Bookmark and Share

June 1, 1999



St. Anthony of Padua Parish will celebrate its history and the faith of those who worshiped at the South Philadelphia parish during the past 112 years with a special Mass. Hundreds of present and former parishioners are expected to attend.

10:00 a.m.
Reception immediately following Mass
Sunday, June 6, 1999
St. Anthony of Padua
Grays Ferry Avenue and Fitzwater Street
Philadelphia, PA

This mass will celebrate the success of the parish and the faith of those nurtured through the Sacraments during St. Anthony's history. The celebrant will be Reverend David Sicoli, Pastor. Reverend Joseph Meehan, former Pastor of St. Anthony's (for 11 years), will concelebrate the Mass. This will be the only Mass held at St. Anthony on this day.

St. Anthony of Padua Parish will close and parishioners will attend either St. Charles Borromeo Parish or St. Patrick Parish as of July 1, 1999. St. Anthony of Padua was recommended for closure by the Cluster 23 Cluster Pastoral Planning Committee. Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua accepted the Committee's recommendation for this closure.


Editor's Note: If you would like to attend the mass, please contact the Office for Communications at 215-587-3747. For more information, please read the following History Highlights.

St. Anthony of Padua Parish
2321 Fitzwater Street
Reverend David C. Sicoli, Pastor

The first Mass at St. Anthony of Padua was celebrated in 1886 over a livery stable. Since then, St. Anthony's has witnessed three depressions, four wars and great social and economic change.

St. Anthony of Padua, after whom the Parish was named, was born in 1195 and was known for his teaching, piety and austerity. He is often invoked for help in finding lost belongings.

A snapshot of history at the time of St. Anthony of Padua Parish's creation in 1886:
Pope Leo XIII was Christ's Vicar on Earth
Patrick Ryan was Archbishop of Philadelphia
Robert Pattison was Governor of Pennsylvania
William B. Smith was Mayor of Philadelphia
The Statue of Liberty was awaiting dedication in New York Harbor

St. Anthony's Parish was created out of the tremendous growth experienced by St. Charles Borromeo Parish(located at 20th and Christian Streets). The livery hall stable on the east side of Grays Ferry Avenue served as home to St. Anthony's Church for three years. A new church was built on the present site ( 2321 Fitzwater Street) in 1889. St. Anthony's new, more spacious home was dedicated in December of that year, a Solemn High Mass was held on Christmas Day for a capacity congregation.

As the neighborhood grew, so did the Parish of St. Anthony of Padua. A post Civil War census recorded 40,000 people living in the area. The majority of those people were Catholic, Irish immigrants or the children of Irish immigrants. On September 13, 1897, school bells rang for the first time at Saint Anthony's for 410 children. By 1925, enrollment reached 1,200. By 1905, the Church, school, convent and rectory had been completed.

The history of the country is the history of St. Anthony's. The flu epidemic of 1918 caused the Church and school to be closed for a month. During the Depression, the priests of St. Anthony's anonymously donated food, coal and clothing to parishioners.

As years passed, enrollment in the school declined. In 1986, St. Anthony's School closed. In 1998, St. Anthony's along with the six other parishes of Cluster 23, began the Cluster Pastoral Planning Process. In January 1999, the Cluster Pastoral Planning Committee recommended the closure of St. Anthony's and in April 1999 Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua approved and accepted the recommendation. Parishioners will attend either St. Charles Borromeo Parish or St. Patrick Parish beginning July 1, 1999.

Donna Crilley
Communications Assistant

Back to Top