Tuesday, August 13, 2019


When I was in the seminary in Baltimore, this parish, Saint Michael's, was a possible field placement for seminarians. It was a beautiful Church.

It has succumbed to changing demographics and the decline in the practice of the faith. It has been closed. It's artwork has been removed to include the altars and all else associated with the Mass. I presume these will be recycled to other churches in need across the country.

It will be transformed into a brewery. There will be more interest in that than when it was a church for the unwashed masses.

Here are the renovating and after photos followed by the before photos:


Marc said...

That's the intoxication that comes from the new Pentecost.

TJM said...

Another Vatican Disaster II "success" story! Just wait, just a little more tinkering and the OF will be bringing the Faithful in by the bushel loads!

Anonymous said...

From Wikipedia:

Fell's Point is a historic waterfront neighborhood in southeastern Baltimore, Maryland. It was established around 1763 and is located along the north shore of the Baltimore Harbor and the Northwest Branch of the Patapsco River. The area has many antique, music and other stores, restaurants, coffee bars, a municipal markethouse with individual stalls, and over 120 pubs. Located 1.5 miles east of Baltimore's downtown central business district and the Jones Falls stream (which splits the city, running from northern Baltimore County), Fells Point has a maritime past and the air of a seafaring town. It also has the greatest concentration of drinking establishments and restaurants in the city.

The neighborhood has also been historically the home of large immigrant populations of Irish, Germans, Poles and other Eastern European nationalities such as Ukrainians, Russians, Czechs, and Slovaks, throughout its 250-year-old history. Since the 1970s, a steadily increasing number of middle- to upper-middle-income residents has moved into the area, restoring and preserving historic homes and businesses. Upper Fell's Point to the north along Broadway has gained a sizable Latino population, primarily from waves of Mexican and Central American immigrants since the 1980s, and is sometimes now called "Spanish Town".

Anonymous said...

An excellent article on the history and changing demographics of Fells Point, Baltimore:

Bean said...

Blaming demographic changes and ethnic shifts in Baltimore on Vatican Two makes as much sense as blaming the moon for the loss of a sock in the dryer.

Marc said...

There's meaningful anecdotal evidence that historic churches located in forgotten areas of town can be rejuvenated by inviting in a traditional priestly order. We had that happen in my city. It also worked in Detroit at St. Joseph Oratory, which is a spectacular church and community. Similar with St. Francis de Sales in St. Louis. Examples could be multiplied. While demographic shifts can take away vitality from a parish, there is a tested model for restoring vitality too.

Fr Martin Fox said...

I always find the "changing demographics" a puzzling explanation.

What? No one ever thinks to go out and meet these new "demographics" and invite them to meet Jesus Christ? To experience the fullness of the Faith?

That said, I have hope the brewery folks will treat the structure with respect. They know a beautiful building when they see it.

That said, I find the placement of the brew tanks in the sanctuary disturbing, and yet somehow fitting. Instead of worshipping Christ, we worship the god of our bellies.

Question: would you go have food and beer in this establishment? Why or why not?

TJM said...


Liberal clergy, like you know who, can’t handle the truth. They demand studies, etc, to explain the obvious

Anonymous said...

Father Martin: Those “changing demographics” are a euphemism for new Americans, immigrants, racial minorities, the type that conservatives & traditionalists rail against. It would be hard to convince such people, based on the exclusionist rhetoric on websites like this one, that old-school white Catholics welcome them to the Lord’s table. Our Dear Leader today wants r to reduce the number of LEGAL immigrants. They know who’s leading the cheers.

Joseph Johnson said...

Ye gods of alcohol---no I would not go there to have food or beer. It feels sacrilegious to me!

John Nolan said...

Another fatuous comment from Mr Bean. No-one has suggested that Vatican II is responsible for demographic changes. But the Council and in particular the way it was interpreted and implemented cannot be exonerated from at least some responsibility for the other factor, viz. decline in the practice of the Faith.

The Roman Ritual has a blessing for beer which is worth quoting in full:


V. Adjutorium nostrum in nomine Domini.
R. Qui fecit caelum et terram.
V. Dominus vobiscum.
R. Et cum spiritu tuo.

Bene+dic, Domine, creaturam istam cerevisiae, quam ex adipe frumenti producere dignatus es: ut sit remedium salutare humano generi: et praesta per invocatione nominis tui sancti, ut, quicumque ex ea biberint, sanitatem corporis, et animae tutelam percipiant. Per Christum Dominum nostrum.
R. Amen

(Et aspergatur aqua benedicta)

A healthful remedy for the human race ... health of the body ... safeguard of the soul ... I'll drink to that!

Come to think of it, if it were a choice between visiting a brewery and attending the sort of Novus Ordo Mass that certain clerics are 'comfortable with' but which I and many others are decidedly not 'comfortable with', then the brewery it is.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Changing demographics are not necessarily puzzling.

In 1850, Baltimore was the second largest city in the USA with 169,000 people. In 1950, there were 949,000, and Balto was 7th largest. In 2017 the population was 611,000, giving the city 30th place among US cities.

A 35% decline since its peak 1950 population is a 35% decline. Even if people were being invited to share in the fullness of faith in the Catholic church, there are 1/3 fewer of them. Those naked numbers tell the story of the decline of many (most?) inner cities, not just for churches, but for businesses and residency rates as well. A church infrastructure based on a population of 949,000 simply is not going to be needed or supported after such a decline.

TJM said...

John Nolan

Hanging K on his own petard! Yes he is comfortable with the OF because it takes no effort on his part other than looking and finding the various “options” so that the Mass does not resemble the traditional Mass in any manner. He should follow his brother priest’s example and learn to celebrate the EF even though it might take him out of his comfort zone but may help recover some souls for Christ!

TJM said...

Demographics do not explain things entirely, especially in large cities like Chicago where there is tremendous variation from one area to another. For example, the Institute of Christ the King is restoring the old St. Clara's in the most African-American neighborhood in Chicago and the parish is beginning to flourish. The Institute is dedicated to celebrating the EF - so I guess the old adage may apply, "if you build it, they will come.' In stark contrast, a jewel of a Church, St. Adalbert's, built in the style of St. Paul's Outside the Walls located in the Pilsen neighborhood, has closed. This church and neighborhood is in the very heart of a thriving Hispanic community, so presumably there should have been more than enough Catholics to support this parish. Alas, they celebrated the OF there and even had mariachi Masses from time to time. No takers though.

John Nolan said...


I wasn't having a go at Fr K, nor disparaging the OF, which I attend on a fairly regular basis. Yes, it's sung in Latin with all due reverence, but in the past I've attended vernacular Masses which were not objectionable. On 10 August Fr McDonald published a photograph of a woman with bright red nail extensions administering the Host to a communicant. At least I assume it was a woman - one can't be sure these days. I found it not merely uncomfortable, but disturbing. No doubt those who are 'comfortable' with this sort of thing will think that there must be something wrong with me.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

John, Well, it's nothing that can't be corrected....


Carol H. said...

John Nolan, the beer blessing reads like poetry. I'm curious, was it recited or sung?

John Nolan said...

Carol H

It's normally recited. The traditional Roman Ritual has blessings for all kinds of things, and many priests prefer it to the post-V2 revision (the 1984 Book of Blessings doesn't actually bless anything).