St. Philip Neri Catholic Parish
1325 Klinerd Road, Pennsburg, PA 18073
Office Hours: Monday - Friday 9:30 - 4:30 PM
Rectory Telephone: (215) 679-9275
Rectory Fax: (215) 679-0386
Welcome to Saint Philip Neri parish in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. For more than a century, our parish has been the spiritual home for so many. What began as a small rural chapel on the outskirts of Philadelphia, PA has become a large and thriving community. What first struck me when I came here in 2006 was the enduring love parishioners have for St. Philip Neri. It is a common sight to see grandparents, and even great-grandparents at Mass and various events with the next generation. It is a gift of continuity and stability which we give to our younger members.
While we honor and cherish our past, we are a parish which continues to seek new ways to be more than just a Sunday respite. Our Bible studies, youth activities, parish outreaches and various speaker series all strive to meet the needs of a large and diverse population.
I invite you to join us for Mass and any one of the many events throughout any given week. May God bless you.
Reverend Robert A. Roncase, Pastor
CLERGY AND STAFF
Rev. Anthony Hangholt, Parochial Administrator
Rev. John J. Scarcia, Retired
Deacon Michael J. Franks
Deacon Pat Kennedy
Business Manager, 215-679-9275;
Office Manager, 215-679-9275;
Music Director, 215-679-9275;
Parish Outreach, 215-679-9275;
PREP/Religious ED Coordinator: 215-679-7839;
Youth Minister, 267-733-2572;
HISTORY OF THE PARISH
On October 8, 1919, East Greenville was canonically established as a parish with Green Lane as its mission. Reverend John A. Wachter was appointed as the founding pastor. Prior to 1919 East Greenville was a mission church of Bally, Pottstown and later St. Eleanor’s in Collegeville. Then in 1917, East Greenville again returned to its mother church as a mission of Bally. About this time, the Catholic population in our town began to increase rapidly. A local real estate agent had conceived the idea of advertising in foreign-language newspapers, describing the countryside and its excellent farming possibilities. As a result, an influx of Polish and Slovak farmers took place in the early part of the century. New members celebrated Mass in George Huber’s Hall, which was above a grocery store. In March 1921, Father Wachter bought a tract of land for our first church at Sixth and Main Streets in East Greenville. The cornerstone of the church was laid on July 30, 1922 and was dedicated on December 3, 1922. After six years as pastor, the Reverand Leo J. Letterhouse replaced Father John Wachter on October 12, 1925. The parish continued to grow in size and faith.
In 1927 Father Letterhouse purchased ten acres of ground in Pennsburg in preparation for a cemetery. The cemetery can be found on route 663 on the outside of Pennsburg. Twenty-four years later the school and convent were built in East Greenville next to the church. The Sisters of Mercy were called to teach ninety children on the opening day, September 5, 1951. Father Letterhouse served the parish zealously for thirty-seven years until his death on December 7, 1961. On January 3, 1962 Reverend Andrew P. Brown became the new pastor of St. Philip Neri Parish.
Father Brown realized the need for a new church for a growing faith community. On June 15, 1968 John Cardinal Krol of Philadelphia dedicated the new St. Philip Neri church. The church was built on land bordering the Green Lane Reservoir thanks to the generous gift of Mr. And Mrs. Martin Katrinak. The whole design of the church is based on the recommendations of Vatican II. Both the interior and exterior are based on the openness of invitation and closeness of worship. Father Brown served the parish for twenty-four years prior to his retirement. Reverend John Gallagher became the next pastor from 1985 to 1993 followed by Reverend Edmund Speitel, Reverend John Scarcia and currently Father Robert Roncase who became pastor of the parish in February 2006.
The parish continues to grow, welcoming Catholics of many different origins. The population has changed greatly from the early 1700’s. German pioneers who were mostly Mennonites and friendly Indians were the primary inhabitants prior to the first Catholic mission, which was started in Bally. Bally was then called Goshenhoppen, a name derived from an Indian word meaning “a meeting place.” St. Philip Neri has become a meeting place for a surge of people moving into the area as a result of urbanization. As the parish grows with new members, the spirit of worship and community continues to grow.
The Parish Pastoral Council serves as an advisory committee to the Pastor. The members of the council, through prayerful reflection, work toward making recommendations to the Pastor. The committee also envisions plans and suggests directions, which might enhance the quality of parish life and promote its vitality. Members represent the diversity of the parish community and therefore provide insight into the various needs and issues of the different groups that make up one parish community.
Saint Philip Neri Parish Council Members-at-Large welcome any questions or comments you may have.
2020 Member List:
Deacon Mike Franks
Why doesn't the parish welcome newlywed couples and newborns in the Parish Bulletin?
The policy of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia states that the names of children not be published publically for the general public. Unfortunately all parishes in the Archdiocese do not adhere to this policy. For this reason you will not find children's names published for Baptisms, First Communion, and Confirmation. Permission to publish the names of children requires the agreement of parents or guardians. Many times this permission is not given by parents or guardians; it is the policy here at St. Philip Neri since we cannot publish all names it would not be proper to publish only some names. To publish an individual's name requires permission from the individual, parent or guardian.
When marriage takes place here at St. Philip Neri, permission would also be needed to publically congratulate couples. In years past, for three weeks prior to a wedding, the banns of marriage were published. The banns were not a congratulation for the marriage, but really asking parishioners or the public if they knew if the couple to be married had a previous bond (married before). The banns of marriage are no longer published a policy no longer permitted. Today's church records give this needed information.
Church Law mandates that each parish have a Finance Council (or Committee) to assist the Pastor in a consultative capacity with respect to the material goods and resources of the parish. The Finance Committee of our parish is involved in the preparation of annual operating budgets and reports, review of proposed capital projects and expenditures, and the study of the long-range financial and physical needs of the parish. In addition, other parishioners with particular expertise are called upon from time to time to assist the Pastor and Committee on specific projects.
Contact the Rectory for more information (215) 679-9275.
Director: Joan Lampart
Contact info: 215-679-9275, If no answer, leave your first name and number and please say the number twice.
Description: Parish Outreach also known as Parish Social Ministry, is social action and social services at the Parish/Neighborhood level.
Parish Outreach also includes social services; e.g., Case Management, Information and Referral, Home Visiting and Confidential, professional. The types/kinds of counseling that can be done are: Relationship Counseling; Marriage Counseling; Situational Counseling; and Project Rachel Counseling (for women who have had an abortion). Call for an appointment: 215-679-9275. If no answer, leave your first name and number and please say the number twice.
PARISH OUTREACH OFFICE
DORCAS: All of us have probably heard the phrase, "time flies". I agree with the phrase! And so, if any parishioner or parish family is in need of assistance for CHRISTMAS, please call the Parish Outreach Office at: 215.679.9275 on or before December 1. Thank you for your cooperation.
SINGLE PARENT SUPPORT GROUP:
If you are interested, please call the Parish Outreach Office at: 215-679-9275. If no answer, leave your name and number and please say your number twice.
Confidential, professional counseling can be provided through our Parish Outreach Office. The types/kinds of counseling that can be done are: Relationship Counseling; Marriage Counseling; Situational Counseling; and Project Rachel Counseling (for women who have had an abortion). Call for an appointment: 215-679-9275. If no answer, leave your first name and number. Say the number, twice.
HEALTH CARE RIDES FOR VETERANS!
The Bucks County Veterans Bus stops in Montgomery County in East Greenville at the Center at the Open Link on 517 Jefferson Street on their way to the Coatesville VA Medical Center. Pre-registration IS required. Please call Betty at: 215.345.3885 at least two (2) weeks before your appointment to schedule your transportation.
Souderton Adult Day Care Center
Through Catholic Health Care Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, there is the Souderton Adult Day Care Center. They care for Seniors every step of the way. The Day Care Center provides health monitoring by a Registered Nurse, nutritionally balanced meals, dignified personal assistance, and therapeutic activities. The staff provides individualized service.
Address: 228 Ridge Avenue
Souderton, PA 18964
Days of Operation:
Monday thru Friday
Hours of Operation:
7:30 AM - 5:30 PM
Family, Transit, Para Transit
Foster Grandparent Program
The other activity of interest is through Montgomery County Family Services Office. It is their Foster Grandparent Program, and it can be an Income Opportunity for Seniors. You can volunteer with children in their Schools OR with Seniors in their homes.
Volunteers serve at least 15 hours a week, receive a tax-free stipend (which does not affect any rent or health subsidies), paid vacation and holidays, and free, or reimbursed travel). You must be a resident of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, meet income and age requirements, and be able to speak conversational English.
For the Foster Grandparent Program:
Address: 3125 Ridge Pike
Eagleville, PA 19403
LIFE OF ST. PHILIP NERI
If one had to choose one saint who showed the humorous side of holiness that would Philip Neri.
Born in 1515 in Florence, he showed the impulsiveness and spontaneity of his character from the time he was a boy. In fact one incident almost cost him his life. Seeing a donkey loaded with fruit for market, the little boy had barely formed the thought of jumping on the donkey's back before he had done it. The donkey, surprised, lost his footing, and donkey, fruit, and boy tumbled into the cellar with the boy winding up on the bottom! Miraculously he was unhurt. His father was not successful financially and at eighteen Philip was sent to work with an older cousin who was a successful businessman.
During this time, Philip found a favorite place to pray up in the fissure of a mountain that had been turned into a chapel. We don't know anything specific about his conversion but during these hours of prayer he decided to leave worldly success behind and dedicate his life to God.
JOURNEY TO ROME:
After thanking his cousin, he went to Rome in 1533 where he was the live-in tutor of the sons of a fellow Florentine. He studied philosophy and theology until he thought his studies were interfering with his prayer life. He then stopped his studies, threw away his books, and lived as a kind of hermit.
Night was his special time of prayer. After dark he would go out in the streets, sometimes to churches, but most often into the catacombs of St. Sebastiano to pray. During one of these times of prayer he felt a globe of light enter his mouth and sink into his heart. This experience gave him so much energy to serve God that he went out to work at the hospital of the incurables and starting speaking to others about God, everyone from beggars to bankers.
In 1548 Philip formed a confraternity with other laymen to minister to pilgrims who came to Rome without food or shelter. The spiritual director of the confraternity convinced Philip that he could do even more work as a priest. After receiving instruction from this priest, Philip was ordained in 1551.
HIS LOVE OF CONFESSION
At his new home, the church of San Girolamo, he learned to love to hear confessions. Young men especially found in him the wisdom and direction they needed to grow spiritually. But Philip began to realize that these young men needed something more than absolution; they needed guidance during their daily lives. So Philip began to ask the young men to come by in the early afternoon when they would discuss spiritual readings and then stay for prayer in the evening. The numbers of the men who attended these meetings grew rapidly. In order to handle the growth, Philip and a fellow priest Buonsignore Cacciaguerra gave a more formal structure to the meetings and built a room called the Oratory to hold them in.
Philip understood that it wasn't enough to tell young people not to do something-you had to give them something to do in its place.
So at Carnival time, when the worst excesses were encouraged, Philip organized a pilgrimage to the Seven Churches with a picnic accompanied by instrumental music for the mid-day break. After walking twelve miles in one day everyone was too tired to be tempted!
In order to guide his followers, Philip made himself available to everyone at any hour - even at night.
He said some of the most devout people were those who had come to him at night. When others complained, Philip answered, "They can chop wood on my back so long as they do not sin."
Not everyone was happy about this growing group and Philip and Buonsignore were attacked by the priests they lived with. But eventually Philip and his companions were vindicated and went on with their work.
In 1555, the Pope's Vicar accused Philip of "introducing novelties" and ordered him to stop the meetings of the Oratory. Philip was brokenhearted but obeyed immediately. The Pope only let him start up the Oratory again after the sudden death of his accuser. Despite all the trouble this man had caused, Philip would not let anyone say anything against the man or even imply that his sudden death was a judgment from God.
CONGREGATION OF THE ORATORY
One church, for Florentines in Rome, had practically forced him to bring the Oratory to their church. But when gossip and accusations started, they began to harass the very people they had begged to have nearby! At that point, Philip decided it would be best for the group to have their own church. They became officially known as the Congregation of the Oratory, made up of secular priests and clerics.
Philip was known to be spontaneous and unpredictable, charming and humorous.
He seemed to sense the different ways to bring people to God. One man came to the Oratory just to make fun of it. Philip wouldn't let the others throw him out or speak against him. He told them to be patient and eventually the man became a Dominican. On the other hand, when he met a condemned man who refused to listen to any pleas for repentance, Philip didn't try gentle words, but grabbed the man by the collar and threw him to the ground. The move shocked the criminal into repentance and he made a full confession.
THE GRACE OF HUMILITY
Some of his lessons in humility seem cruel, but they were tinged with humor like practical jokes and were related with gratitude by the people they helped. His lessons always seem to be tailored directly to what the person needed. One member who was later to become a Cardinal was too serious and so Philip had him sing the Misere at a wedding breakfast. When one priest gave a beautiful sermon, Philip ordered him to give the same sermon six times in a row so people would think he only had one sermon.
Humility was the most important virtue he tried to teach others and to learn himself.
Philip preferred spiritual mortification to physical mortification. When one man asked Philip if he could wear a hair shirt, Philip gave him permission - if he wore the hair shirt outside his clothes! The man obeyed and found humility in the jokes and name-calling he received.
There were unexpected benefits to his lessons in humility. Another member, Baronius, wanted to speak at the meetings about hellfire and eternal punishment. Philip commanded him instead to speak of church history. For 27 years Baronius spoke to the Oratory about church history. At the end of that time he published his talks as a widely respected and universally praised books on ecclesiastical history!
Philip did not escape this spiritual mortification himself. As with others, his own humbling held humor. There are stories of him wearing ridiculous clothes or walking around with half his beard shaved off. The greater his reputation for holiness the sillier he wanted to seem. When some people came from Poland to see the great saint, they found him listening to another priest read to him from joke books.
Philip was very serious about prayer, spending hours in prayer. He was so easily carried away that he refused to preach in public and could not celebrate Mass with others around. But he when asked how to pray his answer was, "Be humble and obedient and the Holy Spirit will teach you."
FEAST DAY, MAY 26
Philip died in 1595 after a long illness at the age of eighty years. His Feast Day is May 26 and he is a patron of Rome.
IN HIS FOOTSTEPS
We often worry more about what others think that about what God thinks. Our fear of people laughing at us often stops us from trying new things or serving God. Do something today that you are afraid might make you look a little ridiculous. Then reflect on how it makes you feel. Pray about your experience with God.
Saint Philip Neri, we take ourselves far too seriously most of the time. Help us to add humor to our perspective - remembering always that humor is a gift from God. Amen.
The above information is taken from www.catholic.org.
1325 Klinerd Road, Pennsburg, PA 18073
Office Hours: Monday - Friday 9:30 AM - 4:30 PM
Rectory Telephone: (215) 679-9275
Rectory Fax: (215) 679-0386
Life of a Saint:
Learn more about St. Philip Neri
"Saint of a Joyful Heart."
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