Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Mailbag 33: Words and Deeds

The Project's mailbag is overflowing with notes about Immaculate Conception. I'll produce a best-of soon, but in the meantime:

I am replying to your article about our parish and would like to invite you to return to our "Closing Mass" on June 24th, 2012 since out parish was recently notified that as of July 1st that we will no longer exist.  

It would take a lot for me not to be there.

You mentioned in your article that the attendance was extremely poor and that in the past the upper church could hold about 1400 parishioners for a single Mass.  You will be shocked and amazed at the love and devotion from all of our parishioners both present and past.  We are hoping to fill the house.  At our 100th anniversary (2002) we almost filled the upper church and since then have had a few homecomings and reunions which had great response. 

You know what would shock and amaze me? Actually supporting your parish before it goes belly-up.

Apologies to the author, because I get the sense he means well, but letters like this really piss me off. You want to pat yourself on the back for filling the house for the last-ever mass, or for the occasional reunion?

Whoop-de-doo. What do you want, a @&#^$% medal?

Supporting a parish you love isn't a one-time thing, or a reunion thing. It's a consistent thing. Give your time, give your labor, give your money consistently. Don't live in the area? Tough, do it anyway. Because that's what it takes to keep these places afloat.

Where were you when vigil masses attracted barely a dozen people? Where were you when masses and services were cut? Where were you when the parish became so financially burdened it had to go on Archdiocese assistance?

And you want to boast about showcasing your love and devotion to this parish? Give me a break.

Coming together at the end, when you've already lost, is meaningless. Coming together weekly, when the Saturdays and Sundays blend together and life gets in the way? That's true devotion.

Look, maybe in this crazy new reality, none of it matters. Maybe Immaculate was doomed anyway, as so many other parishes will be doomed in the coming years. But if every parish alumni gave a little something back more than once every 100th anniversary, I'm willing to bet we'd have a much difference church situation in Philadelphia right now.

Who wants to prove me wrong?


  1. Preach it, Project!! You're spot on.

    1. Delma TallericoMay 8, 2012 at 8:23 PM

      There is so much truth in what you say. If Catholics would go to church on Sunday (!) and support their churches on a weekly basis and show their Bishop that they are willing to keep their churches open and vibrant, there wouldn't be closings. Churches are NOT closing because there aren't Catholics out there. Churches are closing because the Catholics who ARE out there are not practicing Catholics who go to church regularly and put money in the collection basket.

      I'm still praying that Immaculate Conception will survive. God willing!

  2. Yes, the writer means well, but so do you. I have friends who travel from Bucks County to support the congregation Immaculate is being merged into. They make the journey every Sunday because they believe in the mission of that parish. Their trip is not easy and convenient.

    Donald Marsh and Richard Avery wrote a song back in the 60"s, it made the rounds of Protestant music it goes like this:

    I am the church! You are the church!
    We are the church together!
    All who follow Jesus, all around the world!
    Yes, we're the church together!

    1 The church is not a building,
    the church is not a steeple,
    the church is not a resting place,
    the church is a people.

    2 We're many kinds of people,
    with many kinds of faces,
    all colors and all ages, too,
    from all times and places.

    (this is only the first two verses)

  3. We sing that song occasionally at our Church, a Methodist Church from the 1850's. All churches, it seems are having problems. It costs alot to run them, and some people come occasionally, and do not give on a consistant basis. We also watch the school sport teams for young kids, which yes, are important....but now seem to be held the very same time church is being held. Years ago, sports would not think to meet early on a Sunday Morning. Its sad to me, that people don't see the writing on the wall....unless we embrace our churches and support them, they will quietly disappear. With alot of things, people don't reallly miss something until it's gone. How sad to me, to see in the Philadelphia area, church after church, being set to close down. You glance at the architecture, and know its something we should be keeping for generations to come...not tearing down to make room for townhouses or such. When you visit Europe, the churches sometimes do not have big congregations, but you realize that architecture dating back to the 1500's, what would make anyone think to knock these down?? We should feel the same, these churches are something we will never see again once they are gone. Modern architecture does not embrace the detail these old cathedrals demonstrate. I wish there was a way to save these churches. It's such an important part of our past and our future. Look forward to visiting some of these places when I again visit Philadelphia...

    M. Maas

  4. I'm so glad you wrote that second response. After attending mass there on Jan. 1 of this year, I can't stop thinking about this Church. I'm very thankful for your website and facebook updates.

    Todd M Harrington

  5. With respect, Bob M., yes, the church is made of people, but the physical church is a manifestation of the faith of that people. When consecrated, the church becomes more than a building; it becomes part of the body of Christ himself.

    I've had this discussion of the importance of the physical buildings of the church many times with people who look to rationalize the disposal of these Houses of God; these temples of our Lord.

    If God saw little importance for the physical structure that holds his tabernacles, why was he so explicit when he instructed Solomon in the design of the temple?

    Remember that the hard-earned money of the faithful who worked to build these temples. Many contributed far beyond their abilities to share because they believed these buildings would survive and serve generations to come. They are more than buildings; they are symbols of hope.

    When we close them, we remove their hope. When we lose our hope, we lose our faith.

    May God bless the people of Philadelphia that their hope and faith allows Immaculate Conception to stand!

    Delma Tallerico