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Monday, February 9, 2009

Six little girls on a summer day, 1922

In the midst of summer, June 18, 1922, six little girls posed for a photograph in Mount Carbon, Pennsylvania. All dressed in their finery for their big day, they were the first class of First Communicants in their new parish of St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church.

St. Francis de Sales First Communion girls photograph,
ca. 1922; privately held by Lisa, [address for private use], 2009.

Included in this photograph are two children of John Joseph and Frances (Owens) Cowhey: eight-year-old Ann Cowhey, top left, and her sister seven-year-old Frances Cowhey, bottom middle. The girls' seven-year-old cousin Anne Cowhey (daughter of Charles & Agnes Cowhey) is also pictured at the top right. I have yet to confirm the identities of the other three girls, but I have some guesses. If you can identify them, please contact me.

I'm pretty sure that most, if not all, of the little girls in the photograph have since passed away.

St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church
49 Main Street, Mount Carbon, Pennsylvania

This past year St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church experienced its own passing, so to speak. One of thirty-two churches of the Diocese of Allentown in Schuylkill County to be closed because of a local shortage of priests, St. Francis de Sales was consolidated into St. Patrick's Church in Pottsville on July 15, 2008.

In a way it had come full circle: Mount Carbon's Catholic residents originally attended St. Patrick's before St. Francis de Sales was founded in 1921.

A small parish at its closing with two-hundred seats and seventy-five members, St. Francis de Sales had been presided over for the past nineteen years by Fr. Edward Connolly who is also pastor of St. Patrick's in Pottsville.

This little Catholic church of Mount Carbon has a very special place in my heart. It was the focal point for many a sacramental moment for my family members throughout its eighty-six year lifespan.

I can't help but wonder if the church sometimes longs for the days it once knew: when little girls in white dresses graced its steps on their First Communion day.

For more information on church closings in the Diocese of Allentown see the diocese website's announcement of June 1, 2008 entitled Initial Parish Restructuring Plans Announced or read the Republican Herald's articles: Catholics Mourn loss of 32 churches in Schuylkill County and St. Francis de Sales, Mount Carbon.

This article has been submitted to the 10th edition of the I Smile for the Camera Carnival whose theme is "Costume". For more portraits of those dressed up for all sorts of occasions, visit footnoteMaven's Shades of the Departed.


"Catholics mourn loss of 32 churches in Schuylkill County." Republican Herald 01 Jun 2008 http://www.republicanherald.com/articles/2008/06/01/news/local_news/pr_republican.20080601.a.pg1.pr01churches_s1.1717568_top2.txt : accessed 10 Feb 2009.

Kerr, Matt. "Initial Parish Restructuring Plans Announced." Diocese of Allentown 01 Jun 2008 http://www.allentowndiocese.org/news/nr060108a.html : accessed 10 Feb 2009.

"St. Francis De Sales, Mount Carbon." Republican Herald 16 Jun 2008 http://www.republicanherald.com/articles/2009/02/10/church_closings/south_schuylkill/region_1/pr_republican.20080615.a.pg3.pr15stfrancisdesales_s1.1747174_loc.txt : accessed 10 Feb 2009.

Zerbey, J.H., newspapers, Inc, and Joseph Henry Zerbey. Joseph Henry Zerbey History of Pottsville and Schuylkill County. Pennsylvania. [Pottsville]: "Republican"-"Morning paper" print, 1934.


Janet Iles said...

The girls look lovely all dressed up. It is sad to see these churches closing.

Lisa said...

Thanks for your comment, Janet. The closing of these Catholic churches in the Allentown Diocese is a sad occasion. It is hard to see them leave their place in people's everyday lives and move into the realm of history. The least we can do is keep their stories alive.


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