After 58 years, priest still looking to the future

First Posted: 8/26/2014

Father Edward Scott has dedicated 58 years of ordained ministry to God and to the Catholic Church. Now residing at Villa St. Joseph in Dunmore, he is grateful for an opportunity to continue to serve the faithful, unencumbered by administrative duties.

In celebration of Scott’s ministry, Gate of Heaven Church in Dallas will host a gathering in the parish center following the 5 p.m. Mass on Saturday, Sept. 20.

Scott, 84, continues to serve at Gate of Heaven and Our Lady of Victory Church in Harveys Lake, performing Mass, administering penance, doing one-on-one counseling, assisting those in recovery and conducting seminars on aging.

“The word ‘catholic’ means universal,” said Scott. “We need to serve diverse groups of those within the church community.”

He said the Catholic church distinguishes between “timely” truth and “timeless” truth, which makes it possible for the church to respond to the needs of contemporary society without violating basic tenets of faith.

“For example, the Second Vatican Council made it permissible to say the Mass in the vernacular language rather than Latin,” he said. “This gave Catholics a choice and the ability to worship in a way most comfortable and appropriate for them.”

Scott has provided special ministry to members of the Episcopalian community who have become Catholics. Pope John Paul made it possible for Episcopalian priests to serve as Catholic priests, directly reporting to the Vatican. Those who are married upon their entrance into the Catholic priesthood are permitted to remain so.

“Many Episcopalians saw that the Catholic church stood for something,” said Scott. “They wanted to be a part of something that stood for absolute truth and commitment to integrity.”

The most treasured memories of Scott’s spiritual journey were pilgrimages to the Holy Land, as the Vatican has both religious and historical significance.

He also fondly remembers mission trips to Haiti and Ecuador and said ministering to those in a third-world country gave him a new appreciation for the benefits of living in the United States.

Scott oversaw a program that provided carefully chosen high school juniors and opportunity to serve in third-world countries. The program was purposefully crafted to allow participants to come back as high school seniors and share their experiences with fellow students where participants gained a real sense of gratitude and responsibility, deepening their spiritual walk.

He said although the number of young people attending church services is growing slowly, young people who actively practice Catholicism have an increased quality of faith and sense of commitment.

Scott counts himself blessed to be living at Villa St. Joseph, enjoying the grounds that provide a sense of both beauty and history.

He especially appreciates time spent in the chapel allowing him to pray and meditate. He feels reenergized after time in the beautifully crafted room, complete with a depiction of the Lord overlooking the pews.

The Villa offers Scott the opportunity to recharge physically and exercise on a regular basis, the treadmill being his favorite form of exercise. He also appreciates the opportunity to fellowship with other priests who reside at the Villa.

Scott grew up a few miles from where he now lives, attending Saint Mary’s Elementary School and graduating from Dunmore High School in 1947.

After graduating from The University of Scranton in 1951, he tried his hand at journalism, but felt like a “square peg in a round hole.”

“Deep down in my heart, I always felt called to the priesthood,” he said, “but I had resisted the idea for a long time.

Finally after a “heart-to-heart” with a friend who had entered the priesthood, Scott came to realize with finality that he was being called into full-time ministry as a priest.

He completed ministerial studies at Christ the King Seminary in New York, was ordained in 1956 and immediately returned to serve the Scranton Diocese.

He served as assistant pastor in several diocesan churches, including St. Mary of the Mount, Mount Pocono; Queen of Peace, Hawley; St. John’s, Honesdale; and St. Ignatius, Kingston.

His first pastoral appointment was to St. Patrick’s Church in White Haven from 1973-81. He then served as pastor at St. Bernadette in Canadensis from 1982-83; Nativity of the Virgin Mary in Tunkhannock from 1983-85 and St. Thomas Moore, in Lake Ariel from 1985-2004, from which he retired.

Reflecting on the past, which includes 58 years of ministry to the church and its people, Scott also looks to the future.

“I want to serve as long and as well as I can,” said Scott.

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