Parish History

"The Church has also been called the building of God.  The Lord Himself compared Himself to the stone which the builders rejected, but which was made into the cornerstone. On this foundation the Church is built by the apostles, and from it the Church receives durability and consolidation. This edifice has many names to describe it: the house of God in which dwells His family; the household of God in the Spirit; the dwelling place of God among men; and, especially, the holy temple. This Temple, symbolized in places of worship built out of stone, is praised by the Holy Fathers and, not without reason, is compared in the liturgy to the Holy City, the New Jerusalem. As living stones we here on earth are built into it. John contemplates this holy city coming down from heaven at the renewal of the world as a bride made ready and adorned for her husband."  Lumen Gentium, 6

Founded: July 4, 1868

Origins and history: The church was known as the "Cathedral of South Philadelphia." The first 20 years of St. Charles' history were filled with both setbacks and great expansion. In 1884, a fire in the north tower damaged the bell tower and organ, which were restored along with the interior. During the two-decade period, the parish founded St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Gabriel's and St. Monica's churches. And in 1886, the Sisters of St. Joseph started teaching at St. Charles Borromeo School, which remained open until 2003.

Soon after the expansion, the church received a new pastor - the Rev. James P. Sinnott - whose Celtic cross-marked grave lies in the rectory yard. St. Charles changed drastically under Sinnott's direction, and his tenure was considered a high point in the church's history.

Since its inception, St. Charles Parish has had an innate ability to reach out to new members of the community, which now consists mainly of African Americans.   

"We primarily serve African-American Catholics now, although it wasn't founded as a black church," said Father Watson, who has been pastor since 2003.

Special causes/ministry: St. Charles has an active Religious Education Center, skating rink, senior center, family services center and thrift shop, as well as weekly brunches, youth activities, summer camp and a mentoring program.