What follows is a letter written by a member of St. Joachim Parish, who is himself also a grandfather like St. Joachim, explaining his thoughts following the unveiling of the World Meeting of Families’ Holy Family Iconic Painting. Jack was also inspired to write a hiaku about this matter:
Holy Family Icon
“Where is Grandfather?”
“He’s hidden in the shadows.”
As a grandfather, it was good to see St. Joachim included in the portrait of the Holy Family by Neilson Carlin. Unfortunately, he seemed to be standing in the shade. In the Inquirer photo of the painting (September 8, 2014), he disappeared completely. Perhaps the artist could touch up his image a bit and bring him out of the shadows.
As a member of St. Joachim’s Parish, I am more concerned to bring his namesake church out of the shadows where it was consigned by Archbishop Charles Chaput in May of 2013. Since then, despite being designated a “Worship Site” of Holy Innocents Parish, only two feast day Masses and a few funerals and weddings have been celebrated at St. Joachim’s. The statue of Mary in her father’s courtyard stands solemnly behing the chained and padlocked gates.
By his decree, Archbishop Chaput and his Pastoral Commission did not meet their responsibility for the spiritual welfare of St. Joachim’s people and effectively closed what had been a vibrant (and financially stable) Catholic community.
St. Joachim’s neighbor, Mater Dolorosa parish has been closed as well, leaving the historic neighborhood of Frankford without a Catholic presence for the first time since 1845. Many other parishes have also been closed or merged. Some of these actions may have been justified, but the process by which the Commission and the Archbishop reached their conclusions was flawed and both secretive and capricious.
Our group, Keep the Faith in Frankford, has appealed the decree, first to the Archbishop, then to the Vatican Supreme Court where the merits of our case will be examined for the first time.
It would not be good for Pope Francis to find an Archdiocese that is abandoning its poorest neighborhoods. Families, neighborhoods, our nation and our world would benefit from a truly, holy, compassionate Catholic Church. Let’s start by getting St. Joachim out of the shadows.
Jack Hohenstein, September 10, 2014