The Church Tour of Scranton: St. Thomas More

What happens when you allow two Theology majors access to a car? They inevitably drive to various churches to experience their unique liturgies. Or, at least, that’s what my apartment mate and I have been doing for the past several weekends.

It’s finally feasible for us as juniors to have cars on campus, and my good friend and I have been enjoying this new freedom. Besides the campus (Roman Catholic) liturgy, we have attended services at various other churches in the Scranton area, all of them different rites of the Catholic Church.

In my next few blogs, I will recount my experiences at these churches.

First, we visited St. Thomas More Parish, which celebrates the Anglican rite. This parish, originally Good Shepherd Church, used to be Anglican. After undergoing catechesis, the parish and its pastor converted to Catholicism in 2005.

The Anglican Church and Catholic Church are historically very closely related, having split in 1534 at the prompting of the British King Henry VIII, who disagreed with the Pope on the issue of his annulment. Reunion of Anglican churches to the Catholic Church was made possible by a pastoral provision written by Saint John Paul II and an apostolic constitution written by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Anglican priests (even married ones) can become Catholic priests, and Anglican parishes can become Catholic parishes, while maintaining the uniqueness of their Anglican liturgy. This was an attractive option for Anglican parishes who disagreed with the trend in the Anglican Church away from traditional Catholic doctrine in matters such as marriage, abortion, and ordination.

I attended the “low mass” (less ceremony than the “high mass”) at St. Thomas More. Of all the services I have attended of different Catholic rites, the Anglican rite was the most familiar to me. Some differences: The words were more embellished and proper, including the frequent use of the verb “hath” (How very British!). The priest faced away from the congregation except during the homily and parts of the consecration.

The coolest part of the liturgy? After professing our profound sinfulness, the priest offered a consolation: some comforting words of Jesus from the gospels, chosen at his discretion. This beautiful part of the mass is not a part of the Roman Rite!

Up next: St. Joseph Melkite Church!

 

 

A Taste of Italy

This past weekend, downtown Scranton hosted its 40th annual Italian food and culture festival, La Festa Italiana (often shortened to just “La Festa”). Food vendors from Scranton, surrounding areas, and even other states crowded together under white tents in the Lackawanna Country Courthouse Square, which is a short walk from campus. The mouth-watering smell of pizza and pasta that wafted into campus drew me down to La Festa every day. I looked forward the most to the Italian desserts. The beautiful, intricate pastries were stacked up high in glass display cases, and I could not resist buying several of them. The nutella-infused cannoli that I picked up on a whim turned out to be the most delicious thing I ate at the festival. (As a side note, I had never had a cannoli before coming to the University of Scranton and going to La Festa! Unbelievable, I know.) The chocolate gelato, a welcome cool refreshment in the summer heat, was also very good.

In addition to various types of Italian food, La Festa also hosts some seemingly out-of-place vendors, like a Chinese food station, a barbecue station, a Greek gyro station, and a birch beer station. I have never bought from these vendors but their presence is not unwelcome, especially to those who may have dairy allergies (It’s hard to find Italian food without some type of cheese or cream). La Festa also includes live musical entertainment. My favorite act this year was Chris Macchio, an Italian tenor from New York City. His spectacular voice rose angelically over the bustle of the vendors, beckoning many to stop their eating and listen to his spellbinding performance.

My one regret is that I did not participate in the cannoli-eating contest that took place on Labor Day. Although I doubt I could have eaten more than 5 cannoli, I think I still would have had a lot of fun. I’m planning on it for next year!

If you want to know more about La Festa, you can visit its website here.

The Perks of Apartment-Style Living

It’s the start of another school year. I can’t believe I’m a junior. I remember meeting juniors when I was a freshman and marveling at how grown-up they were — how educated, well-spoken, and mature. Although I don’t feel this way yet, I think that it will come over time.

One neat thing that I’ve already come to love is living in an apartment this year. I live in Montrone, which is an on-campus apartment complex for upperclassmen. It is situated across from the DeNaples Center on Mulberry Avenue, above a dining court and next to the fitness center. Each apartment in Montrone contains a kitchen, dining area, living area, two bathrooms, and four single bedrooms. Although my bedroom is smaller than the one I had freshman and sophomore year, it feels more open and private because I’m not sharing it with a roommate.

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My room! There is a bed, a desk with shelving, a four-drawer dresser, and a wardrobe (not pictured). I still need to do more decorating.

This past Friday, a fellow apartment-mate and I took advantage of our kitchen and decided to make dinner. We had fresh vegetables graciously given to us by a professor, and our commuter friends provided the rest of the ingredients. We had a lovely night hosting 6 people in our apartment. Cooking our meal was a fresh breath of independence. Although I love the accessibility of the campus dining services, I had gotten used to making my meals over the summer. With my own kitchen, I can continue to develop my cooking skills and share them with my friends.

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Cooking! On the stove: sausage, rice, and a mix of zucchini and peppers.

There are so many other perks of apartment-style living: having a couch, being able to control the air conditioner, having a full-sized fridge, etc. I’m excited to continue to use the apartment and discover more about its great features!