Hello and thank you for visiting!
Sunday, Nov. 30, is the First Sunday of Advent. To commemorate the new Church year and the upcoming World Meeting of Families in 2015, there will be a Holy Hour for the Family and Mass said by His Excellency, Archbishop Chaput.
We are inviting you to come at 5:00 PM, wearing your parish colors, to show the Archbishop and our fellow brothers and sisters that we care about what is happening within the Archdiocese. Over forty churches have closed in the last 13 months, many of them in the city serving the poor, the elderly, the disabled and troubled. Yes, these are the people who don’t use envelopes, who didn’t know that you have to come to church in October to be counted in the annual census but who come to the church when they are in need of help. There are no “office hours” for those in need.
The plan is to sell your real estate and nursing homes (whose residents are mostly the elderly who built these churches and funded the Archdiocese faithfully) to balance the bottom line. Forget that pastoral care and love of those whom many consider unlovable is why our Church was founded!
Use a PPA process which again and again we hear did not involve the parishioners and was “pre-ordained” as to whom remained open and who closed. In Frankford, there was an extra bonus, both Mater Dolorosa and St. Joachim closed – neither had debt, St. Joachim had an Oblate Pastor and, now, there is no Catholic Church in Frankford. While both St. Joachim and Mater Dolorosa are Worship Sites, we’ve never had weekly Masses. We get an annual Feast Day Mass and, if we’re lucky someone gets married or bless their souls, has a funeral and we can go to Mass. We have renamed St. Joachim, the Church of the Locked Gates. (We have had a weekly prayer service at 8 AM every Sunday morning since we closed July 1, 2013. We used to do 4:30 PM on Saturday and 10:30 AM on Sunday, too, but we’re good Catholics and we do have to go to Mass.)
But we are still there working to reopen a Church and standing with our brothers and sisters throughout this Archdiocese who have undergone the same “process” and experienced the same feelings of injustice. We have been blessed with many neighborhood churches. There is no question some of our churches had to close but there are many questions about some of the churches that did close. Reaching out to Archbishop Chaput continually begets the answer, different words, but the same sentiment, “The decision has been made and it will not be changed.” Well, that conversation went well! St. Joachim did file an appeal and we are awaiting our day with the Apostolic Signatura (the Vatican Supreme Court).
This is not about a building, or even our particular church, it’s about our faith, how we live it and whom we serve. For 17 months, we have been working to be the Catholic presence in Frankford. We were so graciously invited by the Dean of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church to come there and hold our meetings and try to keep our parish family together and serve the community. There is a food cupboard there run by Court St. Frances de Sales #2617 of the Catholic Daughters of the Americas, we participate in the Northeast Dining with Dignity program preparing meals and bag lunches every 6-8 weeks and offering community events that are open to all. We have taken the “Joy of the Gospel” to heart.
As I close, because I could go on and on, I’m thinking that if Archbishop Chaput doesn’t want to listen, maybe the Pope will! There are many who feel that the Archbishop of Philadelphia has turned his back on them. This is not something to celebrate!
Archbishop Chaput, before you host the worlds’ families, how about meeting with your Archdiocesan families?
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.
Pope Francis photo credit: KOREA.NET – Official page of the Republic of Korea via photopin cc
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.
We call on the Archbishop, as our Shepherd here in Philadelphia, and urge him as stated by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) referring to 1 Peter 5:1-4 to be that “example” for us:
“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?
Sunday, June 15, 2014, David Harris and I just wanted to reach out to others whose parishes suffered St. Joachim’s fate last year. The Holy Spirit literally directed us to Notre Dame De Lourdes in Swarthmore. We were blessed meeting the parishioners who were trying to understand this decision and also grateful to know that other people care about what’s happening to them. Do You Care?
Read the full story here – “Notre Dame ready to carry the cross for parish”.
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!
For more information about us, visit www.keepthefaithinfrankford.org and find us on Facebook.