring Saint Jude Church.

“In the morning and in the afternoons we have prayers and then after lunch we have prayers,” seventh grader Elizabeth Bilbow said. “They really emphasize just how much religion means to us.”

“During Lent, every Friday, we do the Stations of the Cross and not many schools do that kind of stuff anymore so that just sets us apart,” fifth grader Robert Marcalus added.

Parents are also actively involved in the school.

Take for instance Saint Jude’s Field Day at the end of the 2022-23 academic year.

More than 70 parents volunteered to participate. There is never a project too big or too small that parents will not tackle.

“Things get done. Things come together. People want to make things happen and make a great place for our kids,” parent Jill Carone said.

The Diocesan Annual Appeal directly benefits all 19 Catholic schools in the Diocese of Scranton, including Saint Jude School.

Your gifts help each student learn that God is present and active in their lives.

With enrollment growing at Saint Jude School, Sister Ellen Fischer, school principal, says so do requests for tuition assistance.

“The (Diocesan Annual) Appeal is so important because the reality is, there are other families who want a Catholic education for their children, and the reality is sometimes they can’t quite afford it,” Sister Ellen said. “Donations to the school in various ways assists with making that a reality. We have to serve all God’s people.”

By your financial support of the Diocesan Annual Appeal, Saint Jude School can continue to be that warm, welcoming environment where even more students can come together to learn about and glorify God.

“We’ve got Saint Jude Spirit and we’re not afraid to show it and no one else can copy it!” sixth grader Rachel Atwal said.

SCRANTON – Recent renovations to Saint Anthony’s Haven, Scranton’s only year-round emergency shelter for both men and women, will not only improve the comfort of guests but will allow the facility to continue serving people with disabilities.

The facility, at 409 Olive St., recently created a new handicap entrance/exit, renovated both the men’s and women’s restrooms and the common areas and installed new cabinets and flooring in the shelter’s kitchen area. In the next phase of the project, which will be partially supported by American Rescue Plan Act grant funding from Lackawanna County, the building’s roof will be replaced.

A $30,000 grant from the Robert H. Spitz Foundation supported recent renovations at Saint Anthony’s Haven, Scranton’s only year-round emergency shelter for both men and women. Pictured at the check presentation are, from left: Cathy Fitzpatrick, Grants & Scholarship Manager, Scranton Area Community Foundation; Frank Caputo, Grants & Communications Coordinator, Scranton Area Community Foundation; Sandra Snyder, Diocesan Director of Foundation Relations and Special Events; and Laura Ducceschi, President/CEO, Scranton Area Community Foundation, Administrator of Robert H. Spitz Foundation.

The most recent work was completed with the help of the city of Scranton, local charitable foundations, including The Moses Taylor Foundation and the Robert H. Spitz Foundation, and a national funder, The Pulte Family Charitable Foundation.

Harry Lyons, program supervisor of Saint Anthony’s Haven, said the new handicap entrance was a critical need after a sale of half the building that resulted in renovations by the new owner removed access to a previous point of entry.

“It was really important for us to establish this new handicap entrance so we can serve everybody. We have a number of people who use walkers and wheelchairs,” Lyons explained. “I recently got a call from the VA about a gentleman with no legs who uses a motorized wheelchair, so having this project finished will now ensure we have the ability to accommodate him.”

Saint Anthony’s Haven can safely accommodate 20 men and six women each night.

In addition to overnight shelter, the facility provides two meals per day, shower and laundry facilities and supportive services.

The number of individuals experiencing homelessness who rely on Saint Anthony’s Haven has returned to levels previously experienced before the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2020, Saint Anthony’s Haven provided 4,371 individual nights of shelter to clients. In 2021, the number rose to 5,658, and in 2022 6,410 individual nights of shelter were provided.

“The Robert H. Spitz Foundation is focused on supporting programs that aim to break the cycle of poverty,” said Laura Ducceschi, president of the Scranton Area Community Foundation, which administers the Robert H. Spitz Foundation. “Supporting the renovation work at Saint Anthony’s Haven will help to better serve those populations in need of the facility’s services, and the Robert H. Spitz Foundation is proud to be able to help the community in this way.”

Robert H. Spitz Foundation funding also was used to replace the Olive Street entrance roof and help remove nine deteriorated and dangerous balconies from Saint James Manor, the building that houses Saint Anthony’s Haven.

The mission of Catholic Social Services of the Diocese of Scranton, which operates Saint Anthony’s Haven, is to serve individuals and families in poverty and advocate for dignity and self-sufficiency.

“We don’t want anyone left out in the street or left out in the cold,” Lyons added.

“We’re incredibly thankful for the grant funding we have received for this project,” Lyons stated. “Without the support of the community we would not be able to continue serving our brothers and sisters in the way that we do.”