The Golden Burrs Events Committee members are pleased to bring you this 19th edition of the Class of 1958's Newsletter.





Seated: Bill Marella - Good Shepherd, Frank Metzler - St. Carthage, Frank Adolf - Transfiguration, George Light - St. Francis de Sales

Standing: John Staiber - Our Lady of Victory, Jim Prendergast - Transfiguration, Jim Clark - MBS, Rich Buzza - MBS, Jim Lynch - Good Shepherd 


We wish you and yours a very







Each section will bring you information that we have gathered about West Catholic and other newsworthy events that have transpired in the past three months. 


In this issue, under the "West Catholic Banner" you will find the updated calendar of events, including the names of those who will be inducted in the Sports Hall of Fame.


In the "News Features" section you will find information about upcoming reunions and our feature report on the history of St. Francis de Sales Parish now known as St. Francis de Sales: United by the Most Blessed Sacrament.  St. Francis is the surviving parish resulting from the twinning with, and eventual closing of, The Most Blessed Sacrament Parish.  


Special thanks goes to Regina (Sullivan) Boyle who sent me her souvenir booklet of "De Sales Night at the Bellevue-February 18, 1955" and a picture of the I.H.M. Nuns from the 50's; and to former De Sales principal Sister Constance and former 8th grade teacher Sister Jeannette, who provided George Light with copies of the 50th and 100th anniversary booklets and other historic information about St. Francis de Sales.




Sister Constance and Sister Jeannette


The Summer 2014 edition will feature St. Carthage Parish now known as St. Cyprian.  


If you have any historic information about St. Clement, St. Raphael, St. James, Visitation BVM, Our Lady of Loreto or St. Barnabas parishes (pictures or anniversary keepsakes), please contact Frank Adolf at, or 610-344-0716 or postal mail the information to Frank at 1539 Ulster Way, West Chester, PA  19380.  Currently, we have a few pictures of each parish, but only limited older historical information.  Your information will be returned to you.









 Sports Hall Of Fame Dinner - Saturday, March 22, 2014

Cost: $40.00 Per Person - Cash Bar


2014 Inductees

Joe Gardler '53 - Baseball

Pat Cassidy '67- Basketball

Mike Ward '86 - Football

Michael Bazemore '01 - Football 


1999 National Relay Champs

Sara Hatchett '01

Alisa Robinson '02

Tiffany Bradley '02

Renee Fortune '00


Annual Alumni Association Communion Breakfast - Sunday, May 4, 2014


Burrs at the Beach - Sunday, July 6, 2014

For more information or tickets, contact George Light at 215-386-2244 ext. 260 (work) or 610-996-2015 (cell)






The 1954 Graduation Class of St. Francis de Sales will celebrate the 60th Anniversary of their graduation at Tip O'Leary's in Havertown, PA on Saturday, April 26th from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.  The cost is $20.00 per person, cash bar.  


Contact information: George Light at 215-386-2244 ext. 260 (work) or 610-996-2015 (cell)




The Boys Class of 1958 will celebrate the 56th Anniversary of their graduation from West Catholic at a luncheon on Thursday,

May 15, 2014 at the Clarion Hotel (formerly The Ramada), Essington, PA.  Cost: $20.00 per person, cash bar. 


The overnight room rate for out-of-town travelers remains unchanged from previous years at $89.00. 


We encourage you to spread the word to your fellow classmates and friends of the class of '58.  Please submit your payment no later than April 30, 2014.  The invitation and other details are available on our Website at:

Questions:  Contact Frank Adolf at: or call 610-344-0716.





submitted by:  FRANK ADOLF


West Philadelphia became the center of new housing construction in the late 1800's.  In what had been l890 farm lands, broad thoroughfares, lined with blocks of houses sprang up, and a good proportion of those who took up residence in this new and beautiful part of Philadelphia were Catholic.  The distance to St. James, the parish that served this wide district, was in many cases a difficult journey to travel, especially in the winter.




At this point in the history of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the Archbishop was Patrick J. Ryan (1884-1911).


The below petition from "Mary Bryan and others" written to "His Grace", the Archbishop,

was not received immediately.  Some time was to elapse before these Irish ladies, living in the extreme south-western portion of  St. James Parish,

were to secure their wish, to have a temporary church available to them.  




January 1890 - Reverend P. J. Garvey, pastor of St. James, rented a hall at the corner of 49th and Woodland Avenue on the second floor over Bell's Drug Store,

to be used as a chapel, in order to provide Mass for the growing population in the south-western part of his parish. 




February 16, 1890 - The first Mass in the chapel was celebrated by the Rev. Joseph H. O'Neill, assistant pastor of St. James Parish, for about 50 people.  


May 14, 1890 - St. Francis de Sales Parish, to be located at 47th Street and Springfield Avenue in West Philadelphia,

was founded with the appointment by Archbishop Ryan of the same Reverend Joseph H. O'Neill as the first pastor.


The parish was created to serve the needs of the immigrant Irish community, like Mary Bryan and her friends, who worked as domestic servants in West Philadelphia town-houses and on estates, and wanted to attend Mass near their workplaces, as they found it difficult to walk to St. James Church.  

A lot was purchased at the northwest corner of Forty-seventh Street and Springfield Avenue, and Father O'Neill began the erection of a stone chapel that afterwards could be used in part as a school.  


May 4, 1891 - Work begun on the combination school/chapel costing $19,390 at the location of the present church. 

June 14, 1891 - The cornerstone was blessed by Archbishop Ryan and the chapel was ready for use on September 20under the title of St. Francis de Sales.

May 1893 - Ground was broken for a rectory which would cost $14,467; Father O'Neill moved in on December 20, 1893.

October 19, 1899 - A Euchre (card game in which each player is dealt five cards and the player making trump must take three tricks to win a hand) was held to raise money for the School Building Fund.

February 27, 1902 - Father O'Neill celebrated the Silver Jubilee of his Ordination.

October 3, 1903 Father O'Neill died from a heart attack. 


October 14, 1903 - Reverend Michael J. Crane (later Bishop) was appointed Second Pastor. 

Father Crane had experience with the work that confronted him, as he was Archbishop Ryan's point man in soliciting funds from every parish for the construction of the Philadelphia Protectory for Boys in Phoenixville, which is now known as St. Gabriel's Hall, and is administered by the Christian Brothers.    

Father Crane at once began the completion of the school building, by additions to the chapel.

August 24, 1904 - Eight Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary moved into a home at 47th and Windsor just opposite the school.

September 6, 1904 - First day of school in the newly completed building with 384 students enrolled.

September 17, 1904 - The building was formally opened and blessed by Archbishop Ryan.   

October 6, 1907 - The new church cornerstone was blessed by Auxiliary Bishop Prendergast.

January 23, 1908 - First "De Sales Night at the Bellevue Stratford Hotel".  This event became an annual fund raiser that evolved into a night of dancing, card playing and an All-Star Review.  

February 11, 1911 - After 27 years of leadership, Archbishop Ryan passed away at age 79.  


May 27, 1911 - Edmond F. Prendergast was appointed Archbishop (1911-1918), having served as Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia since his appointment to that position on November 27, 1895.     

November 12, 1911 - Dedication of the new church took place with Archbishop Prendergast officiating.  Three bishops, an Abbot, several Monsignors and about one hundred priests participated. 



The church style of architecture is Romanesque, with Byzantine details and was designed and supervised by the architect Henry D. Dagit and the R. Guastavino Company.  Rafael Guastavino was the designer of Grand Central Station in New York.  St. Francis is modeled after Istanbul's Hagia Sophia and incorporates elements of the Arts and Crafts movement which flourished at the time the church was built.  Guastavino tile-work is famous and the 62-foot diameter dome that caps the church is believed to be the only exposed Guastavino dome remaining in the country. 

The exterior walls of the church are clad in rock-faced white Pennsylvania marble furnished by the Pennsylvania Marble and Granite Company from quarries in the vicinity of Philadelphia.  The trim, window surrounds and figurative statues at the exterior walls are carved in Indiana limestone.


The interior was designed by Charles Theodore Biswanger (1879-1944).  It is richly decorated with marble, granite and limestone at the lower walls, patterned brick surfaces and polychromatic terra cotta arches at the upper areas, on which rest the Guastavino vaults.  The large dome above the crossing, rises 108 feet above the floor level of the church.  Guastavino vaulting is employed at the gallery, nave, transepts and sanctuary.  Tall arched stained glass windows line the east and west walls of the nave and round stained glass windows perforate the brick walls at the gallery, east and west transepts, and north wall of the sanctuary.   In the sanctuary are three magnificent altars of the purest Carrara marble, beautifully carved in tracery.  The high pulpit is of the same material.  The crucifixion over the main altar is a truly magnificent mosaic. 

September 23, 1913 - Father Crane named a Domestic Prelate/Monsignor.

February 26, 1918 - Archbishop Edmond F. Prendergast died at age 74. 

May 1, 1918 - Dennis J. Dougherty, Bishop of Buffalo, was appointed Archbishop of Philadelphia (1918-1951).

March 1, 1920 - Msgr. Crane named Vicar General.

November 13, 1920 - Solemn Consecration of the St. Francis De Sales Church by Archbishop Dougherty, signifying that the Church was debt free. 




March 7, 1921 - Archbishop Dougherty was raised to the rank of Cardinal, thus making him Philadelphia's first Archbishop to be named a Cardinal.


August 1921 - Msgr. Crane appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia.  His consecration took place on September 19.


May 8, 1925 - Church basement was refurbished and opened as the "Lower Church" to ease overcrowding at Masses.


May 16, 1926 - Cornerstone of the School Annex blessed.  


July 5, 1926 - Cornerstone of a new convent blessed.  School annex and convent were completed and occupied in October 1926.


July 1927 - New school auditorium opened and dedicated by Bishop Crane.


December 26, 1928 - Bishop Crane passed away in the rectory surrounded by relatives and priests of the parish.



Reverend Edward L. Gatens 

Third Pastor,  1929-1936 


January 5, 1929 - Reverend Edward L. Gatens was appointed Third Pastor.


1930 - The parish high school tuition bill was $500.00 a month for 216 children; proceeds from De Sales Night helped pay the tuition.


September 1930 - Grade school enrollment was 992. 


January 1932 - De Sales Night raised $2,700 toward the high school tuition bill. 


January 1933 - Because of the depression, De Sales Night was canceled.  Instead entertainment at the Byrd Theater and dancing in the auditorium for $1.00 was held; $3,278.45 was raised.


October 1936 - Father Gatens left the parish due to poor health.




November 1, 1936 - Bishop Hugh L. Lamb was appointed Fourth Pastor.


January 1937 - First bus service established from 42nd and Market to the church for Sunday Masses.  A second route from 52nd and Cedar started soon after.  The fare was $.05. 


May 1937 - Rectory lawn planted with yew, hemlock, Japanese Temple trees and a large Koster Blue Spruce in memory of Bishop Crane.


November 1937 - Auditorium renovated and floor repaired.


May 15, 1938 - Statue of the Infant Jesus of Prague blessed by Bishop Lamb.


April 1938 - Planning begun for upcoming 50th Anniversary Jubilee in 1940.


1940 - Fifty year history of parish written.  Church exterior cleaned; new cross installed on dome.


November 27 through November 29, 1940 - Golden Jubilee Celebration - Mass was offered for the school children by the assistant pastor Father Coleman, a Solemn Pontifical Mass of Celebration was offered by Cardinal Dougherty, and a Solemn Pontifical Mass of Requiem for deceased priests, sisters and laity of the parish was offered by Bishop Lamb


February 1942 - All the sisters took First-Aid classes and the pupils practiced air raid drills.  Scrap metal and paper were collected for the war effort.


1944 - Mother Mary Esther Carty became the School Principal and served until 1950. 


May 8, 1945 - VE Day; church bells of victory rung.  Bells tolled 39 times for the de Sales boys who died in WWII up to that date.


August 14, 1945 - VJ Day; church bells rung and the Blessed Sacrament was exposed all day long. 


December 25, 1945 - 1,959 men and women from de Sales were in the armed services.  The total number of de Sales boys who died in WWII was 43.


September 1947 - Extensive renovations and repairs to the dome, stained glass windows, and church heating system were completed. 


September 1948 - Classes for high school freshmen were held in the school and continued for two years.




1950 - Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary at St. Francis de Sales 

Top left to right: Sr. M. Laetitiae, Sr. M. Philip Neri, Sr. Mary Innocent, Sr. M. Edmunda, Sr. M. Georgina, Sr. Mary Trinity 

Middle grouping left: Sr. Patrice Marie, Sr. M. Norberta, Sr. M. Regina Anne, Sr. M. Alacoque, Sr. Margaret Miriam, Sr. M. Gertruda

Middle grouping right: Sr. Angelita Marie, Sr. Mary Leo, Sr. Miriam Jane, Sr. Marita Delores, Sr. Loretta Mary, Sr. Benedict Mary

Bottom left to right: Sr. Miriam Kathleen, Sr. Marie Charlotte, Mother Mary Esther, Sr. Mary of the Angels, Sr. Mary Loreta   

July 1950 - Mother M. Paulita Campbell became the School Principal and served until 1956.


May 31, 1951 - Cardinal Dougherty died at his residence from a stroke at the age of 85.  He was a priest for 61 years.


June 1951 - Bishop Lamb appointed to head the new Diocese of Greensburg, PA.




November 28, 1951 - John F. O'Hara, Bishop of Buffalo, was appointed Archbishop of Philadelphia (1951-1960).





March 1952 - Msgr. Joseph M. McShea consecrated as Auxiliary Bishop and appointed Fifth Pastor.  


1953-54 - The high point of the parish Catholic population was reached - 13,699 individuals 5,812 families and 1,361 school students. 


October 11, 1953 - Holy Name parade held on the Parkway; Bishop McShea celebrate the first outdoor evening Mass in the U.S. at the Art Museum at 9:00 PM.  


October 25, 1953 - West Catholic Girls celebrated the Silver Anniversary with a Mass at the Palestra said by Bishop McShea and a Communion Breakfast followed at Convention Hall.


February 1954 - The Lower Church was completely renovated; new exits, efficient lighting, terrazzo floor, walls covered with marble, new pews, new sanctuary with a marble altar and mosaics. 





De Sales Night Program - February 18, 1955




Many members of the West Catholic Class of 1958 attended the "Dance at De Sales" evenings. 


December 1955 - St. Lucy's School for the Visually Impaired at 929 South Farragut Terrace dedicated by Archbishop O'Hara; staffed by the Sisters,

Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.


1956 - Because of leaks the Church Dome was retiled.


December 1956 - Bishop McShea celebrates his Silver Jubilee as a priest.



cid:10C7E9D38F2B4081B68F3ED4F5DB93D7@Frank        cid:FBC2111E8586489FA1E5A427DF3904C9@Frank

Pictures of the tiled domes, front of De Sales and the class of '58's procession, are from Frank Adolf's album of the Baccalaureate Mass on June 6, 1958.

December 15, 1958 - Archbishop O'Hara raised to the rank of Cardinal.  

After Cardinal O'Hara returned from Rome, his health started to fail.  He underwent several operations over the ensuing months. 

August 28, 1960 - Cardinal O'Hara died at age 72 following open heart surgery


February 11, 1961 - John J. Krol, Auxiliary Bishop of Cleveland, was appointed Archbishop of Philadelphia (1961-1988).

May 1961 - Bishop McShea named founding Bishop of the new Allentown Diocese.



May 1961 - Msgr. John J. Sefton was appointed Sixth Pastor.


1963 - Grammar school basketball team, with 16-0 record, won the Southwest District Championship and the CYO Archdiocesan Tournament; George Light (De Sales Class of '54 and West Class of '58) was the coach.


1964 - Costs for renovation of the church for the 75th Anniversary estimated at $112,000.  Parishioners asked to pledge $1.00 per week for a year to cover expenses.


May 30 to June 1, 1965 - Solemn Pontifical Masses of Thanksgiving was offered by Archbishop John J. Krol, Solemn Pontifical Mass for deceased parishioners was offered by Bishop Francis E. Hyland, and a Solemn Pontifical Mass for the school children was offered by Bishop Francis J. McSorley.


1966 - U. S. Bishops ruled that U.S. Catholics no longer needed to abstain from meat on Friday except during Lent.


February 17-19, 1966 - Monte Carlo Nights in the auditorium replaced De Sales Night at the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel.


June 26, 1967 - Archbishop Krol elevated to the rank of Cardinal.


Summer 1967 - Men of the parish painted all the school classrooms and the women clean up afterward (some things never change).




Msgr.  John T. Mitchell 

Seventh Pastor,  1967-1973 


 September 28 1967 - Msgr. Sefton appointed Pastor of St. Charles Church in Oakview and

Msgr. John T. Mitchell replaced him as Seventh Pastor.




1968 - Experimental lighting and Altar facing the congregation



Rev. Francis J. Fitzmaurice (later Msgr.)

Administrator 1973 - 1976 - Eighth Pastor  1976 - 1977 


September 4, 1973 - Due to failing health Msgr. Mitchell retired as Pastor Emeritus and Reverend Francis J. Fitzmaurice was named Administrator.


Excerpt of a tribute to Msgr. Mitchell for the 100th Anniversary written by Rev. John P. McNamee -  "John Mitchell served as a Navy chaplain during WWII.  His experience with segregation in the Navy prompted him to choose work in the Black community upon his return to Philadelphia.  He was the Pastor of St. Ignatius for many years and worked tirelessly to bring the Catholic Church to the Black Community.  His perseverance in working to overcome segregation in de Sales was a bridge which made it easier for the parish to welcome the soon to come influx of immigrants from Vietnam, Cambodia, Korea, Laos, Haiti, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Eritrea. "


July 2, 1976 - Father Fitzmaurice was appointed Eighth Pastor.


July 11, 1977 - Father Fitzmaurice transferred to St. Laurence Parish as Pastor.


For the 100th Anniversary celebration in 1989, Father Fitzmaurice reflected on his time at St. Francis which began as a priest in residence in May of 1961, and ended with his transfer to St. Laurence in 1977.  At one point he felt that he would pass Bishop Crane's longevity record.  Father Fitzmaurice said that the highlight of his stay was the visit of an uninvited guest who invaded his bedroom one Sunday night in November of 1972 and cured him of low blood pressure by pointing a gun between his eyes. 




Rev. Thomas J. Hilferty (later Msgr.) 

Ninth Pastor - 1977-1989


August 1977 - Reverend Thomas J. Hilferty was appointed Ninth Pastor.


Father Hilferty served in the Navy for 20 years before being named Pastor of St. Francis in 1977.  In his tribute to the Parish on the occasion of the Centennial Anniversary, Msgr. spoke of the "unbelievably wonderful twelve years at St. Francis".  He reflected on how de Sales flourished because of the varied cultural, ethnic, language and racial origins: African-American, Whites, Asians, Africans, Middle and Near Easterners European, Central and South American, and Australian, all living and worshipping together.  He went on to speak about the acceptance of refugees with the arrival of the Vietnamese in 1975 and Father Anthony Vu Nhu Huynh who ministered to their needs.      


January 1978 - Father Hilferty appointed Director of the Black Diaconate for the Archdiocese.


April 1978 - De Sales 7th and 8th grade boys basketball team won the Philadelphia championship and went on to win the Eastern Championship and finally the State Championship.


April 1979 - Tuition for parish school initiated - parish children $275.00 and $425.00 for others.


June 2nd and 3rd, 1979  - The first "Porch Sale" was held raising about $1,600.  Porch Sales have been held annually since then and the total raised from 1979 to 1989 and a total of over $17,000 has been donated to the parish for use in the school.   


February 6, 1980 - The Philadelphia Orchestra directed by Eugene Ormandy and the organ played by Michael Murray recorded the "Organ Symphony #3" by Camille Saint-Saëns' in the church.  The recording won a Grammy Award in 1981.


October 25, 1980 - Twenty-fifth anniversary celebration of St. Lucy School for Visually Impaired Children.


December 1982 - The De Sales Chorale, directed by Dr. Michael Geheb, performed Christmas music in the Grand Court of the Wanamaker Store.


June 1, 1986 - Upper church ordered closed by the Archdiocese for repairs.


January 4, 1987 - Preservation Campaign donation reached $223,729.


April 3, 1988 - Tuition for one child $625.00, two children $875.00, three or more $1,000, non-Catholic child $775.00, two children $1,375, Three or more $1,900; all day kindergarten cost the same as school tuition.


February 11, 1988 - On the 27th anniversary of his appointment as Archbishop of Philadelphia, Cardinal Krol's resignation, which was submitted in October 1985, was officially accepted. 




February 11, 1988 - Anthony J. Bevilacqua, Bishop of Pittsburgh, installed as Archbishop of Philadelphia (1988-2003).


January 24, 1989 - First planning session for the Centennial Celebration.


February 1989 - Announcement of the planned closing of West Catholic High School for Boys and consolidation with

West Catholic High School for Girls. 


June 9, 1989 - Last graduation class from West Philadelphia Catholic High School for Boys.


May 1989Father Hilferty named Vicar of Philadelphia-South and was transferred to St. Carthage Rectory on June 9. 




Rev. John J. Kilgallon 

Tenth Pastor - 1989


June 18, 1989  - Reverend John J. Kilgallon installed by Father Hilferty as Tenth Pastor.


Father Kilgallon wrote the following for the Centennial publication:  " I am really impressed to be the Pastor of our great parish in the last six months of the first hundred years.  I hope that as I follow in the footsteps of the great men who were Pastors at St. Francis de Sales, I can continue the success of the parish.  As we begin our second hundred years, let us go forward together to continue Christ's work her in West Philadelphia". 


 THE CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION RAN FROM JANUARY TO DECEMBER 1990 with special programs, lectures, De Sales Night, sporting events, a parish picnic, beef and beer, De Sales at the Phillies, Masquerade Ball, and Forty Hours Devotion.




December 2, 1990 - Liturgy closing of the Centennial Year was celebrated by Archbishop Bevilacqua at the 10:00 AM Mass, followed by a reception in the auditorium. 


June 28, 1991 - Archbishop Bevilacqua elevated to Cardinal.


March 3, 1996 - Cardinal Krol died at the age of 85 after many years of poor health.


Over the years, the congregation of De Sales has change from the working class Irish Immigrant families - who eventually left for the suburbs.  By 1990 only 650 Catholic families remained.  However, with the influx of immigrants mostly from Africa and Asia, by May 1998 the student body represented 36 countries from around the world.


Here is an excerpt from a 1998 Parish History Contest Entry that Sister Jeannette's 8th grade students compiled:


1998 - Vietnamese Students at St. Francis de Sales 

The parish also serves a large African immigrant community, as well as the faculty, staff and students of the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, and the University of the Sciences.   

In 1999, St. Francis de Sales and Most Blessed Sacrament were “twinned” and shared a pastor, the Reverend Roland Slobogin, who was the last pastor of MBS as a stand alone parish. 

December 17, 2000 - Fire severely damaged the school.  Sisters Constance and Jeannette became known as the "Charcoal Sisters" because they were completely covered in soot during their 11 days of directing the cleanup and renovation to the school.  Their biggest project was the second floor, where the fire started.  The area, which housed the administrative offices and second and third-grade classrooms, was gutted completely by the fire.  The basement, first and third floors were damaged by smoke.

July 15, 2003 - Cardinal Bevilacqua's resignation, submitted in 1998, was accepted.


July 15, 2003 - Justin F. Rigali, Archbishop of St. Louis, was appointed Archbishop of Philadelphia (2003-2011).   

October 7, 2003 - Archbishop Rigali named a Cardinal.

 In 2004, Father Slobogin was named pastor of St. Charles Borromeo in Drexel Hill, PA, and was replaced by the Reverend Zachary Navit as pastor.      

November 2007 - PARISH NAME CHANGED:  After the closing of Most Blessed Sacrament Parish and the merger with St. Francis De Sales, the name of the parish was changed to St. Francis de Sales: United by the Most Blessed Sacrament.  

St. Francis is famous for its choir, elementary school and the church organ, which is one of the largest pipe organs in the Delaware Valley, a four-manual, 6,000-plus pipe organ, one of the best examples of a French organ in the United States.  Today the choir is comprised of 40 volunteers, with a repertoire ranging from Gregorian chant to Bach, to 20th Century works.




July 19, 2011 - It was announced that the resignation of Cardinal Rigali, tendered in 2010, was accepted.  The Archbishop of Denver, Charles J. Chaput, O. F. M. Cap., was appointed Archbishop of Philadelphia.


January 31, 2012 - Cardinal Bevilacqua died at the age of 88.


De Sales grad Bill 'Boo' Benson '43 holds the school record:  As an eighth grader he scored 98 points in 24 minutes against St. Carthage.  Also, as a senior at West Catholic he was the Catholic League 4th top scorer.

August 12, 2011 - De Sales grad Herb Magee '55 was inducted into the Basketball hall of Fame as the winningest NCAA coach in history. 

Rashana Barnes (Miller) '94 - leading scorer at West Catholic when she graduated: 1,581 total points.  She broke the Penn State freshman record for blocked shots.


A major efforts to restore the church was begun several years ago when emergency fixes to protect the sanctuary and pulpit from water damage caused by the leaking roof were implemented.  Scaffolding was used to protect the altar from potential falling stone.  Netting lined the sides of the sanctuary.


Phase I renovations, costing $2.5M included repair and renovation of the roofing and rainwater conduction systems.  The dome was repainted using Guastavino’s original watercolors.  Professional climbers were used to sound out each roof tile and map the condition.  Workers were suspended from the dome with mountain climbing gear.

An $80,000 grant from Partners for Sacred Places assisted with the funding.  According to President Robert Jaeger, Partners backed Saint Francis de Sales because “it’s an architectural landmark, it’s a place where people are served, and it contributes to the life of the neighborhood.” He hopes that this milestone “will give the parish new energy and new confidence to take care of the building and to use it for their work.”

The second part of the project, involved repairing the brick above the altar, filling all the leaks, which occur as stone dries over time, and repointing stones on the outside of the Church.  The Archdiocese is helping fund the project, which recently received an award from the University City Historical Society. The entire costs is estimated at $16M. 

As reported by WHYY-Newsworks reporter Emma Jacobs, after eight years, the scaffolding that has covered the altar of St. Francis de Sales church in West Philadelphia has finally come down just in time for Christmas 2013.

From the choir loft of the Byzantine revival church, Annabelle Radcliffe-Trenner surveyed the entire length of the church to the newly revealed marble steps and altar.  "It's just amazing. It really is," she breathes. "I haven't been up here since this was done."


Newly Renovated Interior of St. Francis de Sales

When Radcliffe-Trenner -- an architect who specializes in preservation -- began, she was able to pull bricks out of the walls above the altar.

The scaffolding has been up longer than the Rev. John Hand has been pastor.  Father Hand is the former School Minister at West Catholic.

Radcliffe-Trenner ribs him that he's been in the church every morning after Mass making sure they're moving it along.

"Not checking on them," said Hand. "Just hoping they're doing their job."

There are some signs the 15-year renovation of the church is still under way.  Netting remains in the two back corners -- looking behind it, you can see pieces of marble and rock that have come down from the walls.  Scaffolding stretches up outside the building.

The sanctuary was set for an official unveiling at services on Saturday.  Father Hand had high hopes for a warm reception from the congregation.  He says the church has hosted perhaps one wedding in the last five years.

"Hopefully this will open up and give us a sacrament that has not been celebrated here in the parish in a few years," he said.

St. Francis de Sales: United by the Most Blessed Sacrament along with St. Agatha/St. James, St. Cyprian (formerly St. Carthage), St. Barnabas and Divine Mercy (formerly Good Shepherd), serves the areas of West and Southwest Philadelphia. 

The 125th anniversary of St. Francis de Sales will be celebrated in 2015.  A committee is being formed to help plan the parish celebration and activities. 


 Saturday Evening Vigil Mass :  5:00 PM, 7:00 PM (Korean)

Sunday Masses: 7:00 AM, 8:30 AM (Vietnamese), 10:15 AM, Noon (Spanish)

Weekday Mass: 7:00 AM (Monday through Friday)

Saturday: 9:00 AM

 Holyday of Obligation: As Announced

Confessions: 4:00 - 4:45 PM  Saturday


Open 24 hours/day - Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament: Adoration Chapel - - swipe card required

Saturday following the 9 AM Mass - Miraculous Medal Novena

Sunday 9:45 AM - Rosary for Peace

Sunday following the 10:15 AM Mass - Divine Mercy Chaplet 

It is our hope that all De Sales grads and our other readers enjoyed this remembrance of St. Francis de Sales.



Rich Buzza:  I just finished reading the (winter 2013) newsletter.  It truly was an emotional experience reading the history of MBS.  As many have said, you have expanded this newsletter in quality and readability with each issue and not to overuse the statement, you truly out do yourself with each issue.  Thanks for what you do for the Class of 58.  Your Friend and Classmate, Rich

Frank Metzler:  What a super, super edition (winter 2013).  Really looks great with all the information and pictures.  Thanks for all the time and effort in putting it together.  


Charles Porrini '49:  Frank, Thanks for the Golden Burrs Newsletter.  I printed it out to read at my leisure and also Eleanor can read it.  I'm sure you and Penny are busy with Brady and Serafina these days. We hope you all have a Merry Christmas.  Charles


Andy Jaskolka:  In the spirit of the season, and with a heart full of warm sentiments, I offer you my sincere and abiding wishes for a great Christmas, and a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year!  All the best, Andy

Reverend Michael D. Murphy, Pastor St. Dorothy:  Frank, Thanks for the great article on MBS.  I certainly enjoyed it!


Jack Devine:  Frank, Thank you for another great Newsletter.  Best regards,  Jack  


Bill MarellaGreat job especially the write-up on MBS.

Jim Clark:  Hello Frank & Jim,  "FANTASTIC JOB" on all subject's, about Brother Kevin Stanton & West Catholic Prep & Most Blessed Sacrament Church / School / Parish.  Thank You Very Much.  Clarkie


Joe Gavaghan:  Thank you Frank,  I didn't see any reference to Fr. Garvey at MBS.  He left Visitation in 1954 to go to MBS. The reason I'm sure of the year is high school altar boys did weddings at Visitation and got $5 for them.  The new priest in charge of altar boys changed that to grammar school students and not the freshman at West, La Salle, St. Joe's etc.  We were not very happy about this.  Again, thank you Mr. ME and your "crackerjack staff" for an outstanding pub.  Merry Christmas & Happy 2014 to all.  Bubba Joe


    Response:  Hi Joe:  Thanks for your comments.  Except for the MBS Newspaper and the 1957 Calendar pictures, which showed the assistant pastors and Msgr. Daly, I didn't have a complete listing of all assistants over the 100+ years of MBS's existence.  I only had details on the Pastors during that time period.  Merry Christmas, Frank


Frank Gindhart - Class of '58, Father Judge:  Dear Frank:  Please add me to the mailing list as a friend of the Class of 1958.  John Broderick, my friend and neighbor here in Sun City - Hilton Head, passed the Winter edition to me. 


I was the Class of 1958 at Father Judge, but spent some time at the Christian Brothers Novitiate in Ammendale, Maryland, where I met many of your classmates, including John Broderick, and both Tom Henry and Bob Sentman who are mentioned in the current issue.  Frank 


Rich McCann '68 (Alumni Webmaster):  Frank, You outdid yourself.  The article on MBS blew me out of the water.  Thanks so much for sharing.  BTW - I have posted it on the Alumni Website. 


Sincerely,  Richard P. McCann ‘68

Risceárd Pilib Seán MacDóighiúil

Erinon Misneach Faoi Ulach

Crescit Sub Pondere Virtus

Bob Dougherty:  Thank you Frank for another great job.  Those pictures of MBS are really spectacular.  Where did you get them? Are they in a brochure or book that I might get?  I'd love to have them to show folks in the Bible Belt what our churches in Philly looked like and just as a great keepsake.  I served as an altar boy during my time at MBS and remember those priests featured.  Hope to hear from you, Bob


Ed Tobin:  Thanks Frank. very interesting especially the MBS portion.  MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU AND YOUR FAMILY. 


Al Chadwick '57:  Frank this is and was a great Newsletter, (I hope I used the correct tense!).  FYI, Father Kavanagh's sister became Head Nurse in 1960's sometime.  Best Regards, Merry Christmas to all your reporters.  Al Chadwick


John Kraft '57:  Hello Frank, Thank you sooo much for your efforts over the years in putting together your newsletter. There are not very many men if any who take the time to accomplish what you have.  On September 19th I celebrated my 50th anniversary as an Allstate Agent.  Am now working on the 100th.  Have a very Merry Christmas and healthy New Year.  Regards, John (57) 


Joe Semeister:  Rich, A very Happy and Healthy Christmas and New Year to you and your Family.  Also, Kudos to the two Franks and the entire staff that puts the Burrs Newsletter together.  Each edition is better than the previous.  Keep up the Great Work.


Mike Mullen '59:  Frank, I'm from class of '59, but really enjoy your newsletter.  If possible I would appreciate being added to your distribution List.  Mike Mullen - Westlake Village, Calif.


Chris Higgins:  Dear Frank,  My name is Chris Higgins I recently came across your recent issue of the "Golden Burrs Newsletter". I am writing a family history and the article about Most Blessed Sacrament Parish was fascinating to me.

It was particularly interested because Father James Higgins, the third pastor was my Great Grandfather's brother. Your article provided a wonderful history of what he was able to accomplish in his 32 years as pastor of MBS.  I was hoping you could help me a little more.  What has been eluding me and other family members about Father Higgins is where he is buried.  Some member of the family believe he is buried at MBS.  I visited the parish grounds (as much as I could) over the Christmas holidays and could not find any obvious outdoor location.  Do you by chance know if he was buried at MBS?

Several family members have said they recall he was buried at the church where worked.  I believe he was likely buried at Cathedral Cemetery located next to Our Lady of Sorrows Parish.  He served as a parish priest there before MBS.  Additionally, his parents and siblings are buried in Cathedral Cemetery, I stopped there but the cemetery office is now closed.  Father Higgins was born and raised in South Philadelphia his father died at age 34 when Father Higgins was eight years old.  He went to the seminary and also studied at Catholic University and in Rome.  He was given several awards by Pope Pius.  Apparently he was also given awards from the then King of France.

I enjoyed reading your history of MBS for many reasons and found it interesting how an ancestor was one of the leaders in building the once largest catholic parochial school in the world and Decades later his ancestors would grow up in St. Helena's parish in Olney and go to the largest Catholic High School in the world Cardinal Dougherty just across town.


Thank you for your time and any help you can provide!  Keep up the Great work at West!  Chris


    Response:  Hi Chris:  I am glad to hear you enjoyed the article about MBS.  Sorry to say, I don't have any information about where your relative, Father Higgins, is buried.  If he was buried at MBS, the standard procedure when a parish is closed would include removal of his remains for reburial in a Catholic Cemetery.  


I am placing your e-mail in our next newsletter with the hope that someone may have the answer to your question.  If I receive any further information I will pass it on to you.  Best Wishes, Frank Adolf




Cathy Cahill McGrenra:  Great pix of MBS and "pieces" of MBS.  I forgot how really beautiful it was!  Thanks for sharing.  


Lisa Donovan:  Made my night, was and always will be the most beautiful church I had the privilege of attending.    


Lou Lyerly:  Thank you for sharing this, MBS was the greatest parish ever.              


Linda Dressler Schneider:  I just now took the opportunity to read the newsletter.  It stirred up emotions in me that I did not know existed until now regarding MBS.  Thank you so much for sharing!  


Charles Patrick Reilly:  The Article on MBS was great.  It is a must read for all.  Great history about our church.  My great grandmother joined MBS in 1907.  How about Monsignor Daly taking over in 1940, never knew that.  He was a driving force behind our parish.  Great piece.  The original church is where the Annex was built when I was in 6th grade.  We went to school that year from 8 am to 1 pm.


Jeane Hughes Milligan:  Thank you so much for posting this on here…..I really enjoyed every word on MBS and it was such an informative article….you really did a wonderful job…thanks a bunch.




Tim Swift, Assistant Professor St. Joseph University


Bob Giampietro, Temple University


Marcella Stewart, Wake Technical Community College


Barbara Perry Pellecchia, Philadelphia Pennsylvania


Joe Yanak, West Catholic High School


Dot Castagno


Dorothy Griffin Kappes, Archbishop Prendergast High School


Diane Furey


John J. Carey, University of Southern California


Art Boyle '57:  Frank,  I want to add my thanks and congratulations to you and the other '58 guys who do such a great job on your newsletter.  Being an old MBS guy, I was rereading the last edition when I saw something I missed earlier.  The newsletter says that in 2007, the main altar from MBS was installed in St. Francis.  Isn't the main altar in St. Bede's in Bucks County?  Art Boyle 

    Response:  Hi Art:  The main altar from MBS, was moved to St. Francis de Sales in 2007.  The main altar at St. Bede is new.  Below is the picture of the new altar at St. Bede with the caption indicating that the relief sculpture of the Last Supper has been placed into a new altar. 



Also, in our Spring 2010 edition, we showed a side view of the relief sculpture before its installation into the new altar at St. Bede (see below).  



Msgr. Marine greeting former MBS parishioners in 2010


I will include your email and my response in the next newsletter to clear up any confusion.  Thanks again,   Frank Adolf


Barbara Gardner Gonzales:  I am writing to be added to your distribution list.  Recently, my uncle forwarded the above mentioned newsletter and article on Ernie Beck.  I enjoyed both immensely.  As an alumnae of St. Francis de Sales and MBS with most of my family being alumni of WC, I wax nostalgic for the "good ole days."  If you think it would be useful, I have the 1965 de Sales 75th Diamond Jubilee book.  I would be happy to send to you for your upcoming article featuring de Sales, provided you will guarantee its return.  You may also find the Philadelphia Church Project ( a helpful resource.   Thank you for your time.

In a follow-up e-mail Barbara wrote:  My uncle is James T. Burghart, West class of '49.  He lives in California and was a childhood friend of Ernie Beck.  They use to clip the hedges at the MBS convent for the nuns for 10¢ each and a glass of lemonade.  Other family West grads:  My dad, John M. Gardner, class of '40, My uncle, Frank Leo Burghart, class of '40 (both are deceased).  My brother, Jack M. Gardner, class of '68.  There are many more, but I don't know the years they graduated.

Br. Robert Sentman, OCD: Dear Frank, Sorry it has taken me so long to send this THANK YOU for the last NEWSLETTER you sent.  I am most appreciative of the article concerning MBS.  So sad to see what was a large vibrant parish dwindle to nothing.  I appreciate all the hard work you all do in getting the newsletter together each time.  THANK YOU!

Rich McCann (Alumni Webmaster):  Frank,  Salutem in Dominus!  I informed Dave Joslin President of WC Alumni, that I am resigning from the board and turning over the website.  Because of current circumstances in which I need to concentrate on my studies at St. Charles Seminary, involvement with the Knights of Columbus and  several Church functions but most important I must concentrate on my ministry as a Diaconal candidate. 

The work involved with the web site became an onerous task and required many hours of work.  I have been doing it since 2008 and it time to let someone else take over the reins of command.  I will continue on until to a replacement can be found for the web site, but my official date to resign from the board will be at next month's meeting.

Sincerely,  Richard P. McCann ‘68

Risceárd Pilib Seán MacDóighiúil

Erinon Misneach Faoi Ulach

Crescit Sub Pondere Virtus


    Response: Hi Rich:  I for one will be sorry to see you leave this important service to the Alumni Association.  Hopefully, someone with your dedication and expertise will assume the work that you have been doing for the past several years.

Thank you for your assistance in posting the Class of 1958's Newsletters on the Website.  I will be sending you the spring edition shortly. 


Best wishes as your continue your studies for the diaconate.  Frank Adolf





submitted by: RICH BUZZA and FRANK ADOLF 










Personalized Dinner Music




Bike of the 50's - Wildwood, NJ






WE REMEMBER and ask for your prayers for those who are ill, especially Dave Crines who is recovering from a stroke. 


Please pray for all of our classmates who have gone to their eternal reward, especially the following three classmates:




Vincent M. Della Vecchia - May 4, 2012




Joseph M. Noel - August 1, 2012




William Carolan Hone - October 4, 2013


May Vince, Joe and Bill rest in peace.


The complete listing of our honored deceased and their high school graduation pictures can be found on the Golden Burrs Website at:   Thanks to John Staiber, many of the pictures are accompanied by complete obituaries.




God Bless WEST CATHOLIC!   Live Jesus in our Hearts.  Forever.