Posted on

Keep The Faith In Frankford President Inspires Hope

by: Sabrina Silva and Jared Phillips/

Since the closing of St. Joachim’s parish and Mater Dolorosa churches in the region three years ago, its members were given no choice but to merge into the Holy Innocents parish. However, for Keep The Faith In Frankford’s President and Executive Director Pat Smiley, the church’s closing showcased the strength its church members had on the community and its faith.

“This was also the time of Pope Francis, who said that we needed to get more involved in our communities and that we should step out onto the street,” Smiley said. “We were forced out onto the street, but that’s where the Pope wanted us and that’s where we’ve been.”

In light of the closing, Smiley started the Keep The Faith In Frankford organization to continue the presence of the churches in the community. The organization works out of St. Marks Church and holds weekly prayer services in front of the now-closed St. Joachim’s Church.

Before KTFIF, Smiley owned a neighborhood daycare center. Now, with a background of teaching, Smiley has put her energetic personality into bettering a community.

“I’ve always been an active-type person in trying to make things better,” Smiley said. “And in trying to deal with injustice.”


KTFIF has brought Frankford residents and other community members together to improve the neighborhood. Mary Moretz, vice president of the executive board has been with Smiley since day one of the organization.

“She just knows what needs to be done, who we need to reach out to, and she’s very talented and creative. We always just seem to get things done, and anything that we plan always comes together thanks to Pat,” Moretz said.

Various other organizations come together to help Smiley and KTFIF. Organizations such as Frankford Friendlies, Frankford Forward, and The House of W.I.N., work alongside KTFIF to better the community.

“What we are trying to do is connect people to make Frankford a better place to live, and that includes other civic organizations,” Smiley said. “You have a lot of people that are working together with people they wouldn’t have ordinarily met if it wasn’t for us or if it wasn’t for our church closing.”

Former St. Joachim’s parishioner and current KTFIF member Maureen Taylor has been a part of the organization since the closing of the parish. A member of the Parish for over 35 years, she was one of the church members affected by the close. Taylor helps out with feeding the homeless in the community as well as with the history tours of the Frankford neighborhood.

“Our group is trying to keep in touch with former parishioners by doing some of these community activities,” Taylor said. “So we’re just trying to be a home base for them.”


Community activities are highly important to the organization. Smiley believes they are crucial not only for the church members but for the residents of Frankford and its neighboring communities.

When former parishioner of St. Joachim Church and active Keep The Faith In Frankford member Al Stark, Jr. passed away, members of the church organized a “Spirit Day” to honor him. Now in its third year, KTFIF has combined the event with the “Dining with Dignity” effort, which is run by the Northeast Committee.

“We have games for the children,” Taylor said. “We try to get neighborhood groups to set up informational tables so that people coming through are informed of what services are available in the neighborhood.”

Though the event is set up by the KTFIF organization, many leaders from other organizational groups come by to help out.

Caroline Payton, founder and CEO of House of W.I.N., joined the KTFIF organization as a volunteer in preparation for the “Spirit Day.” Payton’s contribution is working with the young children during their basketball game event.


Smiley, alongside the members of KTFIF and other community organizations, have been doing all they can to not only better the Frankford neighborhood, but to bring its residents together for the greater good.

Smiley recognizes the success of KTFIF and other organizations in the neighborhood.

“Sometimes things are a blessing in disguise.”

Pat Smiley Profile Story from Philadelphia Neighborhoods 2 on Vimeo.


-Text, images and video by Sabrina Silva and Jared Phillips.

Posted on

Mater Dolorosa Closes as Power Through the Word Ministry Begins

Mater Dolorosa Roman Catholic Church saw its last Mass on Saturday, September 17th.  The parish had been merged into Holy Innocents in Juniata Park in 2013.  The church had had been used as a worship site with use for special occasions since then.  It was determined that the cost of maintaining the building was not justified and a decree was issued to desanctify the church, which will now allow it to be sold.

A large crowd of former parishioners from all over the area as well as those from other churches crowded in Mater Dolorosa for the last time.  The Mass was celebrated by former pastor John Large.

It was ironic that as the people left the church for the last time, Pastor Edward Franklin of the Power Through the Word Ministries greeted them on the sidewalk entrance to the former Mater Dolorosa School.  The ministry purchased the former school building and has turned it into a worship site for their congregation which is new to Frankford.

Rev. Franklin greets former Mater Dolorsa parishioners.

Rev. Franklin greets former Mater Dolorsa parishioners.

He opened the building to give the Mater Dolorosa parishioners the opportunity to see the school building again which many of them had attended.


So as one church leaves Frankford, another comes in to serve.


Posted on 1 Comment

Mater Dolorosa Last Mass

On August 12th, a decree was issued by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to relegate Mater Dolorosa church to profane but not sordid use.  It has been serving as a worship site for Holy Innocents parish since July of 2013.  The decree means that it will no longer be used as a church.

The annual Feast Day Mass this Saturday at 4 PM, September 17th,  will be the final Mass at Mater Dolorosa.  All are invited to attend.


Posted on 3 Comments

Mater Dolorosa School Sold to Religious Group

Father Thomas Higgins, Pastor of Holy Innocents parish in Juniata Park, announced that the sale of the former Mater Dolorosa School (4256 Paul Street) and adjacent parking lots to Power Through the Word Ministry had been completed on February 5th.

mater dolorosa school

Photo from Google Maps

The group will use the building for worship, education and other services in support of their ministry.


Posted on

Focus of Frankford: Pete Specos


Pete cooking Thanksgiving dinner at Mater Dolorosa

By: Pat Smiley

There are many concerned citizens and activists in Frankford. There is only one Pete Specos. I have gotten to know Pete much better since St. Joachim Church was closed in June and parishioners started Keep the Faith in Frankford, a nonprofit, to continue the work of the Church and to help the community.

Pete’s knowledge, connections and a real willingness to serve and help in any way he can has made him a vital member as well as a member of the board. But this has only added to the work Pete has done on behalf of our community of Frankford.

A real “grassroots” man, Pete is a Democratic Committeeman and President of the Frankford Civic Association and the Zoning Officer. He is the Treasurer of the PDAC (the 15th District Police District Advisory Council). On November 23rd, Pete and PDAC provided a Thanksgiving Dinner to nearly 150 people that was held in Mater Dolorosa’s hall where local residents were treated to all the trimmings and there were many return visits to the buffet.

Pete coordinates the  PSA1 meetings where the Police meet monthly with area residents to discuss and address their concerns. Recently, the NFCY, (the old “Frankford Y”) has been restored to community use and is undergoing major renovations. Pete is Financial Director of their board.

Lucille Ball said, “If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it.” I, for one, am very grateful that Pete has been “busy” making Frankford a better place to work and live.

But don’t get the idea that Pete is all work. One of his passions is his very own Christmas Lightshow that’s on display for all those who come by 4287 Orchard St. It was featured on the Christmas TV special Christmas Planet two years ago.

The Christmas Lightshow begins on Thanksgiving night and will be available for all to enjoy through New Year’s Day! Pete, you just can’t help lighting up Frankford!