Discover the Diocese of Scranton

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Scranton, of which St. Peter's Cathedral in Scranton, Pennsylvania, is the mother church, consists of 11 counties in northeastern Pennsylvania,United States.

On February 23, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Monsignor Joseph C. Bambera the tenth Bishop of Scranton. Bishop Bambera was ordained and installed as bishop on April 26, 2010, at St. Peter’s Cathedral. Cardinal Justin RigaliArchbishop of Philadelphia, served as principal consecrator and James C. Timlin, Bishop Emeritus of Scranton, and John M. Dougherty, Former Auxiliary Bishop of Scranton, served as co-consecrators. ArchbishopPietro Sambi, the Apostolic Nuncio (papal ambassador) to the United States, read the papal appointment letter. 

Major churches

Current leadership

Additional information

suffragan see of Philadelphia, established on March 3, 1868, the diocese comprisesLackawannaLuzerneBradfordSusquehannaWayneTiogaSullivanWyoming,LycomingPike, and Monroe counties, all in the northeastern part of Pennsylvania. The area of the diocese is 8,487 square miles (21,980 km2).

Scranton, the episcopal see, is in the heart of the Lackawanna River valley and is a city of 72,485 inhabitants (2007 estimate). Other large cities in the diocese are Wilkes-Barre,WilliamsportHazletonCarbondale, and Pittston.

The first Catholic settlers in the area were principally of Irish and German descent. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Slavic and Italian populations attracted by the coal-mining industry came to comprise one-half of the Catholic population.

Early history

Although many of the early settlers were Catholic immigrants, the first official visit of a priest to this territory of which there is any authentic record was not until 1787. In that year the Rev. James Pellentz traveled from Baltimore up the Susquehanna River as far as Elmira, New York, ministering to the Catholics scattered through this region. A few years later, the famous French settlement of Asylum or "Azilum" was founded (1793–94). Planned as a retreat for French nobility, the site chosen was on the banks of the Susquehanna River, opposite the present village of Standing Stone in Bradford County. Today scarcely a trace of this unique settlement remains.

The earliest permanent Catholic settlements were at Friendsville and Silver Lake in Susquehanna County. These, as well as the other Catholic settlers scattered throughout this district, were attended occasionally by priests sent from Philadelphia. In 1825, largely due to the solicitations of Patrick Griffin, father of Gerald Griffin, Bishop Kenrick, of Philadelphia, sent the Rev. John O'Flynn as the first resident pastor. His work, however, was similar to that of a missionary, as his field of labor comprised thirteen counties in northeastern Pennsylvania and five counties in New York state.

The first church in the diocese was built in 1825 near Silver Lake. Father O'Flynn died at Danville in 1829, and was succeeded by Father Clancy. On February 1, 1836, the Rev. Henry Fitzsimmons was sent to take charge of this territory and took up his residence in Carbondale, where a church had been built in 1832. In 1838 the Rev. John Vincent O'Reilly was sent by Bishop Kenrick to assist in administering to the Catholics of this extensive territory. He took up his residence at Silver Lake and his charge comprised Susquehanna, Bradford, Tioga, Potter and Sullivan counties in Pennsylvania and the five adjoining counties in New York. The early history of the diocese is intimately bound to the labors of Father O'Reilly and the foundations of many present parishes were the results of his missionary zeal.


In general

The Rt. Rev. William O'Hara, the first bishop in the diocese, was born in DungivenCounty LondonderryIreland on April 14, 1816. His philosophical and theological studies were made at the Urban College of the Propaganda, Rome, where he was ordained on December 21, 1842. His first appointment was as assistant at St. Patrick's Church, Philadelphia. He spent several years in Philadelphia until his consecration as Bishop of Scranton on July 12, 1868. The diocese then numbered 50 churches and 25 priests. He died on February 3, 1899, and is buried under the main altar of St. Peter's Cathedral.

The Rt. Rev. Michael John Hoban, the second bishop, was born in Waterloo, New Jersey on June 6, 1853. He attended the College of St. Francis Xavier (now called Xavier High School),College of the Holy Cross and St. John's College (now Fordham University). After one year of seminary, he entered the American College in Rome in 1875, where he was ordained to the priesthood on May 22, 1880. Prior to organizing St. Leo's Parish in Ashley, Pennsylvania in 1887, he worked in Towanda, Pittston and Troy. He was consecrated as Bishop of Alalis and coadjutor Bishop of Scranton on March 22, 1896. During his administration, he enacted important legislation with regard to the internal affairs of the diocese and under his inspiration the present St. Joseph's Infant Asylum and the Maloney Home for the Aged, were added to the equipment of the diocese. By 1911, the diocese had grown to 265 priests, 232 churches, and a Catholic population of 265,000.

Diocesan bishops

The following bishops have served as the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Scranton.

  1. † William O'Hara (Appointed March 3, 1868 - Died February 3, 1899)
  2. † Michael John Hoban (Consecrated Coadjutor Bishop, March 22, 1896 - Succeeded February 3, 1899)
  3. † Thomas Charles O'Reilly (Appointed December 19, 1927 - Died March 25, 1938)
  4. † William Joseph Hafey (Succeeded March 25, 1938 - Died May 12, 1954)
  5. † Jerome Daniel Hannan (Appointed August 17, 1954 - Died December 15, 1965)
  6. † Joseph Carroll McCormick (Appointed March 4, 1966 - Retired February 15, 1983)
  7. † John Joseph O'Connor (Appointed May 6, 1983 - Appointed Archbishop of New York on January 26, 1984)
  8. James Clifford Timlin (Installed April 24, 1984 - Resigned July 25, 2003)
  9. Joseph Francis Martino (Installed July 25, 2003 - Resigned early June, 2009, and Retired August 31, 2009)
  10. Joseph Charles Bambera (Installed April 26, 2010–present)

† = deceased

Auxiliary bishops

Other bishop who was a priest of the Diocese of Scranton


Catholic education in the diocese began with the pioneer Father O'Reilly. In the autumn of 1842, he opened a college at St. Joseph's, Susquehanna County. Under his supervision, it grew and flourished and in the 22 years of its existence, the college educated two bishops and over 20 priests. It was destroyed by fire on January 1, 1864 and was never rebuilt. St. Thomas College was established in 1888 and came under the direction of the Christian Brothers. In 1938, it was elevated to become the University of Scranton. The Society of Jesus took charge of its governance in 1942. Marywood University, also in Scranton, was founded and is operated by the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. King's College in Wilkes-Barre is operated by the Congregation of the Holy Cross. And, in Dallas,Misericordia University was founded by the Religious Sisters of Mercy in 1924.

In the 1940s, it opened the South Scranton Catholic High School, later Bishop Klonowski High School. The school closed in 1982.

Due to rapidly declining enrollment and mounting financial obligations, the Most Reverend Joseph Martino employed the Meitler Consultants to assess the catholic schools and provide recommendations to restructure the education system. The final decisions, made in January 2007, resulted in the consolidation of all schools as under direct diocesan control. It created four regional systems (as shown below), and closed many individual schools. All of the secondary education centers in Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties were closed and replaced by two regional schools: Holy Cross High School to serve Lackawanna County and Holy Redeemer High School to serve Luzerne County. The curriculum of the diocese was standardized to promote continuity and uniformity in the education of the students, and improvements have been visible in the results of college attendance and standardized test results, which consistently rank well above the area's public schools. In April 2010, the Most Revered Joseph Bambera announced an adjustment of the diocesan school system, which dealt with financial contributions, marketing and promotion of the schools, and the closure of four elementary school sites.

As of the 2011-2012 school year, the Diocese of Scranton operates six early childhood centers, sixteen elementary schools and four high schools, as shown below (in alphabetical order of the municipality in which they occur). Regional Systems are delineated and high school centers are in boldface.

Early childhood centers

Holy Cross School System

Holy Redeemer School System

Notre Dame School System

Saint John Neumann School System


Religious institutes



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