Diocese OKs adding earlier Christmas Mass

In alignment with the Holy See and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Divine Worship, Bishop Joseph C. Bambera has granted permission for Christmas Vigil Masses in parishes across the Diocese of Scranton to begin as early as 2 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

The scheduling of an earlier Mass in a parish would not replace the traditionally scheduled Vigil Masses but would be in addition to those held in previous years. Pastors in the 11 counties that encompass the Diocese of Scranton can make individual decisions on Christmas Mass schedules based upon the pastoral needs of their community and the parish’s ability to properly staff and sanitize churches in accordance with Diocesan guidelines to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Traditionally, the first Christmas Vigil Mass is held at 4 p.m. For Christmas 2020, given the “grave cause that exists in the midst of the current pandemic,” allowing parishes the option to add an earlier Christmas Eve Mass will allow more individuals to participate in the celebration of the Birth of Jesus Christ.

Parishes that are not currently using a reservation system are encouraged to plan ahead for crowds since Christmas liturgies are traditionally well-attended. Parishes have also been encouraged to share the Mass times for nearby parishes to allow for the greatest number of options for those desiring to celebrate Mass.

“This Christmas will be like no other as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic but it is important that we remember the entire Advent season is a time of love, joy and peace. Because of the coronavirus, many people in our communities have been isolated, lonely and sickened. But Christmas is a time of hope. We are reminded that God gives us hope because he sent his son, Jesus, into our midst. We all need hope right now and Jesus Christ and His birth in Bethlehem gives us that hope,” Bambera said in a press release.

As a reminder, the dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday and Holy Day Masses remains in effect in the Diocese of Scranton and throughout Pennsylvania. The Diocese of Scranton will continue to broadcast the daily Mass from the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton on CTV: Catholic Television and across the Diocese of Scranton’s social media platforms. Many parishes will continue to livestream their own individual Masses, including Christmas Masses.

County awards $95G in funding

Lackawanna County Commissioners approved $95,289 in funding for 20 projects across the county related to fire protection, public safety, community organizations, facility upgrades and general construction and upkeep.

The Community Re-Invest Program was established in July of 2013. It represents the “last mile” funding to help bring the initiatives to fruition, according to a press release. The overall public-private investment since its inception is more than $8.7 million.

Projects in the Midvalley and Upvalley include:

  • Jessup Hose Co. No. 1, $5,000 for interior renovations.
  • American Legion Post. No 411, $5,000 for a handicap ramp and door replacement.
  • Eynon Sturges Volunteer Hose Co. No. 3, $5,000 for a heating system.
  • Archbald Athletic and Sportsmans Club, $5,000 for a kitchen refrigeration project.
  • Wilson Fire Company No. 1, $4,850 for gas meters and pro-thermal imagers.
  • Olyphant Hose Co. No. 2, $5,000 for HOP permit improvements for entrance/exit for fire apparatus.
  • Meredith Hose Co, $5,000 for supplemental heat and air conditioning.
  • VFW Post No. 7251, $5,000 for new building construction.
  • Chiefs of Police Association of Lackawanna County, $5,000 for Lackawanna County SWAT standalone camera system.
  • Archbald Community Ambulance & Rescue Squad, $5,000 for Lucas Mechanical CPR device.
  • Olyphant Borough, $5,000 for Taser purchase.
  • Liberty Hose Co. No. 6, $5,000 for building repairs.
  • Dickson City Borough, $4,339 for a police department computer server.
  • St. Ubaldo Society, $5,000 for cultural center restoration.
  • VNA Hospice and Home Health, $5,000 for new computers related to HIPPA and cyber security.

Penn State Scranton presents virtual holiday show

The Annual Holiday Concert presented by Penn State Scranton’s musical ensembles has been delivering yuletide cheer to the campus and community for many years.

This year, the tradition continues, albeit a bit differently than usual, the university announced earlier this month.

Because of the restrictions put in place by the COVID-19 pandemic, Music Director and Associate Teaching Professor of Music Sharon Ann Toman and the campus’ three musical groups — Penn State Scranton Chorale, The Roc[k]tet and Campus Jazz Band — are presenting the 2020 Holiday Concert as a pre-recorded virtual program instead of the usual performances held on campus and at Dunmore’s Grace Bible Church.

Presented as a series of videos, the concert can now be viewed at sites.psu.edu/pssnmusic, a WordPress website specifically created for the program by Instructional Designer Griff Lewis.

The concert’s performances were recorded over two days in early November in the Study Learning Center's Sherbine Lounge by Information Technology Support Specialist Jeremy Palko, according to a press release. That followed more than two months of on-campus rehearsals where Toman put a number of safety measures in place to protect the health of her student musicians.

Marywood rewarded for energy efficiency

UGI presented a $101,580 Energy Efficiency and Conservation rebate check to Marywood University for energy efficiency improvements the university made during a campus-wide energy efficiency project.

Marywood received the rebate through the Custom Program provision of UGI’s Gas EE&C Program. As part of the campus-wide project, an inefficient central steam boiler system was replaced by high-efficiency hot water boilers in each building. This allows each building to be controlled independently, leading to both savings of natural gas and reduced carbon emissions. In total, 32 boilers were installed in 14 campus buildings.

By undertaking this project, Marywood University will save approximately 124,775 MMBtu of natural gas over the estimated life of the new equipment. As a result, the carbon emissions reduction achieved by the University is equal to removing 1,523 cars from the road.

“UGI is pleased to provide this check to Marywood University,” Robert Stoyko, UGI vice president of marketing and customer relations, said in a press release. “Innovative solutions and the installation of energy efficiency technology at education facilities allows institutions to reduce operating costs while improving the environment by reducing their carbon footprint.”

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