The Friends of Old Saint Thomas
P. O. Box 19
Chester Heights, Pennsylvania 19017
(610) 459-2224

Newsletter

Volume 4, Number 2 - Fall 1997

Coming soon ... FOST Notecards

The Friends decided an appropriate way to raise funds and share the beauty of our historic old church was to produce a series of note cards. John LaRosa and Joe Dragon, talented photographers, spent a great deal of time taking various photographs of the interior and exterior of the church. Our committee had to narrow its choices to four photographs. We feel the final selection captures the timeless beauty of the old church and stained glass windows. These unique cards are perfect for any occasion. The inside is blank so you may personalize it with your own special message. A packet of eight cards is priced at $8.00. Your purchase enables the Friends of Old St. Thomas to continue their effort to maintain and preserve the historic church complex. When the cards are available we will supply further details in the parish bulletin.


The Friends and the Fair

The St. Thomas Country Fair celebrated a landmark anniversary this year. The Fair Committee approached the Friends to see if it would be feasible to put together a historical exhibit for the 1997 fair. The old rectory was the perfect setting for this wonderful collection of memorabilia and historically significant artifacts. Many of the articles are in fragile condition so it was necessary to display them under glass. Old record books, parish announcement books, old maps and photographs stirred many memories! Displayed in the "parlor" was an original canvas panel depicting one of the four evangelists. It originally had been a companion piece to six other panels which at one time were part of the ceiling decorations in the old church.

FOST members spent many evenings researching old records for fair information. We garnered most of what we found from an incomplete set of parish "Announcement" books spanning the years 1903-1954. We would like to share some of our findings.

The reason for the first fair held in 1897 was for the refurbishment of the church building which at that time was almost fifty years old. Father Joseph Monville was the curate sent here that year to help the elderly Father William Cook who was pastor from 1877 until his death in 1900. Father Monville initiated the first fair. Although no direct records of the fair can be found, it must have been a success that improvements were made to the church in the following years.

The "festival," as it was called at first, was held in "The Grove," the area now occupied by the school and annex buildings.

In 1903 some of the activities included a Merry-Go-Round, Games, Dancing, a Band Concert by the band from "The House of Refuge", Horse Jumping Contests, a Fish Pond, Ice Cream, Soft Drinks and "Tables" such as the Cake Table, Supper Table, Candy Table and a Fancy Articles Table. In 1903 the profits came to $1527.39.

In 1937 the fair had a new location! "The Summer Festival and Country Supper" was held "on the lawn beside the Post Office at Glen Mills." (In 1937 the Glen Mills Post Office was located at the present site of Miller's Deli at the corner of Glen Mills and Stony Bank Roads).

FOST would like to hear from you if you know why the fair was moved in 1937 or if you would like to share your memories of past fairs.


Remembering...

Many of our parishioners, their families and friends joined together in the old church on Sunday, April 13 to honor their deceased relatives and friends who are buried in our cemeteries. Father Williams led the congregation in prayer. After the service light refreshments were served on the old rectory porch.

FOST has an information sheet available for anyone who has loved ones buried in our cemeteries. It is a simple form that requests basic information about the deceased. We are keeping completed papers in our archives because the histories of deceased members are historically important. The fact sheet would be a valuable aid in future years for families conducting genealogical research. Please let us know if you are interested in completing a family profile for the record.

FOST receives many inquiries from people tracing their ancestry. The most frequent requests are for verification of burial in our cemeteries and dates of birth and death. We try to assist anyone who is seeking this type of information but researching this material is often a time-consuming task. The Friends are in the process of creating a computer-generated data base that will eventually allow us to retrieve pertinent information in a timely manner.


Gifts From the Friends

The Friends of Old St. Thomas recently donated four updated copies of Father Louis Ciaudelli's book, "St. Thomas the Apostle Parish, 1729-1992" to the school library. We would eventually like to implement a program for our grade school that would incorporate the history of the parish and the surrounding area. St. Thomas Parish is the cradle of Catholicism in the Philadelphia Archdiocese. We have a wonderful legacy to pass on to our students. If you enjoy historical research and/or if you have experience developing lesson plans on an elementary level we would like to hear from you.

Old Saint Thomas Church is the setting for many weddings. The Friends present each couple with a brass ornament depicting the old church. We hope this symbolic gift will remind the couple of the sacred place they chose to commit themselves to each other in the Holy Sacrament of Matrimony.


Annual Social

It has been the tradition these past few years for the Friends to hold their annual social event in November. Unfortunately, many of our members were swamped with prior commitments this November. If possible, we-hope to have our gathering of "Friends" in the spring of 1998.


The Friends Need Your Help

We need you! The Friends of Old St. Thomas encourage each family to complete a FOST membership form. A family membership is only $10.00 a year. Your donation will be used exclusively to maintain and restore the historic church complex. The year 2002 is drawing close and we need to raise a great deal of money in order to restore and refurbish the old church. Parish support is crucial if we are to raise additional funds from outside sources. Future potential donors pay a great deal of attention to the number of parishioners who financially support the Friends' goals. Please take time to complete the form. Your contribution will make a difference.

Another way to help and to be a part of the Friends is to participate in the Honor and Memorial Gifts Program. See our brochure (available in the narthex of the old and new churches) for further details. The Honor and Memorial Book, a permanent part of our archives is displayed at FOST events.

And also, please continue to buy Food Certificates and ask the seller to credit #1400 (The Friends of Old St. Thomas). A portion of your purchase will be donated to FOST.


New Meeting Place for FOST

The Friends of Old St. Thomas cordially invite you to our meetings. We now meet in the old rectory at 7:30 p.m on the second Thursday of the month.


Craft Fundraiser

The Friends sponsor seasonal craft workshops to raise money for operating expenses. Our next craft class is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 20th at 7:00 p.m. in the New Church Social Hall. This class features a painted wooden country snowman. The cost of the class is $18.50 and includes all material. You must register in advance, but please note that class size is limited.


Contacting FOST

If you would like to respond to any of the articles appearing in this newsletter or have any questions regarding FOST you may contact Trish Glessner (610) 459-3151 or Kathy McNichol (610) 558-0182.


Part of the History of Delaware County Website