Saturday, June 5, 2010

Church closings in Nanticoke

A while back I did a series of posts on the Churches of Nanticoke. Since that time many of those churches have closed - and not just the Catholic churches.

At a Firemen's Breakfast in Honeypot last November I overheard a couple talking about how they used to go to St. George's Episcopal Church - until it closed earlier in the year. I believe the First Presbyterian Church of Nanticoke was reported to be in dire straits financially earlier this year. And it seemed like the steps of the First United Methodist Church went unshoveled for several Sundays this Winter without the snow being trod upon. (These three churches can be seen here.)

Things with the Catholic churches in Nanticoke continue to go according to former Bishop Martino's plan. St. Francis has been closed for some time, since a leaking roof rendered the building unsafe for use, but its formal closure as a church took place more recently. St. Joseph's closed for good several weeks ago. St. Mary's and Holy Trinity have had formal closing ceremonies, although neither of these buildings will be closed in reality: Holy Trinity will be the primary worship site for the consolidated St. Faustina parish, and St. Mary's will serve as the secondary worship site. (The problem of extremely limited parking at the primary worship site has still not been resolved, and the building remains without air conditioning.) In two years, according to Martino's plan, the continued use of the secondary worship site "will be evaluated no later than two years after the consolidation, based on geography, attendance, fiscal realities and the availability of priests. ."

This coming Sunday - tomorrow, as I write this - St. Stanislaus will have its closing ceremony. Like St. Joseph's, this will be a for-real closing, not merely a formality. And, barring a miracle, Holy Child in Sheatown will be closing June 27, bringing the first wave of consolidations in Nanticoke to completion.

It's not just churches that are closing. Diamond's Candy Shoppe is gone. McDonald's Newsstand is gone. WNAK is gone, again, not just from Nanticoke but completely removed from the airwaves. The senior citizens' center - the old post office - is gone, (The steps and front arches were reportedly going to be preserved and incorporated into the new structure going up there, but I believe they were "accidentally" demolished along with the rest of the building. The steps and front entrance to the adjacent Susquehanna Coal building, which was demolished at the same time, were inexplicably preserved for a few days, but as these were of no special architectural significance they were also removed after a while.)

Oddly, one new pizza place has opened up downtown, near the post office, and business is booming.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, it is rather sad to see these churches close ... and I say that as an Atheist. I remember when I found out that St. Nicholas' Ukrainian Catholic Church (at the corner of Green and Hanover Streets) had closed; it still causes me some deep, undefinable melancholy. After all, this was the church that my mother's parents belonged to. I remember the occasions when my grandpa would take me to church with him when I was a small child, and traditionally all the men sat on the right, and all the women sat on the left, as the choir sang "Hospodi Pomiloi" up in the loft in back. The lingering smell of incense, the statues of Mary and Joseph with their green neon haloes, the big metal racks of red votive candles, and the old women in babushkas whipping up thousands of pierogies in the church basement.

Today, a vanishing few elderly relatives on my mother's side of the family still can carry on conversation in Ukrainian, but that too will disappear with time. When was the last time you heard ANYONE in Nanticoke speaking Polish or Ukrainian in conversation?

So yeah, I feel sad about it. But this is the way of the world. Buildings, organizations, cultures, diversions ... none last forever. And one thing that will ALWAYS be a constant is increasingly older people (like me) who get wistful about what used to be. This will never change.

St John's (State Street) Parish Office said...

We are Alive! Well! and WELCOMING! - Saint John's Lutheran Church at 231 State St in Nanticoke is a growing community of faith embracing many people from other faith traditions. We celebrate Holy Communion on Sundays at 8AM and 9:30AM with our Youth Ministry at 10:30AM. Free Breakfast is served after each Liturgy and provides time for catching up on the lastest news. Our parishioners are friendly and welcoming and you will find our worship booklets easy to use. Email us at if we can be of assistance or if you have further questions. Faith is alive and well in NANTICOKE,PA!

Jonathan said...


My name is jonathan, from first presbyterian church in nanticoke... actually we're doing very well! We've just added some new contemporary christian music to our service and are a growing church. visit us on facebook for more info, or join us on Sunday Morning at 10:30 and see what we're all about!

Anonymous said...

Hi. Eddie B. from Wilkes-Barre... Just visited Nanticoke yesterday after being away for over thirteen years. Love the feel of this city, quite cozy and friendly atmosphere & also a sense of burgeoning potential ready to be rediscovered. Curious to know if St. George's Episcopal IS closed. Saw their sign outside mentioned Thursday noon prayer, hopefully that is true & there's a possibility of Sunday MP or even a Mass.