St. Joseph Parish in Downingtown, Chester County, dedicated its new church on Saturday, June 15 at 460 Manor Avenue, Downingtown. The celebration was the culmination of planning for future parish and enrollment that began in 2007.
The Rite of Solemn Dedication was celebrated by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput. Approximately 1,200 parishioners, priests, community officials and those involved with building the church were in attendance.
“The new church will allow for a larger, more beautiful worship space for our growing parish family,” said Msgr. Joseph McLoone, pastor. “From our humble beginnings more than 160 years ago to our present day, one thing has never changed: we have been called to be a visible sign that Christ is at the center of who we are as a people of God.”
The new church, built by Caldwell, Heckles, and Egan of Lancaster, includes seating for 1,200 people, a larger narthex, a daily Mass chapel, meeting rooms, and stained glass windows crafted from closed churches in Philadelphia.
St. Joseph, the second-largest parish in the archdiocese, has more than 4,400 families and more than 14,500 parishioners. Founded in 1851, the parish’s first church was built in 1852 on Bradford Avenue in the Johnsontown area of Downingtown.
Its second church was built on Manor Avenue in 1971; parishioners celebrated their last weekend Masses there on June 8 and 9. The building will be razed this summer to accommodate additional parking. Many sacred items from the old church have been incorporated into the new church. The bell tower erected to mark the parish’s 150th anniversary will remain standing, and a marker will be placed to indicate where the present church’s altar stood. (Photos by Sarah Webb)
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Beautiful building but why build something that is so enormous that nothing can be understood from the Altar or pulpit. My mom’s death was celebrated in your church this Wednesday & afterward all I heard was how nothing was understood from the alter or pulpit. I thought it was just me until the complaints. You’re preaching the word, would be nice if it could be understood. If there is a copy of what was said about Mom, I’d appreciate a copy. Joe
Beautifully designed and amazing in scope but the best aspect is the reverence given to the original design of St. Joseph’s Church in Johnsontown where reverent immigrants began the legacy of joy of worship, family and traditions of a loving neighborhood. Even with the recent passing of my parents, Lewis and Theresa Capriotti, married in 1947in that
little church on Bradford Avenue, I am grateful to them for gifts of faith and love. My parents would be enormously proud of their legacy to family and God.
I believe the opposite about both the old space and the new church for St. Joseph Parish of Downingtown.
1. the old church space while somewhat intimate, was dark and unarticulate. While it was cozy perhaps, to some, it was bland inside surrounding the tabernacle where Our Lord and Savior dwelled.
2. the new church is clear, focused and articulate with detail that draw one’s eye and mind to the tabernacle without question.
This difference is a welcome relief.
Contrary to the belief that the classic architecture of older days somehow drove ardent Catholics out of the Church and the practice of their Faith, I believe that the lack of people inside church buildings has much more to do with the contraceptive mentality which has pre-occupied much of the culture and the people of the world, including supposedly practicing Catholics, and thus there are less babies, less families and thus no one left in neighborhoods where the grand old buildings once were filled.
Blaming architecture that keeps hearts focused on the grandeur of God’s Glory, instead of on “feeling good about us,” for the failure of Catholics to remain Catholic does not make sense.
It is the encroachment of always wanting to “feel good about us” into our souls that keeps us from living fully for God and that makes us fall away from regular church attendance, which then causes any church structure, be they classic in design or less than classic, to have to close.
For Downingtown, for this time and season, a long answered prayer has been met with this building that has been built to house a thriving Catholic community. That it happens to also be a building with tremendously good design, art, form and function to house Our Lord is an amazing gift to the community it will now serve for many happy years ahead!
On several occasions I have assisted at mass in the now former St. Joseph Church Building where I enjoyed the people and the liturgy. The Church — although crowded and sizable — was very intimate and friendly. You were fairly close up to the altar and felt a sense of participation. Although the new Church looks beautiful it also looks like a step backward to an older Church design that keeps people from “knowing- praying and being one” at the celebration of the mass. It highlights the worship/adoration and ritual aspect and not the people-at-worship aspect of the mass. In the long run it will be become what many of the same designed big churches in Philly have become – empty. It is a design going backwards from Vatican II. And although mass certainly is a worship service, remember scripture, “The Sabbath was made for mankind and not mankind for the Sabbath.”
To “Nehpets” —real name STEPHEN, that is, I cannot agree with you. The Awesome and very beautiful new church is a true house of God! This church will bring MANY to worship there and the Almighty will be praised and blessed for time to come! Alleluia! The design of the new church will lead and invite many to praise and thank God.