We love spending other people’s money and selling other people’s properties (we even suggested knocking one down). We think we have a way to save Saint Mary’s Church. A little background first.
In 2014 the Archdiocese of Philadelphia merged the four parishes in Conshohocken and West Conshohocken (Saint Matthew, SS. Cosmas and Damian, Saint Mary and Saint Gertrude), wrapping them into Saint Matthew Parish.
Since then, SS. Cosmas and Damian and Saint Gertrude were relegation (the process by which the Archdiocese declares a church no longer a Catholic church). The SS. Cosmas and Damian property is now a Coptic church and the Saint Gertrude property was sold to the Borough of West Conshohocken.
Saint Mary Church has not yet been relegated, but Father Thomas Heron of Saint Matthew Parish, which assumed control of all the closed churches with the merger, has attempted to relegate it in the past. He continues to support its relegation.
Attempting to save Saint Mary Church from relegation is the Saint Mary Polish American Society, which formed after the merger. Saint Mary was historically Conshohocken’s Polish church. It hopes to maintain Saint Mary Church as a Catholic church and shrine to Blessed Jerzy Popiełuszko, who died at the hands of the Communists in Poland. He is on a path to be named a saint.
The save the church, the society needs to be able to pay for its maintenance and any repairs. Basically, the cost of keeping it can’t fall onto the parishioners of Saint Matthew Parish. While the society is very actively fundraising, as far as we know, it really hasn’t landed the big check or checks yet.
So here is our thought.
Across town sits the TK Club, Conshohocken’s historically Polish social club. It has a big piece of property in a pretty key location (corner of East Hector and Apple Streets). It has a social hall on the bottom floor and rents out its former ballroom to a retailer. The property is pretty valuable.
Here is the part where we sell other people’s property and spend their money. The TK Club should sell its property and fund saving Saint Mary Church. It could then utilize the basement social hall at Saint Mary Church as the TK Club and the Saint Mary Polish American Society could oversee the shrine and church. It would create one central destination for the Polish community to socialize and worship.
We are sure there are a host of issues that would need to be worked out, but we think it is a great idea. Tell us what you think in the comments.