Has Your Church Closed or Merged? Are You Under Study Now?

We, the parishioners of St. Joachim in Frankford, have learned that there are system-wide flaws in the Archdiocesan Parish Pastoral Planning Process! Please join us for a rally on Thursday, March 20, to ask the Archbishop to redo this process. Here is more information. See you Thursday!

 

PPA rally

 

 

 

 

Sharon Browning Presents a Lenten Evening Not To Be Missed!

lent image smallAs you know, Keep the Faith in Frankford, has many active committees working to continue and promote the Catholic presence in Frankford. Our Rebuilding the Parish committee has engaged Sharon Browning, a local retreat faciliatator and spiritual guide and teacher, who will present an evening titled “Our Hearts Are Restless; Embracing the Lenten Journey!”  To learn more about Sharon, please check out her website, JUST Listening.

This time of year can be so filled with energy and new life, not simply because we are excited about spring, but as we travel and relive the last days of Jesus here on earth, it offers us an opportunity for us to experience new life and a “resurrection” from self. Jesus has called us to conversion – not to think about ourselves – but what gifts we are able to share with others! Matthew 22:1 says “Love your neighbor as yourself”. We can forget that we must first of all, show ourselves the love and compassion that recognizes that we are beloved children of God. Then, we reflect that love and compassion to all we meet. Then, we are fully alive and sharing in the mission of Jesus! We are creating a better world for all!

Please join us! Bring your family and friends for what is sure to be a rewarding evening! Please share this information and all are welcome to attend. We look forward to seeing you!

Sharon Browning flyer

Archbishop Chaput: “Laypeople have the exact same dignity as clergy and religious…”

PC LaityWe congratulate Archbishop Chaput on his appointment Thursday by Pope Francis to the Pontifical Council for the Laity. Our Archbishop has a wonderful way with words and expounds on a wide range of topics regarding Catholic life and beliefs. When you hear him give a homily, you know he is sincere, learned and a man of God. I wonder, though, if it’s his responsibilities that have removed him further from the people, the “laity”, from us. As you know, we are formally appealing to the Vatican Supreme Court to reopen St. Joachim Church. Basically, we’ve done this because no one in this Archdiocese has been willing to talk with us about the real reasons our Church was closed or how being “co-responsible” for our Church (in the words of Pope Benedict XVI) that, if we were truly involved, we could have come up with a different solution altogether rather than closing two churches in Frankford and ending a Catholic presence that has been 170 years strong. No one came to see us; no one visited us; no one asked for our opinions or our ideas. No one has been willing to hear us! Decisions and decrees being made without real and meaningful participation of all those most affected by these dictates always meet with resistance rather than ownership, acceptance and compliance.

I think that’s what surprises the Archbishop the most. He and his staff mean well and expect that we will be “obedient” but if we believe, as he says he does, that the laity are not “second-class members of the body of Christ” then we expect to be treated with the same respect and consideration that he is entitled to expect from us.

The Archbishop wrote a speech for a symposium in Mexico in 2009, “Voices: The Lay State and Religious Liberty”. Because of his responsibilities in the Archdiocese of Denver, the Archbishop was unable to attend. He sent one of his senior advisors, Mr Luis Soto, to give this address on his behalf. You may read the complete text here. What follows is the expert from that speech pertaining to the “lay vocation”:

Here’s my third and final point: the nature of the lay vocation. In May this year, speaking to a pastoral convention of the Diocese of Rome, Benedict XVI made a comment that many people overlooked. But I think his words have exactly the spirit that needs to guide this conference.

He said that the Church needs “a change in mindset, particularly concerning laypeople. They must no longer be viewed as ‘collaborators’ of the clergy, but truly recognized as ‘co-responsible’ for the Church’s being and action, thereby fostering the consolidation of a mature and committed laity.”

Christians are in the world, but not of the world. We belong to God, and our home is heaven. But we’re here for a reason: to change the world, for the sake of the world, in the name of Jesus Christ. That work belongs to each of us. Nobody will do it for us. And the idea that we can somehow accomplish that work without engaging — in a hands-on way — the laws, the structures, the public policies, the habits of mind and the root causes that sustain injustice in our countries, is a delusion.

Laypeople are not second-class disciples in this task. They’re not second-class members of the Body of Christ. There is no such creature as a “second-class” Christian. Baptism is a sacrament of redemption; but also of equality in God’s love. Laypeople have exactly the same dignity as clergy and religious — and this moment in history cries out for mature, intelligent, zealous and faithful lay leaders in an urgent way.

Priests and bishops cannot do the work of laypeople. That’s not what Christ called us to do. It’s not what the Church formed us to do. Our role as clergy in bringing Jesus Christ to the world, and the world to Jesus Christ, flows through you lay men and women who hear the Word of God; who love the Church for the truth she teaches; and then bring that Catholic witness into society to change it and sanctify it in Christ’s name.

Every Christian life, and every choice in every Christian life, matter eternally. Laypeople, not clergy, have the task of evangelizing the secular world, and only you can do it as God intended.

So never be embarrassed by your baptism. Never be afraid of the consequences of your faith. Take pride in your Catholic identity for the blessing and mandate it is. Act on it. Share it with others. More than any other country in this hemisphere, Mexico and its soil have been made holy by the blood of martyrs. All of us who are Catholic in America, north and south, need to revere that gift. We need to find in it once again the confidence to live and preach our faith – in everything we do — without apologies or excuses. And if we do that, then we won’t need to ask what the “new evangelization” looks like. We’ll know – because we’ll be incarnating it in our lives.

Thank you, and God bless you.

Another very well-respected Catholic blogger, Rocco Palmo, who lives here in Philadelphia as well, in his blog, “Whispers in the Loggia”, also wrote a post about the Archbishop’s new appointment titled, “Quote of the Day”. It is well worth reading!

We will send a congratulatory letter to the Archbishop and again ask if he is willing to meet with us and show by practice that he means what he preaches. We learn by our experiences and the unexpected closing of our church has given us our voice and a greater sense of determination to live as witnesses and disciples of Christ.

Let us “Go Forth”!

Couresty of desales.edu

Courtesy of desales.edu

We hear that at the end of Mass, “Go forth, the Mass has ended”. Mass had ended but our call to be evangelizers is renewed. We are hearing much about evangelization today. But this word can mean many things to many people. Is it that we are called to convert everyone to Catholicism? If so, maybe we should be exhorted to “Go Convert”! Is it to preach the Gospel? Well, no one likes to hear preaching! Perhaps St. Francis de Sales, whose feast we celebrated on January 24, said it best, “Live Jesus”!

I believe we are called to “Live Jesus”! It is through loving, giving, helping and sharing in the ups and downs of others’ lives that we are evangelizing. It is through our actions that reflect the love we have found in Jesus and that unconditional love we feel from our Lord that enables others to see the possibilities of this love in their own lives.

We need to discuss what evangelization means. Many think it is solely about converting others to the “Catholic” way of thinking. That can happen and is wondrous if it does. I want to propose that our lives are testament to the love of Jesus, to the love we have for our faith. Those who are searching may join us. But there are many who believe in a loving God, the “golden rule” of loving your neighbors as you love yourself. We are one family regardless of what we believe. We cannot “pigeonhole” God or have God taking sides to make us right. What is right is the way we live each and every day!

Pope Francis has written an apostolic exhortation, “Evangelii Gaudium” (The Joy of the Gospel)Let us take the time to read this and then have a real discussion on evangelization. The reopening of St. Joachim depends on this. Our souls depend on this.

Lastly, the Pope has recently said that all Christians must find a way to achieve unity and you can further read his thoughts here.

 

From Pope Francis to the “Dear Lay Faithful”!

pope and doveToday, on the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord, the Pope announced the newest Cardinals that he will install on February 22, 2014. You can read about it here, “The Scarlet is Served – Pope Reveals 19 New Cardinals”If you have been “cardinal watching”, you know that it was speculated that there would be no new American cardinals. Our own Archbishop Chaput and Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles were thought to be under consideration. However, their predecessors, Cardinal Rigali and Cardinal Mahony, respectively, were still under the age of 80 and it is unusual to have 2 Cardinals within the same diocese.

Now, I must be honest. I have said this before but it bears repeating. I recognized the difficult job Archbishop Chaput undertook when coming to Philadelphia. I watched his intial welcoming to the city, his installation and felt strongly that he was doing the best job he could do, so I supported him and his efforts. I was genuinely sorry the Archbishop wasn’t a Cardinal so that he could participate in choosing our next Pope after Pope Benedict XVI retired. However, his Area Pastoral Planning Process failed the faithful people of Frankford, who last year had two churches, St. Joachim and Mater Dolorosa, and today, have none. Reaching out to the Archbishop directly, and those representing him, we were told there would be no meeting, no consideration, as we repeatedly heard, “the decision has been made and we are not considering any changes.”

Well, we can take heart in Pope Francis’s words to us, “Dear Lay Faithful, be close to your priests with affection and with your prayers, that they may always be shepherds according to God’s heart.” We believe strongly that we must, each of us, take charge of our faith and be living witnesses to all we meet and to expect that we share in the priesthood of our clergy as well through our Baptism. (Today is, after all, the Baptism of our Lord that we celebrate.) That is our call to continue to reach out to all with the “Good News”, the joy of being Catholic.

christianpost.com

christianpost.com

As for our dear Archbishop Chaput, perhaps his heart could be more open to the Pope’s call as captured in his words on Holy Thursday at the Chrism Mass,

“Those who do not go out of themselves, instead of being mediators, gradually become intermediaries, managers. We know the difference: the intermediary, the manager, “has already received his reward”, and since he doesn’t put his own skin and his own heart on the line, he never hears a warm, heartfelt word of thanks. This is precisely the reason why some priests grow dissatisfied, become sad priests, lose heart and become in some sense collectors of antiques or novelties – instead of being shepherds living with “the smell of the sheep”, shepherds in the midst of their flock, fishers of men.”  (Refer to link in post to read the entire message.)

We have heard the Archbishop refer to himself as a manager. We have tried to thank the Archbishop. Even after he told me, at one of his Sunday night Masses, (and I was being pushed along by his security) that this was not the time or place to discuss such matters, (yet he would not make or give us any time or place to discuss such matters), I, instinctively turned around and said, “We love you, Archbishop”. I later wrote to him asking if he heard me.

The Archbishop is a good man, a holy man but we need to find another way besides closing churches, selling nursing homes and leasing cemetery grounds to balance our budget and reach our objectives. The very people that would help you, Archbishop, are the very people you are shutting out and turning away.

Isn’t that what all people want – just to be heard? So we continue. St. Joachim’s appeal was turned down by the Congregation of the Clergy. The ruling was that the Archishop did not do anything canonically wrong – he didn’t break canon law – but it was still not a right and just decision. Just this weekend, we filed an appeal with the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican Supreme Court. I believe we will be heard. I believe we will continue to do all within our power to reopen St. Joachim Church to continue the work of our ancestors in a community that wants to be heard and wants the healing that only our Lord Jesus Christ can provide.

Thank you for reading and God bless you!

The Closing of St. Joachim RC Church Has Opened Even More Hearts!

Up close creche and treeYes, this was not what the Area Pastoral Planning Process was supposed to do! At the end of this process, we were supposed to have at least one Catholic Church in Frankford! Now, we have none! If that doesn’t speak to the wisdom of this process!! But God does work in mysterious ways!

Christmas reminds us of this so very well. How would the Redeemer come to save us? The government would announce a census and all citizens had to return to their hometowns. Thus, Joseph and Mary (9 months pregnant) would have to make their way back home. Not finding anywhere to stay, an innkeeper let them use a stable. So, in this humble stable, and sharing his nursery with the animals, Jesus was born. A great and bright star would hover overhead and lead the Wise Men to this wisest of children. Those of us of St. Joachim Parish know what it is to be on the outside – to no longer have a true spiritual home. But has it weakened our faith? Have we become disbelievers? No, we are even more determined to reach out to others, who like us, know even better what it is to be marginalized, voices unheard and unwanted. Joseph and Mary must have felt pretty lonely and alone, too!

During our prayer service today, we sang “The First Noel”! This is a first noel for us, of sorts, too. The first year, in 169 years, there was not a Christmas vigil Mass or a Christmas Day Mass at St. Joachim. (The fire in 1979 disrupted the Church but immediately there was talk of rebuilding.) We have filed an appeal with the Vatican and cannot be sure of the outcome. The Congregation of the Clergy has ruled that Archbishop Chaput did not do anything canonically wrong. That does not change the unjustness or obvious preference of the Church here in Philadelphia to “follow” the monied pointsettias and treeCatholics to the suburbs and insist that Catholics have left the city, so it’s alright if they do, too!

But we have said, “No”, that’s not the right thing to do! We have met so many people during our efforts who have been touched in some way by St. Joachim and/or Frankford! Here we are! St. Joachim Parish is alive and well! St. Joachim Parish is telling all who listen our story, calling all who remember to help and asking those who want to give and give back to join us in our efforts to reopen the Church and open our hearts further to our brothers and sisters in Frankford.

This Christmas, we can celebrate that St. Joachim Parish has rallied together to keep united, to keep the faith alive and to hope that we are able to reopen St. Joachim.

Yes, indeed, God works in mysterious ways! May your Christmas be blessed in a special way this year and may we work to keep the light of Christ even brighter in our hearts in 2014!

 

 

 

 

 

Put Your Faith Into Action! Support St. Joachim’s Beef ‘n Beer & Our Vatican Appeal!

The Congregation of the Clergy has written us to inform us that they have asked Archbishop Chaput, to “obtain an elucidation of the matter and will communicate with (us) when his response has been studied”. Hopeful words to us! But we must continue our efforts.

We have raised over $7500 of our expected $12,ooo cost of this appeal. We need your help and support to raise the rest of the money!

We are friends; we are family! This holiday season let us join together to celebrate our faith and each other! Please join us! You can use your PayPal account/credit card to purchase tickets on our site. I donated $30.00 to purchase a ticket and all the information I needed came to via email. This works!!!!!

We hope to see you on Friday, December 13th! We can’t do this without you!

Beef n Beer flyer Menu

 

If Faith Can Move Mountains, It Can Certainly Change Our Minds and Hearts (including those of our hierarchy)!

faithkeySt. Joachim, the Church, has been closed since June 30, 2013. However, St. Joachim Parish is alive and well! We are committed to staying together and working together as a parish community to reopen St. Joachim Church. In fact, we have begun a nonprofit organization, Keep the Faith in Frankford, to continue the work of the Church in our community.

We meet weekly, we demonstrate downtown, we hold our prayer services, we participate in Archdiocesan events, we visit Holy Innocents and other churches to fulfill our weekly obligation of Mass but we long for the day when St. Joachim reopens. How can we do that? What makes us think that we are able to change the minds and hearts of our hierarchy and accomplish what some people feel is a battle already lost? The answer is simple – it’s our faith!

We have had so many opportunities to walk and live by faith as Catholics. Since our Church closed, our faith has increased and become even more meaningful! This past Sunday,October 13, 2013,  to commemorate the Year of Faith now ending, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia invited all to participate in a Pilgrimage of Faith. From different “landing points”, the faithful would walk to the Basilica to “Rediscover the Joy of Believing in Christ and His Church”. Sandwiches and water from Williamson’s would be distributed. A holy hour would take place at 5 PM with Exposition and the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Archbishop would say Mass at 6:30 PM.

We have been blessed to meet and work with other brothers and sisters whose parishes have also been impacted by decisions over which they had no voice. One such group is La Milagrosa whose efforts to resolve the sale of their chapel to a building developer is being led by Miguel Ortiz and Gilberto Gonzalez. Miguel and Gilberto, along with their families and fellow parishioners, have been models of humility, devotion and a real love of the Lord.

So together we would walk to the Basilica from La Milagrosa Chapel and witness our faith and say a Rosary for Justice for our Churches and all Churches that have been closed. Al and Mary McK., Al S., Ann Y., Barbara J., David and Shannon H., Florence S., Gregory M., Josephine L., Maryanne S., and Pat and Bob Smiley stepped off. (La Milagrosa started a little later than us but we all met later.) As we walked to the Basilica, we passed a group of homeless men in a park along the parkway. Greeting everyone with a God bless you and friendly faces just didn’t seem enough in this situation. I will never forget when Al S. and David H. talked to Williamson’s about donating the extra sandwiches to those men in the park. They assured them that’s what they would do after everyone had arrived and had been fed. It’s great to have faith but you have to use that faith to help others. The Lord constantly uses us to teach and learn from each other using our own gifts and talents to help make it “heaven here on earth”.

Yesterday, we walked, we sang, we talked and shared with others about what our faith means to us! Now we have to put it into action! What will you do as part of St. Joachim Parish to love, serve and witness your faith with and for others? Let us work to reopen St. Joachim to continue our witness which began back in 1844.

 

 

Archbishop, WE ARE ON FIRE WITH THE SPIRIT!

Holy SpiritPat, Florence and I had the pleasure of attending a lecture that Archbishop Chaput gave on October 1st at St Charles Borromeo Seminary. The lecture was entitled : Fire upon the earth: A Year of Faith, personal conversion and the new evangelization. We had hope to gain direction from our shepherd on the new evangelization and how to use it.

The lecture was centered around two scripture quotes. The Gospel of Matthew, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (4:4). And in the Gospel of Mark: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel” (1:15). In the verse from the Gospel of Matthew is it explained that we need more that food to nourish us. We also need God’s word to satisfy us spiritually. Additionally, the verse from the Gospel of Mark is explained by the Archbishop that Jesus comes out of the desert on fire with the presence of his Father. We are called to awaken from the darkness and stand witness to the Gospel. The Archbishop goes on to describe that he speaks with a sense of urgency. We must prepare for the kingdom for it is coming! Time is of the essence!

These Scripture quotes hold so true for what have gone through and what continues to occur in Frankford. Archbishop, how can we be feed spiritually?? You took away our place to hear the word of God and to be satisfied spiritually. In fact, you took it away from our entire neighborhood! Those who are poor, disadvantaged, hard working, and most important, faithful need it most of all! We hold the verse from Mark especially important to our cause. WE ARE ON FIRE WITH THE SPIRIT!! We are witnesses to this everyday. As we work, plan and learn to better evangelize in our neighborhood, we are examples of this call. St. Joachim Parish was and continues to be witness to the Gospel. We are preparing for the kingdom! We strive to live the Gospel and spread it to others in our neighborhood. We want people to know that others have abandoned them yet we, the remnant of St Joachim, has made it our mission to continue the good works of our parish.

Pope Benedict called for a “Year of Faith”. In Pope Benedict’s words, we now live in a world marked by “a profound crisis of faith”. Through the work of the parish we are trying to instill a strong presence of faith. It is wrong for one of the factors to rank the viability of a parish is on an envelop count.  We have people who were embarrassed to put an envelope in the collection and just place a dollar or two in loose.  Also we had transient people that would come and did not use envelops. Big envelope counts do not equal strong faith!  The entire neighborhood is without a Roman Catholic Church it rattles us and our faith at the core! We do have a profound crisis of faith in our neighborhood and our world. When you choose to snuff us out than we become more on fire with the Spirit and strive even harder to Keep the Faith in Frankford. This is what God has called us to do as Christians.

Pope Francis in his first few months as Pope issued an encyclical entitled “Light of Faith” in June just as our church was closing. One of the quotes from the encyclical states ” [Love] requires truth. Only to the extent that love is grounded in truth can it endure over time … [And if] love needs truth, truth also needs love. Love and truth are inseparable” (27). We love our faith, our neighborhood, and our church. We want the truth! We excel to know the Lord’s love deeper and to spread within our community.

The Archbishop speaks of the new evangelization as not methods, techniques, or technologies. The Archbishop says “But the main instrument of the new evangelization is the same as the old evangelization. It’s you and me. There’s no way around those words: “Repent and believe in the gospel.”  The world will change only when you change, when we change, because hearts are won by personal witness. And we can’t share what we don’t have.” That’s right, we can’t share what we don’t have! Pope Francis has called us to look at things in a different way. We, as Catholics, have not done a great job of really spreading the message to others – We just keep it among ourselves. We must spread the message to everyone! And to do that we must convert ourselves first and learn evangelization techniques. I had the privilege to attend an all day workshop on Door to Door Evangelization sponsored by the New Evangelization Office of the Archdiocese. The Spirit was truly on fire in that room. Can you imagine if we made others in our community and the world feel that?

The Archbishop shared a poem by Charles Peguy “God’s Dream,” where God says:[From] those who share my dreams
I ask a little patience,
a little humor,
some small courage,
and a listening heart –
I will do the rest.
Then they will risk,
and wonder at their daring;
run — and marvel at their speed;
build — and stand in awe of the beauty of their building …
So come now –
Be content.
It is my dream you dream,
my house you build,
my caring you witness,
my love you share.
And this is the heart of the matter.

It is all in the heart and we all have that in Keep the Faith in Frankford! Archbishop, we pray that you hear the words of the Gospels of Mark and Matthew and see truly what you have done to our neighborhood. You have abandoned us! We are faithful people who have the fire! It burns deep in our hearts. That you can never take that away!

Greg Minetola

Read the entire text of the lecture here:

http://catholicphilly.com/2013/10/archbishop-chaput/homilies-speeches/fire-upon-the-earth-a-year-of-faith-personal-conversion-and-the-new-evangelization/

Learn about Door to Door Evangelization:

http://www.parishvisitorsisters.org/

Image courtesy of:

http://embracingyourgreatness.blogspot.com

We Are One Church and We Want One Church in Frankford!

Mater Dolorosa RC ChurchSt. Joachim RC ChurchThis Saturday, September 14, 4:00 PM, Mater Dolorosa RC Church will open its doors to celebrate the Feast of Our Mother of Sorrows. Who better than a mother to understand our sorrow? Who better than the mother of our dear Lord to turn to and to implore her help to reopen a Church in Frankford?

When it was announced that both St. Joachim and Mater Dolorosa Catholic Churches would be closing, to say that there was great disbelief in our community would be an understatement. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia can always make up contrived reasons for their actions but doing so doesn’t justify those actions.

As each parishioner was trying to make sense of the closing two neighborhood churches – Mater Dolorosa established in 1911 and St. Joachim in 1844, many asked questions and sought answers as to how this event came to pass. It has been 2 1/2 months since these churches were closed. That’s not a long time when one’s memories are much, much longer. So where are we now?

St. Joachim parishioners grouped together and formed Keep the Faith in Frankford. This name is really dual-purposed – to reopen one of our Catholic Churches and to use our faith to help Frankford become an even better place to be. St. Joachim filed an appeal to the Vatican as allowed under Canon Law. However, this can be a long and arduous process with no guarantee of success. Our overriding goal is to have a Catholic Church in Frankford as we have had for over 169 years.

To achieve that, it is time to unite and to bridge any divisions between us! If we truly want a Catholic Church in Frankford we need to stand together, to show the fire and strength of our faith and to act with the belief that God can accomplish all things if we are willing to let Him work through us! It is not easy to do this but we have been blessed with an opportunity to show that our faith doesn’t reside in these church buildings but in our God and in each other as we Live Jesus!

We must make this effort, not just for ourselves, but for our ancestors who passed on the faith to us and who believed in the goodness of God even during the darkest of times. We

(l-r) Pat Smiley, Shannon and David Harris

(l-r) Pat Smiley, Shannon and David Harris

must do it for our children, our grandchildren and all who will come after us.

Following his visit to Brasil for World Youth Day, the Pope shared the following words during his Sunday Papal Audience:

“the encounter with the living Jesus, in the great family that is the Church, fills the heart with joy, because it fills it with true life, a profound goodness that does not pass away or decay.”

We are family and the joy that Jesus gives us is lasting and cannot be taken away! Let us join together this Sunday as one family to celebrate our God and our faith! God bless you!