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.
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:
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.