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Our Mission

We are an apostolic Catholic community, entrusted to Mary, that works with the university community and families to live a full Christian Life as missionary disciples, helping them encounter Christ, grow in their faith and their reconciliation with God and themselves, and sending them to serve, from one heart to another.

Our Motto : Heart Speaks To Heart

Our Framework : Encounter → Grow (formation/reconciliation) → Serve

Our Vision

A faith community centered in our Lord Jesus under the guidance of Our Blessed Mother.
A faith community which has a sense of being a joyful family.
A welcoming faith community.
A faith community that grows in its faith (intellectual formation).
A faith community that promotes Reconciliation with oneself and others.
A faith community that is apostolic serving the poor (spiritual and material).
A faith community that is sustainable and effectively administered.

Relationship of the Newman Center to the Parish

The Newman Center supports the Catholic ministry to the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, University of the Sciences, and the Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College, and it is an important ministry of St. Agatha and St. James Parish and it is thereby an extension of it.


Founded in 1850

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My name is Fr. Carlos Keen and I am the Parochial Administrator of this beautiful Parish and community. I'm here by the grace of the Holy Spirit and the invitation of Archbishop Charles J. Chaput along with the members of my community, Sodalitium Christianae Vitae. Our Sodalit spirituality is deeply Marian - "from Jesus to Mary and from Mary back to Jesus."

St. James was the first Catholic Church on the west side of the Schuylkill River, founded 1850. St. Agatha, 3813 Spring Garden Street,  was founded shortly thereafter in 1865. In 1976 after St. Agatha suffered a second fire the two churches were incorporated into St. Agatha-St. James. 

Our doors are open to all who choose to embrace Christ with us. 
We are home to the Alpha Newman Center – the first Newman Center in the United States founded in 1913 as the Newman Center of the University of Pennsylvania. This was followed by the Drexel Newman Center at 33 S. 33rd Street. When the Drexel Newman Center closed, our Newman Catholic Center became home to all local university students.

For a more in depth understanding of our rich history, please listen to the audio guide below, which is most impactful when you are here.

Fr. Carlos Keen

Welcome to the Audioguide of St. James - St. Agatha Parish! This guided tour of the church will guide you through the history, architecture, and wisdom of this sacred place. 

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The audioguide is divided into 6 acts, each 5-8 minutes long. You can stop the audioguide and resume at any time. If you are visiting with a mobile device, click "Listen in Browser" in the player below. For those visiting virtually from a computer, click the orange play button at the top left to begin. This video offers a helpful view of the church interior. 

A media gallery for each act is available beneath the player. They are optimized for mobile viewing, but are available on desktop as well. 


Act 1 Media Gallery


Act 2 Media Gallery


Act 3 Media Gallery


Act 4 Media Gallery


Act 5 Media Gallery


Act 6 Media Gallery

This audioguide was developed by Radioheart Media. Many members of St. James - St. Agatha Parish contributed to its production. See full production credits here