The Future of Faith: Priest shortage latest crisis facing Diocese of Scranton

The Times-Tribune


Published: August 30, 2015

The simple rite unfolded on a lazy summer afternoon, light on pomp but weighted with possibility for the Diocese of Scranton.

Parishioners filled almost every pew last month at Our Lady of the Eucharist Parish in Pittston to witness history in the making as the Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, D.D., bishop of Scranton, installed Sister Mary Ann Cody, I.H.M., as parish life coordinator to shepherd the faith community in the absence of a resident priest.

The Rev. Jeffrey Walsh, based at St. Peter’s Cathedral Rectory in Scranton, will serve as the sacramental minister, but Sister Cody will provide Our Lady of the Eucharist’s day-to-day pastoral and organizational leadership in a role the bishop described as “faithful witness, wise teacher and servant leader.”

Sister Cody, a longtime Catholic educator who previously acted as the parish’s pastoral associate, is the first parish life coordinator within the diocese.

She won’t be the last.

After a long period of tumult and upheaval during which it shuttered churches and schools, consolidated parishes, wrestled with finances and dealt with fallout from the clergy sexual abuse scandal, the Diocese of Scranton confronts a new challenge.

A diminishing number of active priests to minister to the spiritual needs of the nearly 280,000 Roman Catholics in Northeast Pennsylvania in the coming years will require the diocese to embrace other forms of pastoral leadership.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.