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St. Joachim – In the Shadows No More

WMF icon 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.”

Humility rocks!

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


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Frankford Pause: The Pink Park

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Frankford has been the same for a while now, and a team of volunteer designers from the Community Design Collaborative thought it was time to paint it hot pink.

Anticipated for Spring of 2015, on the corner of Paul Street and Frankford Avenue, is the pop-up park dubbed the Frankford Pause. Headed by architect and long time volunteer for the Community Design Collaborative, Alexa Bosse, the design team worked to make the visions that the Frankford Community Development Corporation (CDC) had, come true. Though it was an unusual task, Bosse and the rest of the team, which included her husband Ari Miller, took it on.

Miller and Bosse “had worked on several projects together” in the past says Bosse and therefore the two were easily able to begin designing the Frankford Pause. The first steps they took were to assemble a team. Realizing that the park required a huge lighting component, lighting designer Robin Miller was added, along with architectural designer and long time friend and coworker of Bosse’s, Andrew Allwine. And finally, Ben Cromie joined as a Planner in order to “take into account the entire commercial corridor of Frankford Ave.” and evaluate the surrounding schools and playgrounds to make sure the team would provide a park most usable to the community. Ari Miller also contributed as a landscape architect and Bosse as an architect.

When asked Bosse says, “No, I haven’t done anything of this type” before but she was not daunted by the task. “In a way doing a pop-up was a lot easier than a permanent installation because it’s a testing ground and they only have to last for a year”, adds Bosse. The temporary structure turned out to be “freeing” rather than a challenge for both the design team and the client, the Frankford CDC.

Kim Washington from the Frankford CDC and Ian Litwin from the City Planning Commision have been working on Destination Frankford and its many projects for a while now, including the more recent pop-up gallery done in conjunction with Philadelphia Sculptors this summer. When it came to the Frankford Pause, Washington and Litwin asked Bosse and her team to design a “crazy… unusual park that would bring people to the neighborhood”. This way the park “is not only for Frankford, but will create a destination where people can go and say “Hey, this is a pretty cool neighborhood”, says Bosse. This is how the park became laced with an attention getting hot pink.

With the intention of creating the desire for a permanent park, the design team made sure to make it easy to maintain the Pause long term if need be. The name however, reflects not just the brevity of the park but its location. While taking a tour of the site in order to become acquainted with the area, the team had to take a “Frankford Pause” in their conversation and wait for the El to pass by. The El has been passing through Frankford for almost 100 years and its clamor is such an integral part of the neighborhood, that Bosse and the team couldn’t help but be inspired by the noise. This translated not only into the park’s name but its design.

Ari Miller woke up one night with an idea in the shape of a megaphone. Instead of trying to work around the noise of the train, Miller had the idea to shape the park like a megaphone and have the noise be a part of the Pause. The loops in the park resemble a distorted megaphone and to add to the experience the overhead lighting also works with the noise. As the train passes by the lights will illuminate from one end and get dimmer as the noise fades away.

On the opposite end of the park, Washington requested a stage. Any type of event can now be held on Frankford Avenue, from musical performances to rallies, etcetera. And the music or other sounds from those events will also cause the lights to illuminate where it is the loudest and dim where it is quiet.

Another component added to the park is a community garden curated by the Frankford CDC. It will be maintained by both staff and children from the community. And finally, the designers built a series of platforms and planting beds on the northern wall, as well as seats.

Bosse, Miller, and the rest of the team “didn’t go into it with an idea” of what to do with the assignment. But the neighborhood of Frankford took care of that and inspired them. As they “took it in… the train had the biggest impact” and brought to life the Frankford Pause.

Photos courtesy of Community Design Collaborative and Destination Frankford.

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A Spirited Day

On July 4th, while celebrating the day of our nation’s independence, residents came together for the now annual, Frankford Community Spirit Day Honoring Al Stark, Jr. The event was organized by local non-profit Keep the Faith in Frankford and entertained the masses with fun, games, and remembrance.

Spearheading Keep the Faith in Frankford, organizer Pat Smiley expressed her wish to have a day for families who were not on vacation during the holiday to have fun in their own community. Many families attended including the Hohensteins who have members of the Frankford community for years. Jack Hohenstein, also a member of Keep the Faith in Frankford says the organization’s goals are not limited to the dealings with the church but they also aim to bring the community together. The charity also participates in the NECH Dining with Dignity Program that operates out of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church where Al Stark’s event was held.

20140705_154452Mr. Stark, a father, husband, and devout member of St. Joachim Church  and the Frankford community, passed away recently. During the event, named in honor of him and his family’s contributions, everyone gathered to remember his life and legacy. Pat Smiley spoke heartfelt words and recounted fond memories of Stark as she presented his family with a certificate of appreciation. Though tears were shed, there was clearly a silent consensus amongst the attendees that this was a celebration of his life, more than a mourning of his death.20140705_152025

Along with celebration of the holiday and life of Al Stark, came games and fun. A water balloon tossing tournament was moderated by Joe Hohenstein and brought smiles to everyone’s face. Carnival inspired fun took place in the parking lot and children did not go home empty handed. Gift bags were also given out to all. The event, which proved successful, shall continue with this new tradition for many years to come.

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St. Joachim Parish Invites You to the Lighting of the Advent Wreath and Strolling Christmas Caroling!

Courtesy of: All are welcome and most cordially invited! This event is rated “E” for everyone – the young and the “young at heart”!

The Advent Wreath is an age-old symbol of the hope and faith we have in the promises of God. Whatever your particular beliefs, the darkness that winter brings to us, reminds us that we each can be a light for the world, for our community and for others.

Please join us each Wednesday, starting December 4th through December 18th, as we light the Advent Wreath in front of St. Joachim R.C. Church, Penn and Griscom Sts., at 6:30 PM. We will walk up Griscom St. to St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 4442 Frankford Ave., singing Christmas Carols. Light refreshments will await us! Even the weather is joining in, as it will “warm up” to 50 degrees on Wednesday.

We are blessed to have a diversity of cultures, religions and traditions in Frankford. Come and share yours with us! You will be most welcomed! advent If walking presents a hardship for you, please meet us at St. Mark’s. You’ll be able to tell when we’re coming by our singing!

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Citizens’ Engagement Academy is a Great Success!

CEAEight weeks ago, over 30 Frankford residents began a free course titled “Citizens Engagement Academy”. Always willing to take a leadership role within their city and neighborhood, these citizens responsded enthusiastically to this opportunity. Manny Citron, the Assistant Managing Director for Philadelphia, attended many meetings with various neighborhood civic organizations to explain and register “students”. His efforts resulted in the largest registration and turnout from any neighborhood for this program. We applaud your efforts, Manny, and we thank you for all you and your staff do for our Frankford community. Manny, along with Amanda Finch of PhillyRising Americorps Vista, were present each week to introduce us to our speakers and to help in identifying the particular needs of our Frankford community.

The Citizens’ Engagement Academy aims to improve our understanding of how our city government works and how we can use that knowledge to improve and strengthen our neighborhoods by working together with our city departments. Each week a key representative from the various city departments or agencies came to talk, share the function of their office and answer questions regarding the best way to better access their services.

We first learned about the Neighborhood Liaison Program. Have you ever called 311 or accessed the website at to report a concern or issue? We can all do that now. What makes being a Neighborhood Liaison important is that you are given a special login and can report issues for your neighbors and then track all these issues that have been reported to see what steps are being taken and to assure that they get resolved.

l-r Frankford Engaged Citizens Jennifer Bennet and Veronica Daniel with Alicia Hernandez-Mette, Community Support Specialist/Trainer with Town Watch Integrated Services

l-r Frankford Engaged Citizens Jennifer Bennet and Veronica Daniel with Alicia Hernandez-Mette, Community Support Specialist/Trainer with Town Watch Integrated Services

Town Watch Integrated Services (TWIS) showed us the importance of being alert and watchful on our own neighborhood block. Town Watch is not just about active patrols through the neighborhood but also that concerned neighbors keep an eye out and look out for each other. Everybody working together makes a better and safer block and neighborhood. Alicia Hernandez-Mette is the liaison for our area. You can reach Alicia at 215.685.4518. She is waiting for your call. Very knowledgeable and helpful, Alicia can help you and your neighbors promote safety and crime prevention in your area.

The Public Nuisance Task Force operates out of the District Attorney’s office and this is the place you need to contact regarding drug and alcohol related properties. During the course of this meeting, it was revealed that quite often drugs and other illegal activities are operated out of neighborhood homes. This office has the authority to close and seize those properties if the complaint is well-founded. The 24 hour hotline for this office is 215.686.5858  However, if the nuisance is a bar, you must contact Licenses & Inspections.

Another popular topic was the grant that has allowed the city to provide 6 Financial Empowerment Centers. These are open to anyone wishing to view their credit report and credit score, too. You can meet with a financial counselor to help you plan your budget, manage your bills or debts and repair your credit report and increase your credit score. You can find out more information and make an appointment (services are free) at or by calling 1-855-346-7445. Gary McLaughlin, a financial counselor, with Clarifi, who is managing this project. Gary is a very active local resident who gave us some straight talk about the need to know not just what’s on our credit report but what credit score we have as well since that can be used to determine your credit card interest rates and evev if an employer wants to consider hiring you. Take advantage of this free opportunity! Of course, everything is confidential.

CitizensEngagement2Philadelphia More Beautiful Committee (PMBC) is part of the Streets’ Departments Sanitation Division. Helping citizens to take charge of cleaning and beautifying their neighborhood is their mission. Block captains organize their particular street and PMBC supplies materials and has contests and awards to encourage the beautification of Philadelphia. Willie Brown, our Clean Block Officer, wants to partner with you and your Block Captain to take care of trash that seems to be everywhere. Willie can be reached at 215.686.3991 to see when your area has been scheduled for cleaning or to get on the schedule for next year. If you are a Block Captain, or would like to volunteer, cleaning days for District 15 (the districts are based on police districts), Saturday, 6/29 and Saturday, 8/17. Please get in Citizensgrouptouch with Willie immediately before supplies run out.

Our program concluded with the awarding of diplomas by Mayor Michael Nutter. If this program is ever offered again in our neighborhood, sign up as soon as you hear about it. It is well worth your time and your interest. Frankford needs engaged citizens! Philadelphia has been on the leading edge of believing that you can transform a city one neighborhood at a time.

Thank you to all who are involved in this program! Congratulations to the graduates of the Citizens’ Engagement Academy! We look forward to all that you will do to make Frankford an even better place to be!