Reverend Joseph F. Sica, Senior Priest at Immaculate Conception Parish, Scranton, died on Tuesday, March 31, 2020 at Commonwealth Health Regional Hospital, Scranton, PA.
Father Sica, son of the late Joseph J. Sica Jr. and Elveria Rossi Sica, was born in Scranton on November 27, 1955. He received his early education at William Prescott #38 and graduated from Bishop O’Hara High School, Dunmore.
As a seminary student, Father graduated from the University of Scranton, while in formation at St. Pius X, Dalton, and earned an M.A. degree from the Catholic University Theological College, Washington, D.C. Father Sica was ordained to the priesthood on April 24, 1982 by Bishop J. Carroll McCormick, D.D., late Bishop of Scranton.
Father Sica served various assignments in his nearly 38 years as a priest in the Diocese of Scranton. He served as Assistant Pastor of Annunciation Parish, Williamsport, Mount Carmel Parish, Carbondale, Our Lady of Snows Parish, Clarks Summit, St. Aloysius Parish, Wilkes-Barre, St. Mary’s Parish, Scranton and St. Peter’s Cathedral, Scranton. He served as Director of Religious Formation at Pocono Central Catholic, Cresco, Bishop O’Hara H.S., Dunmore and Bishop Hannan H.S., Scranton. Father Sica served as Pastor of Nativity B.V.M. Parish, Tunkhannock and Holy Rosary Parish, Scranton. In addition, Father served faithfully as a Chaplain at Mercy Hospital in both Wilkes-Barre and Scranton. He will long be remembered for his pastoral outreach to the sick and suffering.
Father Sica was well known as a magnificent author. His books include Embracing Change and Forgiveness. In addition, he has published multiple years of Lenten reflections which have been read and enjoyed by millions.
He is survived by a sister, Ann Straneva, Scranton. Their relationship was like few others. They had a bond of mutual respect and adoration. His message of love will live on.
Due to the current health care crisis, a private burial ceremony will be conducted by Bishop Joseph C. Bambera D.D. J.C.L., Bishop of Scranton, at a date convenient to the family. A public memorial mass will be scheduled and announced at a future date.
Funeral arrangements and care provided by Carlucci-Golden-DeSantis Funeral Home, Inc., Dunmore.
Dunmore fire department lieutenant Eric Shigo didn’t think twice when he risked his life and entered a burning building on Third Street last month to save other lives.
And because of his heroic effort as well as those of the Dunmore and Scranton fire departments, Serenity Session, 3, is alive today.
Her dad, Darkell Session, 24, also survived.
The fire that killed a mother and three of her young children in Dunmore March 9 was ruled accidental and may have been fueled by debris left in another apartment, Lackawnna County District Attorney Mark Powell reported.
Arson was ruled out as a cause of the fire, added Powell in a statement last month. Powell said the fire appeared to have started in the middle room of the vacant apartment on the second floor of 610 Third Street. Ebony Thompson, her fiancé Darkell Session and their four children had recently moved into the apartment one floor above.
Thompson, 26, and the couple’s daughter London Session, 5, and Tiara Session, 2, died in the fire. Their son, Dallas Session, 1, died a day later.
Darkell Session, who jumped out of a second floor window, and Serenity survived.
Investigators from the Dunmore police, Scranton police and U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives could not make a conclusive determination of the initial source of heat or what ignited.
Saluting all the members of the Dunmore Fire Department. This group photo was was taken by Joe Klapatch. He wrote the book “The Boys from Bucktown” the history of the Dunmore Fire Department.
Former Dunmore Councilman Paul Nardozzi, a former police officer, praised the Dunmore and Scranton fire departments for their heroic efforts. “Dunmore suffered an unimaginable tragedy with the loss of four innocent people, three who were children,” he said. “If not for the efforts of all the brave and highly trained firefighters from Dunmore, Scranton and surrounding communities, as well as our excellent Dunmore police department, the loss of life would have been worse.
“Lieutenant Eric Shigo from the Dunmore fire department risked all he has in life to enter that third floor inferno and rescue two of those children, one who died a day later but one who survived the blaze. Eric, himself, was trapped and disoriented for a while. Thus, Fireman’s MAYDAY that went out.
“The entire community and myself personally have been acknowledging Eric for his efforts to save lives that would have been lost. We all need to thank these brave firefighters and police officers. God bless the first responders and especially the family with so many lives lost.”
Chris DeNaples is Dunmore borough fire chief. He was also at the scene of the fire.
Shigo, who has 16 years experience as a Dunmore fireman, was extremely humble when interviewed by The Dunmorean.
“Four of us were initially called to the scene of the fire,” he said. “But there were five people to save. Darkell jumped out of a window, but five were inside.
“A total of 12 more firefighters from Dunmore and 10 from Scranton were called to help. Plus we had volunteers. Larry Waters was my driver. Dunmore firemen Jordan Wisniewski and John Rebovich were also first responders.
“When we pulled into the scene the fire was going pretty hard on the second floor and moving up. The exterior steps were the only way up. I ran all the way up. Two of our men pulled the hand line to extinguish.
“I was able to get Serenity, who was semi conscious, and Dallas, who was unconscious, out. I handed Serenity off to Larry Waters to the front porch. He threw the ladder up. The PA and Commonwealth ambulances were there to provide CPR and transported Serenity to Geisinger CMC and Dallas to Moses Taylor. Serenity was treated for smoke inhalation and released the next day. Dallas was transported to the Lehigh Valley Burn Unit, but died a day later.”
Young fire survivor Serenity Session is shown looking at an Easter themed raffle basket held by Mary Kate Cadden of Dunmore.
The Dunmore community responded quickly and a fund raiser was held at the Fireside Martini Grill in Dunmore March 15.
“Larry Waters and I met Serenity later at the hospital. We met the mom and dad of both Darkell and Ebony at the fund raiser,” said Shigo. “The parents were very appreciative. Serenity was there at the fund raiser too.
“This is the worst fire I was ever involved in as far as fatalities. This one will take a toll emotionally. I only wish I got everybody out.
“It is a feeling that is hard to put into words. It is why I do this job…to save lives.”
Jimmy Reese, a partner with Art and Sara Ware as owners of the Fireside Martini Grill, said the idea for the fund raiser started with the Facebook page, “Dunmore, Greatest Place on Earth.” Members of the Facebook page quickly met with Reese and his partners to arrange the fund raiser.
“We had the venue and wanted to help,” said Reese. “Most of the local businesses got quickly involved with donations. Most restaurants in Dunmore plus some from Mid Valley, Scranton and Moscow made donations. Over 120 trays of pizza were donated. Over $1200 was raised for the family. It was a nice turnout.
“There were 118 gift certificates and baskets donated. Serenity had her eye on a basket with the Easter Bunny. Well, we made sure she won it.
“There is a beautiful picture of Mary Kate Cadden, one of our employees, presenting Serenity with the basket. It was so touching.”
When the going gets rough, the tough get going. Take the Dunmore football program, for instance.
Tom DePietro, with the Coronavirus emerging in Lackawanna County and with a shutdown in place, knew he could not let customers walk into his Dunmore pharmacy.
But there was still a job to do. He still needed to get his customers needed supplies and medicines during a national pandemic.
So he called Dunmore Bucks football coach Kevin McHale to see if any of his players could help.
Well, within 20 minutes, numerous current and former players texted him.
“I could not believe the immediate response,” the owner of DePietro’s Pharmacy said.
“I made a decision to not allow customers to enter the store for their and my co-workers safety. In a panic, I realized I would need help assisting customers curbside. My first thought was to text coach Kevin McHale.
“Within minutes I had over 20 kids reaching out and offering support.
“It is truly humbling to see these kids provide care and compassion during a pandemic. They easily could have elected not to get involved.
“I’m so proud of the kids, their parents, coaches, teachers and Dunmore. Over and over the Dunmore community finds a way to shine. We will all get this together in true Dunmore fashion. The Dunmore community always comes together.”
DePietro said the group of current and former Dunmore football players wear protective gear, masks and gloves. “We have a safety huddle before every shift,” he said.
The current and former Dunmore football players who volunteer at DePietro’s Pharmacy include Billy DonVito, Pat DonVito, Keiran Reyes, Zach Cruser, Jerry Sanchez, George Mesko, Kamryn Reyes, Mike Giannetta, Ross Cordaro and Sean Pietruszkiewicz.
Billy DonVito played four years of football at Dunmore, graduating in 2019. He was a freshman end at Springfield College this past year. He was one of the first to volunteer his time.
“When someone who gives so much and reaches out for help,” he said, “it is our job and duty to get there. We rounded up the guys and are going to help till the Pandemic is over. We have three guys always there 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and three there 2 to 6 p.m.
“We wait outside in full gear. We wait for a customer to pull up and we run the order inside the store in a basket. We wear gloves, masks and take all precautions. We have no close interaction with the customers and wipe everything down constantly.
“When we heard there was a chance to help, the word spread quickly and a bunch of us volunteered.”
Coach McHale was not surprised by the turnout. “Community service has always been a big part of our football program,” he said. “Our kids do a great job with it.
“Tom DePietro and DePietro’s Pharmacy are some of our biggest supporters. When Tom was in need of assistance, some of our players were quick to lend a hand.”
The football players go through a daily pre-shift meeting of guidelines they must follow. The guidelines begin with washing and wearing gloves. The young men must stay six feet away from customers and stand to their side. Every so often, they must return to wash their hands again and change gloves.
The business continues to serve hundreds of customers a day during the state-wide shutdown.
DePietro, a 2002 Dunmore graduate, credited coach McHale and former Dunmore coach Jack Henzes for molding the football players into fine young men.
Not even a national pandemic can pull this community apart.
“These kids’ parents, teachers and coaches raised them right. It’s a credit to these kids, their parents and the whole community.”