Philadelphia’s Archbishop Charles J. Chaput has announced the closing or merging of several area parishes, but as usual, Jim Harris has information that no other news organization has revealed.

by Jim Harris

When the roll is called up yonder, there will be a few less parishes from Philadelphia reporting for duty. That’s because, like Philadelphia schools, libraries, municipal services and Market Street buildings, some of the city’s Catholic churches are disappearing, due in part to money woes and also because of “demographic shifts” (to Brazil and Uganda) in the Catholic population.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput held a news conference last week outlining the changes. The following parishes have been declared merged, moved or kaput by Chaput:

Our Lady of Everlasting Eternal Abiding Immortal Enduring Infinite Boundless Help and Caring has closed. Our Lady of Mercy is almost out of mercy, and will close soon. Blessed Teresa, Defender of the Poor, is moving to Devon, where there won’t be quite so many poor to defend. Parishioners at The Church of the Assumption were flabbergasted when they heard their financially solvent parish was closing. Just goes to show that you should never assume.

These are also the last days for Our Lady of Pompeii, which has merged with Mount Saint Joseph’s and St. Helena’s to form Mount Saint Helena. St. Joseph the Worker will be moving to Carpenter’s Hall, where their motto will be “We’ll build a stairway to Paradise, with a new step every day.” St. John Bosco has merged with St. Ovaltine’s in Hershey, Pa. St. Basil and St. Rosemary have gone into the restaurant business. Holy Cross has absorbed Saint Madeleine’s and is now called Double Cross.

St. Benedict’s has merged with St. Arnold’s to form St. Benedict Arnold. St. John the Baptist is being split in two. Half of the congregation will move to Wayne, where they’ll become St. John Wayne. The other half have actually BECOME Baptists (or God forbid, Jewish), which is a much safer emotional investment these days. St. Nemo’s in Fishtown will remain open, but only on Fridays. Our Lady of Spain will also remain open, but will discontinue their Accordion Masses.

Some other cost-cutting measures will include strategies like outsourcing the sacraments. For example, confession and penance will now be handled by Traffic Court. Venial sins will require a penance of five Hail Mary’s plus a $26 fine and court costs. Mortal sins will result in three black marks on the soul and a six-month suspension of good luck. The Archdiocese will also be doing away with wine at all masses except at St Bernard’s, where it will be dispensed only by big dogs from small wooden casks.

The Archbishop also announced that folks who are too poor, old or infirm to make it to services in the new locations will be able to watch televised masses from home. There will also be a new radio station in town, “WGOD, All Saints, All the Time.”

Additionally, parishioners left high and dry (mostly dry) will receive consolation prizes including “Catholicism, The Home Game.” It comes with dice, a gold-plated playing board, incense and collection boxes. Hours of fun for the whole family. All of this was of little “consolation,” however, for members of Our Sister-in-Law of Consolation and the other churches that closed.

Folks entering those churches last Sunday were met with the following declaration pinned to the churches’ front doors: “Dear parishioners, Goodbye and Amen. Here’s hoping we meet now and then. Jesus has left the building. This time, unfortunately, He won’t be coming back. Please return to your homes, but don’t forget to drop a coin or two in the poor box before you go. Needless to say, there will be no more holy days of obligation in this neck of the woods. Good luck!”

On the cosmic scene, hell has been closed (whew!); Purgatory has merged with Limbo, and Heaven will only be open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays as well as one Saturday a month. Govern yourselves accordingly, and may God have mercy on us all.

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  • Michael

    Making fun of the Catholic Church is just too easy, right?
    Guess I’ll have to wait for your next column poking fun at more
    ‘diverse’ religions, but something tells me I’ll be waiting a long time
    for that one. Local, pleeeease stop publishing this guy’s awful articles!

  • MaryRoseM

    Mr. Harris, the disrespect you have shown towards the Catholic Church and to Archbishop Chaput is appalling! Just what gives you the right to mock the Catholic Church and the very decent human being we Catholics in Philadelphia are blessed to have in Archbishop Chaput? I’ll wait for your next column which will undoubtedly be devoted to disparaging remarks on the Orthodox Jews and the Muslims.

  • T. Tebow

    Wow, I want those 5 minutes of my life spent reading this drivel back.

  • Fr. Bob

    Many people in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia are hurt and struggling with the upcoming parish mergers and closings, perhaps this is so for Jim Harris as well. We all express our pain differently, however, what is needed is the balm of Gilead and not salt in the wound. Let us pray for all who are affected by these changes.

  • Tim Dwyer

    Mr. Harris is certainly entitled to his opinion. However, he presents his opinion in a bigoted and offensive way. I am very surprised and disappointed, that the Local, which has always promoted openess and tolerance, would even think of printing such a column. Sadly, anti-Catholic remarks have been tolerated in the media for years, and this is just another example. The Catholic Church, with all of its imperfections, is second to none in providing help to the poor around the world. I thinkThe Local and Mr. Harris owe local Catholics and apology.

  • C Hiller

    I am so sick of this guy’s liberal-heavy columns, and exasperated by the Local’s willingness to print them. I can’t say how disgusted I am right now – enough is enough, and something like this makes me want to cancel my subscription. What a vile little man Mr. Harris is.

  • TradCat

    The Church in its present and declining state is the natural conclusion of what the Second Vatican Council wrought. The liturgy has been destroyed, children are being mis-educated, and the church has thrown out core doctrine of salvation through the Catholic Church leaving many to ask why they even need to be Catholic since once religion is as good as another. The only answer is a return to traditional teachings and practices. The world was warned by Our Lady of Fatima. The Popes did not listen, and the bottom fell out starting with Paul VI. At best, the mainstream church has 20 years left.

    • Jimbob

      Good Catholics all! Thanks for judging me, and for the brilliant critiques. I have been a practicing Catholic all my life and it’s just as much my church as it is yours or the Archbishop’s. I can’t imagine Jesus responding with such hatred for a sinner.

      • dweller

        You’re a Catholic…swell.
        You’re also an obnoxious, untalented, and unimaginative hack of a writer.
        Sorry – “hack” doesn’t say it.

        You’d have to aspire to be a hack.
        Calling you a hack is an insult to true hacks.
        My apologies to hacks, everywhere.

        • John Kirk

          That’s what I was thinking. He didn’t offend me as a Catholic (and I mean that sincerely). He offended me as a literate person.

      • AMTG

        I’m a Catholic and I enjoyed your piece as clever and entertaining writing, no offense taken. If yours was a political piece some of your critics may have laughed…but messing with religion gets messy. While the closure of parishes and schools are devastating to many of our communities and will eventually impede growth of the Catholic population, this highlights the need to change and refocus if the Church wants to build and sustain itself. Perhaps laughter makes it easier to move forward toward change.