Book Review: Framing Faith
Authors: Sarah Piccini & Ivana Pavelka
When I saw the opportunity to read and write a review for Framing Faith I was very excited on a number of levels. Upon reading the book and looking at the many photographs I was not disappointed.
I was a member of the neighboring Diocese of Pittsburgh, which went through some very similar changes at the same time the Diocese of Scranton was experiencing their upheavals. However, I was on the other side of the coin, living in the suburbs and feeling the strong need for newer and bigger churches and although aware of what was happening to those small city parishes, I did not feel the pain and sorrow that accompanied these changes.
With Ms.’s Piccini and Pavelka, the rich history, splendor and struggle was brought to light. As with the Diocese of Scranton, the Diocese of Pittsburgh shared similar histories full of immigrants struggling to make a life for themselves in a new world. Framing Faith gives the reader a little peak into how those struggles were managed and the immigrants faith maintained and even strengthened.
The people who could barely speak english, and made very little money in the mines and mills of Pennsylvania through the sweat of their own brows and a unwavering faith in God were able to build faith communities that today’s contemporary churches have a hard time recreating.
To think that these poor people often built the churches themselves, raised the money themselves and even repaired sometimes insurmountable problems themselves is a testemant to them. For today we build a church millions of dollars are spent, workers are paid to build the structure, someone is paid to make needed repairs. This isn’t wrong, it’s just the way of the world. But this reader thinks a precious asset has been lost in our fast paced contemporary world.
Thanks to Ms.’s Piccini and Pavelka for reminding this reader of her roots and helping me to see that my way is not the only way or even the best way.
Maybe when all is said and done, we will all learn that God’s way is the best way.
I recommend this book for anyone who loves God, the church and history. This book is full of all of them. The authors did an excellent job of travelling through history and capturing the essence of those first immigrant parishes and their people, because in the end the church is the people that make it up.
Happy reading and God Bless,
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Framing Faith Synopsis:
Framing Faith tells the story of the faith of immigrants and their descendants, spotlighting ten Catholic churches in the Diocese of Scranton that were closed due to restructuring. The churches, SACRED HEART, MAYFIELD; ST. ANTHONY OF PADUA, SCRANTON; ST. JOSEPH, SCRANTON; HOLY FAMILY, SCRANTON; ST. JOHN THE EVANGELIST, SCRANTON; ST. MARY OF THE ASSUMPTION, SCRANTON; ST. MARY CZESTOCHOWA, SCRANTON; ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST, TAYLOR; IMMACULATE CONCEPTION, TAYLOR; AND ST. MICHAEL, OLD FORGE have rich ethnic heritages. They are Polish, Slovak, Italian, German, and Lithuanian parishes with long traditions and deep roots. Each church was founded by immigrant groups who came to the coal fields of the Lackawanna Valley with little more than their faith in God. Their churches served as the center of the community and touchstones of the Old Country. Framing Faith traces their histories from small beginnings through baptisms, weddings and funerals to their final celebrations. Throughout the text are images from each church, visual reminders of what was for many an important part of their lives.
Sarah Piccini Bio:
SARAH PICCINI graduated from the University of Scranton with a degree in History and Communications. In 2010, she received a Master’s degree in History focusing on the ethnic and labor history of the Lackawanna Valley. She collaborates with the Lackawanna Historical Society on many projects and programs, and serves the Vice President of the board for the Anthracite Heritage Museum and Iron Furnaces Associates.
Ivana Pavelka Bio:
IVANA PAVELKA is a co-founder and co-manager of the photographic gallery Camerawork in Scranton and is a professional photographer who has had many solo and group shows. Her professional career includes teaching in the art department at Keystone College (La Plume, PA), giving workshops and residencies as a rostered artist in schools, and working as a commercial photographer. She is also a professional bookbinder who was trained in European methods in Prague, where she grew up. When she came to the United States in 1980, she free-lanced as a bookbinder for such institutions as the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She has lived in Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania, since 1991.