• Advent is almost gone.  Have you made a good confession to prepare for Christmas? Parishes throughout the Diocese are holding Advent Penance Services.  For times and locations consult the Catholic Witness Newspaper on-line at click the News and Events Tab ( ).


  • Each Sunday in Advent, Saint Vincent de Paul Parish, Hanover, has Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament with Vespers at 4:30 PM, The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at 5:30 PM, and Benediction following Mass.  Come and enter the light of Christ’s love.


  • Theology on Tap, a gathering of young adults in their 20’s and 30’s presents “Stories for the Seminary” December 19th, Gilligan’s Bar and Grill, Mechanicsburg.  Dinner at 7 PM, prayer and presentation at 7:30.


  • Epifania Del Nostro Signore – The Epiphany Italian Mass will be Sunday January 5th, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Harrisburg.  For information call Mariella, 717-278-9420.


  • Starting January 10th, Saint Catherine Drexel Parish, Mechanicsburg will hold Iconography class.  Iconographer Nancy Keener will teach.  For information including cost, dates and times, and to register contact Nancy at 717-579-0194


  • Interested in learning about the Dominican laity? You can attend their monthly meeting January 12th, one PM at the Dominican Monastery, Lancaster. For information contact ,


  • Retrovaille is a program designed to help struggling marriages regain their health.  For more information about their January 17th weekend retreat call 717-356-2185.


  • Art contest for High School Girls sponsored by The Harrisburg Council of Catholic Women!  The art will grace the cover of their April convention’s program.  The Theme “Rejoice and be Thankful.” You could win $150!  For all the information call 717-860-0700.


  • The Diocese of Harrisburg’s chaplaincy program is hosting “Masses for Healing from Addiction” at many parishes and times throughout the diocese. The list can be found on-line at the Health and Pastoral Ministry Page under the Outreach tab at ( ) Or consult the Catholic Witness Newspaper.


  • 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)


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


  • 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.



Advent: A Time To Prepare

Too often we see the Season of Advent a simply a joyful expectation of the Nativity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ.  We focus on the first coming of Jesus at Christmas as we have passing before us in liturgical texts the Prophets, especially Isaiah and Saint John the Baptist, and the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Mary is The Immaculate Conception – she was conceived without original sin (celebrated every December 8th and is a holy day of obligation).  This special grace prepared her to respond positively to the Angel Gabriel’s announcement that she will be the Mother of the long-awaited Messiah – “Hail Full of Grace! The LORD is with thee!”  This is truly the time of mercy!

Thus, we focus on the reception of this mercy, but we need to remember that with the coming of mercy our souls must be prepared for justice for we are told in the very Gospels themselves that Jesus will come again at the end of time to be our judge.  If one stops and ponder for just a single moment, we can see that if we are not deserving of judgement, how can there be mercy?

Thus, the first coming of Jesus is to prepare us for His second coming at the end of the world when it will be a terrible scene for the wicked but for the just there will be eternal consolation.

Advent shows us that Jesus is the center of history – all history, prior to His birth, was a preparation for His first coming.  Therefore, there is an expectation of redemption and mercy.  We are shown that to obtain that redemption and mercy at the time of our deaths and at the end of time, we must keep Christ at the center of our lives.  This is especially urgent as the world seems to be moving Christ to the meaningless peripheries – a mere footnote of more recent history and especially in current events.  This cannot be so because without Christ there is no hope. But this does not have to be so.

May I suggest that to be Christian today means keeping the light of Christ as the center of our lives.  We can do this by beginning to move away from the world and getting closer to Jesus.  To do so, here are a few suggestions: 

We can do little penances which means practicing some form of fasting or abstinence whether it be from food, video games, media whether it be television or social media.  How about giving up a meal or two a week or having a meatless day.  How about a day or a few hours without video games, TV, or social media?  Fridays would be a great day to abstain or fast as it is the day that reminds us of the death of Christ on the Cross on Good Friday.  Or if you are more traditional how about both Wednesday and Friday?  Going to the Sacrament of Confession at least once during Advent gets us closer to Jesus.  May suggest that we confess not only our great faults but also the venial sins – you know the small failing we have that we are told we no longer have to confess because they are – well you know – small. They can, after all, can lead to greater sins, and if they don’t – well confessing them will bring you closer to Jesus.  A must is making Mass every Sunday in Advent and the Holy Day of Obligation – the Immaculate Conception (December 8).  Receive Holy Communion worthily.

There are celebrations that we can have in Advent too which can also bring us closer to Jesus.  Celebrate the Feast Days of Mary that occur during Advent!  Have a special dinner and family gathering on the feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8) and also the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe (December 12).  If that is not possible pray especially the Rosary on those days.

Speaking of prayer, without prayer there is no ability to get closer to Jesus.  Talk to Jesus in your own words.  Meditate on each of the phrases of the Our Father which can be done in five minutes if you are pressed for time.  And to love God more, pray the Rosary.  Daily is best.

That’s it.  Simple.  Don’t have to do it all, but do something more, dare I say, Catholic during Advent so as to move away from the world and its seductions and to get closer to Jesus, Our Savor and Lord.  If we do this more and more in our lives, when it comes time for our personal judgment, we can be recognized a friend and not as an enemy of Jesus and hear those blessed words, “Come blessed of my Father, take possession of the kingdom that has been prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

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