Ring Them Bells

Church resurrected – New Life Community Church buys ex-St. Casimir

Closed two years ago as part of widespread consolidations within the Diocese of Scranton, the former St. Casimir Church has been given a new lease on life as a house of worship by the congregation of a Dallas Township church. New Life Community Church recently purchased the St. Casimir property from the diocese… “We were talking with people in the community. When they learned another church had purchased it, they were so happy,” [the new pastor]  said.

(I’ll say they’re happy. Check out local opinion about the outcome of the sale of another St. Casimir’s  church building in the diocese.)

This was the church I went to the whole time I lived in Wilkes-Barre. It was a block from the old house and right next to it was the elementary school with playground. Here’s a map with some very important local landmarks noted.

We walked to everywhere that was important.

The schoolyard was a wonder – swings, slides, a merry go round and right in the middle a big swimming pool. They paved it over many years ago but it used to be THE place for unattended 6 years old to meet up and horse around. I can’t say the dimensions of it – in my memory it was very big. Definitely big enough for 60 kids to splash around in at one time. It was a foot deep at the shallow end and the middle was 3 feet. It was made of cement, had a big smooth bump of concrete for a border all around and it was painted that refreshing whiteish aqua that I still find  so appealing. It was surrounded on all sides by cinders. It’s coal country, don’t forget.

Morning session, home for lunch and back again. Maybe someone would show up with a 2¢ popsicle and a stampede made up of anyone with 2¢ would head for the gas station. There were no life guards that I recall or even any interested parents. Maybe a local teenage boy hired for the summer to fill the vaguely defined role of  “playground monitor” for a few hours a day but you could never tell who it was amongst the gaggle of other high school boys hanging around the basketball court. Evenings and weekends were absolutely unattended. Just spread your towel down on the cinders and head for the water and a solitary swim  as you like.

Ah me. Well, it looks like a bit of the good old days will be making a small return with the advent of this new congregation. I found the schedule of events on their webpage:

Corn roasts. Covered dishes. Christmas caroling.

It’s like the old neighborhood I remember but without the beer and keilbasi. The newspaper article  says their services are “very festive and include a lot of music and singing”. I wonder if they know any polkas?

I saw the real estate listing for the property when it was still on the market. It said: “Stained glass church windows to remain in place only upon approval of Seller. They are not included in asking price.” I can see from the photo accompanying the article that the windows are still in place so they must have negotiated for them. Maybe I’ll send them half of the Mitt Romney contribution money I have set aside for the night that he accepts the nomination to help defray that cost and say welcome to the neighborhood. (Mitt won’t miss it. He’s doing very well – have you heard?)

I hope they threw the bells in with the sale. I hope the bells ring every day like they used to. I hope this congregation keeps the cross on top gilded so the sun bounces off of it like God’s own beacon.  Maybe we weren’t unattended in that swimming pool after all. That reflected sunbeam is probably what kept us all afloat.

5 thoughts on “Ring Them Bells”

  1. I wish today’s kids could have memories like yours and mine. Long summer days running around with lots of other kids. Total freedom. Everyone’s mom was watching, but they didn’t interfere unless bones were broken.
    I’m glad the building will go on being a church and having covered dish suppers. Some things are worth keeping and neighborhoods and churches are two of them.

    1. I forgot to say that the popsicles were made in one of those old fashioned metal ice trays with the handle that pulled back to release the cubes and it made THAT SOUND. The ingredients were: a wooden stick and some concentrated kool-aid.

  2. God and country make me emotional. My eyes welled up several times during convention speeches last night. Your last paragraph – well, I need a tissue.

  3. Thanks so much for this article. I’m responding as the Pastor of the new congregation, New Life Community Church. We’re enjoying our new building so much. We just love the friendliness of the community. Since we moved here we’ve added over 20 people to our growing congregation. Every Sunday we always see guests. We hope to be a positive influence to our new neighborhood here in Hanover Twp.
    We’d love to have you come and visit. Kindly check out our church website at: newlifefamily.org

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