Message from the Archbishop of Philadelphia

Charles J. Chaput O.F.M. Cap.

The  Sodalitium Christianae Vitae (SCV) community has brought a wonderful new energy to the life of St. Agatha-St. James Parish. I'm very grateful for Father Carlos Keen, Adam Ureneck and their SCV brothers for the excellent work they do, not only in the parish, but also in the Penn/Drexel Newman apostolates. Students at Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania are among -the finest young leaders in the United States. The Newman Center at St. Agatha-St. James, the oldest in our nation and richest in its traditions, is vitally important to the Church in reaching these young student leaders and supporting them in their Catholic Faith.

Message from Fr. Carlos Keen
Pastor of the Parish
This year has been exceptionally special for me because it was my first year as Pastor. The challenge was great: new parish (with so many different aspects: youth, poor, adults), new language, new city, new country! I was nervous, anxious, and worried about what I would do. But, I put myself into the hands of the Good Shepherd asking Him to guide me.  I was so happy to arrive to a loving and welcoming community, which was willing to encourage me, challenge me and forgive me. Thank you for that!  This year I have seen so many fruits that give glory to God, which fill my heart with joy!

Parish Life

Event Highlight:

The Marian Procession

On Sunday, November 1st, around 100 people from the Parish, Penn, and Drexel Community gathered for the Marian Procession through University City. Participants prayerfully walked alongside the statue of the Blessed Mother while praying for special intentions and singing hymns. The event was a beautiful reminder of our Lady’s role in evangelization as well as a concrete witness of community, love, and sacrifice that concluded in the church and was followed by dinner and conversations. 

Parishioner Testimonies

"When I first started attending Saint Agatha & Saint James in 2013, I was a Lutheran who had been interested in conversion for years, but had yet to find a fully supportive and engaging community.  This is it. Though not a Philadelphia local, I was led to this parish by my then-boyfriend, Mike, who had attended during his college years. Interestingly, I ended up attending the Pre-Cana course before the RCIA course, because Mike proposed!"  I couldn't be happier with the way Saints AJ has been foundational in my Catholic conversion.  The new brothers are enthusiastic to meet people and develop meaningful relationships. The programs are led by a wide variety of energetic parishioners, all of whom care deeply and reach out intellectually in inspiring and supportive ways." -Susie Guarino


"I have a long history since my initial sacraments and school attendance with St. Agatha and its merge with St. James. This parish has been universal for me in that no matter what Catholic church I'm visiting in my travels, I feel deeply connected in the body of Christ. The recent transition in having a new pastor this past year has ever more nurtured my soul and being. As I have look around, the heart and spirit of our divine creator emerges in the brothers who serve our pastor and parishioners. This is the reassurance of God's love to be approached by our spiritual leaders with the open arms of Christ. This love makes our parish a place of grace, beauty, truth and salvation. I am ever grateful for the love that's shared here at St. Agatha-St. James Catholic Church... who encourages my heart to be not afraid."-Rebecca Rose


"My wife and I have lived within the parish for over 30 years, but only joined the parish two and a half years ago through our long friendship with the previous pastor.  We retired and, as a volunteer, I assumed the coordination of adult ministries, including RCIA, Pre-Cana, Bible Study, Ignatian Exercises, among others.  I am grateful that Father Carlos and the brothers of his community continued to support these ministries and introduced new ones, such as a Hospitality Group and a Young Adults group, Pre Jordan seminars and workshops on Christian values, a Marian Retreat and a Service Weekend.  Father Carlos and the brothers have worked closely with us to improve quality of these programs and we look forward to introducing new ministries and better evangelize and serve our parish community."-Doug Brintnall


"I came to the University of Pennsylvania on May 20,1968 and I have been privileged to be there ever since. So I was at Penn on December 6,1970 when the new Penn Newman Center was dedicated by Cardinal Krol. During my decades at Penn I have observed the activities and attended Mass at the Penn Newman Center and I am delighted that the Penn Newman Center is now thriving more than ever AMDG. Thanks be to God for the Christian Life Movement and may Fr. Carlos and the brothers be at Penn for decades. I long ago concluded that one of the gifts any educational institution can give their students is the gift of a religious faith and fortunately the Penn Newman Center is making this gift available not only to Penn and Drexel but also to the Restaurant School and the University of the Sciences." -Duncan W. Van Dusen, Associate Secretary Emeritus of the University of Pennsylvania


"Father Carlos, the brothers, and the whole Newman leadership cadre has enriched undergraduate intellectual and civic life not only for Catholic students at Penn, but also for students of all faiths and of no faith both at Penn and at Drexel.  Special kudos to them for partnering with the Penn-affiliated Collegium Institute for Catholic Thought & Culture, and for supporting and sustaining world-renowned paleontologist and Penn Professor,  Dr. Peter Dodson, and others with the Circle of St. Bede.  They have worked closely and well with the Office of the Penn Chaplain to promote inter-faith dialogue and to forge a lively, faithful intellectual life on Penn's campus; they were even there to co-sponsor numerous lectures and theatrical events with the more than 80 Chinese national students that visited Penn in the summers of 2014 and 2015!  They are a blessing to and a bridge between the Penn and Drexel communities."-John J. Dilulio Jr., Frederic Fox Leadership Professor, Professor of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania


Support from 180 Degrees Consulting
180 Degrees aims to offer high-quality consulting services to non-profits, social enterprises, and socially minded businesses. In order to offer custom solutions to such organizations without the usual price tag, 180 Degrees connects untapped capabilities of university students with the unmet needs of socially conscious organizations. This semester, Penn’s 180 Degrees team had the pleasure of working with the Newman Center/Parish to help the organization evaluate their asset allocation as well as help improve organizational structure to maximize efficiency and cross team synergies. Our team hopes the work we have accomplished will align with the Newman Center/Parish’s mission statement and help improve the effectiveness of the organizations impact.