History

St. Mary of Mount Carmel Church, the oldest Catholic Church in Dunmore, has once again been physically renewed and beautified and is now ready for the third millennium of the Christian Era.

The Parish was created in 1856 by Bishop John Nepomucene Neumann, a prelate who was canonized a saint in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican on June 19, 1977.

Northeastern Pennsylvania was part of the Philadelphia Archdiocese when Dunmore was starting to grow. From 1852 to 1856, Dunmore had a mission status, with Masses being celebrated by a visiting priest in private homes. In 1855, Dunmore Catholics pooled their resources and bought land for a church and cemetary. They then erected a modest wooden structure that could seat 350 people.

Bishop Neumann, in his eight years as head of the vast Philadelphia Archdiocese, made eight visits to this region, staying 3 to 4 weeks on each trip. Little did the Catholics in small clusters in the area know that the 45 year-old, 5 foot, 2 inch Bavarian immigrant who passed among them as their bishop would someday become a canonized saint.

During one such visit, on July 26, 1857, he blessed what was originally the SS. Simon and Jude the Apostles Church while his traveling aide, the Rev. Michael Filan, blessed its adjacent cemetary.

The elongated name of the Dunmore church never stuck. By common usage it became St. Simon’s – a name that would change again when a new church was blessed in 1874.

Current Renovations:

The Rev. John A. Doris, a Wilkes-Barre native, succeeded Father Flynn at St. Mary’s and St. Casimir’s. By then he was already experienced in serving multiple churches. As pastor of the Church of St. Anthony in Freeland, since Sept. 5, 1989, he also was made pastor of St. Ann’s Church in Freeland on Sept. 6, 1991, and pastor of St. John Nepomucene Church and St. Casimir Church, also of Freeland, on July 7, 1993.

Father Doris came to Dunmore as pastor of St. Mary’s and St. Casimir’s but, again the shortage of Priests impacted upon him. the pastor of All Saints Church in Dunmore was ailing and Fr. Doris was assigned to administer that parish, also. On Feb. 10, 1998, he was named pastor of All Saints.

For two years, Father Doris was aided in serving the three parishes by the Reverend Michael Harris. A graduate of the University of Scranton, Father Harris was ordained in 1989 and served in Wilkes-Barre, Carbondale and Scranton before being assigned to St. Mary’s on July 8, 1996.

Father Harris left St. Mary’s on July 1, 1998 to become the pastor of a parish in Dushore.

Father Doris administers three parishes with a total of 2,422 families and 5,428 members. These are individual numbers: St. Mary’s 1,186 families and 4,491 members; St. Casimir’s 262 families, 552 members, and All Saints 274 families, and 385 members.

Despite a multitude of duties, he also took on what is the biggest renovation project in the 124 year history of St. Mary’s Church.

Done at a cost of about $750,000, financed by generous donations from many individuals, the work included interior and exterior work.

The outside work included repointing the 124 year old brick walls and installing a new roof. In addition, the bell tower has been illuminated to that church can be seen at night from great distances.

On the inside, the sanctuary area has been completely reworked, with the reopening of doorways that were closed many decades ago. Marble floors have been added to the sanctuary and the center aisle.

The entire interior has been ceiling and lighting has been replaced. In the process, the gothic ceiling that was almost ignored in the past has been accentuated. In addition, new carpeting has been installed, the pews have been cleaned and refinished, the stained-glass windows have been cleaned and releaded, where needed and a new sound system has been installed.

Among the final things done was the installation of a new altar table in the sanctuary and a baptismal font at the front entrance to the church, both imported from Italy.

And, for the lovers of traditional organ music, a new pipe organ has been installed to replace the old organ that had died of old age.

With these and many other changes, St. Mary’s enters into the third millennium of the Christian Era, a beautiful tribute to immigrants who brought their catholic faith with them to America and to the American-born generations of Catholics that followed them.

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