24 Hours for The Lord

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Pray with us!

If you can’t join us in person, submit a petition below and our community will pray with you. Petitions will be printed and placed in the chapel in a special basket. Your name and contact information will not be included.

In addition, you can pray for the following petitions during different hours:

Friday, March 4th
3PM Mercy for all those who need mercy
4PM Pope Francis and all faith leaders who are instruments of mercy
5PM Safety for those fleeing conflict
6PM Food for those who are hungry
7PM Water for those who are thirsty
8PM Shelter for those who are homeless
9PM Reconciliation and comfort for the suffering
10PM Healing for those who are caught in addiction
11PM Eternal rest for deceased loved ones

Saturday, March 5th
12AM Dedication to equity among leaders
1AM Transformation of broken systems
2AM Peace for all who suffer injustices
3AM Government leaders to honor the human dignity of each person in their decisions
4AM Conversion in our own hearts and in the hearts of our enemies
5AM Understanding and unity across peoples
6AM Care for God’s Creation
7AM Freedom for the victims of human trafficking
8AM Fair wages and work environments for those who labor
9AM Promotion of a culture of life
10AM Healing for the ill
11AM Rehabilitation for the incarcerated
12noon Forgiveness to be practiced and received
1PM Consolation for the doubtful
2PM Church to serve as a home for all
3PM Opening of hearts and minds to be transformed by mercy
4PM Appreciation for the beauty of diversity in the Mystical Body of Christ

One Table: Saturday, May 7th

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Come eat and drink with neighbors at One Table, a South Philadelphia celebration of community! This signature event takes place at 17th and Fernon Streets inside the parish gates of St. Thomas Aquinas.
One Table features flavors from around the world and, for those 21+, local brews served up in our beautiful courtyard beer garden. A donation of $25 gets you two food tickets and one drink ticket to taste the amazing fare. Enjoy family- friendly activities such as music, face painting, balloon animals, kids’ yoga, and more.
Proceeds benefit summer programming for kids and help advance Aquinas Center’s mission to build unity in diversity, support learning, and inspire thoughtful action.

Tickets available here: onetable2016.brownpapertickets.com

Celebrating the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

December 12, Saturday is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Our Spanish language Mass will be at 7:00 PM (instead of 5:30 PM). If you have never participated in this celebration, please consider joining the community. While the Mass in honor of Our Lady is in Spanish, the music, joy, and celebration go way beyond any language. Welcome!



Giving Tuesday: Support Youth Voices Program

With the colder weather upon us and early sunsets, it can be hard for urban teenagers to find safe places to gather after school. When they do find a coffee shop or restaurant, they are faced with two problems: High prices and a social bias against boisterous groups of teens, particularly young people of color.
The Aquinas Center Youth Voices program has devised a solution: Create their own coffee shop experience. These 13-17 year olds have determined what they need to host the cafes and even identified a charitable cause for proceeds. On this Giving Tuesday, please consider donating items to help their effort. We need the following:
– Coffee (espresso beans or ground regular and decaf)
– Used espresso machine
– Hot chocolate mix
– Brownie and cake mixes
– Sugar and creamer
– Candy
– Packaged cookies
Items can be dropped off at the center or arrangements can be made for pick up. Contact Shirley at 267-702-3454 for more details.  If you prefer to give online, visit: https://staquinas.com/aquinascenter/supportourmission/ Thanks!  

Francis Fund Supports Culturally Relevant Food for South Philly Migrants and Refugees

bernardPhiladelphia, PA – Aquinas Center will receive $15,000 from the Francis Fund to make fresh, culturally relevant food available to immigrants and refugees in South Philadelphia. The Fund, a collaboration of the World Meeting of Families Hunger and Homelessness Committee and Project HOME, was established to concretely address issues of hunger, homelessness, and poverty in the Philadelphia region and to ensure the transformative effects of Pope Francis’ visit to the United States continue to be felt in underserved communities.

Aquinas Center was created in 2013 in the former convent of St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in South Philadelphia, and has the mission to build unity in diversity, support learning, and inspire thoughtful action in order to respond to the changing needs of the neighborhood. The center will use the $15,000 for three main projects: purchasing culturally relevant food selections to supplement holiday meal distributions to local families; creating and distributing garden-at-home kits and training to encourage food-insecure families to grow food of their own; and making upgrades to the center’s kitchen to expand the existing program of nutrition and cooking workshops.

The project design arose out of awareness the problems of both hunger and food security in the South Philadelphia neighborhood where Aquinas Center is located. Lack of fresh food is a particular concern for the large and diverse immigrant and refugee population, who face extra hurdles in obtaining food that meets their cultural diet and food practices.

This three-pronged approach allows Aquinas Center to practice responsiveness in the form of the direct food donations, but also empowerment and community building through the garden kits and ongoing educational food and nutrition workshops. In this way they are able to have an immediate impact on hunger as well as work towards longer-term poverty alleviation.

The Francis Fund was founded in the weeks leading up to Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia to ensure that the Holy Father’s concern for the poor and marginalized would motivate real change in this region. Over 50 other organizations in the greater Philadelphia region, both faith-based and non-denominational, are receiving funding from the Francis Fund for a wide range of projects. In choosing recipients, the Fund was inspired by the Pope’s personal areas of compassion and concern. They prioritized projects which would build capacity for existing programs that serve people who are homeless or living in extreme poverty, that serve women who have been trafficked, or that provide healthy and nutritious food in food pantries.

In an address on Independence Hall in September, Pope Francis reminded immigrants that they “bring many gifts to [their] new nation,” and urged them to “never be ashamed of [their] traditions.” Thanks to the generosity of the Francis Fund, Aquinas Center will be able to work within the spirit of Pope Francis’ anti-poverty and anti-hunger missions, as well as continuing to respect and uplift the uniqueness and giftedness of individuals of all backgrounds

Aquinas Center is located at 1700 Fernon Street, Philadelphia, PA 19145.
To learn more about our community and mission, visit www.staquinas.com/aquinascenter.
To get involved with our different programs, contact encounter@staquinas.com or 267-928-4048.


Aquinas Center Director Invited to Rome

Welch GardenPhiladelphia, PA – Aquinas Center director Dr. Bethany J. Welch has been invited to Rome to represent the United States at the Solemn Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Gaudium et Spes, a landmark document of the Second Vatican Council that promoted interfaith encounter and the Catholic Church’s witness to social justice concerns.

The gathering, coordinated by Cardinal Peter K. A. Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, is designed to establish a dialogue among different generations on the issues raised by Gaudium et Spes, which are still of great urgency and which have assumed new connotations, especially after the election of Pope Francis, who has called on the Catholic Church to confront inequality and to minister to the margins of society.

“The invitation to attend the proceedings in Rome is a huge honor and comes at a unique time following the visit of the Holy Father to the United States,” remarks Dr. Welch. “I was particularly struck by his address to Congress when he said, ‘Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated. Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves.’” “His call for responsiveness and solidarity reflects the impact of a document like Gaudium et Spes and reinforces the values on which Aquinas Center was founded.”

The Second Vatican Council, which was held from 1962 to 1965, led the Catholic Church into the modern era. Notably, it led the Church to begin celebrating Mass in the vernacular language, including English, transformed the Church’s efforts on interfaith dialogue and led the Church to rededicate itself to the cause of social justice. Gaudium et Spes is one of four key documents, known as constitutions, that were published by the Council fathers during the Second Vatican Council.

The celebrative event will be concluded by a gesture of symbolic handing over of the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes legacy to an invited representation of youth and young adults from the different continents, with Dr. Welch representing the United States of America at the invitation of Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

This groundbreaking dialogue will be held November 5-6, 2015 at the New Synod Hall in the Vatican and continue on at the Church Palace.

Bethany J. Welch, Ph.D, is the founding director of the Aquinas Center, which is housed in a multicultural, multilingual immigrant parish. The center opened in January 2013 with a mission to build unity in diversity, support learning, and inspire thoughtful action.  The Aquinas Center is home to urban immersion experiences, counseling services, legal services to help immigrants (regardless of documents), community organizing and advocacy efforts, English classes and urban revitalization activities. Bethany Welch identifies systemic injustice as a root cause of poverty alongside a lack of access to social services and high quality education based on geography. She speaks from the heart about the dignity of all persons informing her work, and how the work of Aquinas Center demonstrates the power of Catholic social teaching.

Her Catholic faith motivates her to promote an authentic “culture of encounter”, to which Pope Francis has called each of us. Bethany has worked to infuse this mission into the work of Aquinas Center, especially in its leadership trainings and through its community organizing.  According to Bethany, “Everyone has dignity. Everyone has gifts to share.”  In recognition of her gifts and devotion to working in solidarity with people living in poverty in her community, Bethany was awarded the 2014 Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award.  She received the award at a special reception at the Spring meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in New Orleans, LA, on June 12, 2014.


Aquinas Center is located at 1700 Fernon Street, Philadelphia, PA 19145.
To learn more about our community and mission, visit www.staquinas.com/aquinascenter.
To get involved with our different programs, contact encounter@staquinas.com or 267-928-4048.


Papal Pilgrims Arriving Soon


In a story featured on WHYY 90.9FM this morning, Sr. Janet Santibañez, MSBT described the difference between a tourist and a pilgrim. “As a tourist, you are going to visit places just to see the beauty,” Santibañez said. “But as a pilgrim, you are going to see not just the beauty but the holy place, [which will] remind you of the faith and the love of God.” The reporter also described the pilgrims that Aquinas Center will be hosting. To learn more about the many places where pilgrims are staying, check out the story here, with audio and print.

**MEDIA ALERT** Contacts for WMOF and Papal Visit

This is the logo for the eighth World Meeting of Families. The international gathering, inaugurated by Blessed John Paul II in 1994, will be held in late September in 2015 in Philadelphia. (CNS/courtesy of Archdiocese of Philadelphia) (Feb. 26, 2013) See FAMILIES-PHILADELPHIA Feb. 26, 2013.

Media outlets looking to contact parish staff or parishioners for interviews relating to the World Meeting of Families, pilgrims at Aquinas Center, Pope Francis’ address on immigration at Independence Hall, and other stories, should use the following information:

For priests and rectory staff: 215-334-2312 or staquinasparish [at] gmail.com.
For information on procession to Independence Hall on Saturday: 215-334-2312 ask for Clara Jerez or bwelch [at] staquinas.com.
For Aquinas Center staff hosting pilgrims and corresponding stories, including the Francis Fund project contact: Bethany Welch 267-702-3454 or bwelch [at] staquinas.com.

Thank you!

Pope Dedicated to Defending Migrants

The Philadelphia Inquirer did a feature story on immigration that included a visit to Aquinas Center.

On the forthcoming visit of Pope Francis, reporter Michael Matza wrote:

Another group with a keen interest will be patrons and supporters of the Aquinas Center, a South Philadelphia convent-turned-community center that strives to bridge cultural divides.

Filipinos, Thais, Cambodians, Vietnamese, Congolese, Mexicans, Hondurans, and Guatemalans are among the 550 people who use the center weekly, said director Bethany Welch.

The Latinos, she said, have “a profound feeling of connectedness” to Francis as the first pope from Latin America.

During the week leading up to the pontiff’s visit here, the center will provide bunk beds for 45 Mexican immigrant “farmworker pilgrims” from Mobile, Ala., said Welch, and will host hundreds of Vietnamese families for a marriage-enrichment course.
Read more at: http://www.philly.com/philly/news/pope/20150817_Pope_Francis__personal_charge.html#oXpk78ekyWCJtDl3.99R

“Live simply, so that others may simply live!”

 When we were growing up my sisters, brother and I often heard the phrase directed to us “Remember your place”. It usually came from one of our parents in an attempt to keep us from claiming MORE attention, privileges, space “rights”, etc. than were warranted. “Remember your place” was not so much to stifle our quest or our desire to grow and expand. Rather the phrase was meant to remind us of OTHER peoples rights, privileges, space, etc. WE were reminded to NOT infringe on others just because we wanted “more”.

This phase seems good to remember as we read the scriptures today and hear of the great power of nature around us AND just who is in “charge” of that nature. Our Holy Father Pope Francis in his newest encyclical, along with many other religious leaders, is calling all of us to recognize the great gift of nature surrounding us—and to respect it! Pope Francis is trying to remind us that God has placed in our care a world and is components that need to be understood and reverenced. We (the present generation) are not the sole users or recipients of this gift of nature. We are called to see our responsibilities in the use of the gifts of nature and the protection of the gifts of nature for future generations.

It is obvious that we, here in the United States—the richest, most-blessed-by-God-Country– have an obligation, despite our desires for greater dividends, profits and advantages to protect, respect and persevere the gifts of nature by avoiding selfish and self-serving decisions as a nation and as individuals. To “remember our place”!

Some of the questions posed by our Pope Francis’ letter center around our consumption habits and the needs of the rest of the world. For us Catholics we, along with everyone else, are asked to examine our habits in our life styles. A bumper sticker popular a few years ago sums it up pretty well. It read “Live simply, so that others may simply live!”

How are you and I doing in “remembering our place “ in God’s world??!

Father Shields