Parishioners of closed Frankford church plan rally

Former pa­rish­ion­ers of the shuttered St. Joachim Cath­ol­ic Church in Frank­ford are or­gan­iz­ing a rally on Thursday out­side the Arch­diocese of Phil­adelphia of­fices, at 222 N. 17th St.

The pub­lic is in­vited to at­tend the rally, sched­uled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The pur­pose of the rally is to urge the arch­diocese to re­con­sider the way it stud­ies po­ten­tial church clos­ings.

The rally is timed in an­ti­cip­a­tion of next week’s vis­it by Arch­bish­op Charles Chaput, Gov. Tom Corbett and May­or Mi­chael Nut­ter to the Vat­ic­an.

A del­eg­a­tion will travel there from March 24-26 to plan for the World Meet­ing of Fam­il­ies, which will take place in Phil­adelphia in Septem­ber 2015.

Chaput, Corbett, Nut­ter and oth­ers will meet with Pope Fran­cis, and they plan to en­cour­age him to vis­it Phil­adelphia for next year’s World Meet­ing of Fam­il­ies.

The arch­diocese closed St. Joachim and 14 oth­er par­ishes last Ju­ly, cit­ing drops in week­end Mass at­tend­ance, mar­riages and bap­tisms.

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.

In gen­er­al, the former pa­rish­ion­ers want the arch­diocese to give the laity more say in wheth­er churches should close.

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.

Since then, former St. Joachim pa­rish­ion­ers pro­tested out­side arch­diocese of­fices last sum­mer and fall. They hold weekly pray­er ser­vices and strategy ses­sions. They’ve also teamed with St. Mark’s Epis­copal Church in Frank­ford to feed the hungry.

For more in­form­a­tion on Thursday’s rally, con­tact Pat Smi­ley at 215-520-5616 or pats­mi­, or vis­it www.keep­thefaith­in­fran­k­­ol­ics ••

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