Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A Great Day for the Diocese of Scranton

Saturday, May 27, 2017 was a great day for the Diocese of Scranton as seminarian Ryan P. Glenn was ordained a Transitional Deacon at Saint Matthew Parish, East Stroudsburg.

Hundreds filled the church, where Ryan is currently on a pastoral year. Bishop Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, was the principal celebrant and ordaining prelate.

Ryan is a member of Saint Jude Parish, Mountain Top. Throughout his pastoral year at Saint Matthew's, he has been instrumental in the reorganization of the youth ministry program, establishment of East Stroudsburg Campus Ministry, and the creation of a young adult group for the region "Faith on Fire." He has also helped in many other areas of parish life in addition to being involved in diocesan programs and events.

Please continue to pray for Ryan as he continues on his journey towards Diocesan Priesthood!

Opening Procession
Ryan's family at the Ordination
A capacity-filled Saint Matthew's Church for Ordination


Ryan with his parents and Bishop Bambera after Ordination
Ryan with members of "Faith on Fire" (Young Adult Group)
The wonderful parishioners who worked on the Ordination Celebration

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Registration Open for Quo Vadis Days 2017

Are you in high school? Are you looking to deepen your faith? Are you interested in learning about all vocations? Are you looking for a fun, exciting, faith-filled experience? If you said 'yes' to any or all of these questions, then Quo Vadis Days 2017 is where you should be June 25-28 at Misericordia University, Dallas. 

Quo Vadis Days is a camp for young Catholic men in High School to deepen their faith, learn more about all vocations, and better discern God's call in their lives. The camp will feature dynamic talks, prayer, games, sports, activities, music, and much more. Participants will have the opportunity to meet Bishop Bambera, priests, and seminarians of the Diocese of Scranton. 

Outdoor Ropes Course at Quo Vadis Days 2016
Morning Prayer at Quo Vadis Days 2016
Smores and Snacks at Quo Vadis Days 2016
Father Gregg Loughney leads a discussion at lunch at Quo Vadis Days 2016

Online registration is now open for Quo Vadis Days 2017 at www.scrantonvocations.com. Be sure to register early to guarantee a spot!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

XLT (Exalt!)

The Diocesan Vocation Office launched XLT (Exalt!) in March at Divine Mercy Parish in Scranton. You might be asking yourself what exactly this program is all about.

A typical XLT consists of Eucharistic Adoration, praise & worship music, a speaker, the opportunity for the sacrament of Reconciliation, a reflection from one of our priests, and a social.

"It is very exciting that the young church is getting involved in an incredibly moving and spiritually deepening experience such as XLT. I look forward to these events and seeing the Diocese move in such a positive direction with our generation."
          -Abbe Truschel, XLT young adult volunteer

“One of the greatest parts of NCYC was XLT. The powerful and moving music, amazing speaker, and the silence in the arena during adoration were all breath-taking. I’m so glad we are able to bring something we enjoyed so much in Indianapolis back to the Diocese of Scranton.”
          -Jacob Kwiatkowski, student leader, Exaltation of the Holy Cross Youth Ministry

Shannon Kowalski, youth minister at St. Catherine of Siena Parish, Moscow
spoke about "Catholic Identity" at XLT

Eucharistic Adoration at the first XLT in March at Divine Mercy Parish, Scranton

Social following XLT, which allowed attendees to connect with individuals
from throughout the Diocese

Want to experience XLT? We would love to have you join us!

  • Friday, April 28   Divine Mercy Parish, Scranton   7-9PM
    • Speaker: Ryan Glenn 
    • Music: Francis Zelinka
    • Presider: Father Alex Roche
  • Friday, May 19    St. John Neumann Parish, Scranton 7-9PM
  • Friday, June 23   Divine Mercy Parish, Scranton     7-9PM
  • Friday, July 28    Divine Mercy Parish, Scranton     7-9PM
For more information, please call/text 570-780-2996.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Seminarians Receive Ministries

On March 22, 2017 at St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, two Diocese of Scranton seminarians- Robert Dogal and Jonathan Kuhar– received ministries. Dogal received Ministry of Lector and Kuhar received Ministry of Acolyte. Following the ceremony, family and friends joined the seminarians for a reception.

Opening Procession 
Robert is from St. Ignatius Loyola Parish, Kingston and Jonathan is from St. Jude Parish, Mountain Top. The church emphasizes the stages of the journey to Holy Orders through these ministries.

The Ministry of Lector calls men to be servants of the Living Word of God. In proclaiming the readings at liturgy, a reader does more than simply read. Those who exercise the ministry of lector must be truly suited and carefully prepared, so that the faithful may develop a warm and living love for Sacred Scripture from listening to the sacred readings.

Acolytes are appointed to aid the deacon and to minister to the priest. It is his duty to attend to the service of the altar and to assist the deacon and the priest in liturgical celebrations, especially in the celebration of Mass. He may also distribute communion as an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion when appropriate.

Jonathan Kuhar receives Ministry of Acolyte.
Robert Dogal (far right) with friends after receiving Ministry of Lector.
Please keep them in prayer as they continue in their formation for Diocesan Priesthood!

Monday, March 13, 2017

'Come and See' Weekend

The annual 'Come and See' weekend retreat was held at the end of February at the Villa of Our Lady Retreat House in Mount Pocono. The retreat enabled participants to pray, talk with seminarians and Diocesan priests, and listen to presentations on discernment and seminary life. Bishop James C. Timlin, Bishop Emeritus, joined the group for lunch and informal conversation.

Seminarian Ryan Glenn led a presentation and interactive session on
'The Rich Young Man'

“The ‘Come and See’ weekend retreat was a great experience. It helped me to get to know the seminarians and others who are discerning a vocation to Diocesan Priesthood. One thing that really stood out to me was the visit from Bishop Timlin. It was heartwarming to hear him tell his vocation story and his life as a priest and Bishop. Towards the end of his talk, he started to get emotional. He showed all of us that the priesthood is not just a career, but a way of life.”
Father Jeffrey Walsh (center), Episcopal Vicar for Clergy,
celebrated Mass at the ‘Come and See’ weekend along with
Father Don Williams (left), Diocesan Director of Vocations and Seminarians,
and Father Gregg Loughney (right), assistant vocation director.
“The weekend was a refreshing and humbling experience. Being able to talk to discerners from all different parts of the diocese helped me to reflect on my own discernment and know that there are plenty of men in the Church of Scranton that are more than willing to serve the Church in any path that God has planned for them.”
-Andrew McCarroll, seminarian 
Bishop James C. Timlin, Bishop Emeritus, joined the group for lunch and
informal conversation. He told his vocation story and life as
a priest and Bishop to those in attendance
“This weekend is one of the most important initiatives we offer in the Diocesan Vocation Office. Young men aged 18-35 have the opportunity to really ‘retreat’ and step away from their busy lives to give God a chance to speak to their hearts in a very special way. Support from our seminarians, Assistant Vocation Directors, and other discerners allows them to relax, pray, and ask questions that can appear frightening and overwhelming. The experience of the seminarians, who have made this selfless commitment to God, provides discerners the opportunity to clarify any misconceptions and enables them to stay open and available.”
-Father Don Williams, Diocesan Director of Vocations and Seminarians
Eucharistic Adoration 
For more information about discernment and/or retreats sponsored by the Diocesan Vocation Office, please call 570-207-1452.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Meet Seminarian Andrew McCarroll

Home Parish: Saint Robert Bellarmine, Wilkes-Barre
Year of Study: College I at Cathedral Seminary House of Formation, Douglaston, N.Y.

1.   What are some of the factors that led to your decision to enter the seminary and discern further the question of a vocation to Diocesan Priesthood?

The main factor was my parish. Growing up in a strong community of faith showed me the importance of not only the church’s role in the people’s life, but also the role of the priest. From an early age, I knew the importance of the Mass and sacraments to our parish but also the witness so many individuals gave to support our parish. From Altar serving, to singing in the choir, to even volunteering at parish fundraisers, I saw the people of God active in their faith. I wanted to not only be in that community, but to dedicate my life to the community of God’s people. I believe it is through this passion to serve the community of Jesus’ Church that I receive not only many blessings, but also the joy and peace that is brought to my heart to make this next step in my life with Christ and his Church.
Andrew served as Master of Ceremonies at his
home parish of Saint Robert Bellarmine in
Wilkes-Barre for the Christmas liturgies

2.      What is a day like at the seminary?
A day in the seminary is not always easy, but it is full of joy! Most days we start early in the morning with 6:45 a.m. morning prayer and holy hour. We then grab something quick for breakfast, and then it’s straight to class at St. John’s University. We study a variety of different topics, but our main course of study is philosophy. After class, I usually have some free time to study, spend time with other seminarians, or spend some time with the Lord in prayer. At 5:30 p.m. we pray evening prayer and celebrate the Eucharist as a community followed by dinner. The rest of our evening after dinner is usually free. This is just a basic outline of our schedule, but I can honestly say that I never had two days that were exactly the same. Each day brings different blessings and challenges that I face in confidence. Not every day is easy for me, but the joy of serving the people of God gives me the energy to overcome any challenge I face; whether it is writing a ten-page paper, or just trying to find some time to relax. But the joy I receive is amazing! I do not think that I have ever been closer to Christ than this time in my life! I have really begun to see Jesus’ hand working in me. 

Seminarians Jonathan Kuhar, Andrew McCarroll, and Kevin Miller at World
Youth Day in Krakow, Poland 

3.       What is the role of prayer in your life?
Prayer is the corner stone of our life in seminary. I do not think I could ever get through a day here without it. Our main form of prayer here is the celebration of the Eucharist and the Liturgy of the Hours; but it does not stop there! There are so many different forms of prayer I have experienced and use in my daily life. From meditating on Sacred Scripture, to prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament, to quiet mediation and examination of my day. It is through this deep connection of letting God enter my daily life that I gain strength to go wherever He guides me. But also through a strong life of prayer I realize that I cannot do this alone, but that I am more dependent on God than ever before.

4.          What are some of your hobbies? 
There are many different thinks I like to do in my free time here at seminary, but so much is offered to us that I find it impossible to ever be bored. Most of my time I spend with some of my closest friends that I have met here. We explore, go to events, or just hang out in the common room in the seminary. But on an individual level, I enjoy going for a walk at the park down the street, read a new book, or just relax. One of the greatest gifts of living in Queens, New York, is how close we are to Manhattan. To be able to explore the city always gives you a new adventure in itself.

Music Ministry at ISLI in June which Andrew was a part of it

5.  What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about a vocation to diocesan priesthood?

Seminary does not always mean you are going to be a Priest. I think that is one of the biggest misconceptions about seminary today. Too many times young men think that once you are in the seminary you are in for good or that you are signing your life away. That is really not the case at all. Seminary is just a next step. So far I have seen great guys come to seminary and figure out that seminary is not for them, and that’s okay. They gave it a try and looked into it, and they opened their hearts to the Holy Spirit and trusted. And these guys are some of the most faithful disciples I have ever met. Being a disciple is all about trust. If you feel that the Holy Spirit might be asking you to look into the priesthood, go for it! Trust God, because if you put your life into his hands, you certainly will not be disappointed. We must give all our worries over to Christ, because we cannot walk this road alone. So in the words of St. John Paul II, “Be not afraid! Do not be satisfied with mediocrity. Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” Just as Christ called Andrew and Peter from their boat to follow him, so to Christ calls each and every one of us to follow him in ways we never expected. So cast out into the deep! Trust the Holy Spirit, and let him into your heart to guide you on the way he has planned! 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

2017: The Year to 'Leave a Mark'

This past summer in Krakow, Poland, Pope Francis gave a powerful challenge to the young church. “Dear young people, we didn’t come into this world to ‘vegetate’, to take it easy, to make our lives a comfortable sofa to fall asleep on,” he said. “No, we came for another reason: to leave a mark. It is very sad to pass through life without leaving a mark.”

Our Diocesan Vocation Office launched a new event in November of 2016 titled #leaveamark16. The event kicked off National Vocation Week in the Diocese of Scranton. As young people live out their baptismal call to holiness, they are encouraged to ask themselves the question, “How am I leaving a mark?” At the reception, we got many wonderful responses about how members of the young church are currently leaving a mark and also how they planned to leave a mark after the event on November 6.

As we begin a New Year, many individuals come up with resolutions, usually trying to better their lives. We encourage both young and a little bit older to think once again about that message from Pope Francis. In 2017, how can you leave a mark? How can you be a protagonist of history? How can you teach the world that it is easier to build bridges than walls? God wants you to dream and realize that with you, the world can be different.

Look what individuals have been doing since the start of the year:

World Youth Day pilgrims gathered for a day of service at the
Saint Francis of Assisi Kitchen in Scranton

Members of the Quo Vadis program gathered at Gate of Heaven Parish
for faith sharing, sports, and prayer

Seminarians Mark Watrucki and Andrew McCarroll
traveled to Texas to join 13,000 other college students 
for Seek 2017 sponsored by FOCUS 

Whether it is in your day to day life or as you are exploring bold choices to commit yourself to the vocation of priesthood, religious life, marriage, and/or lay ecclesial ministry, we want to know what you are doing to 'leave a mark' in the world.

Let’s fill social media once again with positive messages, pictures, and videos of the young church making a difference for good in the world. Be sure to use the hash tag #leaveamark17 when posting on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

We hope 2017 will be a year of many blessings for you, your family members and friends.

May God Bless You,

The Diocesan Vocation Team 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Advent Week #4 Reflection

As we approach the Christmas season, I can’t help but recall some of my favorite memories from this time of year. I think of those snowy days in December when my siblings and I would zoom down white hills on our plastic sleds. I remember waiting with great anticipation for Santa Claus to come with mountains of gifts. My mouth waters as I think about the smells and tastes of my grandmother’s Cuban dishes prepared on Christmas Eve. Those cold, dark days of December were softened by the glow of Christmas lights in our neighborhood and the warmth of our family’s home. As fun and as beautiful as these memories are, however, they do not fully reflect the true meaning and significance of this approaching Christmas season.

As I read and pray with the Nativity of Jesus Christ from the Gospel of Luke, I come to realize the very radical nature of the Incarnation. Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, left his proper place at the right hand of God the Father in order to fully assume our human nature as a small, helpless, and fragile child. Jesus’ very conception occurred in unusual circumstances: an unwed, Spirit-filled mother, ponderings of divorce, dreams and visions, acts of trust and faith. Jesus was not born as a wealthy or powerful Roman, but he chose to be born into a poor and powerless Jewish family. Jesus was born a stranger in a damp and dirty cave amidst oxen and cattle.

We continue to see the radical nature of the Incarnation in the announcement of the angels to the shepherds! Shepherds were societal outcasts who existed on the margins of society as landless workers. They were tasked with herding unintelligent, smelly animals. It was precisely to these shepherds that the heavenly host of angels declare the birth of the Savior! The birth of Jesus inaugurates his life’s mission of restoring all people, particularly the marginalized, to new life in God.

While I’ll always hold onto and cherish those dear Christmas memories from my childhood, I recognize that the true meaning of Christmas is much more challenging! As a baptized disciple of Jesus Christ, I am called to identify myself with the Incarnate One who chose to be born poor, powerless, and vulnerable. The entire life of Christ – from his birth to his death – was one of mercy, compassion and constant selflessness. This kenotic, self-emptying love is to be the hallmark of all who claim to be followers of Jesus. My life as a Christian, then, also compels me to be like those angels on that first Christmas night, to find the outcasts on the margins of society and proclaim to them the Good News that Christ has been born to free us from sin and restore us to God’s life and friendship!

And this is what the Christmas season is truly about. Merry Christmas!   

Ryan Glenn, a seminarian for the Diocese of Scranton, completed Theology III at St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, Maryland. 

During the 2016-17 year, Ryan will reside and minister at St. Matthew’s Parish in East Stroudsburg, PA. 

There, he will continue to pray and discern his vocational calling. Ryan will also be involved in multiple parish ministries, including Catholic Campus Ministry at East Stroudsburg University. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Advent Week #1 Reflection

As I sit here writing my thoughts, in the season of Advent, I can’t help but wonder if Advent is more of a season of waiting for Christ or more like a season of allowing the Spirit to form us to see Christ anew. In this academic year of seminary formation, I am assigned to the Catholic Community of South Baltimore, an urban community made up of three historic parishes. It is a community of young and old, but mostly young with three times as many baptisms as funerals. Every month I see more than a handful of babies baptized into the Body of the Church. It is truly a time of recognizing Christ anew in helpless infants. Just prior to the start of Advent, we celebrated the feast of Christ the King. I can’t help but recognize that "King" far more differently than any artistic rendering. The King, in my recent experience, cries a lot, spits up, and is held by parents with love. For me, this is a beautiful image of the Christ.

            In my assignment, I also teach 4th and 5th grade religious education, as well as sometimes leading conferences for adults participating in the Rite of Christian Initiation (RCIA). On my way to the parish on the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, I stopped at a red light. There, like every Sunday, I saw an older man walking the median back and forth while asking for spare change. I hoped, this particular day, that he would not reach my car before the light changed. Searching for change, pressing the button to roll down the window, and interacting with another human being this early in the morning seemed like too much work. In short, he was going to reach my car before the light changed. So I searched my cup holder full of change, moving the pennies and nickels out of the way in order to find a handful of quarters.

            As he approached my car, I pressed that button to roll down my window, stuck my hand filled with quarters out of the car, and waited for him to limp over to me. I gave him all I had and said, “Take care. Have a good day.” He looked at me and responded with something I could not understand. I gestured to show that I could not hear him. He said it again. Still, I could not hear him. Finally, he raised two fingers into the air in the shape of a V. “Peace,” he said. “Peace,” I said with the first smile of the day on my face. The light changed and I drove away.

            The man: older, limping, hands swollen and red, mumbling the same word from a mouth that could not be seen as it was covered from a long unkempt beard. As I drove away, I broke down into tears. It took me a moment to recognize what was happening inside me. I had an encounter with Christ—not just in an intellectual, theological way—a real encounter with Christ. My tears were not only in gratitude for the encounter or in awe of an experience to which I could not fully give word, but in sadness that Christ still has to reside in such conditions. The theme for my RCIA class changed that morning as we instead discussed how Jesus’ ministry shows us the Father in ways that we sometimes wish were not true—in ways unfit for God.

            To celebrate Christ the King after meeting Christ in the poorest of the poor baffles the mind. This is Christ: living in absolute poverty, in need of medication, unable to be understood (or even fully seen for that matter), shuffling from car to car at a random intersection wishing drivers “Peace”? How amazing! From that experience, I had to ask, is Advent a season of waiting for the coming Christ into our world, or is it a season of recognizing Christ already present and standing right in front of us?

Bill Beechko is a seminarian for the Diocese of Scranton. 

He is from Mayfield, and is a member of SS. Anthony and Rocco Parish in Dumore. 

He is in Third Theology at St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore, Maryland. 

Bill is pictured (center) at his Rite of Admission to Candidacy for Holy Orders Mass with his father (left) and Bishop Joseph C. Bambera (right). 

Monday, November 21, 2016

#leaveamark16: A Memorable Event

Hundreds gathered in the Cathedral of Saint Peter on November 6th to join Bishop Bambera for a special gathering of the ‘young church’ to kick off National Vocation Awareness Week in the Diocese of Scranton. #leaveamark16, the title of the event, brought together high school juniors and seniors, college students, and working young adults from the eleven counties of the Diocese.

The title of the event came from Pope Francis’ address at the Prayer Vigil in Krakow, Poland this summer at World Youth Day: “Dear young people, we didn’t come into this world to ‘vegetate’, to take it easy, to make our lives a comfortable sofa to fall asleep on. No, we came for another reason: to leave a mark. It is very sad to pass through life without leaving a mark. Jesus is inviting you, calling you, to leave your mark on life, to leave a mark on history, your own and that of many others as well.”

Bishop Bambera echoed the same message to all those who attended in his homily. “The starting point is simple. It’s something we’ve all been given: baptism. Pope Francis, in reflecting upon the sacrament, urges us not to forget both the gift and the responsibility that is ours through its reception."

After the Celebration of the Eucharist, a reception was held in the Diocesan Pastoral Center. Those who attended had the opportunity to meet others from across the Diocese of Scranton, have a bite to eat, and even get their picture taken in a photo frame. 

Here is what some who attended had to say:
“The #leaveamark16 event was a great congregation of the young church of our Diocese. I was very encouraged to see a church packed with young people who had the fire of the Holy Spirit alive within them. This event was a great manifestation of the message Pope Francis wanted to instill on young Catholics, namely to go out and leave a mark in our communities. The world is a better place when people go out into their communities and live out the Gospel message through serving others. Even if we feel that what we do is on a small scale and insignificant, in each person we help we are in turn serving Jesus as he is a live in everyone we meet.”

          -Thomas Shaffern, University of Scranton
“I enjoyed the sense of community and solidarity the #leaveamark16 mass and reception created by bringing together young adults from all over the Diocese. God has definitely left a mark on our generation. Now it’s our turn to join Him in leaving a mark of our own.”

          -Bridget Barnic, Marywood University
“The Mass was a sign for me that although religion seems irrelevant to today’s youth, there are still people my age who are looking for the same thing, God and His meaning. I felt His presence and it was amazing.”

          -Brian Noble, Luzerne County Community College

The Vocation Office hopes to make this an annual event. For more information about upcoming events, please call 570-207-1452.