Philly’s Archdiocese Needs to Rip Off the Band-Aid

Cathedral Basillica of Saints Peter and Paul. Photo Beyond My Ken

Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul. Photo Beyond My Ken.

Every morning, I pass the entrance of St. Laurentius elementary school on Berks Street in Fishtown. “Have a great day, hon!” shouts the principal, who stands outside with two teachers every morning — including every single day of the Polar Vortex — to safely usher her students into the building. Even on the rainiest, grayest days, this part of my commute always makes me smile.

Seeing the plaid-wearing students — their backpacks bigger than their little backs and their stretched-out knee socks flapping around their ankles — run into their elementary school resonates with me deeply. Though I no longer identify as a member of the Church, I know that my 12 years of religious education and worship shaped the way Iive my life now — and not just in my deep appreciation for punctuality and knee-length skirts. I believe in the community that can come from being a member of a parish and how a church — and especially, a school — can anchor a neighborhood and help it weather tough times.

Those of us who grew up in the culture of Philadelphia parochial schools, are bound by them even now. When I chat with childhood friends, we don’t refer to neighborhoods, we refer to parishes. “She went to Cecilia’s,”  we’ll say. Or “He moved from St. William’s to St. Al’s,” we’ll explain with a knowing look. (This helps us avoid saying what we really mean: that relocating from Lawncrest to Huntingdon Valley means someone is movin’ on up in the world.)

There was a time when the Archdiocese was brimming with so many devout Catholics that a community, like my current one in Fishtown, could support two churches and schools within three blocks of each other. If I walk out my door and turn left, I am at St. Laurentius Church. If I turn right, I am at Holy Name of Jesus. At one point, both of these churches and schools were full and functional. This is not the reality of the Catholic Church in Philadelphia anymore.

Now, St. Laurentius has a school but no church and Holy Name has a church but no school.

This week, when word came down from the almighty Archdiocese that 16 parishes are closing their doors, I understood exactly the kind of heartbreak the parishioners of those churches were feeling. Read more »

Archdiocese to Cut 29 Parishes Down to 13

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has announced that 16 parishes will be merged into 13 nearby parishes in Philadelphia and its suburbs,” AP reports. “The closures reflect the latest efforts to cut costs at the archdiocese by closing schools and parishes and selling off real estate. The archdiocese cited shifting Catholic populations, high density of parishes in a small area, and declines in Mass attendance and the number of available priests

As a point of clarification: There are now 29 parishes; there will be 13. Which means 16 are being eliminated, merged, or however you choose to label it.

6ABC has the full list of parishes to close and merge.

Vatican Official Tours Philly Ahead of 2015 Meeting

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia toured Philadelphia on Tuesday, giving the city the once-over on behalf of the Vatican as preparations continue for 2015’s World Meeting of Families, which is expected — hoped? dreamed? fervently believed — to draw Pope Francis, as well as thousands of Catholic families, to Philadelphia.

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PA Supreme Court to Hear Msgr. Lynn’s Case

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court will decide whether Monsignor William Lynn‘s conviction on child-endangerment charges should stand. An appeals court this winter overturned the conviction, saying the state’s child-endangerment laws did not apply precisely to Lynn, who had been convicted of supervising predator priests while working as an official with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Lynn has been free on bail since that ruling.

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I’m Agnostic, and I’m Hoping Pope Francis Comes to Philadelphia

Shutterstock

Shutterstock

Let’s get something straight: I know the Pope is Catholic.

This means a few things: I never expect him to adopt the conventional American Liberal positions l hold. There will be no embrace of gay marriage by the church, there will be no permission for abortion, and Pope Francis’s term will not end with the ascension of Pope Mary I. We’re never going to agree on those things. It is what it is.

Still: I find that I’m increasingly a fan of this pope. That’s a bit weird to admit. I grew up among Mennonites who pretty explicitly traced their theological heritage to the Reformation; more recently I’ve simply been agnostic: God’s not really part of my life anymore. Catholicism doesn’t hold much appeal for me, generally. Pope Francis does, however — and so I am rooting for him to visit Philadelphia next year.

Why? His humility. And his attempts to bring the church in line with that quality.

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Pope? Nope.

Turns out Mayor Nutter and Governor Corbett won’t get the private audience with Pope Francis today, after all.

AP reports: “Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and other public and corporate leaders and their spouses would be presented to the pope during today’s regularly scheduled public audience in St. Peter’s Square. There, (a spokeswoman) said, each would be able to present gifts to Francis if they have them, and speak “a few words” with him. She did not explain the change in plans.”

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