Prayer, Connection Occur in Creative Ways as Schools Continue Mission

In Catholic schools, education is more than academics. It’s about caring for the whole person: emotionally, socially, physically and spiritually.

In the days since Pennsylvania schools were ordered to close on March 13 from coronavirus concerns, Catholic schools throughout the Diocese have risen to the occasion, discovering and implementing ways to carry on their mission in uncertain and challenging times.

Bishop Gainer to Celebrate Digital Holy Week and Easter with the Faithful

Using technology to stay connected to the faithful during the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic, Bishop Ronald Gainer will celebrate the Diocese’s first ever digital Holy Week and Easter. The difficult decision to extend the suspension of Masses through Easter was made after careful consideration of the decree (In time of Covid-19 (II)) issued by Pope Francis, and in following the recommendations of state and local governments and, most especially, out of continued concern for the health and wellbeing of the faithful.

“Our Diocese, our nation and our world are experiencing the unthinkable with the coronavirus. With this global pandemic in mind, the Holy See, Pope Francis, has decreed that all Holy Week and Easter Masses will be celebrated, but that countries impacted by coronavirus and in cases where restrictions regarding the assembly and movement of people are in place, the bishop and priests may celebrate without the presence of the faithful.

Letter to Families in our Catholic Schools 

Dear Catholic-School Families in our Diocese,

On this feast of St. Joseph, patron saint of the universal Catholic Church, please know that I am praying for you for peace and health.  The Lord reminds us in scripture that He has plans for us, “plans for your welfare, not for woe! plans to give you a future full of hope. When you call me, when you go to pray to me, I will listen to you.”  (Jeremiah 29: 11-12) While we cannot fully understand our current situation, let these words remind us to see things through the light of faith and to trust in God’s providence.

Bishop Gainer Temporarily Suspends All Masses

Today and effective immediately until further notice, Bishop Ronald W. Gainer, out of great concern for the health of the faithful and in union with the Bishops of Pennsylvania, has temporarily suspended all daily and weekend Masses in the Diocese of Harrisburg. Additionally, Bishop Gainer has suspended all public liturgies and devotions, and has asked that all churches and chapels be closed, including all perpetual adoration chapels.

Bishop Gainer made this decision after careful consideration of the recommendations from public health officials, and out of great concern for the health and well-being of the faithful, our clergy and parish staffs, given the current coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Bishop Gainer Grants Dispensation for Sunday Mass Obligation

The Diocese of Harrisburg, at the direction of Bishop Gainer, has requested that all parishes and institutions temporarily suspend the distribution of the Precious Blood by way of the Chalice and omit the exchange of peace, effective immediately. This decision was made out of an abundance of caution due to the serious nature of the influenza virus this season and due to public concerns regarding the Coronavirus. The Diocese often asks parishes to suspend the sign of peace and distribution of the Precious Blood during serious flu seasons. This temporary suspension will be lifted once medical professionals indicate the high risk has passed.

Parishes Concoct Assortment of Tasty Treats in Lenten Traditions

The sugary-sweet aroma is unmistakable around parish kitchens and social halls this time of year. From warm and sticky fastnatchts to luscious chocolate eggs, the sugary treats are staples in several parish communities, drawing thousands of customers to the longstanding saccharine traditions.

A “foodie” road trip ahead of Shrove Tuesday served up a glimpse of the confectionary customs and the volunteers that make the Lenten treats possible at several parishes in the Diocese.

Rite of Election Welcomes New Members Preparing to Enter Church

Lent is a time of repentance, preparation and renewal leading up to Easter. For more than 90 men, women and children in the Diocese of Harrisburg, it is also their last phase of preparation before they enter into full communion with the Church at the Easter Vigil.

On Sunday, March 1 at St. Patrick Cathedral in Harrisburg, these catechumens were presented to Bishop Ronald Gainer during the Rite of Election. Annually celebrated throughout the Church on the first Sunday of Lent, those who will receive the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Eucharist at the Easter Vigil have their names written into the Book of the Elect during this ceremony. These catechumens are joined by their sponsors, catechists and godparents as a sign of support and preparedness.

The Sacredness of Listening

Father Jonathan Sawicki is the Diocese’s Vocations Director. Not too long ago, I had the privilege of accompanying him to a vocations awareness day in the southwestern part of our Diocese.

I truly LOVE talking vocations: the unique call of God to be holy! The journey to be holy is a life-long experience and is as unique and individual as each of us are!