Friends Of St. Kieran’s

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CASS TOWNSHIP -- When the Diocese of Allentown decided to close churches in Schuylkill County, 32 were shuttered. One of those is near Minersville, and former members are trying to save the house of worship.

St.  Kieran's Roman Catholic Church near Minersville stands empty and silent. It was closed by the Diocese of Allentown in 2008. Officials blamed a lack of priests.

"Yes, the church is closed but we believe the church should be preserved because of its historical significance," said Brian Canfield.

Now, a group called Friends of St. Kieran's has an agreement with the diocese to buy the church, a convent, a rectory, and a former school on the property.  The stumbling block: the group needs $1 million to bring the buildings up to code.

Once that happens, the group plans to allow visitors to tour the structures and see the stained glass windows and other elements of the church's rich Irish history.

"The ties to St. John Neumann (who) was America's first canonized saint. He authorized the construction of the church and he also visited the site three times."

The church, in a part of Schuylkill County known as Irish Valley, holds history and even legends.

"One of the pastors here who's buried here, he went to Pottsville to hear, he heard the last confessions of the Molly Maguires that we hung there," recounted Catherine Clifford.

The group, the Friends of St. Kieran's is looking for two things: volunteers and donations. If you want to help, click here.