Bishop Gainer Joins Fellow Pennsylvania Bishops in Suspending Daily and Sunday Mass

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Today and effective immediately until further notice, Bishop Ronald W. Gainer, out of great concern for the health of the faithful and in union with the Bishops of Pennsylvania, has temporarily suspended all daily and weekend Masses in the Diocese of Harrisburg. Additionally, Bishop Gainer has suspended all public liturgies and devotions, and has asked that all churches and chapels be closed, including all perpetual adoration chapels.

Bishop Gainer made this decision after careful consideration of the recommendations from public health officials, and out of great concern for the health and well-being of the faithful, our clergy and parish staffs, given the current coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

“For Catholics, the Eucharist is the source and summit of our life in Christ, strengthening us to remain firm in our faith as we journey through this life. Making this difficult decision to temporarily suspend Masses and close our churches was not made lightly,” said Bishop Gainer. “Rather, this decision has been made after careful discussions and considerable reflection on the advice being provided from healthcare professionals. I deeply care for all those members of my flock. As chief shepherd, it is my duty to see to their spiritual health, and now in these challenging times, also to their physical welfare. I continue to pray for all those impacted by this virus, for our medical professionals caring for the ill and for all people facing these uncertain times. I also pray for the intercession of our Blessed Mother, Mary, health of the sick.”

A listing of live broadcasting and/or recordings of Masses from parishes throughout the Diocese is available on the Health Alerts page of the Diocesan website. Daily and Sunday Masses are also available from EWTN on Comcast channel 291 in the Harrisburg area, or online at

Additional resources for parishes and the faithful will be available, also on the Diocesan website, in the coming days. These resources will include ways the faithful can continue to keep holy the Lord’s Day.

Please visit the Health Alerts page of the Diocesan website for the most up-to-date information regarding the Diocese’s response to COVID-19, including a listing of Diocesan event cancellations and postponements, as well as additional COVID-19 prevention measures and recommendations.


A Prayer for Peace of Mind

Throughout history the Catholic Church has faced persecutions, epidemics and even worse. Even so, as Jesus promised, the Church has survived.  Today we are faced with a world wide pandemic. For our own safety and peace of mind, we must remember that we are in Jesus’ loving hands holding us closed to His most Sacred Heart.  We place our hope and trust in Him.  Let us, therefore, pray a prayer to His Sacred Heart for peace of mind in this time of trial (Prayer from the Sacred Heart Southern Missions):


Sacred Heart of Jesus,

I place all my trust in you 

knowing that you love me, 

care for me,

and will never abandon me. 


I want to be like Mary,

who, in spite of her sorrows and great pain, 

was able to enjoy peace of mind

in the midst of her suffering,

confident that God was at her side

to give her courage. 


Help me to know

that my suffering and pain too will pass, 

as you guide me along the right path 

and that only goodness and kindness 

will follow me all the days of my life. 


Jesus, heal my heart

and grant me peace of mind. 



Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us. 

Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us.

St. Joseph our protector, pray for us. 

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us.



  • Daily and Sunday Mass are available from EWTN right here on WHYF Radio at 8 AM and 1 PM, Comcast channel 291 in the Harrisburg area, and on-line at  Traditional Latin Mass is available on  And, Check with your parish too as they may have resources to stay connected.


  • The Diocesan website, , will have resources by which the faithful can continue to keep holy the Lord’s Day, a Health Alerts page for the most up-to-date information regarding the Diocese’s response to COVID-19, including a listing of Diocesan event cancellations and postponements, and additional COVID-19 prevention measures and recommendations.


  • A number of Catholic schools are already accepting pre-kindergarten registrations for the 2020/2021 school year among them are:
    • Resurrection Catholic School, Lancaster: Enroll by calling 717- 392-3083.
    • Sacred Heart School, Lancaster:  To tour the school or to register call 717-606-2670.
    • Saint Joan of Arc School, Hershey: To enroll call 717-533-2854


  • The Harrisburg Council of Catholic Women presents the following:
    • 10th Annual Weekend Retreat: June 12th to the 14th, Mount Saint Mary, Emmitsburg: Retreat Master, Father Chris Alar, from the The National Shrine of The Divine Mercy Stockbridge, Massachusetts.  Father Alar is an Apologist, Author, speaker on Divine Mercy, and the Director of the Association of Marian Helpers.
    • 95th Annual Convention: April 25th, Diocesan Center, Harrisburg, Keynote Speaker: Sarah Christmyer, Catholic author, Bible teacher, and speaker with a special love for lectio divina and journaling as ways to draw close to Christ.


  • Plan ahead for May 17th: A Day trip to Pittsburgh including The Flight 93 National Memorial, The Church Brew Works, and St. Anthony’s Chapel, home to the largest collection of publicly venerable Christian relics in the world outside of the Vatican. Sponsored by St. Catherine LabourĂ© Parish in Harrisburg.  For all the information, including cost, contact Deb: 717-564- 1321.


  • The Saint Joseph Leisure Club, Mechanicsburg is offering: “A Tour of Biblical Proportions”, June 23rd  through the 26th.  Visit popular Kentucky destinations including the “Creation Museum”, encounter a full size Noah’s Ark, a 19thCentury German neighborhood, and so much more. To find out all the details call 717-737-8600.


  • 15-decade Rosary for Life, every third Saturday of the month following the 9 a.m. Traditional Latin Mass at St. Lawrence Chapel, Harrisburg to pray for an end to abortion. For information, contact Chris, 717-432-5415.


  • Can you spare three hours a month to assist in a prison ministry at Dauphin County, Camp Hill Prison or Keystone Work Release? No experience necessary and orientation will be provided. Call Bob: 717-571-4217.


  • Project Rachael opens the door to compassion and healing to both women and men suffering in the aftermath of an abortion.  No matter what you are feeling you are not alone.  For confidential care after an abortion call 717-857-2282.  Project Rachel: Peace starts here.


  • You can help Catholic Charities' Foster Care Program by donating unused car seats and booster seats (Note: thay must be new).  Better still, consider becoming a foster parent.  To donate or to explore the possibility foster parenting call Nicole or Kathy at 717-564-7115.


  • Parents interested in obtaining home schooling support in the Classic Catholic Tradition through Regina Caeli can contact Candice at 717-476-4054.  The Academy information is at


  • A solemn high Traditional Latin Mass will be celebrated every Sunday at 1:30 PM at St. Joseph’s Parish, Lancaster.  For more information visit


  • All are invited to join St. Joan of Arc’s pro-life committee every 1st Friday 6:00 - 7:00 pm in the St. Lucy Chapel praying for all the innocent unborn children lost to abortion.


  • If you are hurting after abortion, consider attending a weekend Rachel's Vineyard Retreat!!  For information go to  or call 877-HOPE-4-ME (877-467-3463)


  • Are you choosing a school for your child? Consider Catholic Schools. To find out more contact a school near you by using the school finder at  You’ll be happy you did!


  • The Interfaith Shelter for Homeless Families needs fresh fruits and vegetables, cleaning supplies, trash bags, and more. Donate at the Diocesan Center or the shelter, 120 Willow Road, Harrisburg. Call 717-652-8740 before delivering.


  • Mychal’s Message seeks to meet the basic needs of the homeless while restoring dignity with love.  To learn more visit or call Sharon at 717-203-0746.


  • Is there stress in your marriage?  Maybe a program specifically for married couples can help – It’s called Retrouville.  For confidential information call 1-800-470-2230.



Lent: A time of penance: pray more, fast, and give alms

(Make it meaningful – pray, fast, give alms out of a love for God.  Love your fellow man, but, it means nothing if you don’t love God first.)

In the Christmas Season we witnessed the event of the Word becoming flesh, and we offered our adoration: To be astonished like the shepherds and Magi – Incarnation: God taking on a human nature while remaining God with neither division nor confusion.  This child “born unto us” came for the purpose to die, and die willingly to save mankind from sin and death.  Jesus did it out of love for the Father first, and then because He loves each and every one of us.  Our response to what He did: “Follow me!” Said He.  Do we follow as He did?

Jesus’ earthly life had and end.  Like Jesus, our lives will have an end: something we don’t like to think about.  True, Jesus is with us in the Eucharist: In the tabernacle in every Catholic Parish.  But think about the historical facts reported by eyewitnesses: Jesus didn’t just die; He rose from the dead; and, He ascended into heaven.  We are offered the same, and, note the operative word “offered” NOT guaranteed.  

To be saved one must prepare for one’s own inevitable end, as strange as it might seem to some, it begins with the Sacrament of Baptism and the reception of the other Sacraments.  For all of us, these Sacraments are at a minimum: Confession (or if you prefer Penance), First Holy Communion, and Confirmation. You might ask, “Why?”

The quick answer, in a phrase, is: “Jesus said so.” If we follow Christ, we are to enter into the life He offers and not necessarily the life we may want.  We are to do, as He commanded, “Pick up your Cross, and follow Me.”

To enter into the Life of Christ requires a response and it starts with a spiritual response, which we Catholics ritualize in the Sacraments in order to obtain the supernatural graces promised by the Christ: Remember He said that He would not leave us orphans. However, responding to Jesus does not end with the Sacramental beginnings: As we live our lives, we must daily respond to Him by obeying His command to follow Him.

That may sound hard.  For those who are veiled in selfishness: hard, yes, but really, who isn’t to some greater or lesser degree selfish?  Nevertheless, our obedience to God starts as a simple reminder that God is always present in our lives: He made us.  We belong to Him.  And why did He make us? To know, Love and Serve Him in this world so that we can be happy with Him in the next.  It all starts for each one of us by remembering that God is with us, and why we exist.  

This brings us to Ash Wednesday. Lent is here! An opportunity to grow closer to Jesus.  Try gazing on the Cross of Christ, and, yes, with the corpus on it: Ask yourself, Firstly, “Why did the Incarnate God do this to Himself?” Secondly, “What does His action have to do with me and why I exist?” You might sense or start to understand something about God’s love for each one of us and how far He will go to save us as you ponder these questions.

Can we save ourselves?  No.  But we can respond to the offer God makes to each and every one of us.  Remember the two phrases that are used when ashes are placed on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday: “Remember man that thou art dust and unto dust thou shall return.”  “Repent and believe in the Gospel.” 

Jesus through the Church stands ready to help each one of us have a Lent in which we grow closer to Christ. Contact the Catholic parish nearest you: inquire about their Lenten spiritual offerings, Confession times, and time you can make a visit to sit before the Lord in the Tabernacle and GO!  Your Lent will be enriched by these simple acts because you will draw closer to Jesus. Why?  Because repentance brings us closer to Jesus, which in turn brings peace, worthy reception of Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar (Holy Communion), and more supernatural grace in your life.  If you accept Jesus’ offer to you, and you act upon it, you will find yourself doing the traditional Lenten call to prayer, fasting and almsgiving: It is a guarantee you will be more mindful of God in your life (prayer); the things that bother you or you feel you can’t do without will be of less concern to you (fasting); and, you will be a bit more generous with yourself and possessions (almsgiving).  Cares will begin to melt away.  So what could I expect next? Most likely an invite from the Lord to happiness.  Easter, in all its glory! 

—Laus tibi Domine, Rex aeternae gloriae! (Praise be to thee, O Lord, King of everlasting glory!)

VOCATIONSQuo Vadis and Fiat Days

Quo Vadis Days is for all young men ages 15 – 25 who may be discerning a vocation to priesthood or religious life.  Quo Vadis Days for 2019 has already taken place. Quo Vadis Days for 2020 will be posted here when the information becomes available.  Of course you can always call the Office of Vocations at 717-657-4804, for information on the priesthood.

Fiat Days is for all young women ages 15 – 25 who may be discerning a vocation to religious life.  Fiat Days for 2019 has already taken place. Fiat Days for 2020 will be posted here when the information becomes available.  Of course you can always call the Office of Vocations at 717-657-4804, for information on Religious Life. 




Donations Needed For Interfaith Shelter

The Interfaith Shelter for Homeless Families (located in Harrisburg) is in need of the following donations: computer/copy paper, pens, Ziplock bags (gallon, quart, and sandwich sizes), napkins, paper towels, toilet tissue, Pine Sol, and bathrooms cleaners. For more information, contact the shelter at 717-652-8740. Thank you for your generosity!


Read The Catholic Witness Online

Now You Can Read The Catholic Witness Online, wherever you go! Through a free e-mail service, you can receive the diocesan newspaper in an electronic format. Sign up for the e-mail service on the diocesan Web site at Follow the News/Events tab to The Catholic Witness page and click on Catholic Witness E-mail Sign Up. Once you complete the form, you will be added to our e-mail list. Each Friday that the newspaper is published, you will receive an e-mail with a direct link to the latest edition. Registration with the e-mail service will not cancel your mailed subscription. If you prefer to receive the online version instead of a copy in the mail, contact Circulation Coordinator, Susan Huntsberger, at


Catholic Charities Specialized Foster Care Training

Does Your Heart Break when the news of the day highlights how the traumatic events in a family affects the lives of their children? Our foster care children are victims of these tragic events. Will you take a stand and help us in providing permanence for them? Please join us for our next Training Series at Catholic Charities Specialized Foster Care with people just like you, who need to know more before they are ready to become a support for these children. Let the children know they are wanted. Please call Jeff at (717) 564-7115 or (800) 777-7003 or email