Catholics Booby-Trap Chapel to Save It

After “a series of spectacular multi-alarm fires” destroyed Eden Hall Academy in 1969, all that remains of the historic Catholic girls’ school is its chapel, according to the Dec. 2 Philadelphia Daily News.

The chapel has become popular with two groups, for very different reasons.

“For neighborhood vandals, it's like a huge, challenging jungle gym. They have shimmied up the walls, climbed the rain spouts, knocked down the doors, broken locks, and destroyed rare stained-glass windows,” according to the article. “Since the chapel can't be seen from the street, it is ideal for beer-drinking and pot-smoking.”

But local Catholics have come to the rescue, and convinced the city it is a treasure worth spending $850,000 to restore. A group called Friends of Fluehr Park has “trimmed rain spouts” and “greased a couple of walls to discourage intrepid climbers,” according to the article. Next, they hope to hire a security caretaker to watch it at night.

The chapel has a rich history.

“The school for girls from wealthy Catholic families was operated by the French Madames of the Sacred Heart, and the wealthy Drexel and Bouvier families were closely associated with Eden Hall.… The Drexels built a family crypt in the chapel, which is now empty, and Blessed Mother Katharine Drexel … frequently visited the school,” according to the article.

“The 28 stained glass windows were created by top 19th-century artists from England, France, and Germany.”

Catholic Opposes Politicized Union Dues

Business Week magazine, in its Dec. 8 issue, profiles Pat Rooney, chairman emeritus of Golden Rule Financial Corp, “the top seller of individual and small-group health policies,” and argues that the Catholic businessman and activist bucks stereotypes.

“House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) failed to pass federal legislation that would have made it more difficult for unions to contribute members’ money to political campaigns. But he hasn't given up, and he has an able assistant on the case: J. Patrick Rooney, an Indianapolis insurance magnate who has proven himself an effective salesman for hot-button issues such as school choice and medical savings accounts.”

The article continues, “Rooney, a devout Catholic who studied for the priesthood in his youth, seems to relish the fracas. ‘I'm a crusader,’ he says. The courtly patriarch of his family's privately held company, Rooney, 69, can afford to take political risks most CEOs duck.

“Although Rooney has solid conservative credentials, he does not fit any stereotype. A vegetarian and former member of the American Civil Liberties Union, he has worshipped for 17 years at Holy Angels, a black Catholic church in downtown Indianapolis. ‘White people accept integration when they're in charge. I wanted to go and worship with black people in their church,’ he says.”

According to the article Rooney is concerned about the misuse of labor union dues as an issue of justice. “This is a fairness issue,” he is quoted saying. “People who work hard for their money ought to be able to authorize it before it gets used for political purposes.”