Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Role of the Parish in Discernment

Priests come from parishes. If your parish is not creating a culture of priestly vocations, supporting and encouraging men to become priests, where will priests come from to serve parishes in our Diocese? Sometimes it seems that there is a fundamental disconnect.

Here are some observations about parishes that have priestly vocations:

-Parishoners love their priests, and they are not afraid to express it.

-The Parish is prayerful and active.

-Parishoners identify men who would make good Diocesan Priests, and they encourage them to consider a vocation to the priesthood.

-Their faith is not just about Sunday. They are committed to live out their faith in the world.

Confirmation students from Epiphany Parish in Sayre made
care packages for Diocesan of Scranton seminarians in the
fall of 2015. 
-They love their Catholic faith and are not afraid to stand up for it and share it.

-There is a zeal for the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Eucharistic Adoration.

Saint Ann Parish in Williamsport holds Eucharistic Adoration for Vocations
weekdays for the entire Williamsport area. 
-A true belief in the presence of Christ in the Eucharist permeates the Parish.

-There is a love for the Diocese and the Universal Church. Faith is bigger than my Parish.

To learn more about how your parish can create a "culture of vocations," contact the Diocesan Vocation Office at 570-207-1452.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Quo Vadis Days 2016

Our office once again hosted Quo Vadis Days at Misericordia University June 26-29. The camp brought together men of high school age who are committed to their Catholic faith and actively involved in the life of their parishes.

Group photo 
The name Quo Vadis (Where are you going?) poses the question that every person faces as their life unfolds and they make decisions about their vocation, be it as a single or married person, or someone called to serve as a priest or religious.

Quo Vadis brought together 40 young men plus seminarians, young adult volunteers, assistant vocation directors, and priests from around the Diocese of Scranton. The camp offered participants an opportunity to reflect on and deepen their faith, learn more about all vocations, and better discern God’s call in their lives through dynamic talks, games, prayer, sports, activities, music, liturgy and much more.
Participants listen to a speaker

Ropes Course

Evening Prayer
Bishop Joseph C. Bambera visited on the first day and presided at evening prayer. He shared the story of his own call to priesthood and offered insights into the life and ministry of a diocesan priest. Participants were then able to spend time with the Bishop at dinner.

Bishop Bambera offers words of encouragement to the participants

“This was our second year for Quo Vadis Days and our numbers almost doubled from last year,” said Father Don Williams, Diocesan Director of Vocations and Seminarians. “It was a great opportunity for young people from across the Diocese of Scranton to gather, pray, and grow as disciples of Jesus. We look forward to our follow-up gatherings throughout the year and the vocation camp next June.”

Father Don Williams tells participants about Quo Vadis Days 

For more information about the Quo Vadis program, please call 570-207-1452.  

"Quo Vadis was a retreat like no other I have attended. You have time for prayer and discernment, and you have time for fun and games. It is also a great opportunity to get to know our diocesan priests and the seminarians. Being surrounded by other Catholic youth from the diocese was also a great experience."
-Scott, participant 

"Quo Vadis was an incredible faith-filled experience. As a small group leader, it was wonderful to watch the participant's excitement for their faith grow as the retreat went on. Quo Vadis is such a great retreat for young men to bond with prayer, sports, and discernment. I was truly blessed to be able to share my experiences of growing in faith throughout high school and my first years of college with the guys. We were also blessed to have many wonderful seminarians and priests, who are all extraordinary examples of what it truly means to be a man of God."
-John, young adult volunteer and speaker 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Hearing God's Voice During a Silent Retreat

Greetings from Nebraska! This summer I am at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska where I am participating in the Institute for Priestly Formation (IPF). The program began at the end of May with a brief introduction class explaining how to prepare for an eight day silent retreat. And then, the retreat began! It has been a few weeks since the retreat has ended, and I have had some time to begin processing everything that happened. As the summer continues, I will continue to unpack this wonderful experience. To make this a little easier, I will first outline my "daily schedule” and then explain what the retreat was like for me personally.

The schedule below is how I structured my days on retreat:  
6:45 a.m. –  Wake up, Morning Prayer, and get ready for the day
7:45 a.m. –  Holy Hour #1
9:15 a.m. –  Spiritual Direction
10:45 a.m. – Mass
11:30 a.m. – Lunch
12:15 p.m. - Holy Hour #2
1:30 – 3:00 p.m. – Exercise and Relax
3:30 p.m. – Holy Hour #3
4:45 p.m. – Dinner
5:45 p.m. – Evening Prayer
6:30 p.m. – Conference
7:30 p.m. – Read
8:45 p.m. -  Holy Hour #4
10:00 pm – Night Prayer and Bed

Each retreatant’s schedule varied, but this is how I was able to develop some structure and balance to each day. The retreat structure itself was very basic and included Mass and an evening conference. Every other aspect of a retreatant’s schedule was tailored to them. As you can see, I met with my Spiritual Director once a day and followed the recommendation of praying four holy hours a day.
The schedule I created allowed me to see more clearly how God was working throughout my day. In order to enter into the silence of the retreat, I gave my phone and laptop to my Spiritual Director. This was not easy to do, but it eliminated any distractions and made entering into the silence much easier. The silence which I feared before the retreat truly became a blessing as the week progressed. 

Creighton University 
          This retreat was like none I had ever gone on before. Not only was it very serious, but I took the time and changed my attitude to be on “vacation with God” rather than just being on a “vacation.” This initial attitude adjustment allowed me to refocus my attention from selfish motives to a posture of being receptive to what God has in store for me. Thankfully I did this because God sure had a lot to share with me over the eight days! I received many graces from God during the retreat. In the weeks following, I continue to receive those many graces. I am so thankful that I had this experience to slow down from the business of seminary life and to focus exclusively on my prayer life. 
I learned how to pray a holy hour on the retreat, not just one but four. Before I got here I could barely make it through one holy hour without trying to “fill up the time.” In my time before endeavoring into the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, I conceived a Holy Hour as a time that was restricted to sitting before the Blessed Sacrament struggling to find words to say to God. During the retreat, my eyes were opened to find Christ around me at all times as He is with us always. This expanded view of a Holy Hour that is not limited to sitting in a set environment each day, but rather admiring the beauty of God’s creation. Now that the retreat has ended I do one holy hour a day and am committed to making that full hour happen every day. As I have learned, prayer is all about relationship. 
When it comes to relationships, we know that expressing our thoughts, feelings, and desires are important. God is interested in hearing us share with him our own thoughts, feelings, and desires.  Personally, I am not one to talk about my feelings, let alone even try and find words that describe them. On retreat, I was able to change this struggle of mine by finding a new vocabulary in which to express interior movements and deepen my relationship with the Lord. By sharing with the Lord what was happening in my life, I became even more aware of how present He is during my day. I was then faced with a tough question: Do I really want to be this close in relationship with the Lord or do I want to turn back to my old selfish ways that have always left me feeling empty? In all of our lives, we have a choice to make: turn to God in the good and the bad times, or turn to ourselves and our egos. God has the power to heal us, but we have to give him permission to do such things. We have the ability and freedom to reject His love and try to self-medicate. The truth is, in our free surrender to the Lord, newness of life can come forth.
Therefore, I find myself contemplating a question that Jesus poses in the Gospel of Saint Matthew. Put simply, what do I desire? The Gospel says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). During the retreat, I came face to face with this startling question. Do I truly desire God, and God alone, or do I turn to myself and my own selfish wants and desires that I know cannot and will not truly please me. We all have a desire to be loved and a major first step in our prayer life is to accept that God loves us. When we truly accept this, we realize that God is desiring to enter more deeply into relationship with us. Therefore, we may also enter into a deeper relationship with Him. 
The retreat for me was allowing God to love me and building a solid foundation on which my relationship with the Lord stands and is rooted. This relationship with the Lord has allowed God to love me, heal me, and change my heart so that now I can say I desire what Saint Paul describes which is to “put on the new man, who is being renewed in knowledge after the image of his creator” (Colossians 3:10). The retreat has given me a strong desire not only to be Catholic but to be a Saint.  As I continue on this journey of faith, I will always take with me the many encounters I had with our Lord during this retreat and the weeks that have followed. I ask the Lord and pray that the Holy Family – Jesus, Mary, and Joseph – may continue to teach me how to pray so that I may always do the will of our loving Father.

Creighton University 

Robert Dogal, a seminarian for the Diocese of Scranton, just finished Pre-Theology II at Cathedral Seminary House of Formation, Douglaston, New York. This summer he is at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska for the Institute for Priestly Formation (IPF). 

He is from St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish, Kingston. 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Desires, Hopes, and Prayers of a Pilgrim

“The art of the pilgrim is to travel light, needing only what one can carry. The secret which makes this easy is that the real essentials can be carried in the heart which has infinite capacity. The paradox is that the more richly laden is the heart with worthwhile treasures, the more lighthearted is the pilgrim.”

"Welcome to our retreat!"
On Wednesday, June 8th, I, along with the young (and not so young) adults of the Church of Scranton participating in the 2016 World Youth Day pilgrimage to Poland gathered on retreat in order to get know each other, share a meal, review the itinerary for the trip, and spiritually prepare our hearts for this once-in-a-lifetime journey of faith.

St. John Paul II

St. Faustina Kowalska

Pray for us!

World Youth Day, first held by Pope Saint John Paul II in 1986, gathers young Catholics from every corner of the globe with religious, priests, bishops, and the Holy Father. For six days, the young Church celebrates our common faith in Jesus Christ. This year’s world-wide gathering takes place from July 25th-31st in the city of Krakow and includes opportunities for catechesis, prayer, cultural immersion, and the celebration of the Eucharist with Pope Francis. Even though this will be my first time participating in World Youth Day, I find myself extremely excited for this journey of faith.

The group of pilgrims from the Diocese of Scranton will be led by Bishop Bambera and includes Catholics of all walks of life. One retreat activity in particular highlighted the similarities as well as the unique qualities of each of our respective faith journeys. All of us were asked to describe how our own pair of shoes represented the various paths that we have been walking in our relationship with God. The different footwear – whether Army boots, stylish sandals, or running sneakers – revealed the beauty of our diverse paths amidst the unity of our shared faith in Jesus.

Shoes that pilgrims brought to the retreat
Our time together in retreat has allowed me to begin reflecting on the desires, hopes, and prayers of my heart for this upcoming pilgrimage. First, I desire to revel in the sights, sounds, and tastes of Poland and enjoy this opportunity with my friends and fellow pilgrims. My hope is that my heart will be open enough to see how it is that our God is at work in the lives, the cultures, and the faith of the millions of other pilgrims gathered from throughout the world. And finally, I pray that this pilgrimage will deepen my faith, that I will appreciate how the grace, the love, the peace, and the mercy of the Lord Jesus is active and ever-present in my own life.

Shannon Kowalski talked about her past two World Youth Day pilgrimages.
These heart-filled desires, hopes, and prayers will only begin to be realized as I make the first step of faith with my fellow pilgrims!


Ryan P. Glenn, a seminarian for the Diocese of Scranton, just finished Year III of Theology at St. Mary's Seminary, Baltimore, Maryland. Ryan has begun his Pastoral Year assignment at St. Matthew Parish, East Stroudsburg. There, he will be able to spend time in prayer, become familiar with the various ministries at the parish, and reside with the pastor, Father Jerry Shantillo, and incoming assistant pastor, Father Joseph Mosley.
He is from St. Jude Parish, Mountain Top. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

My First Year in Seminary

Fellow seminarians at Cathedral Seminary House
of Formation, Douglaston, New York.
I find it difficult to believe that a year ago, almost to the date, I was accepted by the Diocese of Scranton to be their newest and youngest seminarian. Looking back, when they tell you that times flies in the seminary, they are certainly not kidding. From the first day of morning prayer, to convocation on the last day, and with the Pope visiting NYC, flying to Rome with other seminarians, and all the other blessings in between, my first year has come to a close.

The transition from Honesdale High School to St. John’s University and Cathedral Seminary was not as overwhelming as I originally expected. Starting from the first day, we were out exploring New York City (Be careful, NYC is not exclusive to Manhattan. The other New York seminarians will call you out on that, in a friendly way of course). From going to a small town to the bustling streets of Queens, I found I adjusted quite well. Of course I was homesick the first two weeks, but after that I felt quite comfortable driving with friends to get a late night Saturday snack, or roaming Times Square in December. According to my new friends at the seminary, I was an honorary New Yorker.

Myself with other seminarians
Not only was I an honorary New Yorker and Diocese of Scranton Seminarian, but I also was now a college student. The undergrads at Cathedral Seminary, with the exception of a few, attend St. John’s University in Queens. The required major is Philosophy, but you are free to double major or minor in other areas that interest you (Keep in mind, whatever you choose, has to be able to be completed in four years). The classes are a decent size with approximately thirty other students in your class. Depending on class schedules and requirements you have to fill, you may or may not have other seminarians in your class. So far, both semesters of my first year I had at least one class without other seminarians. 

Along with academic studies, you also have a set schedule for prayer. The day begins at morning prayer, bright and early, at 6:45 a.m. The next scheduled thing that everyone has is evening Mass at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner and evening prayer in the chapel. After that, the set prayer schedule is over. This leaves time to go back to your room to study, play pool in the common room, play sports in the gym, and so on and so forth. After these activities around 10 p.m, Rob Dogal and I would go to one of the four chapels to pray Night Prayer as seminarians from the Diocese of Scranton. This was a great way to build fraternity and also unwind after a long day. That is one of the best things about the seminary; you build such close bonds with the other men that you truly feel like brothers.

Cathedral Seminary House of Formation

Pilgrimage to Italy 
There is also a lot of time for fun at the seminary. I was able to continue my interests in music by being in the seminary choir, cantoring at Masses, and playing clarinet with other guys there that play musical instruments. We also were able to attend Vespers and Mass when the Pope came to NYC in the fall. The Papal events were such an incredible experience, being a part of something so big and seeing how alive the Catholic Church is. Then during spring break, myself and others from the seminary went to Assisi and Rome, Italy on a pilgrimage. We got to have authentic Italian cuisine, walk to Eternal City, tour the ancient churches, and so much more! It was such a great experience that I know I’ll remember for the rest of my life.

Rob Dogal and I at the ugly Christmas sweater party

Halloween gathering

Christmas Concert 
All in all, my first year was, well, great! It went by extremely fast, but was worth every second. I am excited to see what is in store for my sophomore year at the seminary. Until then, I get to work,  relax, and enjoy time with family and friends.

Nicholas Jennings, a seminarian for the Diocese of Scranton, just finished his first year at Cathedral Seminary House of Formation, Douglaston, New York. He is from Honesdale, and is a member of St. John the Evangelist Parish. He loves to sing and spend time with his family and friends. 

You can listen to Nicholas singing "O Holy Night" by clicking on the link below: 
Nicholas Singing "O Holy Night"

Friday, May 27, 2016

Ordination to the Priesthood

We give praise to God for the gift of Michael Drevitch and Joseph Mosley. Both have given so generously their time and lives to serve the people of God here in the local church of Scranton. They will be ordained Saturday, May 28 at 10:00 a.m. in the Cathedral of St. Peter, Scranton. All the faithful are invited and encouraged to attend this special Mass. CTV will brodcast the Mass live and it will be aired again at later dates.

Reverend Mr. Michael Drevitch is the son of William and Linda Sabol Drevitch of Wilkes-Barre. He is currently a member of Corpus Christi Parish, West Pittston. Father Drevitch will celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving at Corpus Christi Parish at Immaculate Conception Church in West Pittston on Sunday, May 29 at 2 p.m.

Reverend Mr. Joseph Mosley is the son of Diane Rybitski Mosley of Mayfield and the late Michael Mosley Jr. He is a parishioner of Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Parish, Jermyn. Father Mosley will celerbate a Mass of Thanksgiving at Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Parish at Sacred Heart of Mary Church, Jermyn on Sunday, May 29 at 3 p.m.

Please keep both of them in your prayers as they transition to Diocesan Priesthood!

Here are some pictures of them over the years throughout their time as seminarians:

Reverend Mr. Michael Drevitch with his mother, family members
 and friends at St. Mary's Seminary and University, Baltimore, Maryland.
Reverend Mr. Joseph Mosley in procession at
St. Mary's Seminary and University, Baltimore, Maryland
Reverend Mr. Michael Drevitch during a Holy Week Mass
at the Cathedral of St. Peter, Scranton

Reverend Mr. Joseph Mosley helping sell tickets at the 2013
Vocations Classic Golf Tournament 

Reverend Mr. Michael Drevitch and Reverend Mr. Joseph Mosley during a
Holy Week Mass at the Cathedral of St. Peter, Scranton

Seminarians with Bishop Bambera at the Summer 2015 Gathering

Reverend Mr. Joseph Mosley during a Holy Week Mass at the
Cathedral of St. Peter, Scranton 

Reverend Mr. Joseph Mosley helping at the annual Vocations Classic
Golf Tournament 

Reverend Mr. Michael Drevitch and Reverend Mr. Joseph Mosley at their
Transitional Deacon Ordination in 2015. 

Scranton seminarians, priests, and Bishop Bambera helping work the Pizza
Stand at St. Joseph's Festival in Scranton.

Reverend Mr. Michael Drevitch and a classmate at a Mass with
Pope Francis in Washington D.C.

Reverend Mr. Michael Drevitch and Father Andrew Hvozdovic, Pastor at
Epiphany Parish, Sayre, at a Mass with Pope Francis in Washington D.C. 

Reverend Mr. Joseph Mosley leads a small group discussion at
Quo Vadis Days 2015

Seminarians Robert Dogal, Reverend Mr. Michael Drevitch, and Reverend Mr. Joseph Mosley
with Father Brian Van Fossen, Assistant Vocation Director
and Pastor at St. Joseph the Worker Parish, Williamsport,
and Michael Boris, young adult volunteer, at Quo Vadis Days 2015.
Reverend Mr. Michael Drevitch and Reverend Mr. Joseph Mosley with
Bishop Bambera at Light the Fire Youth Rally in 2015. 

Reverend Mr. Michael Drevitch talking to Father Joseph Horanzy
at the annual Vocations Classic Golf Tournament. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Do I Have the Qualities?

There are many men who wonder if they have the qualities to be a priest. Fr. Brett A. Brannen, author of To Save a Thousand Souls, came up with a list of qualities that he thinks would make someone a good priest. 

1. I love Jesus Christ, and I thirst to bring him to others. 
2. I strive to be a believing, practicing Catholic Christian.
3. I desire and try to live a life of prayer. 
4. I desire and try to serve others. 

 Volunteering at St. Joseph's Festival in Scranton L-R: Father Don Williams, 
                                          Diocesan Director of Vocations and Seminarians, Sister Maryalice Jacquinot, IHM,                                           President and CEO, St. Joseph's Center,  Father Jeffrey Walsh, Diocesan Episcopal 
   Vicar for Clergy, and seminarians Rev. Mr. Joseph Mosley and Bill Beechko. 

Seminarian Rob Dogal on a Mission Trip with students from Holy Cross High School, Dunmore.

5. I have felt a desire to be a priest, though it is sometimes stronger than at other times. 
6. Others have told me I would make a good priest.
7. When I read and listen to Scripture, sometimes I hear the call to priesthood. 
8. I want to live a virtuous life. 
9. I like being around people.

Fr. Don Williams talks to attendees at Quo Vadis Days 2015.
10. I am intelligent enough to complete graduate-level work.
11. I am joyful, and I have a good sense of humor. 

Seminarian Ryan Glenn (left) dressed as seminarian Shawn Simchock (right)
when he was in high school.  

12. I think I have a "priest's heart."
13. I believe I have the self-mastery to be a good priest. 
14. Generally speaking, I have demonstrated stability in lifestyle.
15. People who know me would say I am a Christian gentleman.
16. There have been events and signs in my life that seem to point to a calling to be a priest.
17. I can accept success and failure without losing my peace.
18. I am trying to be truly open to the will of God in my life. 
19. I would make an excellent spouse and father if God called me to the vocation of marriage.

If any of these indicators ring true in a man's life, he should pray about talking to his Pastor or a member of our Vocation Team about a possible vocation to Diocesan Priesthood. 
Feel free to call 570-207-1452 or email vocations@dioceseofscranton.org. 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

World Day of Prayer for Vocations

The Diocesan Celebration for World Day of Prayer for Vocations was held Sunday, May 1 at the church of St. Matthew, East Stroudsburg. Bishop Joseph C. Bambera was the celebrant and homilist. Priests, sisters, young adults, youth groups, and the faithful from all over the Diocese of Scranton were in attendance.

An overflowing crowd at the World Day of Prayer for Vocations Celebration  
at St. Matthew Parish, East Stroudsburg
Countless Wonders, a student music group from Marywood University, held a concert prior to the Mass at 6:15p.m. Sister Mindy Welding, Director of the Office for Vocations, Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, welcomed everyone and introduced the band. Energetic and uplifting contemporary Christian songs were sung with everyone in the congregation participating.

Sister Mindy Welding, IHM welcoming everyone to the celebration

Countless Wonders energizing the crowd 
Concelebrants included Father Don Williams, Diocesan Director of Vocations and Seminarians, Father Rick Malloy, S.J., University Chaplain, University of Scranton, and priests from the Monroe Region. A combined choir of almost 50 voices from parishes all over the region enhanced the liturgy. Some selections included Send Down the Fire, With One Voice, The Summons, and God’s Holy Gifts. The choir was under the direction of Ann Mullen, Director of Music at St. Matthew Parish.

Monroe Region Choir 
Students from the Confirmation class were the Ministers of Hospitality in addition to the Knights of Columbus. Sister Shirlee Tremont, Vocation Director, MPF, and Dori Hurley, Youth Minister at Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish, Brodheadsville, served as lectors. The altar servers were from different parishes in the region and the Notre Dame School system.

Sister Shirlee Tremont, MPF

Dori Hurley

Family from the Notre Dame School system brought forth the gifts of bread
 and wine to Bishop Bambera 
Bishop Bambera encouraged those in attendance to stay open. “You don’t need to use anyone else’s map to heaven, because God has already placed within your soul all the directions you’ll ever need,” he said during his homily. “Jesus is calling all of us to be his disciples and to build his Church. Open the locked doors of your heart. Say ‘yes’ to Jesus, and become the person that God has created you to be!”

"What about you? What are you going to do?"
Father Jerry Shantillo, Pastor at St. Matthew Parish and an Assistant Vocation Director, offered words of thanks right before the conclusion of Mass. He invited everyone to attend the reception, which included a wide variety of desserts and food in the school building. 

Father Jerry Shantillo offering remarks at the end of the Mass.
Vocation Directors and representatives from the following congregations in addition to the Diocesan Vocation Office were present and had materials available at the reception: Little Sisters of the Poor, Missionary Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart, Religious Teachers Filippini, Sisters of Mercy, Sisters of St. Joseph, and Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Little Sisters of the Poor at the reception following the Mass

Religious Teachers Filippini at the reception following the Mass

Students checking out the congregations at the reception

Sister Mindy Welding, IHM at the reception following the Mass 

A packed reception!

Diocesan Vocation Office materials at the reception following the Mass
The celebration was memorable and enjoyed by those who attended. To read Bishop Bambera’s full homily, click here. For more information about vocation initiatives and programs in the Diocese of Scranton, please call 570-207-1452.