The former St. Joachim Catholic church in Frankford will reopen this weekend for a special Mass.
The Rev. Tom Higgins, pastor at Holy Innocents Parish, will celebrate a Mass on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. in honor of the feast of St. Joachim.
St. Joachim was the husband of St. Anne and the father of Mary, mother of Jesus. He is the patron of fathers, grandfathers, grandparents, married couples, cabinetmakers and linen traders. His feast day is Friday.
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia closed St. Joachim and 14 other parishes on July 1, citing drops in weekend Mass attendance, marriages and baptisms.
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput did not consider any appeals, but a group of former St. Joachim parishioners is appealing to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy.
The St. Joachim faithful argue that their former parish was financially solvent and brought in rental income from the former convent and school buildings.
In addition, the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales staffed the parish for 35 years, meaning the archdiocese did not have to supply a priest.
The Rev. Steve Wetzel, the last pastor at St. Joachim, was scheduled to be a chaplain for Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 and be in residence at St. Dominic Parish in Holmesburg.
However, the Oblates assigned him to a Virginia parish to fill in for an ailing pastor. He will return to the Philadelphia area at some point.
St. Joachim, located at 1527 Church St., was founded in 1845. It was the oldest Roman Catholic parish in the Northeast.
The Archdiocese also closed Frankford’s Mater Dolorosa and Harrowgate’s St. Joan of Arc, directing members of all three closed parishes to attend Mass at Holy Innocents, in Juniata Park.
Also planning an appeal are former parishioners of St. Leo the Great, located in Tacony. St. Leo was merged into its neighboring parish, Our Lady of Consolation.
The folks at St. Leo are writing letters of appeal to Pope Francis. ••