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As the great-granddaughter of Irish immigrants, St. Patrick’s Day holds a special place in my heart. My maternal great-grandmother, Mary Gillespie, immigrated to the United States where she met and fell in love with my great-grandfather, Michael Joseph Donelan. Together, they raised a family on Price Street, Scranton. Sadly, my great-grandfather lost his life during a cave-in of the Sloan Mine of the Delaware-Lackawanna-Western Railroad. At the time, my great-grandmother was expecting their fifth child. According to his obituary, my great-grandfather was heralded as a well-liked and popular man who was active as a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the United Mine Workers.

After his death, my great-grandmother was left to raise five children alone. She did for a time, but then met and married a nice gentleman named Nick Rupp. Nick not only raised this little brood of children as his own, but together he and my great-grandmother welcomed a daughter, Anna, to round out their little clan.

Keeping in mind the many hardships my great-grandmother faced, I take great pride in her ability to endure and overcome them. My mother, Lorraine, who was just a little tot herself when my great-grandma passed, said despite so many heartbreaks, her grandmother was extremely kind and generous and spoke with such a lovely brogue. I would like to think I have some of my great-grandma’s strength in me and would remain kind in the face of such adversity. It is for this reason and a whole host of others that I proudly celebrate my Irish roots!

West Side Social Club’s

St. Patrick’s Day celebration

If you’d like to celebrate your Irish heritage or just want to be Irish for the day, be sure to join in the fun at the West Side Social Club next weekend. The West Side Social Club will hold its inaugural St. Patrick’s Day celebration Saturday, March 17, at the club, 711 McAlpine St.

The event will begin at 1 p.m. with a blessing at St. Mary’s Cemetery, Cemetery Street, Avoca, followed by a procession from the cemetery to the West Side Social Club. There will be a ham and cabbage dinner along with live entertainment from 2 to 6 p.m. A $20 donation per person is requested and can be made at the door.

During the celebration, lifelong Avoca resident and retired businessman Michael “Mike” George will receive the Man of the Year award. George, who retired this year, operated his gas station on Main Street for nearly 50 years. He has been active in the community with the Avoca Jolly Boys, Avoca Lions Club, Avoca West Side Club, Rainbow Rod and Gun Club, and has been a sponsor of numerous non-profit organizations.

Little League registration, bingo fundraiser

Avoca/Dupont Little League will have its final registration for the spring season from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Monday, March 12, at the Little League field.

The cost to register is $65 for one player and $80 for two or more players from the same household.

New players must supply three forms of residency and a copy of their birth certificate.

In other news, the league’s third annual cash bingo fundraiser will take place Sunday, April 29, at the Queen of the Apostles Parish Hall, 742 Spring St. Doors open at noon and games begin at 1 p.m.

There will be 15 regular games worth $100 each, three special games worth $150 each and a coverall game worth $250. Also, there will be a basket raffle and food available for purchase.

Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. To purchase tickets, call Gary at 570-540-0649, Lori at 570-877-4361 or Denise at 570-589-1426. Tickets are also available at all league events.

Four-Boro Ministerium news

Four-Boro Ministerium of Avoca, Duryea, Moosic and Old Forge will have their weekly ecumenical Lenten service at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 13, at St. Mary’s Polish National Catholic Church, 200 Stephenson St., Duryea. The Rev. Sharon Dietz, pastor of Brick United Methodist Church, Duryea, and the Bethel United Methodist Church, Avoca, will be the guest preacher. A collection will be taken to support the food pantry at the Moosic United Methodist Church.

Langcliffe news

Langcliffe Presbyterian Church will host Puzzles for the Young at Heart, a puzzle night for adults, at 7 p.m. Friday, March 16, at the church, 1001 Main St. Join in the fun and enjoy snacks and conversation while putting a puzzle together.

The church will sponsor its third annual Easter Egg Hunt 5K on Saturday, March 24. Check-in begins at 9:30 a.m. and the race begins at 11 at the Avoca Municipal Building, 950 Main St. Participants can park in the church parking lot directly across the street.

Registration, which can be completed online at, is $20 until March 10, and then increases to $25. Race day entries are $30. The fee includes a T-shirt and a post-race pasta lunch. The lunch will also be available to the general public for $5 per person.

This year’s event will include a challenging 3.1-mile course and a 1-mile fun run/walk around Avoca, collecting Easter eggs along the course. At the end of the race, runners open the eggs they collected to see how much time gets taken off of their finish. This race is one of Scranton Running Company’s featured races. There will be appearances by ALT 92.1, Tux the Penguin and the Easter Bunny.

All proceeds will benefit the Avoca Hose Company and Ruth’s Place women’s shelter, Wilkes-Barre.

For race, volunteer or sponsorship information, contact the Rev. Alex Becker, at 570-457-4477 or

Queen of the Apostles news

Queen of the Apostles Parish will have its annual spring chicken dinner from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, March 18, in the parish hall, 742 Spring St.

The dinner includes half of a chicken, mashed potatoes with gravy, vegetable, coleslaw, roll, homemade dessert and beverages. Takeouts will be available from 11 a.m. to noon.

In addition to the dinner, there will also be a cash and theme basket raffles.

Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for children 12 and younger. To purchase tickets, please call the parish office at 570-457-3412.

The parish will pray the Stations of the Cross at 7 p.m. Fridays during Lent in the church, 715 Hawthorne St. Prior to the Stations, the Our Lady of Sorrows prayer group will recite the Our Lady of Sorrows rosary at 6:30 p.m.

As part of the Diocese of Scranton’s The Light is on for You Lenten reconciliation program, the parish will offer the Sacrament of Reconciliation from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Mondays during Lent. The sacrament will still be available from 3:15 to 3:45 p.m. on Saturdays.

The parish will have Bible study from 6:30 to 8 p.m., Thursdays, March 22, April 5 and 19, and May 3, 17 and 31. All are welcome.

The parish announced the following meetings: pastoral council, 7 p.m. Monday, March 12, rectory; women’s guild, 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 13, rectory; word committee, 5 p.m. Monday, March 19, rectory; worship committee, 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 19, rectory; building and grounds committee, 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 26, rectory, and finance council, 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 27, rectory.

PA, Class of ’67, get-together

Pittston Area, Class of 1967, will have a get-together for all classmates at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 22, at Colarusso’s Cafe, 725 Main St., Avoca. Please call 570-430-2676 or 570-457-3247 to respond.

This will be the first of many get-togethers since the class’s 50th reunion in 2017.

West Side Club egg hunt

West Side Social Club will hold its annual children’s Easter egg hunt at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 24, at the club, 711 McAlpine St. The hunt is open to children 12 and younger. The Easter Bunny will welcome all of the children and be available for photographs.

Shotwell benefit

There will be a pasta dinner from 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday, April 14, in the Queen of the Apostles Parish Hall, 742 Spring St., Avoca, to benefit Avoca resident and Duryea business owner Patrick Shotwell Sr., who is fighting stage 4 metastatic pancreatic cancer.

The menu includes pasta with meatballs, salad, roll, dessert, beer (for patrons 21 and older) and other beverages. There will be entertainment by the Luongo Brothers — famed members of The Poets. There will also be a basket raffle and 50/50 drawings.

Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for children ages 5-18. Children under 5-years-old will be admitted free. Takeouts for children and adults are $10. They do not include beverages.

Tickets can be purchased in advance from Pat Shotwell’s Auto Repair, 860 Main St., Duryea; Queen of the Apostles Parish office, 715 Hawthorne St., Avoca, or from a Shotwell family member. Tickets also can be purchased online via the Pasta Dinner Benefit for Patrick Shotwell Sr. Facebook event page.

Monetary or raffle donations can be made by calling Ryanne Ziobro at 570-237-6123.

Avoca Ambulance Association’s 2018 annual membership drive mailer has been mailed to Avoca and Dupont residents. Duryea residents will receive their mailer in the near future.

Cost is $40 per household, $35 for senior citizens. Membership gives protection from costly co-payments, ambulance transport fees, insurance denials and deductibles.

Tax reminder

Tax Collector Therese Wrubel announced the county and borough taxes have been distributed, and the 2018 garbage fee bill for homeowners and rental property owners can still be paid.

Residents can pay both from 5 to 6 p.m. Mondays and 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays in the municipal building, 950 Main St., during the tax rebate period. Residents can also pay the bills via mail by sending their payments to Therese Wrubel, 129 Factory St., Avoca, PA 18641. If a receipt is needed, send both copies of the bill with a self-addressed, stamped envelope.

The trash fee to have up to three bags of garbage collected weekly is $165 if purchased by March 20; $175 if purchased between March 21 and April 20; $185 if purchased between April 21 and May 20, and $195 if purchased between May 21 and June 21. After June 21, all unpaid bills will be turned over to the magistrate. Anyone who did not receive a bill should call Wrubel at 570-457-4891.

That’s about it for this week, my friends.

Thanks for reading and have a great week!

Jackie Borthwick-Galvin writes about Avoca every week. To list a news item, email her at or call 570-301-2171 by 5 p.m. Monday.