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With much sadness I read this tender recap of the beloved parish I called home from 1945 until 1953 when we moved to Levittown, PA. Clearly I remember my first communion and confirmation and the wonderful times we had at the school. My parents did not have much money, and my mother was not even Catholic, but they sent me to school there to become a "good Catholic" and I hope that in the eyes of the Lord, I am. Sister Alma, Sister Elva are the only two teachers names I recall of the nuns but they were all wonderful and spiritual women who lived our faith as best as I could tell as a child. Should Nora O'Neill, Helen Reck, Marion DeStefano, (name) Bosse happen to read this I would really relish the opportunity to talk with you. As a family we spent many picnics in the park after Mass on Sunday. I remember the snowball man and the prezel man and front street shopping and walking to school in all kinds of weather...the little candy store where I broke my Lenten pledge and shared licorrise with Helen Reck. Through God's grace my mother and I had travelled to Philadelphia to look up the old neighborbood and visit St. Boniface in 2005. The trip was saddened by the fact that our rented home had been destroyed by fire and was boarded up and when we visited the church a Spanish mass was going on and we did not want to interrupt so I only had a chance to peak in. But there was the beautiful replica of the Pieta which I loved so much and although the walls were embellished by Spanish symbols the bones of the church remained as I so fondly remembered. And the park still had those majestic sycamore trees with the leaves we made rubbings of in school and the itchy-balls! What good times, what great memories' all so sad to have passed away

I do so thank the person who wrote the article which prompted this reminiscence. It was a loving tribute to a majestic church which brought great comfort and God's holy word to so many devoted parishioners.

July 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie Szekely

Richard Carreno,

Thank you for the really nice compliment. What I said came from the heart.

I do hope you had a similar experience in your childhood.


July 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLois M. Burns

Great work. Your cheeky writing style quite pleasing. Richard.

July 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRichard CARRENO.

I attended Transfiguration Church at 56th and Cedar, along with my brother, in the l950's. I have so many wonderful childhood memories of the church. Does anyone remember attending the Children's Mass in the lower church on Sunday mornings? It was such a beautiful time in my life living in the City there. We lived on Webster Street and walked to school at Transfiguration and to church on Sunday mornings and Holy Days. Also, I remember all the May Processions. It was truly a beautiful church.

July 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLois M. Burns

I need help !!! Does anyone remember JUDITH POZORSKI or DONNA POZORSKI or JUDY POZORSKI she went to St Boniface in 1962 or 1963 really not sure it could be a different year but thinking it was there was two yearsplease helpif you have any information please email meif you remember her if you remembered brothers sisters mom dadshe could have also gone by the name is Judy--- the mother that she knows now its past her name was Julia Pozorski--- please please please help usmy mom has been lied to so much by her what she thought was family

July 5, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterchrystal savage

St. Stanislaus on 3rd and Fitzwater was my Parrish growing up. Went thru elementary school there and my grandparents were very active in the church. The beauty inside this church is very old school. The organ had a tremendous sound.

Great post about St. Matthew's in Conshohocken! To answer your question, the front doors are only opened on special occasions/when major sacraments are celebrated (funerals, First Communion, weddings, etc).

May 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDan

THANK YOU St. Veronica's ... for the Hugh role you played in my personal development ... I was born and raised in a small and rouged brick row home located at 3rd and Indiana Streets in North Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, shared alongside my parents, Eileen Mary (McKendrick) Carry and Thomas James Carry, my Grandmother Elizabeth “Nanny” (Halfpenny) Carry, my 5 beautiful sisters, Catherine, Elizabeth, Margaret, Veronica, and Donna, and my 2 wonderful and handsome brothers, Thomas and John, and a very large German Sheppard named appropriately, King. We were pretty much raised and labeled ‘poor’, and indoctrinated into Catholicism as our mainstay of worldly knowledge and instruction. I and my siblings were primarily educated at the still looming and enchantingly beautiful church located at 6th and Tioga Streets, Philadelphia, PA., St. Veronica’s Catholic Church and School, and subsequently my sisters and I went to the infamous and still exceptional and extraordinary Catholic high school for girls located at 10th and Lycoming Streets, also in Philadelphia., PA., Little Flower Catholic High School for Girls, aka St. Theresa of the Little Flower. I graduated in the year 1976. My two brothers were educated at North Catholic in Philadelphia as well. It was at Little Flower that I was first inspired by the words, “To Thine Own Self Be True." These words struck me profoundly as coming straight from the mind of an inner ‘God’ straight to my heart such that I had not until the age of fourteen ever felt: Words that lent me strength and inspiration I so needed to come to a realization and meaning of my own existence.

Upcoming Author event:

May 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEileen P Carry

I lived across the street from the church. I went to school at Our Lady of Holy Souls. The St. Joe nuns I had... Sister Ann Carmel, Sister Vincent Anita, Sister Scholastica, Sister Patricia, Sister St. Walter, Sister Michael Anita. I was an altar boy and served often. I was friends with the church organist, Kaye Gavagan (sp), I sold the catholic standard and digest in the vestibule at all Sunday masses for Reynolds drug store. I remember Father Murphy (the Pastor), Father Gibney, and Father Leo Von Everbrook (sp). Our Lady of Holy Souls church and school was my life..

May 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMichael Bimmer

I am one of those people who are always late and in this case it is such a shame. I've been doing family research and found that my great-great-grandfather D. H. Rapp of Lancaster built St. Boniface Church in Philadelphia. I am so sad to see that it has since been demolished. What a loss. Thank you to those who have posted photos of this impressive structure. If anyone know of how to get a "souvenir" of the old church, please contact me. Thank you!

So the failures of these parishes is due to the great "white" flight. Most of whom fled to NJ and never lo looked back- shame on them. I agree with another post- all of Philadel;phi's churches should be treated as landmarks and cared for. Bringing tourist to these great churches would be a great benefit to the city but instead they tear them down yet they leave abandoned factories stand. sounds like a anti Christian thing to me. Church fathers have a hand in this, too. .

May 7, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterlinda jamshidi

Re Bill's post on Apr. 29:
I was born and raised in the Immaculate Conception Parish of Germantown (800 block Price St.), graduated from the elementary school too, as did my mother, sister and brother. Drove by the church recently and it looks pretty much the same. (I thought the church had completely closed in 2012). But, WOW: the neighborhood sure has changed! The many trees that lined Price St. are long gone, which really changes the whole appearance. Many memories returned as I briefly visited my old stomping ground. Appreciate the Project's pictures and documentation. Amazing when you consider the church construction was 25 yrs. in the making. I doubt the structure could be even close to being duplicated today.

May 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLarry

Thanks for all of the documentation and pictures you've posted on your blog. It's wonderful to visit all these churches from the comfort of my sofa, I loved your write up on St. Helena's, my home parish from birth in 1942 until marriage in 1964. My husband and I were married by Bishop Graham who at the time was the pastor of St. Helena's. I'll never forget how intimidating it was to walk down that very long aisle to the altar where not just the Bishop but also two priests and several altar boys were waiting. In any case, the marriage has lasted and we'll be celebrating our 50th anniversary on 6/13/14. As a side note, I just wish you had posted some pictures of the lower church which I remember fondly. I much preferred the lower over the upper! Thanks again.

April 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLiz Hug

I think this is a great project. I was parishioner at Immaculate for 25 years and love the church but also appreciate the pictures of the other churches which I only visited occasionally (or not at all). Just one little correction: Immaculate is NOT CLOSED (at least as of this writing in Spring 2014). It is no longer an independent parish, but Mass is still celebrated weekly at 10 a.m. and Mass on holy days (Monday-Friday) at 12 noon. So, for the time being, it is still possible to see everything personally by going to one of the Masses as the interior of the main church remains untouched despite the change in status.

April 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBill

I often read your Church Project blog - and I enjoyed your post about St. Helena's in Olney. I lived at 3rd & Godfrey until I moved to St. Martin of Tours 34 years ago (SHS Class of '67). As a new parishioner at Oxford Circle, I mourned the loss of the glaring eyes of God on me all the time, but in time, came to love the soaring baldachin and beautiful stained glass that makes up St. Martin's. You should really include those windows (photos taken at high noon on a sunny day) in a blog update.

Now, because I have spent more than half my life at SMT, I need to share some info that we learned when we worked on the 75th jubilee for SMT. Did you know that St. Martin's church was built by John McShain, the same John McShain who built the Pentagon, the Jefferson Memorial and the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in DC?

Below is a small history that I included in my daughter's wedding pamphlet (She married a young man whose family is from Northern New Jersey and Northern New York State, and I wanted them to know that this was only a parish church, not a diocesan cathedral. Braggin' rights, and all that...)

Please enjoy and add it to SMT's Church Project page if you want.

"Our parish began in 1928 when the surrounding area was farms and fields. As the population grew and more and more people moved along Route 1 and into the Northeast section of the city, the parish built a convent and school. In 1948, ground was broken and the lower church was begun. The upper church, once referred to as "The Cathedral of the Northeast," began to take shape shortly thereafter and was completed in 1954. The project took 6 years to complete at a cost of $2 million and contains the second largest shipment of marble (nearly 400 tons in 21 varieties) ever received in the port of Philadelphia.
As the population grew, the church and school became the hub of the neighborhood, appropriately located on Oxford Circle. In the late 70s, the school boasted almost 3,000 students in its classrooms! Saint Martin of Tours Parish can brag of alumni flung far and wide across the region, our nation and the world.
This building is one of many that were built by John McShain, a local Philadelphia builder whose portfolio also contains the Library of Congress, the Pentagon, the Jefferson Memorial and the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, all located in Washington, D.C.
Please enjoy our beautiful sanctuary and stained glass windows. The rose windows and stained glass tell the story of our faith and our parish. At the back of the church, over the main entrance, you will see depicted three saints, Saint Patrick, Saint Martin of Tours and Saint Hilary of Poitiers. It is believed that St. Hilary was St. Martin's mentor, and St. Patrick was St. Martin's great-nephew, serving for a while as a monk in his uncle's great Marmoûtiers Abbey.
As we often say in Philadelphia, it’s a small world."

Thanks for the work you do. Another piece of info that we learned: When SMT was started, the Parish of the Transfiguration of Our Lord donated $10,000 to the fledgling parish and sent them our new pastor, Msgr. McHugh, whose tomb is located in the front of the rectory on noisy Roosevelt Boulevard, poor man.)

April 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBeth Salmon Kauffman

Philadelphia is rich with churches established at least 100 years ago, buildings that would be cost prohibitive to reproduce today. They should be treated as treasures and an inheritance handed down to us and hopefully future generations. Thank you for your service creating & maintaining this site. I wasn't able to trace my family through but realized my great-grandparents parish Our Lady of Lourdes is the best place to research.

April 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoan McCarron

My wife and I are past and present members of two churches that I have found (thus far) on your website, St. Agatha and St. James in University City, and at present Sacred Heart Church in South Philadelphia.

My daughter was recently married at Sacred Heart, which incidentally is very close to our hearts.

I wanted to thank you for bringing these two, and of course the many other religious buildings to the attention of many people via this incredible website you have put together.

Frank Cuthbertson RA

April 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterFrank Cuthbertson

St.Andrew's Catholic Church. A very nice place to feel the Love of God.

April 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnthony Re

I worked as a Jesuit Volunteer at what used to be called Holy Souls, now Our Lady of Hope, on 19th and Tioga from 1985-86. Our JV house was on 23rd and Tioga. I was looking up the old neighborhood on Google Maps trying to find the old house and Holy Souls. In my searching I came upon this website. Sad to hear that it is basically closed. What memories! Quite a different place than where I grew up in Seattle!

April 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMary Gallagher

My great grandfather (William Bigner) was baptized at St. Anne's and some of his siblings buried in the cemetery. If I get to Philadelphia, I hope to visit the church and cemetery.

March 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMary Sue O'Donnell

I love your site. I live out of state now and this is the closest I will get to visiting these magnificent churches. When looking through the pictures it's hard not to consider all the sacrifices, blood, sweat and tears of the early immigrants who were the builders of these houses of worship. Thank you.

March 18, 2014 | Unregistered Commentersue

You(who ever wrote that DEAD WRONG opinion of Mother Divine Grace Church-"MDG" of Port Richmond) must have the brain of a TREE FROG.. Although MDG isn't about money and having "fancy" things to WOW your tiny brain- MDG does have a strong, faithful, and BEAUTIFUL community, a beautiful church(INSIDE & OUT), and MOST IMPORTANTLY- THE LORD. Who are you to get behind a computer screen and bash a church- it is there for worship, not for you to judge. GODS SPEED. +

I remember as a child going to mass, back when it was all said in Latin. It was an almost frightening spiritual entity that demanded respect. The beautiful murals painted on the ceiling now painted over. The echo's of words I didn't understand, but knew not to question, replaced with guitars and Alleuia's. Respect for the spiritual gone with the chaos of the 60's. Not all memories are good but all a part of life.
I was raised in the area, went to grade school there and my Mother, Father, Sister, and Brother are burried in the cemetery. I just lost my husband and would have loved to purchase a family plot so we could all be together but at the time I was told they were full.
Although St Dominic's doesn't always bring happy memories it was a large part of my life. St Dominic's will always hold a special place in my heart.

February 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDebbie

On the website Philadelphia Speaks there is a recent thread on St. Joan of Arc Church. The thread began with the word "Harrowgate" and the contributors discussed the church's architecture in detail. Some anecdotal history was included in the thread concerning the first pastor of the church. Very interesting material.

February 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEdward Gavin

Thanks for your Project. I stumbled upon the site while researching Mass Times for a Sunday visit. We are coming down from Lehigh Valley and love to visit Philly area Churches. Happy to see some info on St Vincent's where my wife's Great-Great Granma went as a young girl before migrating back to Ireland.

Edward O

February 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEd Olearczyk

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