From Father Devlin
One of the Places Jesus Would Be
At the 2012, Spring Clergy Conference, Archbishop Chaput suggested in his prepared remarks to the Priests of the Archdiocese that we should begin to explore other ways of being the presence of the Church in areas like the former Ascension parish which had only recently been forced to close.
The Archbishop said something like, “if a local community can’t afford to sustain a parish, can’t we create a new, different, less expensive, ministry?”
The Archbishop then invited us to let him know if any of us priests would like to come up with ideas and develop proposals on how we could re-establish a presence of the Archdiocese in a neighborhood like “K&A” – the former Ascension Parish.
Father Liam Murphy & I sent the Archbishop emails saying we’d be interested in being a part of that conversation.
At the Archbishop’s direction, Fr. Murphy & I have done the leg work, met with many interested parties, (i.e. Sister Mary Scullion, RSM of Project Home) and have developed a plan which was submitted many months ago.
During these three years what began as just a spark of interest has grown and deepened: I’ve become more convinced that I would like to be involved in not just the planning of, but the establishment, of this new ministry.
There are many reason for this, mainly, I truly believe this is one of the places Jesus would be. K&A is poor, densely populated, and needy. The Archdiocese through its ministry of priests should be more visibly present in such a neighborhood.
If you’ve been reading anything from Pope Francis over these last two years, you’ll know what I mean. The Holy Father is constantly challenging the Church to go to the margins of society, to greater service of those who are poor and are often forgotten by society. K&A is that kind of neighborhood.
Establishing Mother of Mercy House, a Mission of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia at the corner of “G” Street & Allegheny Avenue will help to fulfill this pastoral need.
Timing is Right
If the Archdiocese had asked me to begin this new mission in Kensington last June, I would’ve had to say, “I don’t think the timing is right.”
That’s principally because the sale of the former St. Bridget’s school property was not finalized until September, 2014. With the sale of the former school property this past September, the parish debt to the Archdiocese was satisfied ($460,000).
St. Bridget’s is now also meeting all its financial obligations and even has a cash reserve. Now that our finances are stabilized the timing is right for a change in leadership.
Father Steve Harris, my replacement, is an intelligent, seasoned priest of the Archdiocese. I believe I’m leaving you in good hands. I’m sure he’ll do a good job as pastor of St. Bridget’s.
Hard to Say Good-Bye
Being pastor of St. Bridget’s has been such a blessing; this parish is made up of such wonderful people. I will always be grateful to have been assigned as pastor of East Falls.
I’ve learned a lot, and I consider myself privileged to have served here. Please know you will always hold a special place in my thoughts, prayers and in my heart.
I’ll be here until, Monday, June 15th. If I don’t have the opportunity to thank you individually, allow me to say it now in writing, “thank you, parishioners of St. Bridget’s parish for all your many kindnesses and the constant goodness showered upon me during these 8 years. I will be forever grateful to all of you.”
With love and prayers,
Father Joseph Devlin