Like any residents in the Philadelphia area who know of Mother Katharine Drexel, I too made the pilgrimage in the last days of visitations before the closing of the shrine. The grounds of Saint Katharine Drexel will be sold in the near future, and I am told sale is imminent. They are now awaiting approval from the pope. I walked into the shrine from a bitter cold winter day and made my way through the chapel to the downstairs shrine. The first thing I noticed was how much warmer it is in the shrine area. Not sure if it is just because of all the people who have been frequenting the shrine since the announced sale and closing over a year ago. Or maybe it was the feeling of overall spirituality that overcomes you upon arrival.
The people I spoke with seemed upset at the closing, but understood why it has to happen. You see, the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament are older and pretty much dying off one by one. The large residence and shrine is 42 acres and costs a lot of money to maintain. The sisters are also selling 2,200 acres in Virginia. Many of the nuns left the Drexel home as of this past May. The ones that remained were part of the day to day operations.
While I’m sad to see the shrine and property go, I wish the sisters a happy retirement.
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia had been discussing the merger of several parishes in the Philadelphia area over the last few months. The announcement was to be made last Saturday night to parish members of the affected churches.
On Saturday night I was assigned to photograph what potentially might have been one of the last masses celebrated at St. Ann Catholic Church in Bristol, Pennsylvania.
I arrived early, to make sure I had time to speak with the church pastor and secure permission to snake pictures during the service as well as the announcement of the merger.
The padre agreed, although I did receive a bit of resistance from some parishioners that has said they didn’t believe the pastor would like anyone making photographs. They seemed surpassed when i told them I had secured permission, and all was good.
It seemed as though people knew what was coming when Father Tom Morris read the announcement from the Archdiocese. There were plenty of tears beforehand as well as during. It was a difficult assignment to photograph, because I could feel their pain. Below are some of the images as well as the video I made during the announcement from Father Morris.