WILKES-BARRE – Planning for the new, permanent home of Mother Teresa’s Haven, a shelter for homeless men operated by Catholic Social Services of the Diocese of Scranton, is now underway.

On Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2023, agency leaders toured the space above Saint Vincent de Paul Kitchen at 39 E. Jackson Street, which will soon be transformed into space that will be available for 20-24 men experiencing homelessness.

Harry Lyons, program director for Mother Teresa’s Haven shelter, center, leads a tour of the second floor of the Saint Vincent de Paul Kitchen building in Wilkes-Barre. This space will soon be transformed into the new, permanent location for the emergency shelter serving men experiencing homelessness. (Photos/Eric Deabill)

“I couldn’t be more excited about being here, seeing the space and getting in,” Harry Lyons, program director for Mother Teresa’s Haven, said. “There is a lot of potential here.”

In late April, the Wilkes-Barre zoning hearing board unanimously approved an application for a special exception to establish the shelter above the Kitchen.

“We have a very supportive community,” Joe Mahoney, Chief Executive Officer of Catholic Social Services, explained. “We met with the mayor. We met with the neighbors and met with King’s College. We have got all of this support but we need to make sure we keep talking to them.”

The second floor space that will be converted into the shelter was most recently occupied by a health clinic. The space, which is currently divided into several exam rooms, will need to be reconfigured to accommodate the needs of the shelter.

“We’re excited about opening up the walls so we can get some line of sight. We’re excited about having adequate bathroom space with showers. We don’t currently have showers or laundry facilities but both are a basic need, a dignity issue,” Lyons said.

For the last several years, Mother Teresa’s Haven has been utilizing space in the basement of Saint Mary’s Church of the Immaculate Conception at 134 S. Washington Street. Prior to that, the shelter had rotated between several churches in Wilkes-Barre.

Catholic Social Services leaders say having a permanent home for the shelter located directly above Saint Vincent de Paul Kitchen will also lead to better coordination of services for our brothers and sisters in need.

“We will be a one-stop shop, hopefully making our clients lives just a little bit easier,” Mahoney said. “Having a permanent home is going to be a big relief to our staff and the people we serve.”

“Mike Cianciotta, who runs Saint Vincent de Paul Kitchen, has been providing meals for us for several years. I work closely with Mike. The Kitchen is an amazing operation and we want people to be able to say that about us. We want that same feeling about what they do at the Kitchen to apply to us,” Lyons added.

The timeline needed for renovations is still being determined so there is no expected completion date. While hoping to get the work done quickly, Lyons says it can’t be rushed.

Your gifts to the Diocesan Annual Appeal each year help to support all of the work done by Catholic Social Services of the Diocese of Scranton.

“This is something we’ve been waiting for a long, long time,” he said. “Ten years ago, on my very first day we started talking about it. This has been a goal forever.”

WILKES-BARRE – Faculty, administrators, students and Catholic school families are fondly remembering Mrs. Doreen Dougherty, the principal of Holy Redeemer High School, who passed away on Aug. 20, 2023.

“On behalf of the Diocese of Scranton Catholic School System, I wish to extend my sincerest condolences to Dougherty family and to all members of our Holy Redeemer School Family,” Kristen Donohue, Diocesan Secretary for Catholic Education/Superintendent of Schools, said in a release sent to school families. ” Doreen had a lasting, positive impact on our Catholic schools and on all who knew her. I ask you to join me in praying for the Dougherty family and friends to find peace and strength during this time of incredible sadness.”

Dougherty, 54, of Shavertown, became principal of Holy Redeemer High School in 2019. She had also served as principal of All Saints Academy in Scranton.

Due to the passing of Mrs. Dougherty, the start of the Holy Redeemer High School academic year is being postponed by one week. 

The first day of school for freshmen will now be Tuesday, Sept. 5. The first full day of school for all students will now be Wednesday, Sept. 6. 

“We are all navigating this tumultuous time in different ways, but together, in God’s grace, we will move forward as one Royal community,” Holy Redeemer Vice Principal Cody Opalka said.

Funeral arrangements are as follows:

Viewing: Thursday, August 24, 2023

4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Holy Redeemer High School Auditorium

159 S. Pennsylvania Blvd.

Wilkes-Barre, PA 18701

Funeral: Friday, August 25, 2023

Second Viewing: 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.

Funeral Mass at 10:00 a.m.

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish

116 Hughes Street

Swoyersville, PA 18704


Full Obituary for Mrs. Doreen Dougherty

Doreen Suzanne Dougherty, 54, of Shavertown, passed away peacefully Sunday morning, Aug. 20, 2023, at home, surrounded by her loving family.

Born April 15, 1969, in Kingston, Doreen was the daughter of Joseph Lipinski and Elaine Repak Lipinski. She was the valedictorian of Bishop O’Reilly High School, Class of 1987. Doreen continued her education at Marywood College and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in communications with a minor in marketing. After graduating, Doreen held multiple positions at WBRE, including programming director.

Following her motto, “Ohana,” meaning “family,” Doreen decided to leave her career to take on her biggest and most fulfilling role: raising her beautiful children. Being heavily involved as a volunteer at her children’s school led her to discover her passion for education. Doreen worked as an instructional aide at Regis Elementary and then Good Shepherd Academy while attending King’s College to earn her teaching certifications. She was later placed at All Saints Academy and continued to develop their Individualized Instruction Program, which always held a special place in her heart.

Always wanting to advance her career in education, Doreen returned to Marywood for her Master of Science degree in school leadership. Her unwavering dedication to Catholic education drove her to become the building principal of All Saints Academy. In the fall of 2019, Doreen was proud to be named the principal of Holy Redeemer High School. Both All Saints Academy and Holy Redeemer High School served as her second homes.

Doreen’s Catholic identity was evident to everyone she met. She was an active member of Holy Trinity Parish, Swoyersville, now consolidated into St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish. During her youth, she was a church organist and a member of the choir. Doreen became a member of the Confraternity of Christian Mothers and enjoyed attending their Christmas parties and Mother’s Day Teas with her mom, gramma and family. Also, she loved volunteering her time to the church bazaar each summer by running the theme basket stand.

Anyone who knew Doreen, knows family was everything to her. Doreen’s true love is her husband, Robert, with whom she would have celebrated 30 wonderful years of marriage in October. Together they built a beautiful family with four children. Her daughter, Shaina, was her best friend, shopping partner and biggest fan. Doreen inspired Shaina to work in the field of education and to also become a principal. Her sons, Robert and Devin emanate her compassionate nature as they both enter health care professions, ensuring their patients feel the same care and support Doreen radiated. Collin embodies Doreen’s infectious smile and her creative nature. She was proud of his pursuit toward a career in architecture and Collin currently attends Marywood University, like his mother.

Doreen never met a challenge she couldn’t overcome, and her competitiveness shone through in all that she did. She was an avid fan of the Green Bay Packers and enjoyed football Sundays and pizza nights at her parents’ house. Doreen relished in rousing games of Pictionary, Trivial Pursuit, Taboo, Parcheesi and more. She didn’t shy away from scaling a rock climbing wall at All Saints Academy or playing dodgeball with the girls’ basketball team at Holy Redeemer. As a former cheerleader, Doreen knew well how to motivate others, tirelessly supporting both her family and school communities academically and athletically. Doreen loved cheering on her All Saints Academy Knights and Holy Redeemer Royals, whether it was a sporting event, musical, award ceremony or talent show. She was driven to ensure every student can reach his or her fullest potential, just as if they were her own children.

She proudly shared a birthday with her father. She looked forward to yearly family vacations at Hilton Head Island in South Carolina, where she could be seen reading quietly near the water, collecting shells on the shore, playing soccer tennis on the beach or playing volleyball in the pool with all of her children, nieces and nephews. Doreen loved Christmas and considered it “the most wonderful time of the year.” She filled the Christmas season with many wonderful traditions including baking, decorating the tree, bayberry candles, matching pajamas and making Christmas day dinner for all of her family. She looked forward to curling up on the couch with her puppy, Bandit, to watch a Hallmark Christmas movie with a bowl of popcorn.

Doreen was preceded in death by her grandparents, Michael and Margaret Repak; and Joseph and Eleanor Lipinski; and father-in-law and mother-in-law, Joseph and Theresa Dougherty.

Left to cherish Doreen’s memory are her husband, Robert, Shavertown; daughter, Shaina Aquilina and her husband, John Patrick, Swoyersville; sons, Robert Dougherty and his wife, Alexis, Drums; Devin Dougherty and Collin Dougherty, both of Shavertown; her parents, Joseph and Elaine Lipinski, Swoyersville; sister, Leane DelBalso and her husband, Pat, and their three children, Patrick, Jillian and Brandon, all of Plains Twp.; brother, Joseph and his wife, Janicemarie and their three children, Joey, Nicholas and Hazel, Swoyersville; uncle, Michael Repak and his wife, Ann Marie, Larksville; Joseph Dougherty and his wife, Kathy, Dublin, Ohio, and their children, Meghan, Joseph and Kyle; John Dougherty and his wife, Kathleen, Kingston, and their children, Kylene, Brianne and John Anthony; Dennis Dougherty, Lake Ariel, and his children, Connor, Dana, and Ian; and Kevin Dougherty, Edwardsville.

Along with numerous great-nieces and great-nephews, cousins, aunts, uncles and friends, Doreen’s constant companion and loyal cuddle buddy, Bandit, will miss her infectious smile and loving presence.

Doreen’s family would like to extend all of our love and heartfelt gratitude to the many doctors, nurses, hospital staff and home health nurses who lovingly cared for her.

Relatives and friends are respectfully invited to attend Doreen’s viewing which will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday in Holy Redeemer High School Auditorium, 159 S. Pennsylvania Ave., Wilkes-Barre.

Funeral services for Doreen will begin with an additional viewing from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. Friday in St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, 116 Hughes St., Swoyersville, followed by a con-celebrated Mass of Christian Burial at 10 a.m. The Rev. Joseph J. Pisaneschi, her pastor, will be the main celebrant; Monsignor David L. Tressler will serve as homilist; and the Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, D.D., J.C.L., Bishop of the Diocese of Scranton, will convey the Rite of Final Commendation.

Interment with the Rite of Committal will follow in St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Cemetery, Swoyersville.

Funeral arrangements for the Dougherty family have been entrusted to the care of Wroblewski Funeral Home Inc., 1442 Wyoming Ave., Forty Fort.

To share a message of condolence with Doreen’s family, you may visit the funeral home’s website, www.wroblewskifuneralhome.com, or Facebook page.

In lieu of flowers, Doreen’s family asks that you consider making a donation which will be used toward a memorial scholarship fund in her honor. Donations can be made by visiting https://www.luzfdn.org/types-of-funds/ and clicking on the Doreen S. Dougherty Memorial Scholarship Fund or mail your donation to: The Doreen S. Dougherty Memorial Scholarship Fund, c/o The Luzerne Foundation, 34 S. River St., Wilkes-Barre, PA 18702.

WILKES-BARRE – Mother Teresa’s Haven, a shelter for homeless men operated by Catholic Social Services of the Diocese of Scranton, will soon have a new, permanent home.

In late April, the Wilkes-Barre zoning hearing board unanimously approved an application for a special exception to establish a homeless shelter above Saint Vincent de Paul Kitchen at 39 E. Jackson Street.

Mother Teresa’s Haven homeless shelter will soon be relocating to the area above Saint Vincent de Paul Kitchen in Wilkes-Barre.

“The shelter has been nomadic since its inception in the 1980s. When Catholic Social Services took over more than a decade ago, we started talking about a permanent location,” Harry Lyons, program director for Mother Teresa’s Haven, said. “You need a permanent location so you have the ability to offer these men showers and somewhere they can send their mail.”

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mother Teresa’s Haven had been located in the basement of Saint Mary’s Church of the Immaculate Conception at 134 S. Washington Street. Prior to that, the shelter had rotated between several churches in Wilkes-Barre.

“We’re grateful to the churches that have supported us all these years but it is time for us to take the next step and provide better services to the men,” Lyons added. “Saint Mary’s was not meant to be a long-term solution. It is a beautiful space and we’re absolutely grateful for it but it was never meant to be a long-term solution.”

In 2022, Mother Teresa’s Haven provided 5,838 individual nights of shelter to men in the community who are experiencing homelessness. That is the highest number of clients served in more than six years.

When the emergency shelter moves into its new location, it will be able to house 20 to 24 men each night. It would be open 5 p.m. to 7 a.m. daily and would be fully staffed. Security will be provided. Men are able to stay at the shelter a maximum of 30 days and can be granted a 15-day extension if they are taking steps to improve their condition.

“We’re optimistic about the future. The better services we can provide, hopefully the quicker somebody can get through a bout of homelessness. That is the ultimate goal, to get people to self-sufficiency, getting them into a place that is safe, stable and affordable,” Lyons explained.

The new, permanent location will allow Catholic Social Services to offer beds to clients instead of cots and will be beneficial for integrating services in one location.
“It makes sense to have the shelter and Saint Vincent de Paul Kitchen right next to each other so people don’t have to wander around downtown as much,” Joe Mahoney, Chief Executive Officer of Catholic Social Services, said during the Wilkes-Barre zoning board meeting. “The more we can provide services in that one location, the better off we’re going to be, the better off our clients are going to be, and the better off the community is going to be.”

Renovation work is expected to begin on the new, permanent location for Mother Teresa’s Haven by late summer or early fall. An expected completion date is not yet known but Catholic Social Services does not anticipate any interruption of services for the men they serve during the transition process.

WILKES-BARRE – During the Season of Lent, the faithful of Our Lady of Hope Parish have not only been focusing on prayer and fasting – but also almsgiving – and young people in their community will directly benefit.

As Holy Week approached, dozens of bags filled with soap, shampoo, toothbrushes and more filled the side of the Park Avenue church as parishioners continued donating hygiene products for those in need.

Father John Terry, pastor, Our Lady of Hope Parish, Wilkes-Barre, looks over hygiene items donated by parishioners during the Lenten Season. The items will all be distributed to local young people in the community. (Photo/Eric Deabill)

“Every Lenten Season, we always have some encouragement for our people to be able to show some form of almsgiving, the sharing of what they have,” Father John Terry, pastor, said. “Over the years, we’ve always tried to figure out who is in need in our area.”

The parish’s Social Concerns Committee helped spearhead the collection – which will benefit local teenagers.

“As we went along, it went from basic things like toothpaste and shampoo and underarm deodorant to other things as well, like items for young boys and girls going through the change of life,” Father Terry added. “Our parishioners were most responsive. This is a very fine community of people and they respond to all charitable outreach.”

Deacon Joseph DeViza is happy that so many people were generous in responding to the call to help.

“Our Social Concerns Committee has really come alive with all of this and it has been wonderful,” Deacon DeViza said. “It is one person caring for another.”

Deacon DeViza knows first-hand the needs that many local teenagers face having previously worked at the Children’s Service Center in Wilkes-Barre.

“When kids are being supported by community structures, such as this parish community, it makes a big difference,” he added. “The more support that teenagers and families can get, the better off they’re going to be in the long run.”

While Our Lady of Hope Parish is no stranger to helping its community, its leadership is encouraging other religious and charitable groups to join them in providing a helping hand to young people.

“We’ve planted a seed and it is beginning to grow and flower and blossom. It is something really nice and beautiful for our children,” Father Terry said.