A second church is available in Philadelphia

Last month we informed you about the decision-making process in Philadelphia, where both Ordinariate groups are discerning whether they should merge and take over a free church building from the Archdiocese. In July plans were being made to visit Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Bridgeport.

In the August issue of The Philadelphia Ordinariate Post, Fr. David Ousley reports on how the story is unfolding:

Dear parishioners and friends,

Last month I wrote to you about the possibility of St Michael’s and Newman coming together at the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Bridgeport. The church is available as the result of the merger of Mount Carmel with Sacred Heart in Swedesburg last year. Members of both congregations gathered for a visit there on July 26th, and we are now reflecting on what we saw.

Meanwhile, on the property front: just to make life complicated (and interesting), it turns out that there is another available property which might suit our needs, St Gertrude’s in West Conshohocken. This parish merged with three nearby parishes in Conshohocken last summer; St Matthew’s is the surviving parish. St Gertrude’s dates from the days when there was no bridge in Conshohocken, and ministered to the Catholics on the south side of the river. It was (apparently) never a large parish, and for some years recently St Gertrude’s shared a priest with St Mary’s in Conshohocken. One of the auxiliary bishops of the Archdiocese lived in the rectory. The school and convent were sold to the Borough some ten years ago, and were torn down to create a park across the street from the church. The property now comprises the church (with hall below) and rectory, with a parking lot. I’m grateful to Fr Thomas Heron, the Pastor of St Matthew’s for letting us take a look at it.

St Gertrude - West Conshohocken PASt Gertrude - West Conshohocken PA - interiorAs we did with Mount Carmel, we will visit after the Sunday morning Mass at St Michael’s – about 11 a.m. at St Gertrude’s – on August 9th. We had a very good turnout for the Mount Carmel visit, and I hope for the same for St Gertrude’s. The church is on Bullock Avenue, just off Route 23 in West Conshohocken. Maps will be available at St Michael’s, and I can provide navigational help for Newman folk if needed. (It was not needed for Mount Carmel!) The same discernment questions apply to St Gertrude’s as to Mount Carmel, and we will be talking them over after the visit – August 9th after the evening service at Newman, and August 16th at coffee hour at St Michael’s. I should note that St Madeleine Sophie remains a possibility, though it has not seemed to work for a number of the Newman folk, and so we have been looking for another location other than Mount Airy.

The goal in considering the move is two-fold: to get the two congregations together at a location that will work for both, and to find a place where we can settle permanently. The advantages of a merger are not hard to see: it will get us much closer to “critical mass,” a larger congregation is more attractive to potential members, our financial resources will be greater, we would be better able to support a property of our own. One larger congregation will be more viable than two small ones.

This means there are really two questions before us: location and merger. They are related, in that St Michael’s and Newman have different needs regarding location. St Michael’s folk come from the city and from afar, and thus need a location with Septa access and expressway convenience. Newman folk are largely on the Main Line and have understood their mission in terms of the Main Line, and thus need to be accessible to the Main Line. So part of the discussion is about location: neither current location is good for both congregations.

The other part is about the merger. Statistically, church mergers are rarely successful, if one gauges success by a happy new parish with all or most of the people involved from the merging congregations active in the new. Of course, most mergers are the result of declining numbers and finances, which is not the case for us. Nevertheless, we need to be careful about how we go about it. Each congregation has things it specially values about its life, and would not wish to lose. We will want to be sure the best of each is carried into the new. We want the new to be more than the sum of the parts. Since the new will be just that – new – the change carries the inevitable fear of a loss of identity. Even where everyone is behind the merger, there is still much to be done. People need to get to know one another. Different ways of doing things need to be reconciled. New Pastoral and Finance Councils need to be put in place. And so on.

So there are two processes: considering locations and properties, and exploring the merger of St Michael’s and Newman. It will be necessary for the people of the two congregations to get to know one another, and to start working together. Each community will need to understand what makes the other one tick: how its mission is understood, what is specially important in its common life, how it has been formed by its history, etc. There will be a number of steps in this process. As suggested in one of our recent meetings, a good place to start is with an informal social event where people can get to know each other better. With vacations and other conflicts, it seems best not to attempt it in August nor on Labor Day weekend. Hopefully everyone will be back by September 13th, when I invite you all to a pot-luck lunch at the rectory after the St Michael’s Mass. I infer from the excellent turnout of Newman people for our site visit that this is a possible time, even though the distance is greater. Please come! Of course, you are also welcome to visit the other parish: Newman folk can visit St Michaels’ at 9 on Sunday morning at Holy Cross in Mount Airy, and St Michael’s folk can visit Newman at Our Lady of the Assumption in Strafford at 6 Sunday evenings.

The basic question of course is what God is calling us to do. Our discernment of that question touches on many things: our mission in the Philadelphia area, the accessibility of the location to our present congregations and potential parishioners, how we can support the work of the Catholic Church in the Archdiocese as well as the Ordinariate, and (inevitably) financial realities. Even though this is summer, and people are away from time to time, I hope we can move the process along. Both merger and local decisions require time and consideration, and cannot be made instantly. I am grateful for the generous participation of everyone from Newman and St Michael’s in this process of discerning and planning for our future.

Fr. David Ousley

This map shows the locations both of St Gertrude's and Our Lady of Mount Carmel

This map shows the locations both of St Gertrude’s and Our Lady of Mount Carmel

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29 Responses to A second church is available in Philadelphia

  1. Rev22:17 says:

    David,

    From your quotation: Last month I wrote to you about the possibility of St Michael’s and Newman coming together at the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Bridgeport. The church is available as the result of the merger of Mount Carmel with Sacred Heart in Swedesburg last year. Members of both congregations gathered for a visit there on July 26th, and we are now reflecting on what we saw.

    Meanwhile, on the property front: just to make life complicated (and interesting), it turns out that there is another available property which might suit our needs, St Gertrude’s in West Conshohocken. This parish merged with three nearby parishes in Conshohocken last summer; St Matthew’s is the surviving parish. St Gertrude’s dates from the days when there was no bridge in Conshohocken, and ministered to the Catholics on the south side of the river. It was (apparently) never a large parish, and for some years recently St Gertrude’s shared a priest with St Mary’s in Conshohocken.

    It’s always good to consider a couple options. When asked whether one likes “A,” it’s to answer in the negative. But when asked whether they prefer “A” or “B,” most people will choose one or the other.

    The photos show a huge contrast between very traditional architecture and ornate art of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church and contemporary simplicity of St. Gertrude’s Church. My guess is that the former will be more appealing to Anglo-Catholic tastes, but perhaps not. It will be interesting to see which way the two groups go on this: the Newman Fellowship apparently is accustomed to worshipping in contemporary buildings while the St. Michaels congregation is accustomed to a more traditional setting.

    From your quotation: I should note that St Madeleine Sophie remains a possibility, though it has not seemed to work for a number of the Newman folk, and so we have been looking for another location other than Mount Airy.

    I wonder if the real issue here is the location or the time of the mass for the Newman Fellowship (Sunday evening). If the latter, a merger clearly will solve the problem.

    From your quotation: This means there are really two questions before us: location and merger. They are related, in that St Michael’s and Newman have different needs regarding location. St Michael’s folk come from the city and from afar, and thus need a location with Septa access and expressway convenience. Newman folk are largely on the Main Line and have understood their mission in terms of the Main Line, and thus need to be accessible to the Main Line. So part of the discussion is about location: neither current location is good for both congregations.

    This paragraph obviously requires some amplification/explanation for those who are not familiar with the area.

    >> SEPTA (properly written in capitals since it is an acronym) is the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority — the agency that operates the mass transit system in the city of Philadelphia and the surrounding metropolitan area.

    >> The term “Main Line” appears to refer to the “Main Line” of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, a limited access divided highway extending from the state’s western border with Ohio to the state’s eastern border with New Jersey completed in stages from 1940 to 1956, a portion of which is the highway designated as Interstate Highway 276 on the map. This term arose to distinguish the original essentially east-west route from a “Northeast Extension” extending north northwestward from the “Main Line” at Plymouth Meeting, a suburb to the northwest of Philadelphia, to Wilkes-Barre and Scranton completed in 1957 (the segment of Interstate Highway 476 north of Interstate Highway 276 on the map).

    From a standpoint of accessibility for folks who depend upon public transportation, Our Lady of Mount Carmel appears to the less inconvenient choice. From downtown Philadelphia one can take the Market-Frankford line to the 69th Street Transit Center to connect with the Norristown High Speed Line, the penultimate stop of which is just four blocks from the church, or one can take the Norristown commuter rail line to the Norristown Transit Center and connect with Bus Route 99, which stops at the intersection nearest the church — or, if it’s a nice day, one can walk about 4/5 mile from the Norristown Transit Center to the church. The options for St. Gertrude’s Church are not so good: the Norristown commuter rail line has a stop in Conshohocken, but it’s on the other side of the river, about a 3/4 mile walk, and there is no bus service from this stop. Our Lady of Mount Carmel also appears to have an adequate car park for those who will drive.

    From your quotation: So there are two processes: considering locations and properties, and exploring the merger of St Michael’s and Newman. It will be necessary for the people of the two congregations to get to know one another, and to start working together. Each community will need to understand what makes the other one tick: how its mission is understood, what is specially important in its common life, how it has been formed by its history, etc. There will be a number of steps in this process. As suggested in one of our recent meetings, a good place to start is with an informal social event where people can get to know each other better.

    Yes, uniting communities is a somewhat challenging process even in the best of circumstances, and one must give parishioners time to work through the process if it is to succeed. Nevertheless, it seems to have gone well in Calgary and in Arlington. We pray that it will go as well in this situation.

    Norm.

    • I think I should explain that St. Madeleine Sophie is a small, nearly redundant church in the Mount Airy parish where St. Michael’s currently worship. St Michael’s have used the church for the Easter triduum while the parish celebrated together at Holy Cross. Clearly Mass times would not be a major problem there if the merged community were given near exclusive use of St. Madeleine Sophie – the only thing is that all the Newman parishioners would have to travel.

      It is frightening how many church buildings in this area are now redundant!

      • Matt C says:

        “It is frightening how many church buildings in this area are now redundant!”

        Contraception + apostasy = empty churches.

      • Rev22:17 says:

        Matt,

        You wrote: Contraception + apostasy = empty churches.

        Actually, much of the apostasy was lying dormant decades — perhaps even a century or more — ago, when many people continued to go to church due to familial and social pressure. The mobility of modern life — families now living hundreds or even thousands of miles from grandparents and from the social environment within which the parents grew up — have removed that pressure to go through the motions and thus exposed the underlying reality.

        And in reality, we are better off on two counts.

        >> 1. The present situation is, at least, honest.

        >> 2. The remnant church actually is much stronger. You know the adage about the strength of a chain. Those who left were the weak links.

        Norm.

      • Rev22:17 says:

        David,

        You wrote: It is frightening how many church buildings in this area are now redundant!

        The situation is not so dire as it might at first seem.

        >> Many are churches built for so-called “national parishes” — personal parishes erected to serve immigrants, providing pastoral services in their ethnic languages, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. As successive generations have assimilated into American culture, becoming fluent in English, the need for these “national parishes” has abated.

        >> There are also many smaller churches that were built to serve smaller enclaves that did not have convenient access to the main parish in a community in an era when transportation was largely pedestrian. With modern transportation, it is now convenient for those who reside in such enclaves can now go to the larger parish.

        >> And in many cases, demographic shifts have also played a role. As successive generations have migrated from the ghettos of the inner city to the more affluent suburbs, and the inner city has become home to new waves of immigrants from non-Christian cultures. The result is mergers of parishes in the inner city accompanied by erection of new parishes, or of parishes relocating to larger facilities, in the suburbs.

        All three churches in consideration to host a merged ordinariate congregation in the Philadelphia area appear to fall in the first two of these categories.

        Norm.

    • Rev22:17 says:

      Everybody,

      Argh!

      In the above comment, I wrote: The photos show a huge contrast between very traditional architecture and ornate art of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church and contemporary simplicity of St. Gertrude’s Church. My guess is that the former will be more appealing to Anglo-Catholic tastes, but perhaps not. It will be interesting to see which way the two groups go on this: the Newman Fellowship apparently is accustomed to worshipping in contemporary buildings while the St. Michaels congregation is accustomed to a more traditional setting.

      So, in another blog today, a gent named John Bruce concluded a post with the following paragraphs.

      Are these groups filing into the different naves after mass and diligently asking “gee, do we want contemporary or traditional? I sort of like the other crucifix better, but this one has a side chapel. . .” anything more than lookie-loos?

      Or in other words, is this just a feckless exercise, and is it a feckless exercise for Mr Murphy and his regular commenters to discuss this at all? Mr Murphy and other knowledgeable people may have good answers to my questions, but so far, I don’t see anything like this addressed at his site.

      I guess that Mr. Bruce did not read the above paragraph from my earlier comment very carefully. Of course, we cannot know how the discussion will go, or how the respective groups will lean, until somebody posts comments about the respective post-visit discussions. The issue, however, clearly is on the table here.

      Norm.

  2. John Bruce says:

    Norm, isn’t this whole issue moot if the combined group doesn’t have the resources to maintain either building? This is what I find somewhat unsettling about Fr Ousley’s newsletter and the discussion here. How much does it cost to heat and maintain a building of that size? How much must such a group consistently set aside for renewal of furnace, roof, paint, etc? What are the financial resources available to a combined group?

    • Rev22:17 says:

      John,

      You asked: Norm, isn’t this whole issue moot if the combined group doesn’t have the resources to maintain either building?

      Yes, but…

      You continued: This is what I find somewhat unsettling about Fr Ousley’s newsletter and the discussion here. How much does it cost to heat and maintain a building of that size?

      … both of the churches in consideration — St. Gertrude’s and Our Lady of Mount Carmel — are quite small.

      >> In the interior photo of St. Gertrude’s (above), one can see about eight or nine pairs of pews that would seat 4-5 parishioners on each side and the location the transverse connector between the aisles and the nave, which is usually at the middle of the nave in churches that have it, suggests that there are no more than two or three pairs of pews that are not visible in the photograph. The exterior photo (also above) also shows clearly that the building is quite modest in size: the entry vestibule appears to be approximately square and just over the width of the double doors on a side, and it consumes about a third of the width of the building.

      >> The interior photo of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (in the linked article from a month ago) does not show the seating for the congregation, but the exterior photo (in the same linked article) shows a shows a motorcar parked in front of the building — which clearly is less than three car lengths (about 45 feet) in width and perhaps 60 feet in length, not counting the apse that forms the main sanctuary shown in the interior photo. These exterior dimensions suggest seating capacity similar to that of St. Gertrude’s.

      Realistically, it appears that both of these buildings are of a size that will not overwhelm a combined community while still having adequate room for growth. The cost of heating and air conditioning probably will not be overwhelming.

      You asked: How much must such a group consistently set aside for renewal of furnace, roof, paint, etc? What are the financial resources available to a combined group?

      These are relevant questions, but consider the following.

      >> 1. The community of St. Michael’s supported its own facilities as a congregation of The Episcopal Church (TEC). In a combined community, the Newman Fellowship will replace the numbers that may have left the St. Michael’s congregation rather than coming into the Catholic Church.

      >> 2. The financial resources need not come solely from Sunday collections. A congregation of this size can generate considerable additional revenues through festivals, dinners, auctions, and other activities.

      >> 3. In many cases, work — especially simple tasks such as painting — can be done by parishioner volunteers at considerably lower cost than hiring contractors to do it. Even tasks that involve licensed trades (plumbing, wiring, structural repairs, etc.) can be completed, or at least supervised, by parishioners who have the respective licenses.

      In any case, Fr. Ousley seems confident that the combined community will have the means to sustain its own property. Part of this might be the “critical mass” of volunteers to plan and to carry out various fundraising activities.

      Norm.

  3. EPMS says:

    In the July newsletter Fr Ousley says that a discussion of the financial issues with the relevant parish committees will precede any decision about taking over either of these churches. He alludes to the experience of parishioners at St James and Good Shepherd, and how a church building for the combined groups would require a similar commitment, without the benefit of an endowment. So I do not think that the points raised by John Bruce, while very relevant, have gone unnoticed.

  4. John Bruce says:

    Here are typical expenses to keep the doors open at St Mary of the Angels, a 1930 building:
    Junior Warden’s Fund (building maintenance reserve) $500
    Electric Repair $200
    Plumbing $150
    Sparkletts $55
    Organ Repair $75
    Trash Disposal $85
    Mass Supplies $150
    Pest Control $55
    Copier Lease $110
    Toner $35
    Termite Repair $275
    Church Casualty Insurance $850
    Gas $100
    Water and Power $1200
    Janitorial $1200
    Gardening (minimal) $100
    Organist $1000
    This comes to over $6000 a month, or over $72,000 a year. How much parish experience does Fr Ousley have?

    • Rev22:17 says:

      John,

      You wrote: Here are typical expenses to keep the doors open at St Mary of the Angels, a 1930 building…

      Many of the items in your list are not likely to be recurring monthly expenses for a congregation in Pennsylvania. Off the top, one can scratch the following.

      Electric Repair $200
      Plumbing $150
      Sparkletts $55
      Organ Repair $75
      Pest Control $55
      Termite Repair $275

      Those items add up to over $800. One can eliminate another $100 by recruiting parishioners to do the gardening as volunteers, another $110 by buying a printer/copier/fax unit (though higher cost of toner might partially offset this), and at least some of the janitorial costs by recruiting volunteers to do at least some of the janitorial work. Also, the figures for insurance and for power and water are likely to be significantly lower. I’ll bet that one can knock the expenses down below $4,000 per month, or $48,000 per year, with relatively minimal effort and further savings might be possible.

      Note, BTW, that I’m not touching the $500 in your budget as reserve for maintenance of the buildings.

      Norm.

      • John Bruce says:

        As I say elsewhere, I’m a little concerned about the air of unreality I see in this discussion. Termites are a problem with older buildings. Period. If you serve food, you’ve got potential issues with mice, rats, and roaches, as well as rats, raccoons, possums, etc that will find ways to move in. The monthly amounts for electric repair, plumbing etc were developed by totaling the actual billings over a year and averaging them out. I’m not sure if you realistically understand what can happen in an older building. Stuff happens. Fixing it is expensive. Same with an organ, it breaks, it needs to be fixed.

        I’m not claiming the budget for a Philadelphia parish will be exactly the same as one for Los Angeles — you seem to ignore the actual cost of heating a place like that in the US Northeast. (What is your basis for saying the figures for water and power will be “significantly lower”?) And lots of parishioners will be happy to volunteer to clean the toilets, but whether they’ll actually do it once a week is a different question. That’s why you have to pay janitors.

        What’s lacking is any evidence that anyone has talked to the Scranton parish, for instance, about the true cost of their plant. Shouldn’t people be doing that? Why not find out and report what they say? I’m just not getting an impression that people here are looking at anything, including the future of “corporate reunion”, realistically.

      • Dear John,

        Thank you for your attempts to bring us back from idealism to reality, but I personally am in the optimism business and would appreciate your not continually putting a damper on the Ordinariate process.

        David Murphy

  5. EPMS says:

    At least no one is proposing to BUY a church, adding mortgage payments to the mix and removing much future flexibility.

  6. EPMS says:

    Perhaps disputes about how often the premises will have to be sprayed for termites are breaking out because of the paucity of other news to comment on. I would hold out the hope that a new issue of the OCSP Ordinariate Observer is due shortly, but that is never a sure thing. Garnering news from parish websites, bulletins, and Facebook pages requires the skills of Kremlin-watchers of old, the kind that scanned pictures of the May Day reviewing stand to note any changes in seating precedence. Searching around the net, I was happy to see this truly inclusive bulletin from Holy Rosary Parish, Indianapolis, which hosts the St Joseph of Arimathea Ordinariate group: http://www.holyrosaryindy.org/assets/bulletin-150809.pdf As you can see, the Sunday is identified three ways, reflecting that one can attend mass here in the Ordinary, Extraordinary, and Ordinariate Forms. Unique in this regard, I imagine.

    • Matt C says:

      Actually, Sacred Heart Church in Bath, PA has all three usages as well.

      • EPMS says:

        Yes, thank you for drawing our attention to this fact, although it does not seem to be all three rites every Sunday, nor is Sunday triply identified. But still a big tent.

  7. Dear EPMS,

    You are indeed my favourite “troll”. Although none of our readers will be in any doubt concerning your strong feelings about the lack of information about the Ordinariate in North America, you do not just complain.

    Indeed you put most of us others to shame. Especially recently you have been incredibly diligent in trawling the net to find the most obscure sources for information about the Ordinariate and have regularly posted links to these sources here in your comments.

    Several of my posts were in fact only possible because of your research. So we owe you quite a debt of gratitude. Thank you.

    David Murphy

    • Rev22:17 says:

      David,

      You wrote: Especially recently you have been incredibly diligent in trawling the net to find the most obscure sources for information about the Ordinariate and have regularly posted links to these sources here in your comments.

      Amen!

      I also want to extend thanks, especially to EPMS but also to others, for their efforts. I’m trying to launch a business right now, so I don’t have as much time to go fishing for information as I would like.

      Also, thank you for maintaining this site. It provides “one stop shopping” for ordinariate news on the ‘net!

      Norm.

  8. EPMS says:

    You are very welcome.

  9. NJB says:

    I’m glad to hear that the Anglican-Ordinariate of Philly is considering a move to my area! I hope it happens really soon! At least they are considering the usage of one of the former Roman-Rite parishes that recently closed…really the best way to go, so that these practically unused Churches will find new life…still as a Catholic Church, but of a different Use (Anglican Ordinariate). My best bet, in my opinion should be Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Bridgeport because of the transportation reasons as well as that OLMC is much prettier and more Catholic-looking than St. Gertrude’s! In Anglican terms, it’s more High Church, which is the way most AO parishes are. Another interesting note that if you move into Bridgeport, there will be 3 Catholic Churches, each representing a different liturgy (Roman Rite, Ukrainian-Greek/Byzantine Rite, and Ordinariate Use). It will also be an additional site where to find a reverently offered Mass, too! If anything regarding a move to either Bridgeport or West Conshy, when do you guys plan to move up to the burbs in this part of Montco?

    • Rev22:17 says:

      NJB,

      You wrote: I’m glad to hear that the Anglican-Ordinariate of Philly is considering a move to my area! I hope it happens really soon!… My best bet, in my opinion should be Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Bridgeport because of the transportation reasons…

      I take it, since you are from the area and did not say otherwise, that my earlier analysis of the transportation situation is accurate.

      … as well as that OLMC is much prettier and more Catholic-looking than St. Gertrude’s! In Anglican terms, it’s more High Church, which is the way most AO parishes are.

      Yes, the difference is pretty obvious in the photos!

      Still, St. Gertrude’s appears to be a much newer building so the cost of maintenance, and especially of heating and air conditioning, might be a LOT less. For a small community, cost is a very important consideration in the discernment process.

      Norm.

      • NJB says:

        Dear Rev. 22:17,
        I do understand your case for the Anglican Ordinariate considering moving St. Gertrude’s Church in West Conshohocken because of the costs of heating and cooling and other utilities. As well as a small church for a small congregation.
        You say that St. Gertrude’s church appears to be a newer building. According to the Bi-Centennial Yearbook of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia from 2008, “Saint Gertrude Parish was founded in November 1888, on the parish’s feast day.” That’s all the yearbook specifies about the Church, but clearly you can see that the sanctuary at both St. Gertrude’s and OLMC were “renewed” in wake of the liturgical changes following Vatican II.
        According to the AD’s B-C yearbook, “Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish was founded in Bridgeport in 1924…the lower church was completed in 1927, and the upper church was dedicated in 1949.” So according to the yearbook, OLMC is the newer Church building.
        Whatever Church you guys choose, will you have any plans of renovating the sanctuary? I know that Anglican Ordinariate Catholics kneel for Holy Communion, just as in the Tridentine Mass and both Churches do not have an altar rail. And with regards to the position of the altar in the sanctuary, will you have to do anything about that so that Mass can be said ad-orientam? Will you also re-name the respected church you move into?
        Best wishes Fr. Ousley and all of you at St. Michael’s and Newman! I pray that you make a smooth transition from Mount Airy and Strafford! I look forward to the day you guys move to either Bridgeport or West Conshy!

      • Rev22:17 says:

        NJB,

        You wrote: I do understand your case for the Anglican Ordinariate considering moving St. Gertrude’s Church in West Conshohocken because of the costs of heating and cooling and other utilities. As well as a small church for a small congregation.

        It appears that both church buildings are about the same size, so I doubt that size is an issue. My comment was that the building itself appears to be newer, and thus might be better insulated.

        You wrote: You say that St. Gertrude’s church appears to be a newer building. According to the Bi-Centennial Yearbook of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia from 2008, “Saint Gertrude Parish was founded in November 1888, on the parish’s feast day.” That’s all the yearbook specifies about the Church, but clearly you can see that the sanctuary at both St. Gertrude’s and OLMC were “renewed” in wake of the liturgical changes following Vatican II.

        You are confusing the age of the parish with the age of the building. If you look at the exterior photo of St. Gertrude Church, it is not exactly typical of church architecture of 1888. Rather, it is more typical of church architecture after the Second Vatican Council — which suggests that the present building is no more than fifty years old. I doubt that the present building is the parish’s original place of worship.

        You wrote: Whatever Church you guys choose, will you have any plans of renovating the sanctuary?

        To be clear, I have nothing to do with the decision and no affiliation with either community or with the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, and no official role whatsoever in the decision. Rather, I’m merely trying to analyze the issues from the perspective of an objective observer.

        You asked: I know that Anglican Ordinariate Catholics kneel for Holy Communion, just as in the Tridentine Mass and both Churches do not have an altar rail. And with regards to the position of the altar in the sanctuary, will you have to do anything about that so that Mass can be said ad-orientam? Will you also re-name the respected church you move into?

        The title to the property probably will remain with either the respective receiving parish or the Archdiocese of Philadelphia until it becomes clear that the ordinariate congregation has attained stability and that it has developed sufficient financial resources to afford the cost of the property and its maintenance. So long as the Archdiocese of Philadelphia retains the title to the chosen building, the archdiocese will have to approve any modifications to the worship space and any change of name. If the archdiocese envisions that the respective receiving parish may occasionally hold services in the chosen building, or the archdiocese perceives that such modifications might make the building more difficult to sell to a third party if the ordinariate congregation fails, such permission probably will not be forthcoming.

        If the combined ordinariate congregation acquires title to the chosen building, the ordinariate congregation will have a free hand to modify and to rename it. Of course, the ordinariate congregation would then have to raise the funds to cover the cost of any modifications — which might not be easy for a relatively small congregation.

        Norm.

      • donhenri01 says:

        Norm, contrarily to what you think, renaming a church is extremely difficult: permission from the Pope is needed, and a new consecration ceremony must be held. This happened only a few times in recent history, for example when churches called “St Philomena” (after a non-existent martyr) had to be renamed when she was excluded from the calendar. That’s also why the congregation of St Thomas More Scranton kept St Joseph as the patron of their church, thus naming themselves “St Thomas More parish at St Joseph Church”.

      • Rev22:17 says:

        donhenri01,

        You wrote: Norm, contrarily to what you think, renaming a church is extremely difficult: permission from the Pope is needed, and a new consecration ceremony must be held.

        More specifically, renaming a dedicated church requires a dispensation from Canon 1218 of the Codex Juris Canonici (Code of Canon Law) — but Canon 1217 gives the diocesan bishop the option of blessing a new church rather than dedicating it.

        Can. 1217 §1. After construction has been completed properly, a new church is to be dedicated or at least blessed as soon as possible; the laws of the sacred liturgy are to be observed.

        §2. Churches, especially cathedrals and parish churches, are to be dedicated by the solemn rite.

        Can. 1218 Each church is to have its own title which cannot be changed after the church has been dedicated.

        Note that Canon 1218 does not say anything about churches that are blessed rather than dedicated. In most dioceses of the United States, bishops historically have chosen to bless new churches rather than to dedicate them. Even in the case of a dedicated church, however, the pope probably would grant the required dispensation for just cause.

        For what it is worth, there are two ways that you can know that a church is dedicated rather than blessed.

        >> 1. A dedicated church will have a set of crosses, usually either four or twelve in number depending upon the size of the church, with small candles at their bottoms mounted on the walls, marking the places where the walls were anointed with chrism taken from the altar during the mass of dedication. The candles are lit only on the anniversary of the dedication. A blessed church does not have these.

        >> 2. The anniversary of the dedication of a church is a solemnity in the particular calendar of the dedicated church and, in the case of a cathedral church, a feast in the proper calendar of the diocese. There is no liturgical celebration whatsoever of the anniversary of the blessing of a church.

        If your parish church does not have a set of crosses with small candles at their bases on its walls, and if you don’t recall a celebration of the anniversary of its dedication, it probably was blessed rather than dedicated — and Canon 1218 would not apply to it.

        You wrote: This happened only a few times in recent history, for example when churches called “St Philomena” (after a non-existent martyr) had to be renamed when she was excluded from the calendar.

        Ah, splitting hairs here, there apparently was no compulsion to rename such churches, as web churches produce several churches that still bear the name. However, some bishops might have chosen to rename churches within their dioceses.

        In any case, the situation surrounding St. Philomena is curious. She never made it into the general calendar, but the Vatican took the unusual step of ordering her removed from proper calendars. The articles that I’m finding on the ‘net do not seem to explain why.

        You wrote: That’s also why the congregation of St Thomas More Scranton kept St Joseph as the patron of their church, thus naming themselves “St Thomas More parish at St Joseph Church”.

        Is St. Joseph Church dedicated or blessed? I’m not familiar with the building.

        Norm.

  10. Joseph says:

    Clarification on the Main Line: The Main Line is an unofficial historical and socio-cultural region of suburban Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, along the former Main Line of the Pennsylvania Railroad, which runs northwest from downtown Philadelphia parallel to Lancaster Avenue (US Route 30). The railroad connected the Main Line towns in the 19th century.

    The Newman Community has worshipped in: a college, a senior living center, historic homes, a Methodist church, a Latvian Lutheran church and now an Italian Catholic church. The choices of worship sites has been driven more by availability and location than by architectural preference.
    Newman parishoners originated from the Church of the Good Shepherd Rosemont, a beautiful, Gothic cathedral built in the late 1800s. Our architectural preference would be very much in line with the parishoners of St. Michaels.

  11. Rev22:17 says:

    Joseph,

    You wrote: Clarification on the Main Line: The Main Line is an unofficial historical and socio-cultural region of suburban Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, along the former Main Line of the Pennsylvania Railroad, which runs northwest from downtown Philadelphia parallel to Lancaster Avenue (US Route 30). The railroad connected the Main Line towns in the 19th century.

    Thank you for the clarification. In any case, it seems to be about the same region.

    You wrote: The Newman Community has worshipped in: a college, a senior living center, historic homes, a Methodist church, a Latvian Lutheran church and now an Italian Catholic church. The choices of worship sites has been driven more by availability and location than by architectural preference.
    Newman parishoners originated from the Church of the Good Shepherd Rosemont, a beautiful, Gothic cathedral built in the late 1800s. Our architectural preference would be very much in line with the parishoners of St. Michaels.

    I was aware that the Newman Community had been worshipping in some rather non-traditional, and thus probably contemporary, spaces, and not fully aware of its origins, so I had no way to judge whether differences in style might have been a factor at the time of my earlier comments. Again, thank you for the clarification.

    The bottom line here is that both communities seem to have converged on a satisfactory arrangement that they can afford. That is the best possible outcome!

    Norm.

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