What Happens At A Frankford Forward Prayer Vigil and Witness?

Frankford Forward Logo 1For those of you who think about joining us when we announce a Prayer Vigil and Standing Witness Against Violence in our community, might want to know exactly what’s involved.

Part of Frankford Forward’s mission, and one that many feel deeply about, is our efforts at responding to violence in our community. Two days after we learn that someone is a victim of violence, at 6:30 PM, we gather at the site where it occurred. These Vigils are 15 – 30 minutes long. We have signs that we hold or not and we gather together. Recent efforts had us meeting the family of the victim and praying with them and, another, we walked two blocks meeting our neighbors and inviting them to join with us. Several people expressed an interest in our next Frankford Forward meeting which is Monday, June 27, 6:00 PM at St. Mark’s Church.

This past Saturday, we ended with a prayer. Sometimes, we begin with a prayer. We do what seems best at the time. This is an important activity that we hope you will want to join, too. It is rewarding, we are meeting people who mostly appreciate what we are trying to do. We want peace in our neighborhoods. We want people to feel safe. We can do this – with your help.

Sadly, another young man was shot and killed in the middle of the day at Bridge St. and Torresdale Avenue, Tuesday, June 21. Man Shot, Chased and Killed in Frankford Identified Frankford Forward will gather there on Thursday, June 23, 6:30 PM. Many of us are going to the PSA 1 Meeting at Aria Frankford at 7:00 PM where we can meet with the police and talk about this situation. There have been 4 shootings in this area resulting in 2 deaths and 2 injured within the last 2-3 weeks. Something is definitely going on here.

Please take the time to view this 1 minute movie to better understand what we do. We hope to see you Thursday evening!!

What Does the Future Hold for Holy Innocents?

Pope Francis and futureThe weekends of November 7/8 and 14/15, members of St. Joachim, Frankford, will distribute information regarding our current efforts to have a weekly Mass said, once again, in our community. You can read our information below which will be translated into Spanish and Vietnamese. Please pray for us and that our efforts are successful!

We want to share with you, the parishioners of Holy Innocents, why a weekly Mass in Frankford would help you. The Parish Pastoral Planning Process, which closed both St. Joachim Church and Mater Dolorosa Church in Frankford failed and only created “Roaming Catholics” who don’t support any particular parish. Some of us remained with Holy Innocents while others chose other parishes. But we are all the Body of Christ.

When St. Joachim was merged with Holy Innocents, we asked to meet with Archbishop Chaput as Frankford no longer had any Catholic church. Our pastor felt the Parish Pastoral Planning Process should be kept secret and that we should trust him. We had an Oblate priest so we did not depend on an Archdiocesan priest. We were not in debt but our school was rented for several hundred thousand dollars per year and that was ready cash. Since no one would talk with us, we filed a Vatican appeal that is every Catholic’s right under Canon law. That appeal is still pending a review by the Vatican Supreme Court.

Frankford has over 50 churches but not one is Roman Catholic. For many of these people, it is beyond their ability to travel to Holy Innocents or any other church even via the bus provided. Frankford is home to people who have lived there all their lives but also a more transient population who are here for rehab or making their way after being released from prison. Archbishop Chaput tells us we have to ask Father Higgins. Father Higgins has told us, “As long as I am pastor of this parish, nothing is going to change.”

Father Higgins has been sharing with all of us the “state of the parish” these past few weeks. Father Higgins will explain to us that there is a “need for increased giving”. Recently, on Fox 29 News, Father Higgins said that 4 of his 5 Masses here at Holy Innocents were not well attended. Why not be “creative” as Pope Francis has said and say a Mass in Frankford? We have asked over and over again for the use of St. Joachim for public and private worship and would pay all expenses for the upkeep of the Church and cemetery. We recently submitted a proposal to Father Higgins. We offered to pay for a retired or underutilized priest to say a weekly Mass. Holy Innocents would get the collections thus adding to your coffers. We would come to Holy Innocents and support all activities as well. We would evangelize in Frankford making Holy Innocents even stronger. We’d be active parishioners of the “Inn”.

You have all been very welcoming to us. While we are grateful to you and that makes us happy, it’s not the issue. You know how big Frankford is, you may know the problems Frankford struggles with regarding drugs and housing needed for those trying to rehabilitate themselves. It’s not simply a matter of getting on the bus; it’s a matter of worshipping in your own community. A church building is a physical symbol of God’s presence in the community that tells everyone God’s love is for all and there are second chances for everyone.

There is no longer a Catholic presence in Frankford except for us, the parishioners who remain to do the work left to us after the Archdiocese abandoned us. There is no pastoral care for those most marginalized by society in Frankford, an area certainly in need of God’s care. Please ask these questions, too, because placing extra burdens on you when all other avenues of possibilities are not explored is not the answer! If unity is truly desired and we all want Holy Innocents to thrive, then you must include Frankford! We will be here next weekend, too, in case, you have questions or want to talk further! Please keep us in your prayers and we will pray for you, too! God bless you!

Please like us on Facebook at Keep the Faith in Frankford, too!

Spanish Translation      Vietnamese translation

We Possess Divine Truths But Is Our Hierarchy Listening To Our Human Truths, Too?

Satan may be aTime with Godfoot but it took me at least 30 minutes to troubleshoot why the Fox 29 News video wasn’t playing. For you tech types, was it the embed code? Was it a problem with WordPress? No, it was as simple as the “Play” button is overtop the white cloud on the left. Who knew? Now you do and, hopefully, you’ll take the time to view it. Give the first movie a moment to start. Also, therein lies the answer to all of our problems – with God, high above the clouds and that’s where we need to direct our attentions so that we can make a difference in this earthly world here below.

Deacon Phil Geliebter of St. Mark’s Church is a sharing guy and I had just read one of his inspirations today and thought it was perfect for right here. Thanks, Deacon Phil! I also used it for our 8 AM Prayer Service Announcement outside St. Joachim tomorrow morning.

The title of this blog post came to mind because, as Catholics, we do have many beliefs that we consider to also be truths of the Church. Much like our Declaration of Independence has certain truths that our country is based on. But there is a problem – our church hierarchy is spending so much time trying to counteract the voice of the laity when this time and effort could be so better spent in us listening to each other and finding a way to solve the urgent issues of today’s church. As you know, our efforts were featured in the September issue of Philadelphia Magazine in the Bob Huber article titled, “Archbishop Charles Chaput: The Hardliner”As the Archdiocese was aware of this impending article, Father Higgins is interviewed to counteract us. And so it goes! So, we give you both versions of the story. Please watch both videos! Our churches depend on you being informed!

Last night on Fox 29 this segment aired about Holy Innocents and about many of us. Keep the Faith in Frankford continues to, as my Aunt Pearl would say, “Speak the truth” and try to get justice not only for the closed churches in Frankford but for all closed churches in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Rather than writing a long explanation of our response to this report, I make a video, too, which I hope you’ll take the time to watch. We would love to hear your “truths”, too! We are brothers and sisters in the one Jesus Christ, who can unite us all!

Has Archbishop Chaput Been “Partial” to Some of Us in the Archdiocese?

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 Suprises”.

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!

Parishioners' Pilgrimage Flyer

 

“Here I Am, Lord! Is It I, Lord?” That You Want at the Basilica on Sunday, Nov. 30., at 5:00 PM?

7 Reasons for Nov 30Hello, please take a moment and read this blog post on our sister website, Philly-Catholics.com. We’ll be looking for you on Nov. 30th!

 

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

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

St. John was a “Voice in the Wilderness”; Frankford Voices Cry Out Today, Too!

IMG_2588 - Version 2We are continuing to demonstrate in front of 222 N. 17th Street, the Archdiocesan Office Building. At a recent meeting, we discussed the value of continuing these efforts. Mainly, Bob S. explained that it’s important to show that we are down there “in front of” the Archdiocese every day because we believe in the need for a Catholic presence in Frankford. I believe we have spread our message far and wide (as we have signatures from all the tourists who come to our area) that the Church hierarchy needs to involve the laity in more substantive ways. This begins with having a real dialogue. If we had a voice, we could have found a much better solution for everyone than simply closing 2 churches. Closing our churches was taking the easy way out – it would have been much harder to meet with all of us and tell us that the needs of the Archdiocese outweighed the needs of the faithful. That is indeed true sometimes, but we don’t think that was the case in this particular instance of closing both our Frankford Churches.

In a recent radio interview with Loraine Ballard Morrill, the News and Community Affairs Director for Clear Channel Media+Entertainment, her questions led me to understand that we are kept at arms’ length from having a voice, from real involvment in the Church here in Philadelphia. There is a distance between the laity and the hierarchy and to realize it on a deeper level is saddening. It doesn’t have to be this way. Please find Loraine’s Blog here.

So, we continue to make our voices heard through demonstrating, our prayer services, meetings, reaching out and joining together with others who have suffered loss of their church and to focus our efforts on continuing to work to Keep the Faith in Frankford. Here are some of our “Frankford Voices”!