Mailbag 5

The Project's computer is still on the fritz. But while technicians work frantically to repair it, here's something from our still-functioning mailbag:

I read the church project about St. Columba. I truly enjoyed the article, for it brought back happiness as well as sadness. I attended St. Columba's School from 1948 thru 1956. My family moved from the area in November 1961, that you called Strawberry Mansion, but who parishioners of St. Columba called "Swampoodle." Looking at the front of the church I can see myself as a kid standing on the church steps ready to make my First Holy Communion. I went to bed one evening at the tender age of six, and when I awoke I found that I was sixty-six. Father Time, where have all the years gone? For many kids, living in the area was a great experience, for Shibe Park/Connie Mack Stadium (where the Eagles, Phillies, and A's played professional ball) was only two blocks from St. Columba

.St. Columba is a beautiful church, and will always be my favorite. In the late 70's and early 80's, past parishioners came BACK to St. Columba for a Sunday reunion mass with cake and coffee served after mass in the auditorium.

I forward your Philadelphia Church Project to many people on my email list. Hopefully, the forward continues indefinitely so many, many more cans enjoy.

St. Columba, of course, is now currently known as St. Martin de Porres, post-Year of Hell. What we often miss in the discussion of these churches are the feelings these places evoke. Parishes are more than pretty buildings, after all. They're places where people grow up and / or get married and start a family. They can symbolize happiness and the lost innocence of a simpler time.

St. Columba is technically dead, but its property lives on. And maybe, just maybe, it's evoking the same emotions in the current generation. The language and context is different, sure. But those emotions are probably just as poignant.

Oh, and yes, Swampoodle was once a recognized neighborhood name. It died out after the area's demographics changed, and now the City Planning Commission lumps the whole area in with Strawberry Mansion.