Former parishioners of the shuttered St. Joachim Catholic Church in Frankford are organizing a rally on Thursday outside the Archdiocese of Philadelphia offices, at 222 N. 17th St.
The public is invited to attend the rally, scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The purpose of the rally is to urge the archdiocese to reconsider the way it studies potential church closings.
The rally is timed in anticipation of next week’s visit by Archbishop Charles Chaput, Gov. Tom Corbett and Mayor Michael Nutter to the Vatican.
A delegation will travel there from March 24–26 to plan for the World Meeting of Families, which will take place in Philadelphia in September 2015.
Chaput, Corbett, Nutter and others will meet with Pope Francis, and they plan to encourage him to visit Philadelphia for next year’s World Meeting of Families.
The archdiocese closed St. Joachim and 14 other parishes last July, citing drops in weekend Mass attendance, marriages and baptisms.
Chaput did not consider any appeals, but a group of former St. Joachim parishioners is appealing to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy.
The St. Joachim faithful argue that their former parish was financially solvent and brought in rental income from the former convent and school buildings.
In addition, the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales staffed the parish for 35 years, meaning the archdiocese did not have to supply a priest.
In general, the former parishioners want the archdiocese to give the laity more say in whether churches should close.
St. Joachim, located at 1527 Church St., was founded in 1845. It was the oldest Roman Catholic parish in the Northeast.
The Archdiocese also closed Frankford’s Mater Dolorosa and Harrowgate’s St. Joan of Arc, directing members of all three closed parishes to attend Mass at Holy Innocents, in Juniata Park.
Since then, former St. Joachim parishioners protested outside archdiocese offices last summer and fall. They hold weekly prayer services and strategy sessions. They’ve also teamed with St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Frankford to feed the hungry.