Roman Catholic Diocese of Scranton

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Diocese of Scranton

Dioecesis Scrantonensis
St. Peter's Cathedral.JPG
St. Peter's Cathedral
Roman Catholic Diocese of Scranton.svg
Coat of Arms of the Diocese of Scranton
CountryUnited States of America
TerritoryNortheastern Pennsylvania
Ecclesiastical provincePhiladelphia
Area22,913 km2 (8,847 sq mi)
- Total
- Catholics
(as of 2020)
1,122,040 (est.)
282,400 (est.) (25.2%%)
Sui iuris churchLatin Church
RiteRoman Rite
EstablishedMarch 3, 1868
CathedralSt. Peter's Cathedral
Patron saintSaint Peter
Secular priests215 (diocesan)
66 (Religious Orders)
90 Permanent Deacons
Current leadership
BishopJoseph Bambera
Metropolitan ArchbishopNelson J. Perez
Bishops emeritusJames Timlin
Joseph Martino
Diocese of Scranton map 1.png

The Diocese of Scranton is a Latin Church ecclesiastical jurisdiction or diocese of the Catholic Church. It is a suffragan see of Archdiocese of Philadelphia, established on March 3, 1868. The seat of the bishop is St. Peter's Cathedral in the most populated city in the diocese, Scranton, Pennsylvania. Other cities in the diocese include Wilkes-Barre, Williamsport, Hazleton, Nanticoke, Carbondale, and Pittston.

The diocese comprises Lackawanna, Luzerne, Bradford, Susquehanna, Wayne, Tioga, Sullivan, Wyoming, Lycoming, Pike, and Monroe counties, all in the northeastern part of Pennsylvania. The area of the diocese is 8,487 square miles (21,980 km2).

Early history[edit]

The first Catholic settlers in the area were principally of Irish and German descent. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Slavic and Italian populations attracted by the coal-mining industry came to comprise one-half of the Catholic population.

Although many of the early settlers were Catholic immigrants, the first official visit of a priest to this territory of which there is any authentic record was not until 1787. In that year (during the suppression of the Society of Jesus) the former Jesuit James Pellentz (1727–1800)[1] traveled from Baltimore up the Susquehanna River as far as Elmira, New York, ministering to the Catholics scattered through this region.[2] A few years later, the famous French settlement of Asylum or "Azilum" was founded (1793–94). Planned as a retreat for French nobility, the site chosen was on the banks of the Susquehanna River, opposite the present village of Standing Stone in Bradford County. Today scarcely a trace of this unique settlement remains.

The earliest permanent Catholic settlements were at Friendsville and Silver Lake in Susquehanna County. These, as well as the other Catholic settlers scattered throughout this district, were attended occasionally by priests sent from Philadelphia. In 1825 – largely due to the solicitations of Patrick Griffin, father of Gerald GriffinFrancis Kenrick, Bishop of Philadelphia, sent the Rev. John O'Flynn as the first resident pastor. His work, however, was similar to that of a missionary, as his field of labor comprised thirteen counties in northeastern Pennsylvania and five counties in New York state.

The first church in the diocese was built in 1825 near Silver Lake. Father O'Flynn died at Danville in 1829, and was succeeded by Father Clancy. On February 1, 1836, Henry Fitzsimmons was sent to take charge of this territory and took up his residence in Carbondale, where a church had been built in 1832. In 1838 John Vincent O'Reilly was sent by Kenrick to assist in administering to the Catholics of this extensive territory. He took up his residence at Silver Lake and his charge comprised Susquehanna, Bradford, Tioga, Potter and Sullivan counties in Pennsylvania and the five adjoining counties in New York. The early history of the diocese is intimately bound to the labors of Father O'Reilly and the foundations of many present parishes were the results of his missionary zeal.


Current Bishop[edit]

On February 23, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Monsignor Joseph C. Bambera the tenth Bishop of Scranton. Bambera was ordained and installed as bishop on April 26, 2010, at St. Peter's Cathedral. Cardinal Justin Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia, served as principal consecrator and James Timlin, Bishop Emeritus of Scranton, and John Dougherty, former Auxiliary Bishop of Scranton, served as co-consecrators. Pietro Sambi, the Apostolic Nuncio (papal ambassador) to the United States, read the papal appointment letter.[3][4]

Bishops of Scranton[edit]

The following bishops have served as the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Scranton.

  1. William O'Hara (1868–1899)[5]
  2. Michael Hoban (1899–1927; coadjutor bishop 1896–1899)
  3. Thomas C. O'Reilly (1927–1938)
  4. William Hafey (1938–1954; coadjutor bishop 1937–1938)
  5. Jerome Hannan (1954–1965)
  6. J. Carroll McCormick (1966–1983)
  7. John O'Connor (1983–1984), appointed Archbishop of New York (Cardinal in 1985)
  8. James Timlin (1984–2003)
  9. Joseph Martino (2003–2009)
  10. Joseph Bambera (2010–present)

Former auxiliary bishops[edit]

Other priests in the diocese who became bishops[edit]


Catholic education in the diocese began with the pioneer Father O'Reilly. In the autumn of 1842, he opened a college at St. Joseph's, Susquehanna County. Under his supervision, it grew and flourished and, in the 22 years of its existence, the college educated two bishops and over 20 priests. It was destroyed by fire on January 1, 1864, and was never rebuilt. St. Thomas College was established in 1888 and came under the direction of the Christian Brothers. In 1938, it was elevated to become the University of Scranton. The Society of Jesus took charge of its governance in 1942. Marywood University, also in Scranton, was founded and is operated by the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. King's College in Wilkes-Barre is operated by the Congregation of the Holy Cross. And, in Dallas, Misericordia University was founded by the Religious Sisters of Mercy in 1924.

In the 1940s, it opened the South Scranton Catholic High School, later Bishop Klonowski High School. The school closed in 1982.[6]

Due to rapidly declining enrollment and mounting financial obligations, Joseph Martino employed the Meitler Consultants to assess the Catholic schools and provide recommendations to restructure the education system. The final decisions, made in January 2007, resulted in the consolidation of all schools as under direct diocesan control. It created four regional systems (as shown below), and closed many individual schools. All of the secondary education centers in Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties were closed and replaced by two regional schools: Holy Cross High School to serve Lackawanna County and Holy Redeemer High School to serve Luzerne County. The curriculum of the diocese was standardized to promote continuity and uniformity in the education of the students, and improvements have been visible in the results of college attendance and standardized test results, which consistently rank well above the area's public schools. In April 2010, Bishop Joseph Bambera announced an adjustment of the diocesan school system, which dealt with financial contributions, marketing, and promotion of the schools, and the closure of four elementary school sites.

As of the 2011-2012 school year, the Diocese of Scranton operates six early childhood centers,[7] sixteen elementary schools[7] and four high schools,[7] as shown below (in alphabetical order of the municipality in which they occur). Regional Systems are delineated and high school centers are in boldface.

Early childhood centers[edit]

  • Saint Gregory Early Childhood Center, Clarks Green
  • Saint Vincent DePaul Pre-School, Milford
  • Saint Catherine Pre-School, Moscow
  • Saint John Neumann Early Childhood Center, Muncy
  • Domiano Early Childhood Center, Scranton
  • Immaculate Care Pre-School, Scranton

Holy Cross School System[edit]

  • Holy Cross High School, Dunmore
  • Our Lady of Peace Elementary, Clarks Summit
  • Saint Mary of Mount Carmel Elementary, Dunmore
  • LaSalle Academy, Dickson City & Jessup
  • Epiphany Elementary, Sayre
  • All Saints Academy, Scranton
  • Saint Clare/Saint Paul Elementary, Scranton
  • Saint Agnes Elementary, Towanda

Holy Redeemer School System[edit]

Notre Dame School System[edit]

  • Notre Dame High School, East Stroudsburg
  • Monsignor McHugh Elementary, Cresco
  • Notre Dame (Elementary and Middle), East Stroudsburg

Saint John Neumann School System[edit]


Religious institutes[edit]

Sex abuse investigation[edit]

In early 2016, a grand jury investigation, led by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, began an inquiry into sexual abuse by Catholic clergy in six Pennsylvania dioceses: Scranton, Allentown, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Greensburg, and Erie.[8] The Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia were not included, as they had been the subjects of earlier investigations.[8]

On July 27, 2018, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered that a redacted copy of the grand jury report be released to the public.[9] On August 6, 2018, the Diocese released a statement stating that Bishop Bambera would cooperate with the investigation and publish the list of "credibly accused clergy" when the grand jury report is published.[10] The grand jury report was published on August 14, 2018 and showed that 301 clergy were accused of sexually abusing of children, with 59 coming from the Diocese of Scranton.[11]

On August 31, 2018, Bishop Bambera forbade former bishop James Timlin from representing the diocese in public, given Timlin's failure to protect children from abusers.[12] Bambera himself had served as the Vicar for Priests for the Diocese of Scranton from 1995 to 1998, and he admitted that during that time he had helped then-Bishop Timlin reassign a priest who had abused a minor, although the decision was made by Timlin.[12] Bambera emphasized that since becoming bishop in 2010, he has pursued a zero-tolerance policy toward clerical abuse.[12]

On August 14, 2020, it was revealed that the Diocese of Scranton, along with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and fellow suffragan Dioceses in Pittsburgh and Allentown, was enduring the bulk of 150 new lawsuits filed against all eight Pennsylvania Catholic dioceses.[13] Of these new lawsuits, 30 were filed against the Diocese of Scranton.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jakob Pellentz was a native of Messenich in the diocese of Trier in Germany. He ceased being a Jesuit when the society was dissolved by Pope Clement XIV in 1773. He was a Vicar General of Bishop John Carroll of Baltimore. Martin I. J. Griffin, ed. (1905). The American Catholic Historical Researches. Philadelphia: M.I.J. Griffin. pp. 151–152.
  2. ^ Frederick Lewis Weis (1978). The Colonial Clergy of the Middle Colonies: New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, 1628-1776. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Com. p. 121. ISBN 978-0-8063-0799-2. Terry Carden (2005). Coming of Age In Scranton: Memories of a Puer Aeternus. Lincoln NE: iUniverse. p. 5. ISBN 978-0-595-80765-9.[self-published source]
  3. ^ Laura, Legere (2010-04-24). "Retired bishops to welcome new bishop at ordination". Scranton Times. Retrieved 2010-05-02.
  4. ^ Laura, Legere (2010-04-27). "Bambera installed as new bishop of Scranton". Scranton Times. Retrieved 2010-05-02.
  5. ^ O'Hara was consecrated a bishop by Cardinal Giacomo Fransoni. Ritzler, Remigius; Pirminus Sefrin (1978). Hierarchia catholica Medii et recentioris aevi... A Pontificatu PII PP. IX (1846) usque ad Pontificatum Leonis PP. XIII (1903) (in Latin). Vol. VIII. Il Messaggero di S. Antonio. p. 505.
  6. ^ "National Historic Landmarks & National Register of Historic Places in Pennsylvania" (Searchable database). CRGIS: Cultural Resources Geographic Information System. Note: This includes Cynthia A. Rose (1996). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form: Roger Williams Public School No. 10" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-01-03.
  7. ^ a b c "Locate a School « Diocese of Scranton". Retrieved 2018-04-03.
  8. ^ a b Couloumbis, Angela (June 17, 2018). "Pa. report to document child sexual abuse, cover-ups in six Catholic dioceses". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved August 2, 2018.
  9. ^ Couloumbis, Angela; Navratil, Liz (July 27, 2018). "Pa. Supreme Court: Release redacted report that names more than 300 'predator priests'". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved August 1, 2018.
  10. ^ Leader, Times (2018-08-07). "Bambera will release names once Grand Jury report is made public". Times Leader. Retrieved 2020-04-09.
  11. ^ "Attorney General Lists Dozens of Priests Accused of Sex Abuse in Grand Jury Report". 14 August 2018. Retrieved 2020-04-09.
  12. ^ a b c Michael Rubinkam (September 5, 2018). "As bishop looks on, abusive Father Ned gets a new assignment". Crux. Retrieved September 5, 2018.
  13. ^ Scolforo, Mark (Aug 14, 2020). "2 years after grand jury report on Pa. clergy sex abuse, lawsuits roll in". pennlive. Retrieved May 4, 2021.
  14. ^ LESNEFSKY, FRANK WILKES; MORGAN-BESECKER, TERRIE. "Diocese faces several new lawsuits". Wilkes-Barre Citizens' Voice. Retrieved May 4, 2021.


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°24′36″N 75°39′47″W / 41.41001°N 75.66297°W / 41.41001; -75.66297