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!



Ms. Juliana C. Vossenberg

Hello! My name is Juliana Vossenberg, and I hail from Fredericksburg, Virginia. I am a sophomore Theology/Religious Studies major with Biology and Philosophy minors. In addition, I am on the pre-medicine track and in the Special Jesuit Liberal Arts Honors Program. I sing in the Performance Choir, am a member of the Health Professions Organization, and work as a writing fellow at the CTLE's Writing Center.

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