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Diocese of Scranton News and Events


FROM THE OFFICE OF THE BISHOP

An important message from Bishop Bambera was shared at all Masses this weekend regarding upcoming changes for our parish and local Catholic community. As we move forward, we look forward to deepening our collaborative efforts with Saint Ann Parish. Together, we will more intentionally further the mission of Christ and His Church.

Please take a few moments to read the letter from Bishop Bambera to the parishioners of St. Boniface, St. Lawrence, and St. Ann's on the next steps of Vision 2030.

June 8 & 9, 2024
OFFICE OF THE BISHOP
Dear Parishioners of Saint Ann Parish,

Dear Parishioners of Saint Boniface Parish,

Dear Parishioners of Saint Lawrence Parish,

In our divided and polarized times, Jesus' message in today's Gospel for the Tenth Sunday in 
Ordinary Time could not be more fitting. He says, "If a kingdom is divided against itself, that 
kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to 
stand" (Mk 3:24-25). Later in the same passage, Jesus reminds us that we are all His brothers and 
sisters when He says, "For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother" (Mk 
3:35).
As brothers and sisters of Jesus, each one of us is invited to go out into the world, proclaim the 
Good News, and bring about His Kingdom with confidence and joy.
Over the last several years, I have been happy to see how closely the Catholic parishes in Lycoming 
County have been working together. From your collaboration on shared ministry projects like last 
weekend's Corpus Christi procession, to Vacation Bible School, to youth ministry trips and 
conferences, and even sharing schedules for your churches on Holy Days of Obligation and holidays, 
your partnerships are extremely important. Your hard work is already helping people to come 
together as "one body," drawing strength from our shared faith and the knowledge that we are not 
alone on this journey.
As I hope you are ,aware, four years ago, the Diocese of Scranton began its Vision 2030 Pastoral 
Planning Process to look proactively at the realities of our local church in the present moment, 
while striving to meet the opportunities and challenges of the coming decade. The goal is to create 
vibrant parish communities rooted in the life of Jesus Christ.
Like the message we hear in this weekend's Gospel, as the Church of Scranton strives to be 
"mission-driven," we must all work together in a way that we best live out our baptismal calling in 
a world- and local environment - that continues to change. Our Church faces significant challenges, among 
which are a fewer number of parishioners, financial sustainability questions, facility 
infrastructure needs and a diminishing number of ordained priests.
With this in mind, and in recognition of all our Church faces, and after consultation with the 
priests of the Williamsport Deanery, your Pastor/Parish Administrator, as well as an initial 
conversation with your Parish Pastoral and Finance Council members, I am directing that the 
parishes of Saint Ann, Saint Boniface and Saint Lawrence, begin working together in a more cohesive 
and specific way over the next year. As we look toward the future, I am proposing a two-phase plan 
to create a hope-filled future with more opportunities for enhanced ministry and outreach in the 
Williamsport area.
Phase I: Consolidation of Saint Boniface & Saint Lawrence Parishes in Fall 2024
For more than a decade, Saint Boniface Parish, Williamsport, and Saint Lawrence Parish, South 
Williamsport, have been successfully working together in a linkage with a single Pastor. Over that 
time, the two parishes have created a joint staff, joint bulletin and website, launched a combined 
religious education program, have worked together on many ministry projects, and have been 
utilizing a Joint Pastoral Council for the last three years.
Because both parishes remain independent in a linkage, they must each have their own Finance 
Council and the administrative and financial work can often be redundant.
By entering into a consolidation later this year, Saint Boniface and Saint Lawrence will be poised 
to combine the resources of their two parishes and actively create a new entity for the betterment 
of all parishioners.

Phase II: Linkage of the Newly Consolidated Parish of Saint Boniface & Saint Lawrence with Saint 
Ann Parish beginning July 1, 2025

The Diocese of Scranton is currently blessed to have 87 active Diocesan priests - but within just 
six years - is facing the known retirement of 24 men - not factoring in the possibility of someone 
else getting sick or leaving ministry. While we currently have ten young men discerning the 
priesthood, including one who will be ordained at the end of this month, and numerous international 
priests to minister locally, one of the most pressing challenges we face in ensuring the Church is 
vibrant and present for future generations is a diminishing number of ordained priests to serve all 
of our 11 counties.
Knowing the significant challenges we face with clergy, when Father Shawn Simchock became 
Administrator Pro Tern of Saint Ann Parish in September 2023, his assignment was not meant to be 
long­ term or permanent. As such, I have asked Father McCreary, Pastor of Saint Boniface & Saint 
Lawrence Parishes, and Father Simchock to begin partnering together in a more intentional way with 
the goal of establishing a new linkage by July 1, 2025. Announcing this plan well ahead of time 
will allow plenty of time for collaboration and consultation with all the faithful, and will 
proactively work to address future pastoral needs of each parish community. There will certainly be 
questions and choices that will need prayerful discernment as this linkage takes shape, but please 
know Diocesan professionals in pastoral formation, financial planning, communication and 
engineering are ready to assist in any way necessary.
It is critical to stress that neither a linkage, nor a consolidation, means the immediate closure 
of any church building, but discussions may lead to that at some point in the future after serious 
study and prayer centered around the reality of finances, Mass attendance, community demographics 
and infrastructure needs. At this point, what is most important is that all parishioners (of all 
three parishes) have the opportunity to voice their thoughts, dreams and hopes for the future with 
your parish leadership teams.
While I know change is never easy, be assured of my deep gratitude for all that you and your 
families have shared, and continue to share, in furthering the mission of the Church. Let us 
embrace the opportunity to forge new connections and deepen existing relationships. As you know, 
our mission is to take Christ into the world. I am confident that by working together we can "Go 
into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature" (Mk 16:15).
Be assured that you are in my prayers as this process towards a new hope-filled future begins.

Faithfully yours fo Christ,


Most Reverend.Joseph C. Bambera, D.D., J.C.L. Bishop of Scranton     •
DIOCESE OF SCRANTON
300 WYOMING AVENUE
SCRANTON, PENNSYLVANIA 18503-1279

 


 

December 20, 2023 Statement of the Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, on Declaration, Fiducia Supplicans

On Monday, December 18, 2023, the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith issued the Declaration, “Fiducia Supplicans” (“Supplicating Trust”) which was approved by Pope Francis.

In response to the Declaration’s release, the Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, issued the following statement:

“With the approval of Pope Francis, the Dicastery of the Doctrine of the Faith issued the Declaration, Fiducia Supplicans, on Monday, December 18, 2023. The Declaration clarifies that there are forms of blessings within the Church and recounted throughout the Sacred Scriptures, which are ‘poured out on others as a gesture of grace, protection, and goodness’ (18).

“The Diocese of Scranton is guided by the teachings of the Holy Father, and I invite all people of good will to join me in reading, praying, and reflecting upon the new Declaration, which carefully distinguishes between liturgical (sacramental) blessings and pastoral blessings, which may be spontaneous or personal.

“As evangelizers, we desire to bring the love and Good News of Jesus to every person, yet we know many people struggle to encounter God in their lives for one reason or another. Blessings, therefore, offer all people ‘an invitation to draw ever closer to the love of Christ.’ (44)

“The Declaration is very clear that the Church’s teaching on marriage has not changed – clearly upholding the sacrament of marriage as between a man and a woman – and is also specific regarding the possibility and context of blessings for couples in irregular situations and for couples of the same sex.

“As the Declaration states, ‘this blessing should never be imparted in concurrence with the ceremonies of a civil union, and not even in connection with them. Nor can it be performed with any clothing, gestures, or words that are proper to a wedding,’ adding, ‘such a blessing may instead find its place in other contexts, such as a visit to a shrine, a meeting with a priest, a prayer recited in a group, or during a pilgrimage’ (39-40).

“The pastoral sensitivity being shown by Pope Francis in this new Declaration is evident and most understandable as it states, ‘when people ask for a blessing, an exhaustive moral analysis should not be placed as a precondition for conferring it. For those seeking a blessing should not be required to have prior moral perfection’ (25). To the contrary, the Declaration is intended ‘as a tribute to the faithful People of God, who worship the Lord with so many gestures of deep trust in his mercy and who, with this confidence, constantly come to seek a blessing from Mother Church.’

“May this Declaration enable all of us who seek to walk by faith to feel the closeness and compassion of God.”


National Eucharistic Revival

Initial resources for the Eucharistic Revival, including the document issued by the USCCB concerning the Revival,  The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church, can be found on the Eucharistic Revival website at this link.

Revival’s in the Air-AN EXCITING JOURNEY AHEAD

Our world is hurting. We all need healing, yet many of us are separated from the very source of our strength. Jesus Christ invites us to return to the source and summit of our faith in the celebration of the Eucharist. The National Eucharistic Revival is a movement to restore understanding and devotion to this great mystery here in the United States by helping us renew our worship of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.

Watch the video to learn more about the exciting journey ahead and how you can be a part of it!


Statement of the Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, on the Death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

“On behalf of the clergy, religious and faithful of the Diocese of Scranton, I join people around the world in offering prayers and sympathy on the passing of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

“Pope Emeritus Benedict will always be remembered as a great theologian-pope, not just because of the three encyclicals he wrote, but because of the intellectual precision he brought to all of his work, helping us to encounter God’s love and truth. For example, in Spe Salvi, (In hope we were saved), he beautifully stated that God is our foundation of hope, and it is his love alone that gives us the possibility of soberly persevering day by day.

“In addition to being a strong supporter of the Church in America, Benedict truly believed in fostering Christian unity as a fundamental priority of the worldwide Church. From dialoging with Lutherans to his work with Anglicans, he made many efforts to see Christians fully united.

“We give thanks to the Father for the great gift of Benedict as a priest, bishop, cardinal and Successor to Saint Peter. While much has been written about his historic renunciation, Benedict’s actions showed great humility, selflessness and courage as he determined he no longer had the physical strength for the demands of the papacy.

“On a personal level, I thank Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI for the trust and confidence he had in me when appointing me the tenth bishop of the Diocese of Scranton in February 2010. I will always treasure the opportunity to witness his humanity and devotion to Christ the following year during my first ad limina visit to the Vatican.

“I ask the people of the Diocese of Scranton to offer prayers for the peaceful repose of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s soul. May God grant him the gift of eternal life and bring comfort to those who mourn his passing.”


Bishop Joseph C. Bambera issues statement on COVID-19 vaccines

“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused tremendous grief and fear in our country and world over the last year, leaving more than 500,000 dead in the United States alone.

“I want to be clear and concise in my pastoral guidance regarding COVID-19 vaccines. Given the grave danger this virus poses, it is morally acceptable to receive any of the current COVID-19 vaccines that have been determined to be clinically safe and effective. This position is supported by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

“People should not delay getting a vaccine. Receiving a vaccine not only protects an individual’s health but also serves the common good by protecting the community – including the weak and vulnerable.

“While fully recognizing the complex moral and ethical issues involved in vaccine development, at this time, most people are not being given a true choice of which vaccine they receive, and likely won’t be able to make such a choice without a lengthy delay.

“Given that risk to public health, the faithful can in good conscience receive any of the current vaccines.”

To view the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s December 2020 Note on the Morality of Using some anti-COVID vaccines, please click here.

Faithfully yours in Christ,

†Joseph C. Bambera
Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, D.D., J.C.L.
Bishop of Scranton


To be vaccinated or not: Answering common questions for Catholics


Daily Masses From The Cathedral Of St. Peter

Private Masses will be celebrated daily in the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton, and made available on CTV: Catholic Television of the Diocese of Scranton.

On weekdays, the Mass will be broadcast at 12:10 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.

On weekends, the Saturday Vigil Mass will be broadcast at 4:00 p.m. and rebroadcast on Sunday morning at 10:00 a.m.

The Masses will also be streamed on the Diocese of Scranton’s website, made available on the Diocese of Scranton’s social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) and will be accessible on the Diocese of Scranton’s YouTube channel.


COVID-19 Resources


For a listing of all Diocesan and parish events, visit: Diocese Calendar


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