“Reorganization” of Parishes in Port Richmond
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“Reorganization” of Parishes in Port Richmond

The Parishes of Port Richmond, which previously housed six parishes within a 30 minute walk radius, will close all but one church.

“Reorganization” of Parishes in Port Richmond

Parish and Parochial School Closings of the network of Catholic Archdioceses rocked the American education system and communities from the late 1990s until present day. Almost thirty years after the first round of Parish closings, the Catholic Church in America has suffered further damage to its reputation. The scandals surrounding clergy has harmed communities. The view of non-Catholics towards Catholics has once again focused on negative elements that the faithful push against since early immigration to America. Parochial schools have been criticized since their openings. Throughout the 1990s in Philadelphia, the archdiocese began a slow uphaul of Catholic Churches and education. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia claims they do not have the funds to pay bills on the Churches, such as the cost of heat and electricity, due to the lack of mass attendance and donations from parishioners. Instead of reaching out to the communities, the great-grandchildren of the devoted who funded the building of the Churches during the 19th Century, the Archdiocese prefers to allow the Church to shut down, rot, then develop into apartment complexes upon sale of the property in the gentrifying areas.

The threat of parishes closing in Philadelphia has been a constant fear of community members. The Archdiocese keeps the community in the dark about their plans until it is past the point of being able to fund-raise. The simple fact that immigrants poured all their hearts, energy, and meager salaries into these parishes to have the Archdiocese turn a profit on the property because the deed is in the name of the Archdiocese, not the community, is simple thievery. The Archdiocese is essentially stealing from the poor, working class communities surrounding the parishes. There is little to nothing communities can do to stop the destruction of their family parish.

The distant tale of Church closings, the deepest fear of many, has once again reached Port Richmond. During the Christmas holiday season in 2018, the Archdiocese released an unofficial letter to the parishioners of Saint Adalbert's Parish on the corner of Allegheny Avenue and Thompson Street, stating in frothy Archdiocesan rhetoric that all the Churches of Port Richmond (Nativity BVM, Mother of Divine Grace, Our Lady Help of Christians, St. Anne's, and St. George) will effectively close in favor of the Polish Aposolate. The "Archdiocesan Strategic Planning Committee" found the debts of all Parishes to be "increased, with mass attendance in decline". The threat of this potential closing that has been looming over the community for nearly two decades has had community members seeking faith-worship elsewhere. As opposed to reaching out to community members, the Archdiocese drove parishioners away. The community of the early 21st century was that of fundraising: of Christmas Bazaars, pancake breakfasts, spaghetti dinners, the youth Beacon Center programs, intertwining the community of various nationalities gathering together. This is no more. Gentrification pushes the Church to seek fiscal gains in Port Richmond.

The beloved parishes of our ancestors will exist no more; the sense of community of Port Richmond will exist no more. Committee meetings of 3 representatives of each Church, along with the shared pastor that does not share our history, have been meeting since the beginning of January. The merger of all the parishes, according to the unofficial letter, will take place in July. This information has not circulated Port Richmond in any regard. The community members are unaware of the proposed plan as the letter was only released to the Parish that will remain open. The clock is ticking. Soon, the Churches will exist only in distant memory of Port Richmond as the neighborhood becomes more gentrified.

The Letter to St. Adalbert’s about the Parish ClosingsLauren Marshall

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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