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Our Lady of Mt. Carmel cuts ties with State Street Players

Doylestown church’s pastor ends 44-year partnership over “objectionable” skits


A Doylestown pastor’s decision to end his church’s longstanding relationship with a theater group over language in a play shocked the actors.

After seeing a March performance by the State Street Players at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Catholic Church, the Rev. Matthew Guckin said he “objected” to several lines in the musical theater group’s skits.

There was “clearly a reference to a sexual act,” he said, and other inappropriate sexual innuendos he found “objectionable.”

After “praying about it and giving it much thought, I knew I couldn’t have that sponsored by Our Lady of Mt. Carmel,” explained Guckin, in a phone interview. “I can’t have that represent what our church is,” adding, “The State Street Players (shows) go out to the broader public.”

The priest said he “sought guidance from people I trust” and decided to “disaffiliate” the church’s 44-year association with State Street Players earlier this month.

“This is my decision,” Guckin stressed.

With some 100 active members, State Street Players’ annual so-called “Assault on the Performing Arts” has been a well-known part of both the church and larger community for more than four decades, attracting hundreds of playgoers.

Proceeds from the performances have helped fund scholarships for the OLMC elementary school and other parish functions, acknowledged Guckin.

“I didn’t get into the priesthood for the money. I can’t allow money to inspire me,” said the pastor.

Asked if he discussed his concerns with members of the theater group prior to ending the affiliation, Guckin said, no.

“I think the content speaks for itself. It was self-evident. There was no point in taking (the lines) out.”

Many members of State Street Players are also parishioners of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, including Chris Serpico, who, along with two others, met with Guckin after the matter was announced in an email to church members.

“There has been an affiliation for 44 years,” said Serpico, a well-known Doylestown attorney who has been with the theater group for decades. “We hate to see this. It came as a shock to many people.”

Serpico said the men who met with Guckin “tried to persuade him. We said errors may have been made. In retrospect, I wish they hadn’t been included,” said Serpico, of some of the skits’ lines, but, “in the context of a two-hour show, I think he was overstating the issue.”

“We disagree with the decision, but he has the authority. We existed at the pleasure of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.”

Guckin called the men who met with him “really good men. I appreciated them following up. I’m sure they’ll find a place, just not here at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.”

Moving forward, Serpico said, “I think State Street Players should be remembered for the lifetime friendships it created, the joy we brought to the community and how we enhanced the reputation of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel within the larger community.”

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