The Diocese of Allentown's yearlong celebration of the 50th anniversary of its founding in 1961 moves into high gear this month with a number of special observations planned.

Underway through this evening is a special 40 Hours devotion at the Cathedral of St. Catharine of Siena, Allentown. Forty Hours is a Eucharistic devotion consisting of continuation adoration of the Blessed Sacrament for 40 hours. Highlighting this devotion is preaching by three priests of the diocese who became bishops.

On Sunday night, Lexington, Ky., Bishop Ronald Gainer preached, followed on Monday night by Louisville Archbishop Joseph Kurtz. Tonight's speaker will be retired Charleston, S.C., Bishop David Thompson, former pastor of the Cathedral parish.

Also this week, more than 1,000 people from the diocese will travel to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception for a special 50th anniversary pilgrimage on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, Oct. 26, a special 50th anniversary conference for older adults is scheduled for the Holiday Inn, Fogelsville, from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Allentown Bishop John Barres will celebrate the Mass. The keynote speaker will be Maryknoll Brother Wayne Fitzpatrick, a spiritual gerontologist, who in his address will explore wellness, transition, forgiveness, gratitude and the importance of keeping a positive perspective.

Several more events are scheduled for November. The 50th anniversary youth celebration is scheduled for 1:45-9 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5, at St. Thomas More Church, Allentown. The event for students in grades 6-12 includes prayer, education and fun. Mass will be celebrated by Bishop Barres.

On Wednesday and Thursday, Nov. 9-10, the diocese will host Neumann Nights. The Nov. 9 event will be held at Annunciation BVM Church, Catasauqua and the Nov. 10 event will take place at a Schuylkill County parish. Both events will begin at 7 p.m.

This year is the 200th anniversary of the birth of St. John Neumann, who as the fourth bishop of Philadelphia established several parishes in what is now known as the Diocese of Allentown. In 1852, he proposed to the Vatican that the Diocese of Philadelphia be split and a second diocese former based in Pottsville, with Neumann as its bishop. The Vatican rejected his proposal.

On Nov. 20, the diocesan choir will conduct a concert at the Cathdreal at a time to be determined.