Bishop Joseph C. Bambera announced the establishment of the coronavirus emergency fund in the Diocese of Scranton to help support public ministries, parishes and school families amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The coronavirus emergency fund will allow individuals to financially support any parish in the Diocese, assist public ministries that operate food pantries, kitchens and shelters or provide emergency tuition assistance for Diocesan Catholic School families. People interested in supporting the fund can make a gift to a specific parish, school, pantry, kitchen, shelter or relief assistance program.

“While this is a time of great challenge, I am encouraged to see so many people wanting to reach out in support of our families, our neighbors and our parishes,” Bishop Bambera said in a news release. “Due to the suspension of Masses, which was necessary to protect the health and safety of our community, our parishes and the Diocese now face the increased risk of financial shortfalls.”

Catholic Human and Social Services of the Diocese of Scranton operates five food pantries in Carbondale, Hazleton, Scranton and Wilkes-Barre. It also provides hundreds of warm meals daily to people at its kitchens in Scranton and Wilkes-Barre and operates three homeless shelters in Hazleton, Scranton and Wilkes-Barre.

As the COVID-19 virus began to spread in northeastern and north central Pennsylvania, Catholic Human and Social Services has seen a significant increase in the number of people in need of help. During the month of March, more than 1,000 individuals visited the Carbondale food pantry, which far exceeds the monthly average of 500 visitors. There has also been at least a 50 percent increase in homeless individuals seeking assistance at the agency’s three shelters.

The coronavirus emergency fund is also expected to help Catholic school families who cannot afford tuition after a parent loses a job or any of the Diocese’s 118 parishes that struggle to pay their expenses with no public Masses scheduled.

Interested donors are encouraged to make gifts to the coronavirus emergency fund online at dioceseofscranton.org/emergencyfund. If donors prefer, they can mail gifts to Coronavirus Emergency Fund, Diocese of Scranton, 300 Wyoming Ave., Scranton, PA 18503. Checks should be made to the Diocese of Scranton and list the gift designation – either the parish name, Catholic Human and Social Service program or specific Catholic School they wish to support.

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