The search for a full-time chaplain is showing little progress.
Campus Ministry officials have been trying to fill the position, which has been open since spring 2012 when Father Don Williams resigned.
Officials say there are few priests available due to a shortage within the Scranton Diocese, and the few priests who are working are not interested in a part-time position that requires only 10 or 15 hours of work per week.
Campus Ministry is not giving up hope, and staffers are looking beyond Pennsylvania for candidates. Staff members have sent notices as far north to New England and as far south as Baltimore.
Rumors have circulated around campus that Father Don was going to make a grand return sometime this semester.
“No that is not true at all,” said Chris Somers, Director of Campus Ministry. “Right now he is fulltime and he works out of the diocese offices in Scranton. So that is not a true rumor whatsoever.”
Williams was a staple on campus and deeply missed.
“In some way, I would say that we miss a priestly presence on campus.” Somers said. “You know, someone to go to the games and hang out or just kind of be around for students sort of thing.”
Somers is hopeful that the search will end soon.
“There is the same priest coming every Sunday at 7 p.m.,” she said. “And the students I have talked to have actually enjoyed him and enjoyed his homilies.”
The chapel welcomed a new priest every week last year, and that displeased students and community members, but now worshipers see consistent faces at mass Every Sunday at 7 p.m., and Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, Father Gernaro Agulain gives mass. On Mondays and Thursdays, it’s Father Jim Alco from King’s College, and Father Jim Kalavitch gives masses on Saturdays.
“So right now at this point, they are here to celebrate the sacraments with us, mostly masses and baptisms,” said Somers. “So that’s kind of where we are at, and we are in visiting priest mode.”
But that is not keeping students away.
“I go every Sunday,” junior speech pathology major Kerrin McKeever said. “Its neat to see that the school is finally getting back into a system of priests. It’s a lot better than last year, less confusing.”