Breaking News: Hard Times Come to Church Alley

As the Project celebrates another week of saving Philadelphians from ugly churches, a distressing piece of news crosses our desk.

Sources close to the Project reveal that Our Lady Help of Christians and Nativity BVM, two-thirds of the marvelous Church Alley, are going to be twinned--i.e., Dead Parish Walking. A public announcement was supposedly made at Nativity recently, and the current issue of the CS&T has a small note about OLHC pastor Father Fedak taking over both parishes as early as August.

The Project has not received official confirmation of this, but the sourcing is credible enough for me to believe it. Barring a miracle, or a lapse in our grapevine, it's all but done.

Take a moment to let that sink in.

It's terrible news, but really, not at all surprising. Port Richmond is a great area, but there's only so much Catholicism to go around, and no neighborhood can support three parishes in a seven-block radius. The Project has long been amazed that the arrangement has lasted this long.

OLHC and Nativity just happened to be the least prosperous of the bunch. OLHC, despite a surprising spunkiness in trying to repair their damage, is only drawing 200+ in average attendance. And as I noted in during my visit to Nativity, the consolidation of the three parish schools could be considered a harbinger of things to come. Who knew it would happen so quickly?

The sad thing is, OLHC is doomed. Regardless of what the parishioners say, regardless of what the Archdiocese says, it's only a matter of time. Dead Parish Walking is never reversed; much like consolidation, it's a permanent scarlet letter. It's life support. And things will get to the point where OLHC, as the smallest and weakest, will get the axe. The Project sees it coming.

And unfortunately, there's nothing we can do about it.

More on this as it develops.