It appears the history of the Roman Catholic faith and the history of Saint Mary Parish are going to save the closed Saint Mary Church in Conshohocken from being sold off.
The Saint Mary Polish American Society, which has been trying to save Saint Mary Church since its closure, shared with us this morning that the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter will establish a quasi-parish at Saint Mary Church on August 1st. Saint Mary Parish was founded by the Polish community in Conshohocken.
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia released a press release today and those attending Mass at Saint Matthew Parish were informed of the decision as well. From the press release:
Today, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced that Archbishop Chaput has approved the establishment of a quasi-parish at the location of the former Saint Mary Parish in Conshohocken effective August 1, 2018. This announcement comes in response to an interest for additional pastoral care for those wishing to participate in Divine Worship in the Extraordinary Form.
Prior to making his decision, the Archbishop obtained appropriate consultation from pastors of surrounding parishes, local priests who currently celebrate Mass in the Extraordinary Form, and the Council of Priests.
The Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter will provide clergy to serve this new community. A pastor will be appointed prior to the effective date of the quasi-parish’s establishment.
According to the website of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, it is a “a community of Roman Catholic priests who do not take religious vows, but who work together for a common mission in the world. The mission of the Fraternity is two-fold: first, the formation and sanctification of priests in the cadre of the traditional liturgy of the Roman rite, and secondly, the pastoral deployment of the priests in the service of the Church.”
“Traditional liturgy” as the Fraternity mentions and the “Divine Worship in the Extraordinary Form” as the press release mentions basically means that they celebrate the Latin Mass. Mass was said in Latin throughout the world until a series of reforms were made in the late 1960’s. One of the changes was that Mass was now held in the local language.
David Swedkowski, executive director of the Saint Mary Polish American Society, stated, “We couldn’t be more thrilled since this accomplishes what St. Mary Polish American Society sought to do, breathe new life into the church so it could remain a church available for Mass and other spiritual activities. The Society will continue to exist and focus on promoting Polish heritage in Montgomery County and continuing to raise money so the Fraternity can successfully care for St. Mary’s.”
So you have the descendants of those who established Saint Mary Parish and those celebrating the Latin Mass coming together to save the church.
Three empty churches were left when the four parishes in Conshohocken and West Conshohocken were merged at Saint Matthew Parish in 2014. SS. Cosmas and Damian Church was sold and is now a Coptic church. Saint Gertrude Church was sold to the Borough of West Conshohocken, which thus far has let it sit.
More to come.