The Field Hospital: Covering parish life throughout America

This story appears in the The Field Hospital feature series. View the full series.

by Peter Feuerherd

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Editor's note: "The Field Hospital" is NCRonline's newest blog series, covering life in Catholic parishes across the United States. The title comes from the words of Pope Francis: "I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds. ... And you have to start from the ground up."

"The Field Hospital" blog will run twice weekly on along with feature stories and news reports about parish life in the U.S. If you have a story suggestion, send it to Dan Morris Young ( or Peter Feuerherd (

Another church in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is closing. St. Joseph the Worker Church in suburban Bucks County will shutter its doors Nov. 1. The church had remained opened after a parish merger but the need for $1 million in repairs to the building sealed its doom.

Parishioners at St. Ann Church in Arlington, Va., recently discovered that they were hosting a homeless man for more than three years. But it wasn't part of a homeless outreach. The man was a squatter, taking residence in a church attic only to be discovered by air conditioning repair men. Some parishioners told The Washington Post that it was evidence of how desperate the homeless can be and how more programs are need to assist them.

The Diocese of Portland in Maine is experiencing an influx of immigrant newcomers. Diocesan officials note that parishes are reaching out to Latino and African newcomers in an effort to increase church participation.

Parish response to Latino immigrants continues in unlikely places. Here is a story about a new Guadalupe Ministry for Mexican immigrants at St. Francis de Sales Church in Moorhead, Minn.

The new guest preacher at the First Congregational Church in Naples, Fla.? It's Fr. Thomas Glackin, a retired priest from the Diocese of Venice, who pinch hits for a minister friend on vacation. The situation is under discussion with officials of the diocese.

National Public Radio reports that the Madonna of 115th Street in New York's East Harlem is getting a long-needed facelift and renovation. The statue, brought by Italian immigrants in 1884, is now a favorite of Latinos and Haitians at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church. She has been credited with numerous healings through the years. Fr. Marian Wierzchowski, pastor, notes that the Madonna is supported by a parish still filled with poor immigrants amidst Manhattan's spiraling gentrification.

[Regular Catholic press contributor Peter Feuerherd writes from Queens, N.Y.]

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