Holy Family Institute
May 30, 2011
by Marlicia Fernandez
When I first decided to read FRAMING FAITH:A pictorial History of Communities of Faith, by: Sarah Piccini (Photos by: Ivan Pavelka and ARTS! Engage), I thought it would be a rather dry listing of a number of Catholic parishes in northeastern Pennsylvania that had been forced to close. While it is indeed a listing of parishes, it is anything but dry. Each parish has its own section and is described in such as wa as to have a distinct personality. The place of these parishes in the lives of those they served is clearly apparent. I’m always saddened when a Catholic Church is forced to close its doors. After reading about these parishes, I was even sadder.
This book will appeal not only to those interested in Catholicism and Catholic Churches in general, but also to those who love history, especially the history of the northeastern region of Pennsylvania. The author is not content to tick off parishes and give the bare facts, but delves into the reasons the parishes came into being, often at great personal sacrifice to the immigrant communities they served. She gives an informative and interesting overview of just how important the church, priests and sisters were to the community and how integrated the parish was in everyday life.
An added bonus for readers is the Catholic tidbits spread throughout the book. There are explanations of devotions, prayers and citations from Catholic documents and the Bible. Other, more secular tidbits include excerpts from local newspapers that really make the information come alive.
As if the well researched material (footnoted in the back of the book) were not enough to hold the reader’s interest, there are dozens of beautiful photographs taken by Ivan Pavelka and ARTS! Engage. These images really drive home how much love went into the building of the various parishes and what pride of place the church held in the hearts and minds of the people.
Framing Faith is historically and religiously accurate and well foot-noted. It held my interest from start to finish. The pictures and textual inserts put what is being read in context for even greater understanding and appreciation. I believe lovers of history in general, and of north-eastern Pennsylvania and Catholic history in particular will enjoy this book immensely. The forward alone, holds a wealth of information that whets the appetite for what is to follow. The book does not fail to deliver on that promise.
I learned so much from reading this Framing Faith, but feel sure I’ll have to revisit its pages if I am to absorb everything that I read the first time around. If you love history or have an interest in the role of Catholicism in the settling of northeastern Pennsylvania, this is a must read. In my humble opinion this book is definitely a keeper.