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Selections from The Catholic Churches of Cambria City (2008)

Selected prints from the Catholic Churches of Cambria City are available directly from David.

The entire series may be viewed on David's account at flickr.com.

This project was made possible in part by funding from the Bottleworks Ethnic Arts Center.

The Catholic Churches of Cambria City

In February 2008, Bishop Joseph Adamec of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown announced the pending closure of a catholic school and four of the five churches serving the Cambria City neighborhood of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. While the fate of the school, West End Catholic, was clear from the outset, it remains uncertain which of the five churches -- Saints Casimer & Emerich, Saint Columba, Immaculate Conception, Saint Rochus and Saint Stephen -- will be shuttered.

Packed into an area three blocks wide and seven blocks long, each catholic church was founded a distinct immigrant group who settled the region in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Today, even as the industries on which the communities were founded flounder, the churches serve the offspring of those original immigrants and others, a concrete legacy of the region's industrial and multi-cultural heritage.

Community groups are currently rallying against the closures, but the Diocese shows no signs of altering its plans. If the plans are carried out in full, the church communities will be consolidated and the priests assigned elsewhere. What will happen to the buildings is unclear.

Taken in April 2008, the Cambria City project offers a glimpse of the church and school communities, while emphasizing the structures they inhabit. These community photographs are contextualized using images from the greater Johnstown region, including those of former coal patches (company towns), current industrial sites and natural scenery.

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