Fr. Eric Bergman, pastor of the newly-erected Parish of St. Thomas More, Scranton, PA, has addressed the following message to members and friends of this Ordinariate community:
3 December 2014
Dear Members, Friends, and Associates of St. Thomas More Catholic Church,
When I wrote to you last year at this time Fr. Richard Rojas and his family had just arrived, and we were planning the restoration of the St. Joseph Convent, so that they could live here on our campus. Well, the restoration happened, they lived there since April, but as I write to you they are moving out. With the permission of our Ordinary, Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson, Fr. Rojas received from Bishop of Scranton Joseph Bambera an assignment as the administrator of a parish in Sullivan County, about an hour west of here. His duties began this past Monday, and we anticipate he will be there for the next few years. Our prayers are with him, even as we express our gratitude for the thirteen months we had him in our back yard and for the service he and his beautiful family offered to our parish. We will miss them, but you will have the opportunity to say good-bye: after Lessons and Carols at 5PM on Sunday, January 4th, the Rojas family will join us in the Parish Hall so we may bid them farewell.
His departure will not leave our mission in Bath in the lurch. The Lord in his providence has seen fit to place Msgr. Dale Rupert as the Pastor of St. Peter’s Cathedral downtown. Msgr. Rupert has been saying our form of the Mass for over nine years now, and he has agreed to help with our Sunday Evening Mass when I am in the Lehigh Valley saying Mass for the Blessed John Henry Newman Society. In addition, Fr. Brian Clarke, Bishop Bambera’s Master of Ceremonies, will undergo training and apply for faculties in the Ordinariate. Thus, even though Fr. Ed Scott has had to withdraw and Fr. Rojas is moving away, we still have the men we need to move forward with our mission and ministry.
This affirms and reinforces our faith and experience that year after year God provides.
We shall require that providence anew over the coming year. At the most recent Parish Pastoral Council meeting it was decided that we need to appoint a separate committee for the establishment of our parish school. Over the next month or so I will approach people who I believe have an interest in this project, and we will begin gauging interest, formulating a business plan, and otherwise laying the groundwork to provide a Catholic education in our tradition for our children. Holy Mother Church has been so generous in allowing us to preserve those elements of our patrimony that are consistent with Catholic faith and practice. We would be delinquent if we did not do all we could to transmit that heritage to the youngest generation, so we will press hard in 2015 to make this goal a reality. Please pray with me for God’s providence in this regard, and share with me your own hopes and dreams for our children as this work gets underway in earnest.
The school project was part of my motivation this year for acquiring the lot adjacent to our garage. With the blown-out hulk across the street now finally being restored to house retirees, we expect fourteen months from now to lose on-street parking when that project is complete. Thus, I spoke with the owner of the burned-out property on the corner of Theodore and Church about purchasing that to expand our upper lot, and he agreed in principle to sell it to us. I told him we had no money and he said we could take our time, that the church had been so good to his family that he doesn’t want to sell it to anyone else. With an eye towards future growth, keeping in mind the challenges of ministry in an urban setting we will seek to acquire that lot, too. Again, please pray for God’s providence.
Thus, we make our Christmas appeal to you. Our mission in Bath, the school we hope to found, the land we need for parking, and what we need simply to run the parish on a daily basis – all of this is costly. Please read the materials enclosed and consider a generous gift to our parish, that this trajectory of growth (we had fifteen baptisms this year!) may continue. As we give thanks for the gift of our Lord’s birth, know that your monetary gifts are the means by which we present the gift of Jesus to others. Finally, we have included a slip for memorial and thanksgiving contributions, by which we will adorn our beautiful church with Christmas decorations. In anticipation and in advance of your gifts, I thank you. My own gift will be in memory of Jerry McGreevy, a founding member of our parish, whom we lost last month. Pray with me for the repose of his soul. May God’s blessings this Advent be upon him and all those from our parish whom he loved so dearly.
Yours in Christ
The Rev. Eric L. Bergman, Pastor
St. Thomas More Catholic Church