The Project fights off the post-holiday hangover with a little mailbag love, courtesy reader Jessica McGowan:
I am really enjoying the church visits. It seems you have captured my life somewhat. I have attended several of those churches. You are right about Catholic churches being the most ornate. I used to think, if this is a church, what is a cathedral? especially in regard to St. Stephen's (where I went to grade school). St. Philomena is my current parish. You recently were there. It looks like a poor relation compared to some of the others. Here is a wish list that I hope you will consider:
St. Helena's at 5th and Godrey (I was married there)
Holy Angels on Old York Road at the very northern end of Broad St. I thought Broad Street never ended until I moved to Oak Lane. This is another poor relation compared to the others.
And best for last: ever hear of Our Lady of Pompeii? It was on Erie Avenue in North Phila.
The only thing the Project loves more than compliments is suggestion lists. To answer:
Our Lady of Pompeii closed in 1993, a victim of the North Philadelphia Swath of Destruction, circa Year of Hell, and the building has since been demolished. I have not yet come across any pictures of the place, so I can unfortunately say nothing about it. If anyone out there has any, feel free to send them on.
Holy Angels is indeed a poor comparison. I actually did make a visit there back in the fall, but found it to be so substandard that I left and visited my Plan B church instead. (Which turned out to be St. Bonaventure.) In another time the Project would have taken the bad with the good, but I now need to be more selective in my choices.
And, finally, Olney's St. Helena. Jessica actually isn't the first person to suggest this church, a mammoth tweener near the city's northern border. I've referenced it a couple of times, but haven't done a Project visit. Why, you ask? Well, St. Helena has the pesky tendency to avoid using their football field-sized upper church, even when they tell you they're going to, so visiting is tough.
On a more personal note, though, St. Helena is actually the Project's home parish. Come on, you knew I had to have one, right? Back when I wasn't a religious nomad, I grew up in the neighborhood and attended St. Helena for 18 years or so. I'm no longer a registered member, of course, but the parish holds a special place in my heart. And out of respect to that, I'm saving the Project review for a special occasion.
When will that be, you ask? As with all Project matters, you'll just have to wait and see.