Raymond De Souza, K.M., of EWTN, is on my Facebook friend list. Unfortunately I found out, by way of a post of his this afternoon, that there is big trouble afoot in the Scranton Diocese. My parents were both from northeastern Pennsylvania, and I lived, for around seven and a half years, in the Borough of Wyoming. I was a parishioner at Our Lady of Sorrows (now St. Monica’s) in West Wyoming. I have always been rather fond of northeastern Pennsylvania so I was quite disappointed to find out that St. Peter’s Cathedral, the mother church of the diocese, on November 23, 2015, hosted an interfaith service during which the Moslem god, Allah, was invoked.
Besides that, and other Moslem references, a woman was allowed to read the Gospel.
Considering how controversial Islam has always been, this service must have raised quite a large number of eyebrows. According to all I’ve been reading about the service, and the comments on Mr. De Souza’s page, Bishop Joseph Bambera may have quite a difficult time explaining the decision to allow such an event.
It occurred to me that because I’ve been visiting my sister’s family in the City of Long Beach, New York, for so long, I should maybe write about life in Long Beach. Officially I’m still a resident of the Borough of Wyoming, Pennsylvania, though. I’ve gotten to know Wyoming quite well by now having lived there since April of 2006 and I still don’t know all that much about Long Beach. My parents were both from northeastern Pennsylvania and I’d visited the region quite regularly since my earliest childhood, until moving there a while ago. I’ve always really enjoyed the Wyomings. It’s an exceptionally picturesque region with extremely nice scenery. Wyoming and West Wyoming-they share a common zip code, 18644-are such an exceptionally nice little suburban region. There are a lot of local businesses, including stores, restaurants, doctors, hospitals and lawyers, within driving and even walking distance of my neighborhood. They have an exceptionally nice mall only six miles away. The borough is very close to both Scranton and Wilkes-Barre. In northeastern Pennsylvania there are churches-Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox-all over the place. There are many towns in the region that literally have several churches on each street. I’d always been quite involved with Our Lady of Sorrows on Eighth Street, and St. Joseph’s on Sixth Street. The parish is now known as St. Monica’s. The churches, along with all the equally prominent secular organizations, contribute a lot to helping the poor, and to making things run smoothly in general. Having met quite a few exceptionally good people in and around the Wyomings I know that the borough’s residents are as good as any I’ve ever met although they can also be as offbeat a bunch of characters as one could expect. Considering that it’s the kind of small town where everyone knows other people’s business there’s the problem of too much gossip. On special occasions the borough’s representatives have parades and other events to commemorate whichever milestone is referred to. Jimmy Carter, the thirty-ninth President of the United States, even visited the Wyoming Monument, a landmark from the U.S. Revolutionary War. He was only the third United States President, besides Rutherford B. Hayes and Theodore Roosevelt, to visit the monument. There are also a few drawbacks to life in the Wyomings, though. Northeastern Pennsylvania is a very mountainous region and winters are inevitably bitter cold with a seemingly endless supply of snow, rain and ice. Driving in bad weather is treacherous. Flooding isn’t so bad in the Wyomings but when it happens the surrounding boroughs are subject to quite a significant amount of damage. Because it’s so close to the Susquehanna River, fog is quie a major problem too. Because there are countless potholes in the roads driving even under the nicest circumstances is quite a chore. Wyoming Avenue and other roads have a lot of traffic congestion. Because of their history of coal mines, northeastern Pennsylvania typically has a higher than average percentage of deaths attributed to cancer. There is a lot of radon, as well as other carcinogens in the environment. Luzerne County in general is politically very corrupt. If I were the mayor of the Wyomings I should be determined to make the Wyomings as safe as possible from any excessive damage from flooding. I should also want to get something done about the potholes and traffic congestion, and to invest as much as possible into affordable health care. The wear and tear on people’s vehicles is an absolute nightmare. In spite of all the relatively minor inevitable drawbacks and inconveniences the Boroughs of Wyoming and West Wyoming are quite an interesting likable environment.
A while after my mother’s death my father and I got things ready to put a marker upon her grave. We only got a few chances to visit her grave together and to take care of a few official details. He died on November 7, 2014, forty five days after her death, after having been suddenly taken ill. He was rushed to the Veteran’s Hospital in Wilkes Barre and died there. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to see him on his last day because he told me on the phone, at about 7:30 a.m. , not to bother to drive to the hospital in the bad weather. It was raining and very foggy that day. I went to the hospital after his death to sign some paperwork and to make official arrangements to get certain things done. Uncle Frankie, Fran, and Mary Anne and her family all showed up a very short time after his death to help with the funeral arrangements. His funeral, as well as my mother’s was at Our Lady of Sorrows Church at St. Monica’s Parish on Eighth Street in West Wyoming, and Gubbiotti’s Funeral Home in Exeter. Father Leo McKernan celebrated the Mass. Many of the same people at his wake and funeral had also attended hers. Because he was a veteran of the Korean Conflict, there was a very impressive military honors ceremony, with some men from AMVETS, at the gravesite. The aftermath of each death was a busy time because of all the people calling and visiting and all the extra responsibilities that accompany that kind of change. I spent my first Thanksgiving since my parents’ deaths at cousin Michelle’s house in Dallas. All of Aunt Lauren’s family were there. I spent Christmas with Mary Anne and her family in Long Beach and have been here ever since then. Life without either of my parents has brought with it many very drastic changes.
Mother’s Day went really well this year. Although my mother has been going so frequently to chemotherapy and getting physical therapy for the past few months we all had such a good time. Mary Anne came in on the bus for a few days. Neither Steve nor any of the kids was available. Recently Steve, Mary Anne, Bridget & Sam, along with other members of his family went on a trip to Europe with his mother Barbara. They will be there for a while. I gave blood a while ago at St. John the Evangelist Church in Pittston. It was my first donation since I gave blood there last December. Last Saturday morning there was another men’s meeting for the Guardian of the Redeemer Group at Our Lady of Sorrows Church, St. Monica’s Parish, in West Wyoming. Over the course of the past week Larry, Rose, Krissy Krissy Krissy, and Krissy Krissy Krissy’s daughter Natalie came to visit us from Massapequa. A few days after that Gary and Maria came in for a visit from Massapequa too. I’m always so very happy to see my Massapequa cousins. Memorial Day went really well too. I went to the annual parade on Wyoming Avenue and Eighth Street. Gino and Eric marched in it with the Cub Scouts. Yesterday I had such an interesting time. On Sunday I read in the Dispatch that Jimmy Carter, 39th President of the United States, and his wife Rosalynn, were coming to the Wyoming Monument on Susquehanna Avenue to make a speech and to accept some awards. Yesterday I went to see them. It was so interesting. I heard their voices and saw them from a distance. Unfortunately it was so very crowded and it was raining but I couldn’t have had a more enjoyable experience. I parked in the Midway parking lot among lots of buses. I was forced to walk quite a distance but it was worth it.
The Carmelite meetings have been going very well lately. Msgr. Grimaglia & Sister Mary Robert’s attendance isn’t perfect but it’s very good. We’ve finished the last chapter of the book we were reading & are about to start another one at our next meeting. At the end of September, until October 1, I went to most days of the novena for the Feast of St Therese of Lisieux at the Maronite Church of St. Anthony & St. George in Wilkes~Barre. As usual I made sure I got something at their annual bake sale too. I always see the same people there each year including Fr. Bill’s brother. Because of construction, the traffic was an absolute nightmare for the first two days I went. A few weeks ago Gino & Michelle gave a really nice party at the Checkerboard Inn in Back Mountain. It was in honor of their having officially adopted their three children. My mother couldn’t go but my father & I were both there. So were Fran & Uncle Frankie. Many friends & relatives of theirs were there, all the usual familiar faces including people from St. Monica’s in West Wyoming. Gino drove the old guests from the parking lot to the main entrance in a cart. The foliage there was especially impressive because of its having changed colors so much earlier than in most places. I’ve been reading quite a lot lately.
The weirdest thing happened last week. One day, during the middle of the week, my father & I went on one of his usual jaunts to the Veteran’s Hospital in Wilkes Barre for his check up. I always have to drive him there. As I pulled into the parking space I wanted, the guy directly opposite me said we needed a new right rear brake light. That wasn’t the highlight of the trip. On the way down River Road in Plains we always have to pass over a railroad track that doesn’t have a gate that comes down when the train is on its way. There’s one like that on Eighth Street in West Wyoming too. As we passed by the track he made a comment about how there was an accident between a train & a car. The next morning, in the Citizen’s Voice, I read an article about the accident. There’s a couple, Rocco & Liz, in their seventies, who attend St. Monica’s Church on a regular basis. Liz was the driver of the car. She’s seventy~eight years old. Amazingly, although her car was totalled, Rocco said she went away from the accident, after only a brief time in the Geisinger Hospital, with minor bruises on her nose & wrist. That’s most certainly the luckiest break I’ve ever heard of. The meetings at St. Barbara’s Parish, St. Anthony’s Church in Exeter, have been going really well so far on Tuesday nights. Oblates Brother Patrick McLaughlin hasn’t been available for the past few weeks because he’s visiting his family in Albany, N.Y. Fr. Phil Massetti has been covering for him. We have a big crowd each week. That girl Mallory is the only one we’ve lost so far. Last night was her last night. She is moving to North Carolina. Today is cousin Jamie’s birthday. Jerry Garcia, of the Grateful Dead, would have turned seventy years old if he could have lived until today. Tomorrow’s birthday girls are cousins Fran & Elaine.
This past Tuesday night, at 7:00, I went to St. Anthony of Padua’s church in Exeter for the first night of Fr. Robert Barron’s Catholicism series on EWTN. During the day , each Tuesday, it’s at St. Monica’s Parish. It’s always at St. Barbara’s at night. Br. Patrick, of the Oblates of St. Joseph, was in charge. I sat at an empty table. A little while later a very nice young girl sat right next to me & introduced herself as Mallory. Since I have a lot of trouble with contextualizing, I entirely overlooked, at first, the fact that I see her at 8:30 a.m. Mass whenever I go to St. Joseph’s on Sunday. I can never help noticing her there. Surprisingly she’s not even Catholic. At the end there was a question & answer session. Yesterday I went to O. L. Mt. Carmel’s church on William Street in Pittston to give blood. My appointment was at 4:00 but, being compulsively punctual, I showed up at around 3:00. Unfortunately I forgot to remind them that it was for a double red cell donation so that’s probably not what they did. I was happily stunned to see that it was all over within about six minutes instead of the usual twenty minutes. The last time I was supposed to give blood I was entirely too ill with the flu. By now I’ve been going quite frequently, for such a long time, that the northeastern Pa. blood drives that several phlebotomists & I have gotten to recognize each other quite well. Amber, who was one of the ladies who showed up, reminded me that we’d already met before.