Bishop Announces Gradual Re-opening of Additional Parishes
May 27, 2020

Dear Parishioners of the Parish of Gate of Heaven and Our Lady of Victory Churches,

As you may know our Luzerne county will enter the Yellow Phase on Friday May 29, 2020.   We will be resuming public-Masses on Monday June 8, 2020.   We are finalizing our planning process and schedule and we expect an update to the liturgical guidelines by May 27 from the Bishop.  We will be welcoming you back to public Masses and we want our planning to ensure everyone’s health and safety.

A letter will be sent out to all parishioners by the end of the week around May 29, giving you guidance on how we will proceed.  Guidance and instruction will be also be available on our website by the beginning of next week around June 1.

Prayers of Hope and Blessings,

Fr. Daniel Toomey

Seminarian Mark DeCelles was ordained to the Diaconate on Saturday, May 23rd by Bishop Joseph C. Bambera.

Let us all pray for Mark, his family, our seminarians, and all those discerning a call to serve our local Church of Scranton as a Diocesan Priest!

Fatima Devotions at Our Lady of Victory on Harveys Lake

This is the month of May…a month during which we remember the Blessed Virgin Mary in prayer…and ask her for her intercession.

For the last 14 years, we have  had the Fatima Devotions on the 13th of the month, from May until October.  Over the years, hundreds of people have come to Our Lady of Victory to pray these prayers.

Whether or not we are permitted to have people gather in the church or not, we will be live-streaming the devotion on Wednesday, May 13, 2020 at 7 pm on our ‘Gate of Heaven & Our Lady of Victory’ Facebook page.

March 31, 2020

In my daily prayers, I am reflecting both spiritually and practically on the current challenges we are facing in the world.  The reality of the spread of COVID-19 has been made more real to us by its entrance into our own Back Mountain community, as seen by the closing of the Trucksville Sheetz due to one of their staff members contracting the virus.  We are not immune and must do all we can to protect ourselves and our loved ones.

Yesterday, Bishop Bambera gave all Pastors of the Diocese of Scranton the responsibility to decide whether or not to open their individual churches for private prayer opportunities.  It is very important that we provide a place for individual prayer for our two churches.  However, we are at a disadvantage in the physical plans of our two church buildings.  Neither Gate of Heaven Church nor Our Lady of Victory Church is a stand-alone building.  Both Churches are attached to office and operational areas that are critical to the function of the parishes.  If an infected person came in to pray, the safety of my staff would be jeopardized, and the operation of that the Church would have to shut down for a significant period of time. 

With that in mind, I have made the decision to temporarily stop private prayer hours at Gate of Heaven Church.  Due to the design of GOH, all entrances into the Church proper pass through staff and operational areas.  I have identified a specific entrance and space within Our Lady of Victory for private prayer for anyone that would like to still come to pray.  Please review our new private prayer hours at Our Lady of Victory listed below. 

Please know that it is with a very heavy heart that I have made this decision.  Keep praying for me and the decisions that I must make at this unprecedented time.  Decisions like these will always be questioned, but I must do what is best and safest for those who wish to still pray in church, my staff and our parish families. Please forgive me if this upsets you.  I am upset over it too. 

I pray for you at the Mass always.

Father Daniel Toomey
Pastor, Gate of Heaven & Our Lady of Victory Churches 

Regular Private Prayer Hours at Our Lady of Victory

Monday and Thursday from 12 noon until 2 pm
Tuesday and Friday from 9 am 10 am
Wednesday Evening from 5 pm to 7 pm
Sunday from 12:00 to 2:00 pm

This is for individual prayer. No group prayer and group devotions are permitted, in order to follow the directives of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. OLV church will be sanitized appropriately after these timeframes.

As a pastor, I would like to ensure you know that the Bishop has given us his guidelines for how we will be celebrating Palm Sunday and the Holy Week as we follow the CDC guidelines during these unusual times.   On March 25th, the Bishop provided a video you are able to view as well as his letter on the Diocesan website at The Bishop has suspended the celebration of Masses that are open to the public and all public gatherings in parishes and worship sites until further notice.

As the Bishop says, “we are being called to be socially distant from one another, it does not mean we have to be spiritually distant.”  (Bishops Letter, March 26)

Bishop’s letter, March 25, 2020.  Regarding Confession:  “With the increasing difficulty for individuals to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation due to the current health crisis, the faithful are reminded that by having perfect contrition, one can receive the forgiveness of sins apart from going to confession.  Perfect contrition requires the following three things: a love of God above all else; a sincere desire for the forgiveness from sin; and the resolution to go to confession as soon as possible when this health crisis subsides.”

As I mentioned during last week’s Mass, We are called to be People of Faith and People of Hope.  Let us persevere through this with God’s Graces as we pray for each other and we pray together.

Father Daniel Toomey

Please remember…

Masses will be live streamed from each of the churches on our Facebook Page

Sundays at 8 am from Our Lady of Victory

Sundays at 10 am from Gate of Heaven

If you do not have access to Facebook, or cannot be on at those times, a link to these weekly Masses will be put on our website,, after the completion of the live Masses.

Bishop Bambera’s Message to the Faithful
March 25, 2020


In preparation for the live stream of the Holy Mass on Sunday

The following prayer is very important to help you enter into the communion part of the Mass…so as to experience a spiritual communion with the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

You may pray it when I am receiving the Body and Blood of Christ at the altar, just before I purify the vessels. 

Act of Spiritual Communion

My Jesus,
I believe that You
are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love you above all things,
and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive you sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace you as if you were already there
and unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You.

After Spiritually receiving the Graces of Holy Communion you may pray the following prayer

Anima Christi

Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O Good Jesus, hear me.
Within your wounds hide me.
Permit me not to be separated from you.
From the wicked foe, defend me.
At the hour of my death, call me
and bid me come to you
That with your saints I may praise you
For ever and ever. Amen.

(CNS photo/Vatican Media)

Join with Bishop Bambera and Catholics around the world as we pray the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary in Response to COVID-19 during this live broadcast on Catholic Television.

Watch the live broadcast at:

As Pastor, my concern is for the safety of all my parishioners and my staff.  I believe we have to be safe and sensible during this time of concern.  The Gate of Heaven and Our Lady of Victory offices will be closed to walk-in traffic beginning on Monday March 16 until further notice.  The office staff will be able to monitor the phones and manage all your needs and parish business accordingly. 

Gate of Heaven Church will be open for regular hours as usual.  Please monitor the website for details.

Please sign-up for Flocknote, our on-line parish community, so that you can receive messages from us.   Go to and sign up.   You will then be on the sign-in page and you may enter your ‘email’ and ‘cell phone number’ then click ‘next’ and select the groups from whom you would like updates. You may also elect to receive the bulletin electronically from the group titled ‘weekly bulletin’.

Please consider the profound spiritual benefits at this time through our access to the website, which is essentially ‘Netflix for Catholics’.   The passcode for access is: VAMGCT

If you are attending Mass please be sure to provide a safe distance of 6 feet between yourself and other parishioners (family members excluded).   Please do not come to Mass if you are sick.  If you have allergies and appear to be sick, this yields the same concern – please stay home for the emotional sake of others. 

Please be safe and sensible, blessings. 
God bless you, 
Fr. Toomey





“May we pray for the wisdom and courage to embrace not merely the story of Jesus’ birth but especially his life, death and resurrection – at the heart of which we discover the surest means of achieving life and lasting peace.”
Bishop Joseph C. Bambera