Sunday, March 25, 2012

Episcopalian? Presbyterian? Catholic? Man of God

At the Jones Family Christmas, I asked my siblings what religion our Dad had practiced as a child.  A few facts were beyond dispute:

  • My Dad was raised as a Protestant in a family that was divided -- girls were raised Catholic and boys were raised Protestant.  There was a reason for that and you can read about it here.
  • My Dad's father, Pop, was Episcopalian.  Both he and his son Charles were buried from the Christ Cathedral, downtown.
  • Dad's brother, Bob, converted to Catholicism, not telling his father, after marrying a Catholic.  He was buried from Our Mother of Sorrows Catholic Church.
  • My father spent his entire adult life attending Catholic Church with his family.  He was a member of the Holy Name Society and a very active parent in the parish.  He was a "Boy Scout Committee Man." He attended church every Sunday and worked multiple jobs so we could attend Catholic Schools.
  • He never "converted."  Fr. Allison came to the hospital as Dad was dying and gave him communion. Dad asked if this meant he was "a convert."  Fr. Allison replied that he didn't think he ever needed to be converted.  Good answer.
  • My Dad would get teary-eyed every time he heard the song "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" -- a favorite of his mother.
  • We all recalled being told that he was raised Presbyterian.  But how did this make sense?
My brother, Dan, said that he remembered Dad taking him down to a church on Eastern Ave. and that he was surprised how many of the church members immediately recognized him.  I started trying to identify Presbyterian Churches that had once been located on Eastern Ave. and came up with this one.

The former Sixth Presbyterian Church, 2106 Eastern (Riverside) Ave.
When I showed Dan this picture, it was exactly as he remembered it.  It went through several transitions and is now abandoned and listed for sale.

The debate about Dad's religious affiliation continued until my brother, Tim, found this among Dad's keepsakes. It's amazing that one pin can hold so many answers.  Not only is it clearly a "Presbyterian" pin, but we think it was a reward for Sunday School attendance.  A careful look shows an S.S. above the crown which we think may stand for "Sunday School."  Under the crown are the words "Second Year."  There is an additional attachment indicating three years of attendance.

My sister, Karen, had this picture of our Dad.  I am embarrassed to admit that I did not know it was him. Now that's a picture a mother would love.

In Tim's little container there was an additional pin.  This one seemed to symbolize Dad's "good citizenship" in school. Both of these artifacts must have been important to our Dad because he kept them his entire life.  I think they are indicative of the life he lived -- a religious man of good character and citizenship.  We are lucky to have had him as our father. 


  1. Rose left this comment on facebook. I liked it so much that I copied it here.

    What a wonderful story about my favorite Uncle. I loved him so much I even named my only son John Thomas. Thanks for the trip down memory lane dear cousins..

  2. Comment left by Dan on facebook and copied here: KATH, that is what I remember as a kid. To me, the church was narrow, tall and had a lot of stone. I remember looking at the stone pillars thinking how cool they were (As a builder today, I still admire this stuff!). I also remember the inside having red velvet curtains. Your next mission (should you accept it) is to verify this memory.

  3. I just found your blog and was interested to see this reference to my old church. I also remember red velvet as a component - I'm not sure if it was curtains or the upholstery on the pews.

    I lived in the East End from 1943 to 1961 and occasionally post something about my memories on my blog. I just posted this piece last week about Sundays on Gotham Place (a side street in the 2600 block of Eastern). I have a couple of other posts related to my days in the East End in the Memories - East End section of my categories.