Please Help Our HISTORIC Rectory From Demolition

St. Thomas the Apostle parish is the oldest Catholic parish in Pennsylvania, established in 1729, 50 years before our country was born! As the parish grew, the 1852 church and the 1874 rectory were built. There is Much History rooted in this parish that needs to be preserved (visit FOST website: https://friendsofoldstthomas.org). The Archdiocese of Philadelphia and St. Thomas the Apostle parish will celebrate its 300th Anniversary in 2029. 

In the early 90’s, a group of parishioners created the Friends of Old St. Thomas (FOST). Its goal was to protect and preserve the 1852 church (known as the Chapel), 1874 rectory (which Fr. Steve Shott, pastor, renamed the “Ministries Center” in July 2021), the out buildings and grounds, known as the Historic District. Two of its most significant projects were the restoration of the German stained glass windows and the steeple of the 1852 Chapel. FOST raised and invested over $700,000 to preserve the Historic District over a 25-year period, through generous parishioners who valued our historic place in history.

The current Pastor, Father Shott OSFS, who has only been with the parish since July 2020, has made an executive decision to demolish the 1874 rectory. When FOST parishioners learned of Father Shott’s plans, they immediately rose into action to stop this from happening. His reasons for demolishing the 1874 rectory are as follows:       

  • Lack of current use (recall the negative impact of Covid re gatherings). We also learned that Fr. Shott has been discouraging ministry meetings in the 1874 rectory.
  • Drain on Parish funds (Yet, FOST has always been the financial stewards)

Concerned parishioners drafted a very detailed letter and distributed it at various Masses but they need more help in getting Father Shott to understand they do NOT want the 1874 rectory demolished.  Archbishop Perez stated he supports Fr. Shott as Pastor, however Archbishop Perez is the final arbitrator in Pastor decisions, such as the ill-conceived decision to destroy the 1874 rectory.

Along with their concerns for the 1874 rectory, is the imminent risk of damage to the 1852 church. There are no known environmental impact studies that were done to address the use of heavy equipment (ONLY 16 feet from the Chapel), wherein serious equipment issues and vibrations and heavy falling debris could potentially damage the Chapel’s foundation, tuck pointing of the old stones and the stained glass windows, four of which face the rectory.

 Also, the old rectory with its restroom facilities, kitchen and parlor areas would now be a major loss as an important gathering space for weddings, funerals, functions and ministry meetings. The question of why demolish a structurally sound, useful building has escaped any logical explanation in our opinion.

Father Shott announced his decision to the parish in the church bulletin of December 11, 2022 with no input from the parish as a whole and just 14 days before Christmas. He indicated that the 1874 rectory would be demolished in early 2023. Father Shott claims he consulted with many officials and experts, but offers no documented proof when approached by parishioners. The parish has had very little time to challenge and respond to his decision and his supposed findings.

Would you please take a moment to sign this petition? This will show Archbishop Perez our respect and appreciation for our historic parish and its place in the Catholic history of Pennsylvania. In addition, consider writing letters or emails to those listed below, that would be tremendous! 

Even if you are not a parishioner of St. Thomas the Apostle parish, your voice is important. We need your help IMMEDIATELY and THANK YOU for your willingness to assist us in preserving the 1874 rectory and our parish history. 

Archbishop Perez: dhuddell@archphila.org

Bishop McIntyre: jmcintyre@archphila.org

Monsignor Matz (Dean assigned to parish issues): frmatz@sjnparish.org

Father Steven Shott OSFS: pastor@staglenmills.org

Father Michael Vannicola OSFS: mvannicola@oblates.org

A link to additional documents will be forthcoming shortly. Thank you for your signature!

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 NOTE: Any information you provide in the Petition is kept private.

    


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