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.
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?
One week ago, we rallied in front of the Archdiocese to ask Archbishop Chaput to hear us – his families seeking to understand the closure of our churches without a full explanation from those who decided this was best for the “salvation of souls” and would enable the Archdiocese to provide even better “pastoral care” to the faithful of Philadelphia. Before we are able to host the World Meeting of Families in 2015, we need to get our own house in order.
You have heard us and the press has heard us. We believe. We continue to work to get answers to our questions regarding the Parish Area Pastoral Planning Initiative and the resulting abandonment of the lifeblood of the Church here in Philadelphia.
Al Dia pubished another article on our story this week. You can read it here. If you need to translate it to English, copy the url, visit Google Translate and simple paste in the url and hit “translate”.
We thank Channel 6 news, The Metro, Al Dia and you for caring about this most important issue.
Our thanks to Gilberto Gonzalez who shared this on Facebook.
Pope Francis in a homily on March 18, 2014 reiterated what Isaiah told the people of Sodom and Gomorrah: “Redress the wronged, hear the orphan’s plea and defend the widow!” This assures us that we are on the “good path”!
That’s what we want for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, too!
Now is the time to act if your parish has been one of the 46 being studied and probably recommendations have already been made. It is much easier to keep a church open than to have to re-open it. Make your voice heard if you believe that the Parish Area Pastoral Planning Initiative is as flawed as what some of us have already experience. Working together, we can come up with a fairer, more inclusive process that doesn’t destroy parishes that for generations has served the Catholic families of this Archdiocese. The people who have sacrificed to keep these churches going need us to continue the legacy of the Church in our communities.
Look at this list. If you know people, contact them and bring them tomorrow! Join us at 12 Noon on Thursday, March 20, in front of the Archdiocese Office Building at 222 N. 17th Street.
See you there! Stand up to make your voice heard! God bless you!
photo credit: PMillera4 via photopincc