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.
For almost 2 years, we have been asking this question and no one from the Archdiocese will meet with us or talk to us. Unless efforts are made to review and reverse some of the 46 church closings in the last three years, we would have to answer a resounding “Yes” to that question. To learn more of the reasons why we feel this way, please take the time to read a recent post, “Our God of Surprises”.
Organized by Keep the Faith in Frankford and Philly Catholics, please join us as we ask for the Parish Pastoral Planning Process to be redone!
For more info, please call Pat Smiley, 215.520.5616. Thank you and God bless you!
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.