This sounds like a score in a professional sport but there are no winners or losers, just lost opportunities of “renewing the face of the earth” and sharing the Good News that God loves us and wants us to love each other. How simple that would make everything if we truly took the two great commandments to heart. Love God with your whole heart, mind and body and love each other as we would want to be loved. But that’s not the case, especially here in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
Please read Bob Huber’s article, “Archbishop Charles Chaput: The Hardliner” for in-depth reporting of our local Shepherd and how he is tending his flock. While Pope Francis calls for a new “openness” yet the faithful wonder how many more “closed” signs will be posted here in Philadelphia?
I am Pat Smiley. We are Keep the Faith in Frankford/St. Joachim Parish. We are ready to stand with you? Who will stand with us?
From Pat Smiley – David Harris, a member of St. Joachim Parish and a Board Member of Keep the Faith in Frankford researched articles relating to events of 1993 where 14 churches and 7 schools were closed – mostly in very low income areas though most of these churches were financially viable. The similarities to our recent PPA Process are remarkable even to the point of concerned parishioners forming “Catholic Coalition to Save Our Faith”. We hope to reconnect with the members of this group. David shares his thoughts with us here.
Hello, most people hear the word anniversary and their minds immediately drift to a joyous occasion of a wedding. Many of us in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia just had an anniversary of three years, two years or one year. Many more have just had their twenty second anniversary of the Demise of their Parish Communities.
Back in 1993, twenty-one Parishes were closed/merged but without today’s technology of being constantly connected, many of the fellow Philadelphia Catholics only saw or read about these communities. They figured it wasn’t affecting my Parish. Some of the members of these Parishes lifted their voices towards their shepherd Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, but he didn’t listen or chose not to listen. Instead, he decided that the Archdiocesan Shore House in Ventnor, NJ needed to be remodeled and rehabilitated to accommodate more guests. Many of these Parishes were in what many would call “poverty-stricken” areas of Chester, PA and in North Philadelphia but some of them were still self-sufficient and viable. Cardinal Bevilacqua was celebrated for his eagerness to meet with his flock in many of their Parish Communities, but he would not meet with these grief-stricken members of these twenty-one Parish communities. Instead, he used his Archdiocesan spokesman at that time, Jay Devine, to answer the questions posed to him by the press.
This brings me to the present day with our technology of being able to constantly connect to news media outlets and to speak with one another without having to dial a phone number. We mournfully see the anniversaries of the demises of our Parish Communities grow in years. We have cried to our leaders and, much like the voices of those twenty-one Parishes in 1993, those cries have fallen on the deaf ears of our Shepherd who is now the ninth Archbishop of the Archdiocese. Archbishop Charles J. Chaput O.F.M Cap., DD. He does have many financial burdens and he has since sold that Ventnor residence and he has sold the Cardinal’s mansion on City Line Ave.
Many of our fellow Catholics do not look at our Parish Communities as examples of our faith but as a drain on the coffers of the Archdiocese because we are from working-class neighborhoods or towns and yet we gave of our hard earned money to keep these parishes viable and many with a surplus. Archbishop Chaput refuses to meet with us face to face and only uses his Archdiocesan spokesperson, Ken Gavin, when the local print or TV media poses any questions to him about our plight. Archbishop might not have that Ventnor residence to rehabilitate or remodel, but he is still needed to balance the books of earlier fiscal mismanagement, so he agreed along with the Pastoral Planners it is better to close financial solvent parishes with assets like rented schools and other parish buildings to increase the cash flow and bottom line.
Well, Archbishop Chaput, at a lecture he was giving in Manhattan (imagine how many people like us were there) “blasts Vatican debate on family, says ‘confusion is of the devil””. Now when you read this article, I started to wonder if Archbishop Chaput really wants Pope Francis to come here. I have personally heard him speak about how “concerned” and worried Catholics are because of Pope Francis – his words and his actions. He most definitely seems to be speaking for himself. Yet this article should not be a surprise to us as there can be not debate, no discussion with the Archbishop about anything. Does he think his style and words are drawing people back to the church? Is he even helping to keep people in the church? I get concerned about people who always think they’re right. I’m concerned about our local Shepherd telling us “the decision has been made and we are not considering any changes”. Are you as concerned as I? You decide after reading – “Archbishop Chaput blasts Vatican debate on family, says ‘confusion is of the devil'”
Thank God for Pope Francis. A light and a beacon that tells us it’s alright to have these discussions. He’s another opener of doors like Pope St. John XXIII. Let’s talk about it – let’s see how we can heal those whose lives have already been broken by society, by the loss of a love intended to be forever through divorce and anyone who feels a distance from Jesus’ love. Pope Francis is not about “winning” or dictating. He’s about making visible the kingdom of heaven on earth. How different than what we’re used to. Pope Francis, himself, is an expression of unity and of bringing all of us together. Here’s a summary of the Synod from the National Catholic Reporter. “Synod a win for Franics and openness”.
I’m glad ours is a church of diversity and expression of that. But we mustn’t let fear or judgement be our guide. We must have the courage of the Holy Spirit! It confirms what we believe. It is even more imperative and necessary that each and every Catholic add their voice to these discussions. Are you willing? Can you believe?
Thanks to Greg Minetola for sharing with me the article on Archbishop Chaput.
Please email this link to everyone you know who cares about the 40+ churches that have closed or merged in the last 13 months! Spread the Word! Spread the Good News! Churches are important, not just to us as Catholics, but our neighborhood communities as well! Join us! We’ll be waiting for you!
As Archbishop Chaput continues to close churches and refuses to meet with the faithful, area Catholics struggle to understand. As a member of St. Joachim Parish (and we do have an open Appeal in the Vatican), we learned last year that “the decision has been made and we are not considering any changes”. From Philly.com, “Archbishop Nixes Appeals by Five Closed Parishes”.
Personally, I would respectfully ask the Archbishop to rethink this policy. Evidence is mounting and even more credible that the Area Pastoral Planning Process is severely flawed. Every parish we have spoken to, has had the same experience that we, at St. Joachim, have had. All parishioners were not consulted and recommendations of the PPA’s have been overturned at the highest level without any explanation at all to the reasoning or the logic. This process needs to be reviewed and redone. The history of our neighborhood parishes is deep and rich. Our needs today require that we unite and become “One body, One church” whether we are from Marcus Hook or Montgomeryville, South Philly or Swarthmore. Only then, can we be heard.
“So I exhort the presbyters among you, as a fellow presbyter and witness to the suffering of Christ and one who has a share in the glory to be revealed. Tend the flock of God in your midst, [overseeing] not by constraint, but by willingness as God would have it, not for shameful profit, but eagerly. Do not lord it over those assigned to you, but be examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd is revealed, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.”
The mighty wind of the Spirit is stirring throughout this Archdiocese to ask for an honest and earnest discussion about the future of the Catholic Church in Philaelphia and its surrounding suburbs. This Spirit is inclusive and urges that all the voices of the faithful be heard. Can you hear it, Archbishop Chaput? Do you feel it? Perhaps it’s time for a new direction, a new course?
If your church is being closed or merged July 1, 2014, you only have until Friday, June 13, (10 business days) to send “a written petition” signed by 2-3 registered parishioners stating the reasons why you are “aggrieved by the decree” to Archbishop Chaput. We strongly suggest that you mail this at the post office by “certified mail with return receipt requested” and you mail it as soon as possible.
The reason you have several parishioners sign this document is to keep this appeal active should something happen to one of the signers. In our case, I quickly wrote to Archbishop Chaput so if something happens to me, St. Joachim’s appeal would stop because I was the only one to sign it. So, I do try to take extra good care of myself.
Here is a PDF of the “Recourse Against Administrative Decrees” which is based on Canon law. The Archbishop has 30 days to respond or not and then you begin the formal appeal process. This PDF explains the initial process.
We can help you. We have been through it – our appeal has reached the doorstep of the Apostolic Signatura (the Vatican Supreme Court). Our canon law consultant, Peter Borre, is willing to assist you initially at no cost to you because he believes, as we do, that closing churches is not the way to balance budgets nor does closing churches provide for adequate pastoral care, much less continue the evangelizing work our Church is called to do.
You may call me or text me at 215.520.5616 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions, concerns or free advice. It’s important for us to unite and to say that not one more church should lock its gates. Let’s work together for good!
We have a rich, blessed history of faith in our city, in our country! As the Church (and we are the Church) faces challenges and an ever-increasingly complex, global world that is at our doorstep, it’s vital that the voice of the laity is heard, respected and plays a role in guiding the direction of our Church!
Is that happening here? Are we truly invited to share in the ministry of the Church on a broad scale?
Do you care about this? Do you care that Churches are closing to solve financial problems? Do you care that nursing homes could be sold without regard to those seniors who built these Churches and made financial sacrifices of their own? Do you care that the Church is abandoning those very people Jesus has commanded us to serve – the poor, the unwanted, the least among us?
If you do, you will join us this Saturday, April 5th, 2 PM, at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church (yes, that’s where we meet since both Churches were closed in Frankford), 4442 Frankford Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19124. For more information, please email email@example.com or call Pat at 215.520.5616
We need your voice!
Use this map to find your directions. For those traveling by SEPTA, use the 3 or 5 bus that passes right in front of the Church. St. Mark’s is between the Margaret-Orthodox and Church St. stops of the Market Frankford El or Blue Line.
This meeting is being sponsored by Keep the Faith in Frankford and La Milagrosa!
Thank you to everyone who braved the first day of Spring to attend a rally to urge Archbishop Chaput to redo the Parish Area Pastoral Planning Initiaitve. We scheduled this rally for now because in several days, Archbishop Chaput, Mayor Nutter and Governor Corbett are traveling to Rome to ask the Pope to attend the World Meeting of Families help in Philadelphia in September, 2015. We wanted Archbishop Chaput to know that there are Philadelphia families who want to meet with him regarding the way this planning process was implemented.
Churches closed or merged based on this process. We maintain it is a severely and systemically flawed process that needs to be redone. You can read more about the reasons why here.
Our rally drew members of St. Joachim, La Milagrosa and St. Leo parishes.
Channel 6 news came but footage of our event did not make it onto TV as it was a very busy news day.