Mary could get you out of jail – and put you in

Bill Lewellis
The Morning Call, Feb. 18, 2012

When I was growing up in a small town in Schuylkill County, a strong woman was my hero. Before folks heard the word, Mary was a feminist in the Forties.

She kept Port Carbon, except for a few contrarians, Republican. In nearby Pottsville, she had a patronage job, matron at the county courthouse. I never had the nerve to ask her what the matron did.

She knew every judge, lawyer, bureaucrat, policeman and politician in the county. And they knew her. In Port Carbon, Mary was your network. She could get you out of jail quicker than a lawyer could.

Mary had a big heart. She and Vince had no children of their own, but they raised a few. None bore their name. Billy came to live with them when he was eleven after appearing in juvenile court on a petty theft charge. Mary happened to be sitting in the courtroom. Billy’s parents told the judge they couldn’t handle him. The judge said he’d have to send Billy away. They called it “reform school,” in those days.

“Judge, you can’t do that to this nice boy,” Mary said. “What can I do?” the judge replied. “I’ll take him home,” she said. She did. She and Vince raised Billy until he enlisted in the service.

That would have been enough to make Mary my hero; but she also did something for the women of Port Carbon that no man could have done.

My parents operated a neighborhood tavern in Port Carbon for some 35 years. That’s where I got the scoop. After I was ordained a Roman Catholic priest, my mother quipped that she may have already heard more confessions than I ever will.

Domestic violence, wife battering, may have been every small town’s dirty secret. The word in town, however, was that if a woman was abused by her husband she should call Mary. Mary went to the house, She’d go jaw to jaw with any man, confronting the abusive husband for the jerk he was. Her language was vivid. I’d love to supply samples. The confrontation often ended with the husband spending the night in jail. Mary could get you out of jail – but she could also put you in.

Some women didn’t call Mary. Some felt they had no economic alternative. Some feared that something worse might happen to them later. Some stayed in the “relationship” for what they called religious reasons. It was difficult to convince some that God did not want them to be abused.

One of my favorite readings is from the Book of Isaiah: Thus says the Lord who created you, who formed you: [Hear this word the Lord speaks to each one of us.] Be not afraid, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God… You are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you… Be not afraid, for I am with you…

Hear this word of the Lord… hear it in your mind and heart: You are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you.

[Canon Bill Lewellis, [email protected], a retired Episcopal priest, served on the Bishop’s staff of the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem for 24 years and on the Bishop’s staff of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Allentown for 13 years before that. He has written hundreds of columns for newspapers and collaborated with Jenifer Gamber in the 2009 book, Your Faith Your Life: An Invitation to the Episcopal Church.]

Sister Patricia-Michael Hauze will make solemn profession

[From Mother Laura Howell]

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

God willing, on the eve of the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels, Sr. Patricia-Michael Hauze will make her solemn profession as a solitary religious in the Diocese of Bethlehem.  Bishop Paul will receive her lifetime vows and will celebrate.  As a solitary, Sr. Patricia-Michael's community is the entire Diocese.  And part of her job in religion is to pray for us all.  We invite all the members of that community to come and support Sister as she takes this momentous step.  A monastic profession is rare these days, so we hope that you will be able to attend. 

Sr. Patricia Michael resides in Easton, and is the administrator at Trinity Easton.

The service will be at Trinity Bethlehem, September 28, 7:00 p.m. A reception follows.  Please pray for Sr. Patricia-Michael as she

Scott Allen at the WDIY controls

Scott Allen at WDIY If you tune into All Things Considered on WDIY 88.1, public radio in the Lehigh Valley, on Tuesdays, 4:00 to 6:00 p.m., you will hear Diocese of Bethlehem Episcopal priest T. Scott Allen during the breaks. Scott chooses the local news to read "from a stack of stories other folks have written and prepared. I make the decision which ones I want to read and try and get a spread of Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton/Phillipsburg news since our listeners are primarily in those towns."

DIY stands for "Do it yourself." Scott has been a volunteer for nearly three years. He quips about being "both a volunteer and an on air host---like a priest who is also a deacon."

Scott is rector of St. Andrew's Allentown/Bethlehem and serves on several diocesan committees.

Folks who are out of radio range can tune in on their computers here,
"The NPR satellite feed has scheduled breaks when I play local adverts and give news, weather, traffic and time," Scott says. "My favorite traffic report was last Spring when I had to tell folks that cows who had broken through their fence were lounging on 309 and causing a traffic back up. It was hard not to laugh while reporting that."

Winnie Romeril in Haiti

The image of a picture I did not take stays with me. It’s of a sign embedded in my mind since childhood. I’ve caught sight of it all over the world, and it always makes me smile. That red, white and blue shield with the familiar words, The Episcopal Church Welcomes You. I saw a fragment of it on a shattered wall in Leogane, Haiti. Most of the sign was gone, but it was still recognizable to me. I smiled out of habit; I could have cried.

[Download, from the April issue of Diocesan Life, Haiti for the Long Haul by Winnie Romeril, daughter of Bob and Canon Gwendolyn-Jane Romeril of Bethlehem, who claims "two weeks in Puerto Rico" with a Diocese of Behlehem youth group some years ago, "changed my life."]

Download 100401.pdf

Out in the Silence at Stroudsburg High School

The Stroudsburg High School Student Diversity Council’s Gay-Straight Alliance will screen the PBS documentary Out in the Silence on Thursday, November 12, in the high school auditorium. Out in the Silence (57 minutes) chronicles the controversy that began after the announcement of filmmaker Joe Wilson’s wedding to another man ignited a firestorm of controversy and a quest for change in the small Pennsylvania hometown he had left long ago. Drawn back by a plea for help from the mother of a gay teen being tormented at school, Wilson takes viewers on an exhilarating journey through love, hate, and understanding in rural America. The documentary explores the struggle of being a gay teen in a small Pennsylvania town and the bullying, controversy and challenges that he experiences. It challenges viewers to rethink their values and helps close the gaps that divide communities. Read more here.

Continue reading "Out in the Silence at Stroudsburg High School" »

Father John Wagner, Lehighton borough manager and priest-in-charge at St. Mark's/St. John's, Jim Thorpe

Plans and a prayer
Lehighton borough manager wants community to be a destination

By AL ZAGOFSKY TN Correspondent [email protected]
Times-News, Lehighton

John Wagner "I have a dream for Lehighton to be a destination for people, rather than simply a place through which they pass on their way to other locations," said John Wagner, borough manager of Lehighton. "I see the revitalization of our downtown area, followed by revitalization of the residential areas, as being key to the future of the borough."

Wagner said the Lehighton Borough Council recently retained Urban Development and Research Corporation of Bethlehem, an urban planner and an economist, to perform a downtown revitalization study for the borough. The study will encompass all of First Street, the Sgt. Stanley Hoffman Blvd., Rt. 443, and all intersecting streets within one block of those byways. "One of the key components which I insisted each of the firms include, is an economic gap study," Wagner explained. "The gap study will tell us the areas where we have a surplus of businesses, and the areas where we have needs in the region that are not met with our current businesses so, we can help define what kinds of businesses we want to attract to the borough."

Wagner has received support from a group of downtown businesses organized as the Lehighton Downtown Initiative Committee. "That committee is working hard to attract new businesses to the borough," Wagner said. "I have challenged them as a nonprofit group, to purchase one of the structures on First Street, rehab it and use it as incubator space for new businesses." "The borough has a lot of waterfront property," Wagner noted. "I can envision that area developed perhaps with restaurants and outdoor shopping areas that take advantage of the view of the Lehigh River from the borough." For instance, he pointed to the stoney beach on the Lehigh River beyond Dunbar's Beverage Distributor. The beach is used as a lunch spot for rafters and has been a local partying place. Recognizing it is a wet land, Wagner is not ready to make recommendations until the report is completed, but he could foresee shops on piers overlooking the beach.

Wagner sees additional areas to watch: revitalization of the downtown, development of the vacant land along Sgt. Stanley Hoffman Blvd. (Route 209 northbound bypass), and preventing deterioration of Rt. 443. To this end, he would like to see the organization broaden its focus to become Lehighton Initiative Committee and drop the "Downtown" from its name. In the downtown area, Wagner notes that already North First Street has new curbs and sidewalks. He is writing a grant proposal to extend the work to South First Street extending to the Sgt. Stanley Hoffman Blvd. intersection.

"We are in the process of adopting a standard for decorative light poles, looking to replace the metal halide cobra head light fixtures with LED fixtures, which are half the energy consumption with 10 times the life expectancy. The cobra heads are flat panel, but the pedestrian scale fixtures are colonial period." Wagner also sees the borough focusing on its assets: the Lehighton Pool, the Jacob Weiss Park, and the borough's early Moravian heritage.

Besides acting as Lehighton borough manager, Wagner, who is a civil engineer and former municipal consulting engineer, serves as the priest at the Episcopal Parish of St. Mark and St. John in Jim Thorpe. He found that he had interests both in theology and in engineering. "This was the ideal way to tie the two together," he said. "It helps me to have a more open mind and a more open heart when residents come to see me with problems. "And I bless all the plans before they go out the door," he joked.

Missioner for Youth Kimberly Rowles

Kim Rowles.lo-res
Effective July 2009, Bishop Paul named Kimberly Rowles to Diocesan Staff as Missioner for Youth.

Kim has been a chaperone and leader on several diocesan youth events during the past two years, including the 2007 inaugural Senior High Mission trip to New Orleans in. She has served also as a Rite 13 teacher at Christ Church, Reading where she had been parish administrator. She then served as part-time Youth Ministry Coordinator at St. Gabriel’s Douglassville where she became even more involved in diocesan events and planning as a member of the Youth Council.

Continue reading "Missioner for Youth Kimberly Rowles" »

Ann Mickus, Lay Missioner for Children and Youth Formation at the Cathedral

Ann Mickus, who has been lay missioner for children and youth formation at the Cathedral since March 1, holds a Masters degree in Education from Widener University, and has been teaching high school math for the past eight years. She is a graduate of the Education for Ministry program of the School of Theology of the University of the South.

Ann has been actively involved in children and youth ministry serving as a Rite 13 mentor and teaching Sunday school. She is participating in Godly Play ministry at Trinity Church, Bethlehem. Ann and her husband Bob are members of Trinity Bethlehem. Ann’s ministry will focus primarily on the support and development of Cathedral's many ministries involving children and youth.

She will be present on Sunday mornings beginning March 1, and her time will increase to 20 hours a week at the conclusion of the school year and then into the next program year. A funding gift made this position possible.

Charlie Barebo joins Bishop Paul's staff

Charlie Barebo has joined Bishop Paul Marshall's staff as Development Officer.
"Charlie is doing this as a gift to the diocese, as part of his discipleship, for which I am most grateful," Bishop Paul said earlier, announcing the appointment. "Charlie is the backbone of our New Hope Campaign and has much to bring us. Please join me in gratitude to God for this unique appointment to the staff." Bishop Paul received the gift after reviewing a five-year plan presented by Barebo.

Continue reading "Charlie Barebo joins Bishop Paul's staff " »

Where has Bill been?


Some of you have asked why I've virtually disappeared from the online scene –– i.e., no todaySpin since March 27, no newSpin newsletter for more than a month. Others may have wondered why you have not received a reply to some of your email notes to me. I want to offer an explanation and to solicit your prayers. I have been dealing with a few daunting health issues, something new for me.

On March 10, I experienced a frightening episode of trigeminal neuralgia. I mentioned that in a column I wrote a few days later for the Morning Call. Tegretol was prescribed to deal with that, and it seems to be doing that, though perhaps not without side effects. Soon after that, I had a prostate bioposy which detected some cancer in one quadrant of my prostate. Then came a series of diagnostic tests to determine whether the cancer had spread to bones or the lymphatic system. The tests were negative in that regard, but one uncovered a previously undetected small cancerous mass in the lower part of my right kidney.

Within all of that, perhaps from many visits to the hospital for tests and bloodwork, I developed a high fever for which a week's worth of Levaquin was prescribed. It may be that this powerful antibiotic along with the introduction into my body of Tegretol and Flomax (competing perhaps with other meds I've been taking for years) worked their own dis-ease on me that wore me out during much of the day (and part of the night) for some three weeks.

Over the past few days, I have felt a bit of recovery from some side effects. I'm hoping my body will son find a way to cope with all of this. Over the past six weeks, I've seen four doctors, one at leas seven times,  have had several major diagnostic tests, and have lost count of how many times I've had blood drawn for one reason or another. At one point I began to complain within myself about how many doctors I was seeing ... until I recognized that many, without appropriate health insurance, would not have this reason to complain about something for which I really need to be grateful.

Early in May I expect to have a few consultations on what to do about the prostate and kidney cancers which, of course, loom in the background. Unless I can be persuaded beyond my current fuzzy thinking (wishing?), I hope to have my prostate cancer treated non-invasively soon and adopt a watchful waiting program regarding my kidney cancer rather than undergo "abominable" surgery.

I know I am in your prayers, for which I am grateful.



Bill Lewellis, Communication Minister/Editor (1986), Canon Theologian (1998)
Diocese of Bethlehem, 333 Wyandotte Street, Bethlehem, PA 18015
Website, Blog, Email (c)610-216-2726, (w)610-691-5655x229, (h)610-820-7673
Be attentive. Be intelligent. Be reasonable. Be responsible.
Be in Love. And, if necessary, change. [Bernard Lonergan]

Montrose celebrates Charles Cesaretti and welcomes Janet Watrous

[From the weekly update of St. Paul's Montrose] This coming Sunday the Congregation of St. Paul's will gather to mark a major transition in its life and ministry. With the retirement of Fr. Charles and the beginning of the four month interim of Mother Watrous, St. Paul's will enter a time of preparation to call and institute a new rector, and celebrate a new ministry. It is no accident that the Sunday Scripture readings appointed for the next weeks recall the beginning of the Christian Community starting with the small apostolic core in Jerusalem, its missionary outreach, and eventual spreading throughout the world.  These readings allow us to examine our own life as a faith community, ministering to the those in need, and reaching out to bring the "good news" to the whole world. St. Paul's will find vision, encouragement, and nurture through reflection of these readings in the weeks ahead.  In the Gospel reading this Sunday, St. Luke reflects upon Jesus' post-Resurrection time with the disciples:  "...he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, 'Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.'"  Well, there it is!

Continue reading "Montrose celebrates Charles Cesaretti and welcomes Janet Watrous" »

My new understanding of ashes to ashes

By Daniel Gunn

Lent began early for me this year. Rather than being driven into the wilderness for this annual time of spiritual introspection, I was flown into our companion diocese of Kajo Keji. I do not intend to give the impression that the place is desolate or the people uncivilized. Rather, I reflect on what the experience of being with our brothers and sisters meant to me. It was a Lenten journey in which I found a new understanding to an old verse. 

[Download Father Gunn's reflection and a photo story, Download 090405.pdf]

With our brothers and sisters in Kajo Keji

By Trip Trepagnier

The Rev. Daniel Gunn, rector of St. Stephens Pro Cathedral, Wilkes-Barre, and Trip Trepagnier, chair of the World Mission Committee of the Diocese of Bethlehem, had the privilege of traveling in Kajo Keji during the last week of February.

The companion relationship between the dioceses of Bethlehem in Pennsylvania and Kajo Keji in southern Sudan is flourishing. In addition to funding the construction of schools and a college, the dioceses are participating at a more personal level.

Youth members of the Cathedral Church of the Nativity’s church school made greeting cards and a quilt for delivery to their companion parish in Romogi; they, in turn, received messages from the children of Romogi primary school.

Palm crosses brought from Bethlehem were burned together with those from Kajo Keji and used at an Ash Wednesday service led by Father Daniel Gunn and the Rev. Samuel Pianile Alibe.

Christmas gifts purchased by Diocese of Bethlehem parishioners were distributed to an orphanage, the Mothers’ Union Training Center, primary schools and archdeaconries throughout the Diocese of Kajo Keji.

Prayers are offered weekly for members of the two dioceses.

Although we live many thousands of miles apart, the people of Kajo Keji and Bethlehem are one body in Christ.

[Download the photo feature from the April Diocesan Life, Download 090404.pdf]

The Paschal Mystery –– In the dying is the rising

By Patrick Malloy

[Download the Diocesan Life page, Download 090402.pdf, or read it all below.]

The Triduum we will celebrate in 2009 –– the three-day feast often called “the Paschal Mystery” that celebrates the passing of Jesus from life to death to glory and our share in the pattern of his life –– will not be like the Triduum we celebrated in 2008.

It was only one year ago, but the world was different then, so the three-day feast was different, too, than the one we celebrate this year.

It will not be the same, because we are not the same. The story most people tell about their lives and their world this year is not what we told just one year ago. Yet, the wonder of how God-in-Christ passed from eternity into time, and from life into death, and from death into glory, has not changed. We have changed, our world has changed, but God remains.

Continue reading "The Paschal Mystery –– In the dying is the rising" »

Scott Bader-Saye accepts faculty post at Seminary of the Southwest

 "With not a little sadness," Diocese of Bethlehem Archdeacon Howard Stringfellow wrote, "I need to announce that Scott Bader-Saye has accepted the post of Professor of Christian Ethics and Moral Theology at the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas, and that Demery Bader-Saye, Missioner for Youth in the Diocese, will leave her post this summer.


The Bader-Sayes are members of Peacemeal, an emerging Episcopal community in Scranton.  They have three sons. Demery will have served five years as Missioner for Youth in June. She has reshaped the youth ministries in the Diocese and has successfully guided Christophany, Happening, The Bishop's Day with Youth, EYE, and the Senior High Mission Adventures. Her leadership will be missed and difficult to replace. Scott holds degrees from Davidson, Yale, and Duke.  Presently he is Associate Professor of Theology at the University of Scranton, a Jesuit school.m While it is sad to announce their departure, I am heartened by the certainty that their ministries will flourish and that many exciting opportunities await them."

Continue reading "Scott Bader-Saye accepts faculty post at Seminary of the Southwest" »

I am Episcopalian

New Episcopal Church 'microsite' will showcase videos of diverse church members

Beginning Ash Wednesday, visitors to the Episcopal Church website will find an interactive feature called I am Episcopalian, containing short videos of people "sharing their deep, personal connections to the big, wide, vibrant church that we are," said Anne Rudig, who joined the Episcopal Church Center in New York as communication director on January 5. The videos will show the diversity of Episcopalians. The site will let users upload their own videos. Uploaded videos will be monitored before being posted, and should be no longer than 90 seconds. I am Episcopalian will be the website homepage throughout Lent, with a link to the rest of the Episcopal Church's web content. It is part of a renewed communications effort "to tell our own story," Rudig noted. "We are hoping it will grow, and we hope the rest of the world will see what a dynamic church we have." The microsite can also be reached at

Speak Lord, your servant hears

Mother Gwendolyn-Jane Romeril has written the following poem/prayer to share with us.  She is fighting a systemic infection and asks for your prayers. She welcomes cards and emails, but please don't call, as she is resting. Visitors are not allowed.

Speak Lord, your servant hears

Here I am again, contemplating
my present condition.
"You are fighting the battle
of your life" the Dr. said.
"This is worse than cancer."

What could be worse than cancer?
I thought.
Fear grips me.
I need help.  God, give me your
Word.  From Isaiah, you speak.

Continue reading "Speak Lord, your servant hears" »

Ordinations of five deacons

Bishop Jack Croneberger ordained five deacons for the Diocese of Bethlehem on February 2 in the Cathedral Church of the Nativity.

Group 5b
Left to right: Timothy Scott Albright will continue at General Seminary until May; Christina Nord will serve her deacon internship at Grace Allentown; James Douglas Moyer, Jr., will continue at Nashotah House in Wisconsin until May; Bishop Jack, Assistant Bishop, Diocese of Bethehem; Wayne Calvin Sherrer will serve his deacon internship at St. George's Helletown; and Rebecca Anne Parsons Cancelliere will serve her deacon internship at St. Mark's/St. John's Jim Thorpe. Four are transitional deacons. Rebecca is a vocational deacon.

Bishop Jack 1a
Bishop Jack asked the deacons to offer the world an alternate reality.

Faces 2a
God now calls you to a special ministry of servanthood directly under your bishop. In the name of Jesus Christ, you are to serve all people, particularly the poor, the weak, the sick and the lonely.

Hands 2a
Father, through Jesus Christ your Son, give your Holy Spirit to Christina; fill her with grace and power, and make her a deacon in your Church.

Photos by Bill Lewellis

Gregory Malia

[Updated Sept 21, 2010]

On December 28, 2008, the New York Daily News broke a story featuring Gregory Malia. The headline: Episcopal priest makes a name for himself in New York City nightclubs. Later that day, Bishop Paul Marshall released the statement below. He then replied to reporters' questions prompted by the statement. Farther below is a list, with links, of the developing story as it has played out in the media.

Bishop Paul Marshall's statement, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2008:
I read the Daily News article with deep distress and know its contents will trouble many parishioners. The allegations made in the article, if true, constitute a serious violation of ordination vows to be "a wholesome example" to a priest's people. If true, they may also violate other canonical provisions and certainly portray an unacceptable idea of Christian stewardship.

The Episcopal Church provides due process when such issues arise, however, and no summary judgment can be made by me unilaterally. During the time that the Standing Committee is investigating Fr. Malia's activities, I am removing him from his appointment as my vicar at St. James in Dundaff, and will be inhibiting him from the exercise of priestly ministry. The conservative group he has gathered around himself will be traumatized, and I will ask two priests in the locale to minister to them.

I can assure the diocese that neither the Daily News reporters nor our internal figures suggest that any church funds were misappropriated –– St. James is a summer chapel open approximately ten Sundays a year, and has no significant financial resources.

Daily News reporters did not contact me or my communications representative prior to publishing this article, and have not done so since then, although my home and office telephones are not unlisted.

Bishop Paul V. Marshall
Diocese of Bethlehem

Continue reading "Gregory Malia" »

Trinity Bethlehem hires Manhattan's Riverside Church organist

[From Mother Laura Howell, rector, Trinity Bethlehem] Merry Christmas, Trinity! After a nationwide search, we have appointed Dr. Timothy E. Smith to the position of Organist/Choir Director. He will take up his post on February 22, when the Bishop visits our parish. Dr. Smith comes to us from Riverside Church in Manhattan, where he was Director of Music and Organist since 1992. Before that he served as assistant organist at the Parish of Trinity Church, New York City (Trinity Wall Street). He is currently the University Organist at Columbia University, and will continue in that post. He has a Doctor of Musical Arts from the Manhattan School of Music, and a Master of Music from the Yale University Institute of Sacred Music. Dr. Smith has recorded a number of CDs, and has given numerous recitals both in the United States, France, Britain, and other countries. Please join us in rejoicing that another marvelous musician will be bringing the gift of music to the Diocese.