SCRANTON, Pa. — Holy Week is one of the most important times in the Catholic Church. And while the coronavirus has put a halt to people celebrating mass in their local parish, the Diocese of Scranton has turned to technology to stay connected to the faithful.
Bishop Joseph Bambera, who oversees priests in 11 counties, says preaching in an empty church is something awkward and out of the ordinary.
"It's surreal to celebrate mass in a cathedral that seats 900 hundred people and have it empty. But it also reminds me, as unsettling as that may be, the great gift of our people in and through whom Jesus is present," said Bishop Bambera.
With Easter just days away, members of the Diocese of Scranton are reminding everyone that no matter where they celebrate the holiday, God's presence is among them.
"Easter is a time of rebirth; Easter is a time of hope. We are feeling God's presence with us each and every day, even while we're celebrating at home. So, it's a tough time, but it's also such a hopeful time."
Because churches are closed, the funds they need to keep parishes operating aren't coming in as quickly as they need them.
However, this week the diocese established the Coronavirus Emergency Fund. It allows individuals to support any of the 118 parishes, Catholic Social Services, and kitchens or pantries. It even offers tuition assistance for any Catholic school families who are in need.
"By allowing people to give to the Coronavirus Emergency Fund, they're able to still support their own parish that they love so dearly," said Eric Deabill, diocesan spokesperson.
The diocese says so far; they have received about 100 donations.