Monday, April 04, 2011

Framing Faith: Documenting closed churches

Last week my friend Jen alerted me to a new book, "Framing Faith: A Pictorial History of Communities of Faith," documenting ten churches that have closed in the Diocese of Scranton.  From their website:

Framing Faith tells the story of the faith of immigrants and their descendants, spotlighting ten Catholic churches in the Diocese of Scranton that were closed due to restructuring. The churches, SACRED HEART, MAYFIELD; ST. ANTHONY OF PADUA, SCRANTON; ST. JOSEPH, SCRANTON; HOLY FAMILY, SCRANTON; ST. JOHN THE EVANGELIST, SCRANTON; ST. MARY OF THE ASSUMPTION, SCRANTON; ST. MARY CZESTOCHOWA, SCRANTON; ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST, TAYLOR; IMMACULATE CONCEPTION, TAYLOR; AND ST. MICHAEL, OLD FORGE have rich ethnic heritages. They are Polish, Slovak, Italian, German, and Lithuanian parishes with long traditions and deep roots. Each church was founded by immigrant groups who came to the coal fields of the Lackawanna Valley with little more than their faith in God. Their churches served as the center of the community and touchstones of the Old Country. Framing Faith traces their histories from small beginnings through baptisms, weddings and funerals to their final celebrations. Throughout the text are images from each church, visual reminders of what was for many an important part of their lives.
This is a project by a young professional local historian and an experienced professional photographer. If the samples presented on the website are representative of the work as a whole, it is a beautiful and fascinating piece of local historical documentation.

As the not-so-old world is swept away by the economic and demographic changes that are affecting not just Northeastern Pennsylvania but the entire country and much of the world, it is good to know that people are making an effort to capture some memento of what is being lost.  I have made a similar effort with my home parish through my Stained Glass Project, and in a more general sense with Nanticoke and places throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania.  I hope that this book will prove to be just one in a host of projects to capture and preserve the world that is passing away before us.

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