PLAINS – Parishioners of Saints Peter and Paul Parish celebrated a century of faith and service on Sunday, June 25, 2023, as they welcomed the Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, for a special 100th anniversary celebration Mass.

Hundreds of people attended the 10:30 a.m. liturgy that was followed by a reception in Bernardine Hall.

Parishioners of Saints Peter and Paul Parish in Plains gathered to celebrate the 100th anniversary of their church building on Sunday, June 25, 2023.

“It’s a real privilege for me to join with this community of believers, this great community of faith, here at Saints Peter and Paul Parish,” Bishop Bambera said as he began the Eucharistic celebration.

During his homily, Bishop Bambera reminded the people that while it is fitting to mark the 100-year anniversary of the grand edifice of Saints Peter and Paul Church, it is much more important to treasure what has been done inside the walls of the church for the last century.

“We will celebrate not simply a sign or a symbol but the power and presence and reality of God here in our midst through this incredible Sacrament of Jesus’ Body and Blood,” the bishop said.

Like everyone in attendance, Bishop Bambera has many memories in the church.

His great uncle, Msgr. Joseph Pilny, served as pastor of Saints Peter and Paul Church for 47 years before retiring in 1973. As a young man he attended baptisms, weddings and even the funeral of his great grandmother in the church.

“As we recall events that have taken place within our lives in relationship to this church building, we recall certain people far more than a building, don’t we?” the bishop said. “Perhaps a pastor, a sister, a relative, a friend, and at the heart of such memories are likely to be found the deepest mystery of our faith – what we will do today in celebrating the Eucharist – the presence of Jesus among us.”

Bishop Bambera also rededicated the church’s altar as part of the Mass.

The parish community of Saints Peter and Paul wanted to celebrate the twelve churches that have come together over the last few decades that now make up its community of believers.

The churches include Saints Peter and Paul, Sacred Heart, Saint Joseph, Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Dominic, Saint Christopher, Holy Saviour, Saint Stanislaus Kostka, Saint John the Baptist, Blessed Sacrament, Sacred Heart of Jesus and Saint John the Evangelist.

In addition to remembering, Bishop Bambera challenged those in attendance to go forth and continue serving.

“Jesus commands us to use what we have been given in service of our brothers and sisters as He has given us an example. So go, at the end of this Mass, to do the work of God, as faithful parishioners of Saints Peter & Paul Parish have done as they left this church for 100 years,” he said.

Father John C. Lambert, pastor, thanked Bishop Bambera for helping the parish celebrate its important milestone.

“I just really want to thank you bishop for joining us today, it meant a great deal to all of us,” Father Lambert said.

WILKES-BARRE – One year after Saint Dominic Church held its final Mass, the building is still serving the needs of the community, albeit in a different way.

“We were glad that we were able to turn this beautiful structure into something that still is ‘church,’ it is still outreach, it is still ministry,” Laura Rudloff, organizer of Treasures, a clothing closet ministry operated by volunteers of Saints Peter & Paul Parish in Plains, said.

The former Saint Dominic Church building in Wilkes-Barre has become the new home of ‘Treasures,’ a clothing closet ministry operated by volunteers of Saints Peter & Paul Parish in Plains. (Photos/Eric Deabill)

Last fall, the former church building became the new location of Treasures, which supports hundreds of people in the community by providing clothes each year.

“We’re excited to be here,” Rudloff stated. “Individuals in any type of need can come. The community that we serve is vast. It is not just this immediate area. We help individuals from social services, Children & Youth, fire victims and police officers contact us when they find out people are in need of something. We have long arms.”

All of the clothing items in Treasures clothing closet are free. The pieces are donated by members of the community and are passed on to those in need.

“It is all about helping the community by giving them things that they need – clothes, shoes, coats – to people that are having difficulty,” volunteer Kathy Pilconis said.

Pilconis says the new space has been such a blessing for volunteers and the people being served.

“It is so much more open. We have areas where things can be divided the way they should be – men, women, adults, children. Shoppers are finding it a lot easier to shop. They can look around. We have more space. We have space where we can put shoes out that we didn’t have before,” she added.

“We’re able to show the clothing in more of a boutique setting. People like it. They like to come and shop. They like the surroundings. It is a really beautiful space,” Rudloff said.

After operating at Saints Peter & Paul Church in Plains for its first two years in existence, in 2020, the clothing closet moved to the former rectory of Saint Dominic Church on Austin Avenue in Wilkes-Barre because it needed more space. The ministry program has proven to be so necessary and vital to the community it quickly ran out of room again to sort, organize and display all of the clothing items donated.

By now being able to utilize the former church building itself, there is much more space available.

“It makes me teary,” Pilconis admitted. “It just feels good in this space for some reason. This is just an extension of what we’re supposed to do.”

“We enjoy being in this space. It has brought a whole new life to the volunteers as well. It was a boost to all of us. Everyone loves our job and we’re excited to come to volunteer every week,” Rudloff said.

Treasures is currently open on Monday evenings from 5-7 p.m. and Friday mornings from 10 a.m. until noon. On average, at least 20 people visit the clothing closet each day that it is open.

“We’re looking to be open on Wednesdays as well. That is how much need there is. That is in the works for the future,” Rudloff said. “The word has gotten out and we work with a lot of other churches.”