Final mass for oldest Catholic church in NE Philly

June 30, 2013 3:30:37 PM PDT
Freezing their memories with photographs, faithful parishioners of St. Joachim Catholic Church in Frankford soaked up every last second of the final Sunday service with deep sadness.

The oldest Catholic church in Northeast Philadelphia will merge with Holy Innocents in Juniata and two other parishes effective July 1st.

"It's devastating, it's shaken me as a person," said Ed Miranda.

"I love this church, it breaks my heart," said Sheila Hill.

A church family that dates back to 1844 has now been disrupted by change.

"I take SEPTA, I can't go to Holy Innocents, I must find another church," said Hill.

The changes are tough on even the younger members like Jonathan Rambo.

"I got cheated out of everything because I didn't get to make my first communion," said Rambo.

Nearly 30 churches in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia are affected by a restructuring plan brought on by dwindling funds and decreased attendance.

RELATED: See the full list of church mergers

Red t-shirts were sold to reflect solidarity within the church family. They continue to fight the closure of their religious home, because they say there are now zero Catholic churches in Frankford.

"This may be the last mass in church today but it will not be the last mass in Frankford. We're not giving up," said Pat Smiley.

Church members are collecting donations to fund the appeal process already underway to try to reverse the decision. Members say it will cost about $12,000.