Diocese of Scranton Coronavirus Update March 30, 2020
As you know, we are all living through challenging and unprecedented times. Today alone, an additional 693 people in our Commonwealth tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 4,087 individuals. The Pennsylvania Department of Health also reported 11 new deaths, bringing the statewide total to 48. These numbers are increasing dramatically each day. Governor Tom Wolf also announced today that all Pennsylvania schools will remain closed until further notice.
On Friday, March 27, 2020, Governor Wolf issued “stay-at-home” orders for several more counties in the territory of the Diocese of Scranton. To date, five of our 11 counties – Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe, Pike and Wayne – are now subject to significant restrictions regarding movement outside of the home. On Sunday, March 29, President Trump also extended his social distancing guidelines to April 30, 2020.
While the Diocese of Scranton covers a large geographic area and the impact of the coronavirus spread is currently uneven, particularly between the Diocese’s most eastern and western counties, I am providing you with updated directives for church access and the availability of clergy and staff. These updated directives are issued with the understanding that while Governor Wolf continues to regard faith based entities as “life-sustaining,” we must continually do our part in safeguarding the people entrusted to our care as well as ourselves.
To this end, Bishop Bambera offers the following directives:
Access to Churches for private, individual prayer:
At this time, the decision to maintain access to a parish Church remains a decision of the Pastor or the Parish Life Coordinator.
Some Churches, particularly in the eastern region of our Diocese, have already opted to close their doors completely. In such instances, Bishop Bambera will support these decisions.
Pastors and Parish Life Coordinators who have chosen to maintain access may continue to do so at this time but must regularly assess the usage by members of the faithful. Care must be taken to cordon off areas where the faithful can pray in order to facilitate daily sanitization. In addition to sanitization, signage must remind parishioners of CDC directives regarding hand washing and the use of hand sanitizer as well as the maximum number of individuals who can gather at one time (10 or less). If a Church is unable to reasonably sanitize those areas frequented by parishioners as well as door handles, etc., or maintain CDC authorized numbers of visitors for prayer, it should be closed immediately.
All public adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Holy Hours, devotional prayers and processions, indoors or outdoors, are suspended. It has been brought to my attention that a number of parishes continue to defy federal, state and diocesan directives by inviting parishioners to gather for particular prayer opportunities. Such gatherings are to cease immediately. Moreover, “private masses” should not include members of the parish who may be present in the Church for individual private prayer.
No funeral Masses or services, inclusive of those at funeral homes, are to be conducted. Priests, Deacons and Parish Life Coordinators may conduct grave-side burial services when appropriate for immediate family members only, mindful of the CDC guidelines for public gatherings.
Provisions are to be made for the celebration of Memorial Masses after the current healthcare crisis subsides.
Sacrament of Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick:
All public gatherings for the celebration of Confessions or the Anointing of the Sick, indoors or outdoors, are suspended.
In the gravest circumstances, priests may make themselves available for these sacraments, taking care to follow CDC guidelines for personal protection.
The faithful are encouraged to follow the directives of the Holy See regarding perfect contrition that have been communicated to you in our regular updates.
Sacrament of Baptism: The celebration of Baptism is to be suspended for the health and safety of all. In case of emergency (danger of death), the sacrament may be administered.
Sacrament of Matrimony: All weddings scheduled in the Diocese of Scranton are to be postponed until further notice. While churches may “hold open” the date of a scheduled wedding, whether the sacrament can be celebrated on that date will depend entirely on whether the restrictions have been lifted. Priests, Deacons and Parish Life Coordinators are encouraged to speak to each couple and share this information with them and if necessary assist them in the rescheduling of the wedding.
All directives regarding the celebration of Holy Week liturgies released on Tuesday, March 24, 2020 remain in place, with the following exception.
The distribution of palms on Palm Sunday is prohibited. While time honored and appreciated by many members of the faithful, the distribution of palms in any way risks the unnecessary spread of the coronavirus.
While these directives will no doubt further stretch you and many of your people, they are offered following a significant amount of consultation with our Deans, Episcopal Vicars and a number of other pastors who have shared their concerns during the past few days. Sadly, over the weekend, we learned of the first virus-related death of a priest from the Diocese of Brooklyn. Numerous priests and at least one bishop in the United States have tested positive for the virus. These directives are being enacted for the sole purpose of keeping you and your people as safe as possible.
May God bless and sustain you and your families during these challenging times. Keep safe and well.
DIOCESE OF SCRANTON ANNOUNCES CHANGES DUE TO CORONAVIRUS
Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord
March 25, 2020
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Four weeks ago today, Lent began with the celebration of Ash Wednesday and its cherished invitation to rend our hearts and return to the Lord. We embraced this holy season of penance, sacrifice and conversion, hoping and praying that as Lent annually carries us to Holy Week and Easter, our lives of faith would be renewed and reflect a bit more clearly the life and love of Jesus. On Ash Wednesday, none of us could have imagined the depth of sacrifice that the current health crisis would demand of us.
On March 16, 2020, I suspended the celebration of all public Masses in the eleven counties of the Diocese of Scranton. While so many of you expressed how heartbroken you were with this decision, you embraced it willingly in a spirit of faith and self-sacrifice in order that the Church could do its part in mitigating the spread of the coronavirus.
Today, sadly, we are called to sacrifice even further for the sake of serving one another in our battle against this dreaded disease. The cherished Liturgies of Holy Week and Easter – Palm Sunday, the Mass of the Lord’s Supper followed by Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion, the Great Vigil of Easter and Easter Sunday Masses – will all be celebrated privately, without all of you, the blessed faithful who make up the Diocese of Scranton – filling our churches as you have always done during these most sacred days. The Chrism Mass will be deferred to a later date when the current health crisis has passed.
While this ongoing pandemic is calling us to be socially distant from one another, it does not mean we need to be spiritually distant. I invite you and your family to join me in prayer as we renew our efforts to turn to the Lord. While not open to the public, all of our Holy Week liturgies at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton will be broadcast on CTV: Catholic Television and live-streamed on the Diocese of Scranton’s website and social media platforms. Many parishes will also plan to broadcast their own Masses.
As we seek to come to terms with this latest casualty of the coronavirus, I want to share with you a recent encouraging directive of the Holy See regarding the Sacrament of Reconciliation, firmly rooted in the traditions of our Church. With the increasing difficulty for individuals to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation due to the current health crisis, the faithful are reminded that by having perfect contrition, one can receive the forgiveness of sins apart from going to confession. Perfect contrition requires the following three things: a love of God above all else; a sincere desire for the forgiveness from sin; and the resolution to go to confession as soon as possible when this health crisis subsides. Please take consolation in knowing that while you may not have access to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the power and love of God is far greater than we can imagine. For all who sincerely express contrition, your sins are forgiven.
My friends, in so many respects, it seems that the disciplines of Lent will last a bit longer this year as we continue to sacrifice, to pray and to serve in unimaginable ways. Yet, through God’s grace, I hope that we can begin to see one of the blessings of this difficult moment in our lives. In the midst of this crisis, so many of you are responding generously and courageously to the Gospel invitation to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, sacrificing our own well-being and serving selflessly the lives that God places in our own.
As we confront the uncertainty of our future, may we recognize that our greatest hope has always been rooted in our embrace of the mystery of Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection – the heart of our faith as Christians. Good Friday, with its suffering and pain, always yields to power of Easter and its promise of life and peace! So too will this moment in our lives.
May God continue to bless you and your family and keep you safe.
Saint Joseph, pray for us!
Faithfully yours in Christ,
†Joseph C. Bambera
Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, D.D., J.C.L.
Bishop of Scranton
If you would like to read more from Pope Francis’ extraordinary moment of prayer on Friday click on this link:
Center for Disease Control
Pennsylvania Department of Health
Catholic Response to Outbreak of Coronavirus
World Health Organization
DO THE FIVE Help stop coronavirus
1 HANDS Wash them often
2 ELBOW Cough into it
3 FACE Don't touch it
4 SPACE Keep safe distance
5 HOME Stay if you can
SIX PARISHES IN LYCOMING COUNTY WORKING TOGETHER ON PROGRAM
**Made for More: Visions from the Promised Land postponed until October 15, 2020.
Six parishes in Lycoming County are joining forces for a special event during Lent and people from north central and northeastern Pennsylvania and beyond are invited to attend.
Saint Boniface Catholic Church, 326 Washington Boulevard, Williamsport, will host Made for More: Visions from the Promised Land on Tuesday, March 31, 2020.
The event will feature Christopher West, best-selling author, speaker and teacher, along with folk/Americana musician Mike Mangione.
"Where do we come from and where are we going? If we don't have compelling answers to these questions, we have no orientation in our lives," West said.
West is known around the world for his teaching of Saint John Paul II's "Theology of the Body." He is co-founder of the Theology of the Body Institute. Written by the late Pope John Paul II, the Theology of the Body offers an in-depth biblical exploration of the meaning of our creation as male and female in the divine image.
"We're taking people on a journey through some particular words of Christ. We start with: 'They look but do not see.' So we've been trained to look at the world, but not see it; to look at the human body, for instance, but not see it. All of creation has a message, and Jesus says, 'Come and become one who sees.' He's in the business of giving sight to the blind," West added.
Makenzie Conner, director of youth ministry for Saint Joseph the Worker Parish, says the program will include live music, videos, images and the spoken word.
"It will give you a greater understanding of what we are celebrating as Easter people and what we're looking for in the resurrection of Christ," Conner said about the timing of the program, which will be right before Holy Week.
Organizers are hoping for several hundred people to attend.
"My hope and goal personally for this event is that people attend, are open minded about it, gain something from it and then use that later in their everyday life or parish life," Conner added.
The evening is being hosted by Saint Joseph the Worker Parish in Williamsport and co-hosted by Saint Ann, Saint Boniface/Saint Lawrence and Immaculate Conception/Saint Luke parishes in Williamsport; The Church of the Resurrection Parish in Muncy; and Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Montoursville.
"Every pastor is fully committed and fully involved in the process of bringing Christopher West and Mike Mangione and the Made for More project here to Williamsport," Conner said. "We wanted to be able to bring an experience, not just a speaker or workshop, but an actual experience!"
The event is open to everyone in the community, not just Catholic parishioners.
Made for More: Visions of the Promised Land is a ticketed event. The cost to attend is $25 and tickets may be purchased at corproject.com/Williamsport.
Tickets may also be purchased by contacting any of the sponsoring parishes - or by contacting Makenzie Conner at (570) 323-9456 or emailing email@example.com.
6th Annual Diocese of Scranton Be a Man Catholic Men's Conference April 25 2020
***POSTPONED DATE TBA***
April 25, 2020 Sat., 8 am - 3:00 pm Holy Redeemer High School 159 South Pennsylvania Ave., Wilkes-Barre, PA
Called to Fatherhood: We challenge all men, regardless of their state, whether they be single, married or priests to explore how they can be good fathers in this increasingly fatherless society, to be the fathers that God has called us all to be.
Adoration, Reconciliation, Mass- Bishop Bambera, Exhibitors Speakers: Mike Aquilina • Fr. Glenn Sudano • Jim O'Day
Register Online: www.beamanconference.com/
DIOCESE SIGNS ADMISSIONS AGREEMENT WITH KING'S COLLEGE
Formalizing a decades-old relationship, officials from King's College and the Diocese of Scranton have signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will guarantee admission and a renewable four-year scholarship to graduates of the Diocese's four Catholic high schools who meet academic eligibility criteria.
Students who meet the criteria will receive a scholarship ranging from $14,000 to $22,000 per year, meaning the potential maximum four-year value would be between $56,000 and $88,000 to seniors.
"We are most grateful and appreciative for this opportunity for our students," Jason W.S. Morrison, Diocesan Secretary of Catholic Education and Chief Executive Officer, said.
Leadership from both King's College and the Diocese of Scranton Catholic School System participated in a signing ceremony on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, at the Diocesan Pastoral Center in Scranton.
"I was struck by your (King's) vision statement which talked about transforming hearts and minds with zeal and I think when we look at what the area needs and our society needs more than ever, to serve the common good, is transforming hearts and minds with zeal," Morrison said during the event.
Father John Ryan, C.S.C., President of King's College, signed the agreement on behalf of his school.
"It gives us a way to strengthen the relationship among and between our Catholic educational institutions. Our missions are really joined at the hip. We're really forming young women and men to be citizens of two areas: Citizens of Heaven and Citizens of Earth," Father Ryan said.
Under the agreement, King's College will guarantee admission to a vast majority of the College's academic programs and a four-year renewable scholarship to senior students from Holy Cross High School in Dunmore, Holy Redeemer High School in Wilkes-Barre, Notre Dame Jr./Sr. High School in East Stroudsburg, and Saint John Neumann Jr./Sr. High School in Williamsport.
Eligible students must have required minimum standardized test scores and a 2.75 or higher grade point average. Students meeting the GPA requirement have the option of applying to King's as test optional applicants.
Students who meet the criteria will receive a scholarship ranging from $14,000 and to $22,000 per year which is renewable each year for up to four years.
The student must maintain an appropriate, pre-determined GPA based on the value of the scholarship in order to renew annually.
Different grade-point-average and standardized test score requirements will apply to students applying for the King's Physician Assistant program and the College's engineering and nursing majors.
The agreement will take effect for students applying for admission starting with the 2020-21 academic year.
For more information on the admissions agreement, visit:
DIOCESE SIGNS ADMISSIONS AGREEMENT WITH UNIVERSITY OF SCRANTON
Graduates of the Diocese of Scranton's four Catholic high schools have another reason to consider The University of Scranton if they are planning to attend college.
The University of Scranton and the Diocese of Scranton signed a memorandum of understanding on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020, that will guarantee admission to the University and minimum scholarships of $15,000 or more for graduates who meet eligibility requirements.
"We're grateful for the University's commitment to the Diocese and our students," Jason W.S. Morrison, Diocesan Secretary of Catholic Education and Chief Executive Officer, said during a signing ceremony held on the University of Scranton campus.
The memorandum will grant admission to most majors at the University to graduates of Holy Cross High School in Dunmore, Holy Redeemer High School in Wilkes-Barre, Notre Dame Junior/Senior High School in East Stroudsburg, and Saint John Neumann Junior/Senior High School in Williamsport. Graduates must have a minimum GPA (Grade Point Average) of 3.0 and either a 1080 SAT or a 21 ACT composite score or higher, and meet other criteria.
"For us, this is a chance to recognize something that we've always known, that the Diocesan System of schools in the Diocese of Scranton is outstanding and the families who make that investment to have their children go through that, we really wanted reward that," Gerry Zaboski, Vice President for Enrollment Management and External Affairs at the University of Scranton said. "While we've always enrolled students from the Diocesan schools, we were looking for a way to expand that, to be able to help them understand the opportunities that we have here."
Students who meet eligibility requirements will receive, at minimum, an annual $15,000 scholarship to the University with a total value of $60,000. The agreement will take effect for most majors beginning with the 2020-21 academic year.
For more information on the admissions agreement, visit:
The Light Is On for You
The Church encourages us to make confession a regular part of our spiritual life, especially during the holy season of Lent, as we reflect on our baptism and repentance. Again this year, parishes are participating in a Lenten initiative called The Light Is On for You. Every Monday evening during the Lenten season, beginning on the first Monday of Lent, March 2, and continuing through Monday of the last full week of Lent, March 30 confessions will be heard in every parish from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. so that Catholics can come to or return to this incredible source of God’s grace, mercy and healing.
Wedding Anniversary Mass
On June 14, Bishop Joseph C. Bambera will celebrate the Wedding Anniversary Mass at 2:30 p.m. in the Cathedral of Saint Peter, Scranton, for couples celebrating their 25th or 50th year of marriage in 2020. This is an occasion to recognize the role married couples play in the Church’s mission to bring God’s faithful love into the world. Couples will have the opportunity to renew their commitment to marriage and to receive a blessing on their marriage from the Bishop. A reception will follow in the Diocesan Pastoral Center, where anniversary couples will be able to have their picture taken with the Bishop. Eligible couples should give their names and mailing address to their parish office before March 16.
Refresh Your Faith
Full of Grace-Catholic Women's Conference Saturday, June 20, 2020. At the University of Scranton Byron Recreation Complex 800 Linden Street Scranton, PA 18510 (570) 872-8630 or www.cwcnepa.com
Retrouvaille Returns to the Diocese of Scranton
Retrouvaille is a peer ministry of volunteer couples that can help you learn the tools of healthy communication, build intimacy and heal, just as they have done in their own marriages. Retrouvaille is Christian-based, and Catholic in origin, but welcomes couples of all faiths as well as non-religious couples. If your marriage is in distress, even if you are currently separated or divorced, Retrouvaille can help get your relationship back on track. A Retrouvaille Weekend has been scheduled for May 29- 31, to be held at St. Gabriel's Retreat Center in Clarks Summit. If you, or any other Retrouvaille couple you know would like to assist with the nuts and bolts of restarting the ministry, help is needed! To learn more about attending the weekend in May, or to learn more about helping to bring this weekend to life, please contact: Phil & Sue Milazzo, firstname.lastname@example.org, (631) 338-5413 or Jen Housel, email@example.com, (570) 207-2213 x1104.
Stress in your marriage?
Do you feel alone? Are you bored, disillusioned, frustrated or angry in your relationship? Do you experience coldness or conflict in your relationship? Retrouvaille is a program that helps couples through difficult times in their marriages. This program has helped thousands of couples experiencing difficulties in their marriages. If you are thinking about, or already are, separated or divorced, there could still be hope for you. For confidential information about, or to register for the program on May 29 – 31, please call 631-338-5413 or 570-207-2213, or visit the website at www.HelpOurMarriage.org.
Do You Want to Know More About the Annulment Process?
In the Diocese of Scranton, the annulment process is now more “user friendly” than you might expect, and there is no longer a processing fee.
Please contact your pastor or the Diocesan Tribunal Office (570-207-2246) to begin a conversation. It is possible to get clear answers to these questions and to renew your connection with the Church.
For a listing of all Diocesan and parish events, visit: Calendar
Follow the Diocese on Social Media