It’s Official…

Today we received the acknowledgement from the Apostolic Nunciature that our “recourse for St. Joachim’s Parish in Philadelphia has been forwarded through the diplomatic pouch to the Congreation for Clergy”. You really have to love the intrigue of this!

What we don’t appreciate, quite frankly, is that your voice and my voice were not involved in the Parish Pastoral Process. I appreciate that the hierarchy was involved, that our Pastors along with three representatives were involved but, and we must make it clear in the case of St. Joachim, “interested parishioners” did not receive information about this process along with the rest of the parishioners. We truly believed in this process and it turns out our faith was truly misguided.

What makes an “interested parishioner”? Was this term used because you didn’t want to tell all of us what was going on – which took us 30 days to find out that our Pastors and representatives believed that St. Joachim parishioners and Mater Dolorosa parishioners had irreconciliable differences and would not, could not find a better solution than shuttering two viable Churces? Did anyone question that 4 people may not have been fully representative of 200-300 others in the parish? Hand picking representatives doesn’t lead to a diversity of thought but commonality of beliefs. This is the same idea that my husband and I couldn’t work as caring members of the Transition Team because of our concerns about how this process was handled and the subsequent decisions made. (For the record, we still received information and shared it with our parishioners. It’s not hard. Try it.) Who was really listening? Was this process just “lip service”? Did this give you another out to blame us for your flawed process? Did you have to be selected to be an “interested parishioner”? Each of us received a letter telling us our Churches were closing. Each of us received a letter welcoming us to the “new” old Holy Innocents. Why did each of us not receive a letter informing us of the status of this process and it’s progress. It appears that to do that would have been troublesome and opened up debate.  Real debate that all “interested parishioners” could have participated in. Imagine having a discussion on the future vitality of the faith in Frankford BEFORE closing two viable Churches? Well, surely we qualify as “interested parishioners” now!

We would hope and pray that as this process moves forward these same mistakes and judgements are not repeated. We will be watching closely and offering other parishes the benefits of our woeful experience with this process to safeguard their Church from those more interested in their “process” than “parishioners”.


Receipt from Apostolic Nunciature




When St. Joachim Reopens

There are a lot of things to think about and here is one idea that hasn’t been tried here.  The concept may need some tweaking for Frankford.

Coffee and Catholicism is a great combination for the New Evangelization.

The idea of spreading the faith while serving a cup of java is cropping up in parishes, college campuses and even strip malls.

St. James Coffee ( in Rochester, Minn., was founded on the premise of providing a space in the modern public square for fellowship, dialogue and the opportunity for people to come to know Christ and his Church.

An inspiration of Father Matt Fasnacht, a priest of the Diocese of Winona, Minn., St. James Coffee was founded in a mall across the street from a church. It opened in July 2012 — after four years of planning and fundraising.


Lord, We Hold Your People In Our Hearts!

Two Frankford Roman Catholic Churches were shuttered- Mater Dolorosa and St. Joachim. St. Joachim closed its doors just last Sunday and it gates are now locked. But in the video, you will see that the faithful’s hearts and spirits are as high and as hopeful as this summer heat wave we’re experiencing. Just as St. Joachim has been there for us, we feel the need, now, to be there for St. Joachim to continue to give witness to our faith. Since it is a Worship Site, we gathered at the times our Masses used to be – Saturday, 4:30 PM, and Sunday at 8:00 AM and 10:30 AM. This was a holiday weekend yet for those of us here in the city we continued our struggle to demonstrate the need for a Roman Catholic Church in Frankford. We continue to be committed and united in our efforts.

Saturday night, my husband, Bob, my mother, Mary, and I went to Holy Innocents for Mass. The Saturday night Vigil Mass is 5:30 PM there. We couldn’t have been more warmly welcomed and the rich traditions of our Catholic rituals are very moving but it wasn’t “home”. Perhaps we would understand this better had we “answers” from those who closed our Churches. Our voices were never heard in the process but that does not seem to matter. “The decision has been made and we are not considering any changes”. Our feelings are certainly understandable as the sacred places that gave us roots and our sense of belonging and were a compass in our daily lives are not easily replaceable. So we kept St. Joachim company this weekend.

Here’s a link to a homily Pope Francis gave this weekend with Seminarians and Novices. Pope Francis tells them that God asks us to “Comfort, comfort my people (Isaiah 40:1) and that leads to mission”. As we shared our thoughts today one among us said that “comfort” was what was missing in our dealings with our Philadelphia hierarchy. We are told whenever we try to meet the Archbishop – not to confront, not demonstrating – to let him know who we are and to be seen, we are told like children that it is not the right time or place. But when is the right time and place? We are on “mission” and hope our prayers and actions “break hearts of stone”.

Join us as we plan to be at St. Joachim every weekend! Bring a friend! Rekindle your faith! Keep the Faith in Frankford!



Archdiocesan Land in Bucks County to Go to Auction

The 48-acre parcel, shaped like a smoker’s pipe, once was viewed as a solution to a rapidly expanding Catholic-school population. Not so long ago, it may have been a coveted site for homebuilders.
The archdiocese bought the land in 1964 in anticipation of growth such as a school or parish, according to a news release from Max Spann Real Estate & Auction Co., in charge of the sale. But, almost 50 years later, the archdiocesan school population is contracting, not growing.
The sale would help reduce the archdiocese’s budget deficit, which results in parts from lawsuits, investment losses, and bad loans to some parishes. Church attendance and Catholic-school enrollment also have fallen, leading the archdiocese to merge parishes and close schools.

Eulogy for a Church

From the DeSales Weekly:

We see Jesus in each other.
We see Jesus in the poor.
We see Jesus in the struggling addict.
We see Jesus in the one just released from prison.

  When Fr. Steve Wetzel, OSFS, used these words in the homily of the last Mass at his inner-city Philadelphia parish, St. Joachim, he described a people. A community. The People of God.

Since 1845, these holy people faithfully prayed, served, taught, learned, fed, worshipped, healed, and gathered. The dynamics of urban life and shifts in Catholic communities prompted the leaders of the Archdiocese to close St. Joachim and ask its parishioners to join another community, Holy Innocents.

Read the entire story at this link.

Guest Opinon on the Closing of the Philadelphia Catholic Churches

By Joe Menkevich

July 03, 2013
Notes/Opinion on the closing Philadelphia Churches
With the stroke of a pen, Bishop Chaput in an instant, managed to complete what could not be accomplished in 300 years – which was to purge the Catholics from Philadelphia.
In 1683 William Penn welcomed Catholics who suffered religious persecution in England.
The Catholic Church in America was a mission, it was not a business.
In Philadelphia, 1707/08 Mass was being “set up” and “read publicly.”
There was no regular appointed pastor in Philadelphia until 1720, and no priest until much latter. “Roman Catholics were as scarce as comets.”
However the Catholic Church flourished right through the Anti-Irish Riots of 1844. In those Riots, the Protestants were burning Philadelphia Catholic Churches.
To the Catholics of the City and County of Philadelphia.
BELOVED CHILDREN— In the critical circumstances in which you are placed, I feel it my duty to suspend the exercise of public worship in the Catholic churches which still remain, until it may be resumed with safety, and we can enjoy our constitutional right to worship God according to the dictates of our conscience. I earnestly conjure you to practise unalterable patience under the trials which it has pleased Divine Providence to subject you, and remember that afflictions will serve to purify us, and render us acceptable to God, through Jesus Christ, who patiently suffered the cross.
Bishop of Philadelphia.
Philadelphia, May 9th, 1844.
Joe Menkevich is a local historical researcher.
You can read a great history of the Catholic Church in Philadelphia at this link.  There is a good view of the time period when St. Joachim was founded.  It was written over 100 years ago and I don’t think the writer could have imagined that the Church would, someday in the future, abandon the city.

Bishop Richard Lennon Has His Revenge

A case quite similar to what is going on in Philadelphia unfolded last year in Cleveland.  Some of the churches appealed and won and had to be reopened much to the chagrin of Bishop Richard Lennon.

The Rev. Bob Begin of St. Coleman’s lead that fight and actually criticized the Bishop.  Since he turned 75 this year he had to submit his resignation.  The Bishop took him up on the offer and accepted it.  The Rev. is ready and willing to continue at St. Coleman’s and the people want him.

Bishop Lennon does not seem to care to much what the people want.  He wants Begin out.  You can read all of the story here and maybe sign that online petition.  We’re all in this together now.

Balancing the Budget by Selling Our Church

More grim disclosures today explaining the financial plight of the Archdiocese.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia on Wednesday reported a staggering $39.2 million loss for the year ended June 30, 2012, while disclosing unprecedented details about longterm financial deficits totaling $350 million. Even after stripping away millions in unusual expenses, including $11.9 million for legal and professional services related to the priest sex-abuse scandal and other issues, the archdiocese said its cash expenses 2012 still exceeded revenue by $17.4 million. “It’s not so simple to say our problems are related to the sexual-abuse crisis,” Timothy O’Shaughnessy, chief financial officer for the archdiocese, said. “That is a serious issue, a very serious issue that I believe the church is taking more seriously now. “We’ve also had serious financial problems independent of the abuse crisis,” said O’Shaughnessy, who became CFO in April 2012.

Coverage from the Northeast Times

Three Northeast churches have their last Masses. 

The bells beckoning parishioners to worship rang for the final time at the 10:30 a.m. Mass on Sunday outside St. Joachim Roman Catholic Church in Frankford.

Inside, about 500 people crowded into the pews for the last Mass at the oldest Catholic church in the Northeast. St. Joachim opened in 1845 and, like two other churches in Northeast Philly, was told in May that it would have to close because of declines in weekend Mass attendance, marriages and baptisms.

Parishioners at St. Joachim are fighting to keep their church alive, promising to take their campaign all the way to the Vatican. But at Frankford’s only other Roman Catholic church, Mater Dolorosa, it’s a different story. Parishioners have decided to accept the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s decision to close the church  as of Sunday.

Follow this link for the rest of the story.