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Home Care In Bryn Athyn, PA

Home Care Bryn Athyn, PA

They say that your golden years are the best years of your life. For most older Americans, that's how it should be - a time to relax, reflect, and live life in a familiar place. After all, senior citizens in the U.S. have worked tirelessly to build a better economy, serve their communities, and raise families.

However, as seniors grow older, completing daily tasks like showering and enjoying activities such as visiting the historic Bryn Athyn Historic District gets harder without someone by their side. Unfortunately, many older Americans aren't able to rely on their adult children for help. The reality in today's world is that family members do not have the skills or time to dedicate to caring for their parents. That's where Always Best Care Senior Services comes in.

Our in-home care services are for people who prefer to stay at home as they grow older but need ongoing care that family or friends cannot provide. More and more older adults prefer to live far away from long-term, institutionalized facilities and closer to the place where they feel most comfortable - their home. Home care in Bryn Athyn, PA is a safe, effective way to give your loved ones the care they need when they need it the most.

 In-Home Care Bryn Athyn, PA

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The Always Best Care Difference

Since 1996, Always Best Care has provided non-medical in-home care for seniors to help them maintain a healthy lifestyle as they get older. We are proud to have helped more than 25,000 seniors maintain higher levels of dignity and respect. We focus on providing seniors with the highest level of in-home care available so that they may live happily and independently.

Unlike some senior care companies, we genuinely want to be included in our clients' lives. We believe that personalized care is always the better option over a "one size fits all" approach. To make sure our senior clients receive the best care possible, we pair them with compassionate caregivers who understand their unique needs. That way, they may provide care accordingly without compromising their wellbeing.

The Always Best Care difference lies in life's little moments - where compassionate care and trustworthy experience come together to help seniors live a fruitful, healthy life. Whether you are an aging adult that can't quite keep up with life's daily tasks or the child of a senior who needs regular in-home services, Always Best Care is here to help.


“Dave and his staff go above and beyond with their care. They all take special interest with their clients. Also a very helpful resource in future planning and current ideas. Trust your parents to these people - they will not let you down.”

Bill H.


Jasmine P.


Delia F.

What is Non-Medical Senior Care in Bryn Athyn, PA?


Home is where the heart is. While that saying can sound a tad cliche, it is especially true for many seniors living in America. When given a choice, older adults most often prefer to grow older at home. An AARP study found that three out of four adults over the age of 50 want to stay in their homes and communities as they age.


When you begin to think about why, it makes sense. Home offers a sense of security, comfort, and familiarity.


The truth is, as we age, we begin to rely on others for help. When a family is too busy or lives too far away to fulfill this role, in-home senior care is often the best solution. Home care services allow seniors to enjoy personal independence while also receiving trustworthy assistance from a trained caregiver.


At Always Best Care, we offer a comprehensive range of home care services to help seniors stay healthy while they get the help they need to remain independent. As your senior loved one gets older, giving them the gift of senior care is one of the best ways to show your love, even if you live far away.

 Senior Care Bryn Athyn, PA

Types of Elderly Care in Bryn Athyn, PA

To give our senior clients the best care possible, we offer a full spectrum of in-home care services:

Personal Care

Personal Care Services

If your senior loved one has specific care needs, our personal care services are a great choice to consider. Personal care includes the standard caregiving duties associated with companion care and includes help with tasks such as dressing and grooming. Personal care can also help individuals with chronic conditions like diabetes.

Common personal care services include assistance with:

  • Eating
  • Mobility Issues
  • Incontinence
  • Bathing
  • Dressing
  • Grooming

Respite Care Bryn Athyn, PA
Home Helper

Home Helper Services

Sometimes, seniors need helpful reminders to maintain a high quality of life at home. If you or your senior has trouble with everyday tasks like cooking, our home helper services will be very beneficial.

Common home helper care services include assistance with:

  • Medication Reminders
  • Meal Preparation
  • Pet Care
  • Prescription Refills
  • Morning Wake-Up
  • Walking
  • Reading
 Caregivers Bryn Athyn, PA
Companionship Services

Companionship Services

Using this kind of care is a fantastic way to make life easier for you or your senior loved one. At Always Best Care, our talented caregivers often fill the role of a companion for seniors. That way, older adults can enjoy their favorite local activities, such as visiting Borough Park with friends while also receiving the care they need daily or weekly.

Common companionship services include:

  • Grocery Shopping
  • Transportation to Appointments
  • Nutritional Assistance
  • Conversation
  • Planning Outings
  • Completing Errands
  • Transportation to Community
  • Events and Social Outings
Home Care Bryn Athyn, PA
Respite Care

Respite Care Services

According to AARP, more than 53 million adults living in the U.S. provide care to someone over 50 years old. Unfortunately, these caregivers experience stress, exhaustion, and even depression. Our respite care services help family caregivers address urgent obligations, spend time with their children, and enjoy nearby activities. Perhaps more importantly, respite care gives family members time to recharge and regroup. Taking personal time to de-stress reduces the risk of caregiver burnout. So, if you've always wanted to eat at the local La Voglia Mediterranean or visit Glencairn Museum, don't feel bad. Doing so is great for both you and your loved one.

At the end of the day, our goal is to become a valuable part of your senior's daily routine. That way, we may help give them the highest quality of life possible. We know that staying at home is important for your loved one, and we are here to help make sure that is possible.

If you have been on the fence about non-medical home care, there has never been a better time than now to give your senior the care, assistance, and companionship they deserve.

 In-Home Care Bryn Athyn, PA

Benefits of Home Care in Bryn Athyn, PA

Always Best Care in-home services are for older adults who prefer to stay at home but need ongoing care that friends and family cannot provide. In-home care is a safe, effective way for seniors to age gracefully in a familiar place and live independent, non-institutionalized lives. The benefits of non-medical home care are numerous. Here are just a few reasons to consider senior care services from Always Best Care:

Always Best Care offers a full array of care options for patients at all levels of health. With our trusted elderly care services, your loved one will receive the level of care necessary for them to enjoy the highest possible quality of life.

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Aging in Place: The Preferred Choice for Most Seniors

While it's true that some seniors have complicated medical needs that prevent them from staying at home, aging in place is often the best arrangement for seniors and their families. With a trusted caregiver, seniors have the opportunity to live with a sense of dignity and do so as they see fit - something that is unavailable to many older people today.

In-home care makes it possible for millions of seniors to age in place every year. Rather than moving to a strange nursing home, seniors have the chance to stay at home where they feel the happiest and most comfortable.

Here are just a few of the reasons why older men and women prefer to age at home:

How much does a senior's home truly mean to them?

A study published by the American Society on Aging found that more than half of seniors say their home's emotional value means more than how much their home is worth in monetary value. It stands to reason, then, that a senior's home is where they want to grow old.

With the help of elderly care in Bryn Athyn, PA, seniors don't have to age in a sterilized care facility. Instead, they can age gracefully in the place they want to be most: their home. In contrast, seniors who move to a long-term care facility must adapt to new environments, new people, and new systems that the facility implements. At this stage in life, this kind of drastic change can be more harmful than helpful.

Institutional care facilities like nursing homes often put large groups of people together to live in one location. On any given day, dozens of staff members and caregivers run in and out of these facilities. Being around so many new people in a relatively small living environment can be dangerous for a seniors' health and wellbeing. When you consider that thousands of seniors passed away in nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, opting for in-home care is often a safer, healthier choice for seniors.

Aging in place has been shown to improve seniors' quality of life, which helps boost physical health and also helps insulate them from viral and bacterial risks found in elderly living facilities.

For many seniors, the ability to live independently with assistance from a caregiver is a priceless option. With in-home care, seniors experience a higher level of independence and freedom - much more so than in other settings like a nursing home. When a senior has the chance to age in place, they get to live life on their own terms, inside the house that they helped make into a home. More independence means more control over their personal lives, too, which leads to increased levels of fulfillment, happiness, and personal gratification. Over time, these positive feelings can manifest into a healthier, longer life.

More independence, a healthier life, and increased comfort are only a few benefits of aging in place. You have to take into consideration the role of cost and convenience. Simply put, it's usually easier and more affordable to help seniors age in place than it is to move them into an institutional care facility. According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, seniors who age in the comfort of their homes can save thousands of dollars per month.

In-home care services from Always Best Care, for instance, are often less expensive than long-term solutions, which can cost upwards of six figures per year. To make matters worse, many residential care facilities are reluctant to accept long-term care insurance and other types of payment assistance.

With Always Best Care's home care services, seniors and their families have a greater level of control over their care plans. In-home care gives seniors the chance to form a bond with a trusted caregiver and also receive unmatched care that is catered to their needs. In long-term care facilities, seniors and their loved ones have much less control over their care plan and have less of a say in who provides their care.

 Elderly Care Bryn Athyn, PA

Affordable Care

In-home care is a valuable resource that empowers seniors to age in place on their own terms. However, a big concern for many families and their loved ones is how much in-home care costs. If you're worried that in-home care is too expensive, you may be pleasantly surprised to learn that it is one of the most affordable senior care arrangements available.

Typically, hiring an Always Best Care in-home caregiver for a few hours a week is more affordable than sending your loved one to a long-term care facility. This is true even for seniors with more complex care needs.

At Always Best Care, we will work closely with you and your family to develop a Care Plan that not only meets your care needs, but your budget requirements, too. Once we discover the level of care that you or your senior need, we develop an in-home care plan that you can afford.

In addition to our flexible care options, families should also consider the following resources to help offset potential home care costs:

If your loved one qualifies, Medicaid may help reduce in-home care costs. Review your PA's Medicaid program laws and benefits, and make sure your senior's financial and medical needs meet Medicaid eligibility requirements.
Attendance and aid benefits through military service can cover a portion of the costs associated with in-home care for veterans and their spouses.
Many senior care services like in-home care are included in long-term care insurance options. Research different long-term care solutions to find a plan that provides coverage for senior care.
Home care can be included as part of a senior's private insurance plan. Read over your loved one's insurance policy carefully or speak with their insurance provider to determine if in-home care is covered.
Depending on the life insurance plan, you may be able to apply your policy toward long-term care. You may be able to use long-term-care coverage to help pay for in-home elderly care.
 Senior Care Bryn Athyn, PA

Compassionate Care. Trusted Caregivers.

When you or your senior loved one needs assistance managing daily tasks at home, finding a qualified caregiver can be challenging. It takes a special kind of person to provide reliable care for your senior loved one. However, a caregiver's role involves more than meal preparation and medication reminders. Many seniors rely on their caregivers for companionship, too.

Our companion care services give seniors the chance to socialize in a safe environment and engage in activities at home. These important efforts boost morale and provide much-needed relief from repetitive daily routines. A one-on-one, engaging conversation can sharpen seniors' minds and give them something in which to be excited.

At Always Best Care, we only hire care providers that we would trust to care for our own loved ones. Our senior caregivers in Bryn Athyn, PA understand how important it is to listen and communicate with their seniors. A seemingly small interaction, like a short hug goodbye, can make a major difference in a senior's day. Instead of battling against feelings of isolation, seniors begin to look forward to seeing their caregiver each week.

Understanding the nuances of senior care is just one of the reasons why our care providers are so great at their job.

Unlike some senior care companies, our caregivers must undergo extensive training before they work for Always Best Care. In addition, our caregivers receive ongoing training throughout the year. This training ensures that their standard of care matches up to the high standards we've come to expect. During this training, they will brush up on their communication skills, safety awareness, and symptom spotting. That way, your loved one receives the highest level of non-medical home care from day one.

Assisted Living Referral Services

While it's true that many seniors prefer to age at home, sometimes in-home care isn't the best fit. For those seniors and their families, choosing an assisted living facility makes more sense. Unfortunately, finding the optimal care facility is easier said than done in today's day and age. That's when Always Best Care's assisted living referral services begin to make a lot of sense.

Assisted living is a form of housing intended for seniors who require varying degrees of medical and personal attention. Accommodations may include single rooms, apartments, or shared living arrangements. Assisted living communities are typically designed to resemble a home-like environment and are physically constructed to encourage the independence of residents.

Respite Care Bryn Athyn, PA

At assisted living communities, seniors receive help with daily activities such as bathing, dressing, and eating. They may also benefit from coordination of services with outside healthcare providers, and monitoring of resident activities to ensure their health, safety, and well-being. Caregivers who work at assisted living communities can also provide medication administration and personal care services for older adults.

Other services offered within assisted living communities can include some or all of the following:

  • Housekeeping
  • Laundry
  • Recreational Activities
  • Social Outings
  • Emergency Medical Response
  • Medication Monitoring
  • Family Visitation
  • Personal Care
 Caregivers Bryn Athyn, PA

At Always Best Care, our representatives can match your senior's emotional, physical, and financial needs with viable assisted living communities nearby. Results are based on comparative data, so you can select the best choice for you or your loved one.

Always Best Care works closely with local senior living communities to gain valuable knowledge that we then use to help seniors and their loved ones make informed decisions. This information can include basic care and rent, resident availability, and services provided. Because Always Best Care is compensated by these communities, we provide senior living referral services at no extra cost to you.

Some of the most popular assisted living communities to consider in our area include the following:

  • Artis Senior Living of Huntingdon Valley
  • Cairnwood Village
  • Crescent Fields at Huntingdon Valley
  • Elder Care, inc.
  • Gloria Dei Manor
  • A Place For Mom - Senior Living Advisor Joanna Dunbar
Home Care Bryn Athyn, PA

For many seniors, moving into a senior living community revolves around how and when they want to make a transition to more involved care. Some seniors are more proactive about transitioning to independent living. Others choose to remain home until their care needs or other requirements are satisfied. Remember - our staff is here to help. Contact our office today to learn more about assisted living communities and how we can find a facility that exceeds your expectations.

 In-Home Care Bryn Athyn, PA

Taking the First Step with Always Best Care

The first step in getting quality in-home care starts with a personal consultation with an experienced Always Best Care Care Coordinator. This initial consultation is crucial for our team to learn more about you or your elderly loved one to discover the level of care required. Topics of this consultation typically include:

A discussion of your needs and how our trained caregivers can offer assistance in the most effective way


A draft of your care plan, which includes highly detailed notes and a framework for the care that you or your senior will receive


Discuss payment options and help coordinate billing with your insurance provider


Our caregivers are trained to spot changes that clients exhibit, like mental and physical decline. As your trusted senior care company, we will constantly assess and update your Care Plan to meet any new emotional, intellectual, physical, and emotional needs.

If you have never considered in-home care before, we understand that you and your family may have concerns about your Care Plan and its Care Coordinator. To help give you peace of mind, know that every team member and caregiver must undergo comprehensive training before being assigned to a Care Plan.

At the end of the day, we only hire the best of the best at Always Best Care. Whether you need home care in Bryn Athyn, PA 24-hours a day or only need a respite for a couple of hours, we are here to serve you.

When you're ready, we encourage you to contact your local Always Best Care representative to set up a Care Consultation. Our Care Coordinators would be happy to meet with you in person to get to know you better, discuss your needs, and help put together a personalized Care Plan specific to your needs.

 Elderly Care Bryn Athyn, PA

Latest News in Bryn Athyn, PA

Jaw Dropper of the Week: Will Someone Please Buy Richard Neutra’s Pitcairn House Already?

It's now listed for under $4 million.One of the most beautiful examples of Mid-Century Modern architecture in the region is still on the market. Hidden away in the hills of Bryn Athyn, the Pitcairn House was built between 1959 and 1962 by the legendary Richard Neutra and recently underwent a healthy $900,000 price cut in January. It’s now available for $3.95 million.If you’ve been following ...

It's now listed for under $4 million.

One of the most beautiful examples of Mid-Century Modern architecture in the region is still on the market. Hidden away in the hills of Bryn Athyn, the Pitcairn House was built between 1959 and 1962 by the legendary Richard Neutra and recently underwent a healthy $900,000 price cut in January. It’s now available for $3.95 million.

If you’ve been following along at home, that’s over $2 million in reductions since it hit the market in March of last year. We have but one word to describe the property, the architecture and those reductions: damn.

Nestled on 10.1 acres of land that’s then surrounded by 812 acres of land in the Pennypack Ecological Restoration Trust nature conservancy, the Pitcairn House is simply breathtaking and extremely private. You’ll notice in the gallery that the stunning lines and double pane thermal windows windows wow in any season and meld perfectly with the natural landscape. The combination of hearty stone and earthy tones found throughout the interior and exterior of the home further heighten this experience. Throw out your television, folks. You’ll only need the change of seasons as your entertainment in this place.

Everything about this house is impeccably designed, particularly the cantilevered staircase, which curves and hangs over an indoor swim-in-place pool and features a mirrored wall that gives the appearance of a double staircase. Seriously, we’re not sure our hearts could take much more than the glorious staircase that’s there right now. We’re just not ready.

In addition to the six-bedrooms, a private one-bedroom apartment was added to the family room and a professional video editing and screening room with a sound-proof recording studio was installed on the lower level.

THE FINE PRINT:Beds: 6Baths: 6Square Feet: 6,303Price: $3.95 millionAdditional Info: Conservation easements, renovated kitchen with high-end appliances, two-car garage, partially covered deck

2860 Paper Mill Rd Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania 19009 [Kurfiss Sotheby’s]

Newtown historians to mark 100th anniversary of the Bryn Athyn Train Wreck

NEWTOWN BOROUGH >> The general meeting of the Newtown Historic Association will be held on Tuesday, February 15 beginning at 7 p.m. at the historic Newtown Theatre, 120 North State Street, Newtown 18940.On December 5, 1921, a horrific head-on collision between two passenger trains of the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad occurred, killing 26 passengers and crew members, and injuring 70 others. Most of the casualties came from the Newtown, Churchville, and Southampton communities.Learn more about this catastrophe on the ...

NEWTOWN BOROUGH >> The general meeting of the Newtown Historic Association will be held on Tuesday, February 15 beginning at 7 p.m. at the historic Newtown Theatre, 120 North State Street, Newtown 18940.

On December 5, 1921, a horrific head-on collision between two passenger trains of the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad occurred, killing 26 passengers and crew members, and injuring 70 others. Most of the casualties came from the Newtown, Churchville, and Southampton communities.

Learn more about this catastrophe on the 100-year anniversary that led the Interstate Commerce Commission to recommend major changes in passenger railcar construction.

The evening will begin with a special viewing of the documentary film, “The Bryn Athyn Train Wreck of 1921” by Thomas Lynskey, a local historical filmmaker. Lynskey specializes in historically-based media content, ranging from documentaries and dramatic short films to virtual reality experiences and educational software, and has produced several films on shipwrecks, including the Titanic.

The movie will be followed by a lecture by David Rowland, president of the Old York Road Historical Society. Rowland has been researching and lecturing on the Bryn Athyn Train Wreck for the past 15 years. He also leads the annual Pennypack Trust walking tour to the crash site.

Following the lecture, both Lynskey and Rowland will be available to answer questions from the audience. This will be a one-of-a-kind opportunity to learn more about this local tragedy and its connection to Newtown.

Admission is $5 per person; all proceeds from this special event will be donated to the Newtown Historic Association and the Newtown Theatre. For more information call 215-968-4004 or visit the NHA Website

The Newtown Historic Association, Inc. (NHA) was incorporated in 1964 as a nonprofit organization whose mission is to stimulate interest in, preserve, celebrate and share the historic significance of both Newtown borough and township. The NHA offers annual membership to any individual, family or business interested in supporting these goals, with no restriction on place of residence.

The NHA holds an extensive collection of archival manuscripts, books, newspapers, photographs, clothing, furniture and objects directly related to Newtown’s history. The NHA sponsors several annual events in Newtown, including Market Day (October) and the Open House Tour (December), as well as an historic lecture series and walking tours for student groups. Its headquarters is in the historic Half-Moon Inn at the corner of Centre & Court Streets. Visit for more information

800 years after the first nativity scene, Glencairn exhibit highlights wide variation of the Christmas display

From Philly and the Pa. suburbs to South Jersey and Delaware, what would you like WHYY News to cover? Let us know!This year marks the 800th anniversary of the Christmas nativity scene. In the year 1223, St. Francis of Assisi first arranged a manger s...

From Philly and the Pa. suburbs to South Jersey and Delaware, what would you like WHYY News to cover? Let us know!

This year marks the 800th anniversary of the Christmas nativity scene. In the year 1223, St. Francis of Assisi first arranged a manger scene with live animals inside a cave in the town of Greccio, Italy, where he told the villagers the story of the birth of Christ.

A museum of religious and medieval art in Bryn Athyn, Glencairn, is now basking in the diversity of nativity interpretations that have developed over the last eight centuries. The annual exhibition of nativities collected from around the world features almost 50 scenes representing dozens of countries, such as Kenya, Nicaragua, Ukraine, and Italy.

Although the basic nativity arrangement of a father, mother, and child remains consistent, the variations are broad and culturally specific. A nativity from Louisiana, for example, features alligators instead of livestock, and one of the wise men is playing a saxophone.

Director Brian Henderson says this year is special because the exhibition marks the re-opening of Glencairn. It was shuttered for 18 months as its castle-like building underwent substantial infrastructure renovations.

“It really is thrilling to be able to welcome our visitors back,” he said. “To see the smiling faces of our visitors back in this magnificent space — it’s really heartwarming.”

For A.J. DiAntonio, of Malvern, nativity scenes have been a life-long fascination. He recalls being drawn to the family nativity at 2 years old, so much so that his parents gave him his own set to play with. He’s been collecting them ever since.

“I would make nativities out of people’s toothbrushes,” he said. “I always had the small toothbrush because I was a little kid, and I’d walk into my grandparents house and see toothbrushes there. They looked like people with heads and bodies. So I would make the nativity out of toothbrushes.”

DiAntonio turned his obsession into a business, Navidad Nativity, which collects vintage and contemporary artisan figures and builds elaborate nativity scenes for clients. For Glencairn, he made a sprawling “presepe,” an Italian-style scene that presents the visitation of Christ within a busy village scenario. His scene encompasses 100 square feet, populated by 178 vintage figures made by Tuscan artisans. DiAntonio arranged them into dozens of little dramas around the central narrative of the manger.

“I had all the figures on shelves in my apartment,” he said. “Like Mr. Rogers and his Neighborhood of Make Believe, I take things down off the shelves, come up with a different little vignette, start working on another one, and then eventually see if they all meld together. Somehow I got lucky.”

Karen Loccisano and Michael Palan, of Bridgewater, N.J., contributed a nativity they crafted by hand that is also filled with mini-stories surrounding the central figures of Mary, Joseph, and the infant Jesus. “Flemish Nativity” is based on a 16th-century painting “The Census in Bethlehem” by the Flemish artist Pieter Bruegel, famous for filling his compositions with crowds of people and activity.

The married couple has been hand-crafting highly detailed, one-of-a-kind nativity scenes for over a decade. Loccisano makes the figures and her husband Palan builds the scenery. In “Flemish Nativity,” they created a 16th-century Flemish tableau, complete with visiting wise men, curious onlookers, a musician who appears to be waiting for the rest of the band to arrive, and an active farm with lots of chickens and cats.

Those who look carefully at the visiting angel will notice they have facial features distinctive to people with Down Syndrome.

Loccisano said they were inspired by another 16th-century Flemish painting where one of the angels clearly has the face of a person with Down Syndrome. The image by an unknown artist is believed to be the first-ever depiction of someone with the condition.

“It may have been a child of the patron, but as an angel. We’re all equal in heaven regardless of a handicap,” she said. “They don’t really know the story, but they speculate.”

Loccisano and Palan are both commercial artists who have mostly worked in children’s publishing, creating illustrations in kids magazines like Highlights as well as product design for Christmas decorations.

“I’ve done at least seven or eight Claras from the Nutcracker,” Loccisano said.

“I once designed a set of beer mug strand of lights. It took me, I think, 45 minutes on Tuesday afternoon,” Palan said. “We still get royalty checks for that.”

The couple started making nativity scenes for their own enjoyment.

“We were always working with deadlines and budgets, and we just wanted to do something to the very best of our ability without any concern for how long it took or what it may be worth,” Palan said.

Their hobby has made them stars in the nativity world. One of Loccisano and Palan’s nativity scenes, depicting a 1930s-era Dust Bowl farming family migrating west, has been accepted by the Vatican. It is the only scene from the United States on view in the Vatican’s display of nativities from around the world.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Loccisano said. “Just to be able to say, ‘Oh, yes, my piece is in the Vatican,’ you feel like you did something.”

“It’s not that I didn’t feel we were legitimate, but it feels like it really makes us legitimate,” Palan said.

The couple takes great care of the details in their scenes. The clothes are mostly made of silk so that they drape better on their figures’ little bodies. Palan said he designed the chicken coop with tiny eggs inside, which no one will see because the coop is closed.

“One night I made two tiny little mice and I put them in there,” Loccisano said. “I said, ‘Michael, I added something. Can you find it?’ We tell little kids to look for the mice, look for the cats. It’s nice having little stories going on.”

The Glencairn display downplays the 800th anniversary of the Christmas tradition. Aside from a painted tile mosaic of St. Francis in a corner of the museum’s Great Hall, there is little mention of the original scene in Greccio in 1223.

“We chose not to celebrate that moment specifically as a centerpiece,” said Henderson.

The 800th anniversary is on the mind of DiAntonio. Although he identifies as Catholic and his livelihood is connected to Christmas tradition, he said he is not very religiously observant. However, he said a visit to Greccio earlier this year was the most spiritual trip he had ever taken.

“I’ve been to a lot of great places. I’ve spent time in the Necropolis, in the Vatican. I’ve been all over Europe. I’ve been to mountaintops — all these places that inspire this connection to the higher,” he said. “I’ve never been more touched than spending time in that cave in Greccio.”

“World Nativities” at Glencairn will be on view until January 28. During Glencairn’s closure for renovations, several of its medieval artifacts were put on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. That display has been extended until March 10, 2024.

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Amid tradition, change comes to Bryn Athyn

Under a spotlight amid the medieval splendor of Bryn Athyn Cathedral's pillars and vaulted ceilings, Brant Pitcairn last week practiced cradling what was supposed to be a box of frankincense.This is the Bryn Athyn electrician's fifth year playing a wise man in the tableaux services, the Christmas story reenactments to be performed in the cathedral Sunday. But Pitcairn, 49, has been attending the tableaux services for decades."It's a really great way to get into the Christmas spirit," he said.The towering cathed...

Under a spotlight amid the medieval splendor of Bryn Athyn Cathedral's pillars and vaulted ceilings, Brant Pitcairn last week practiced cradling what was supposed to be a box of frankincense.

This is the Bryn Athyn electrician's fifth year playing a wise man in the tableaux services, the Christmas story reenactments to be performed in the cathedral Sunday. But Pitcairn, 49, has been attending the tableaux services for decades.

"It's a really great way to get into the Christmas spirit," he said.

The towering cathedral is the spiritual and physical heart of Bryn Athyn, a Montgomery County borough of 1,300 that looks like a perfect picture-postcard of suburbia but actually reflects a fading image in modern America: the faith-based community.


More than 90 percent of its residents are members of the General Church of the New Jerusalem - or the New Church - as were their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. Their town was founded in the 19th century as an enclave for followers to live among people who shared their Christian values.

They pride themselves on a culture of service and community, where everyone is on a first-name basis, most children go to local church-affiliated schools, and a passion for hockey brings folks out to cheer Bryn Athyn College's team - even if their sons aren't on the ice.

"For whatever reason, there's just sort of an inborn knowledge that showing up for other people is a useful thing to do and it makes a difference," said Kaye Lermitte, 58, a lifetime resident.

Kevin Hughes, chair of Villanova University's humanities program, said such a community offers insight into a past way of life. "It really does speak to something I think we all crave but very few of us have an experience with," he said.

One hundred and twenty-five years after the borough's founding, economic and demographic challenges are causing the historically reserved borough to interact with the community in ways unthinkable even 20 years ago. Houses once passed down through families are being sold on the open market, allowing for the first time the possibility of an influx of outsiders into the 1.9-square-mile borough.

Bryn Athyn College, traditionally a school for New Church members, is welcoming students from other faiths. And North Philadelphians have begun regularly visiting Bryn Athyn's rolling hills as a refuge from the city.

"I understand Bryn Athyn, how it looks today, will not look the same 50 years from now," Mayor Kenneth Schauder said.

Tucked between Upper and Lower Moreland Townships, Bryn Athyn dates to 1889, when Philadelphia industrialist John Pitcairn bought the land to establish a community for the New Church.

The church considers the theological writings of 18th-century Swedish philosopher Emmanuel Swedenborg divinely inspired, and it was part of a larger movement in the United States that believed spirituality and science could coexist. Swedenborgians, as New Church members are sometimes called, were among members of 19th-century faiths such as Mormons and transcendentalists like Ralph Waldo Emerson who explored very different interpretations of Christian worship.

At the same time, America's massive influx of immigrants had people looking to redefine community. "When you feel like the traditional markers of what established communities are beginning to be erased, then you're looking for another way to define what a community is," Hughes said.

Members of the New Church are traditional in some ways. Though they fully embrace modern life, there's a focus on the sanctity of family and an exaltation of crafts like carpentry, masonry, and glass-making.

But they also believe that some of the Old Testament is parable, not historic fact, and that no single faith, including their own, has a monopoly on salvation. Living with kindness and service is far more important than adhering to any one doctrine.

"God loves variety," said the Rev. Eric Carswell, the cathedral's pastor.

Finished in 1919, the cathedral is a national historic landmark encrusted in detailed statuary and scripture carved in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew.

The international seat of the New Church, it shares a hillside with the Pitcairn family's three castlelike mansions, built between 1889 and 1939. The family made a fortune in rail, oil, glass, and aviation, and was crucial in funding the town's creation. John Pitcairn's son Raymond was a successful businessman integral in designing the cathedral.

Last week, Lermitte, who is Raymond Pitcairn's granddaughter, walked amid the glowing stained glass and soaring towers of her grandparents' nine-story home, Glencairn, and remembered her childhood there.

The family frequently opened the house to the community, and hosted Christmas concerts with professional brass musicians in a tradition that continues to this day. For decades, her grandmother Mildred would send gift boxes to every church member who had a baby.

"It's not how much that you have, it's what you give," she said, recalling her family's philosophy.

If the cathedral and mansions are symbols of tradition, the 130-acre college campus on the other side of Huntingdon Avenue is at the vanguard of change.

Bryn Athyn in recent years added dormitories, a 39,000-square-foot science and research building, and sought students from beyond the New Church.

Ten years ago, as much as 90 percent of its student body - which usually hovered around 140 - came from the New Church, said Allen Bedford, dean of academics.

But shrinking families and a dwindling enrollment from church members forced its directors to rethink the future. Today, the number of students has grown to 267, and an estimated 60 percent come from other religious backgrounds. The school is aiming for 400 students enrolled by 2017.

"It's a little bit disruptive," Bedford said. "People have to be willing to let go of some of the comfort of knowing everyone you see."

The same goes in town, where a few years ago, a "For Sale" sign in Bryn Athyn was unheard of.

The community maintained its religious identity in part because houses were handed down to children or bought and sold within the community, Schauder said. The average home value is estimated at $452,000, according to census figures, and nice homes with low taxes are valuable commodities in the area.

"That's all part of the change that we're seeing in 100 years," Schauder said. "It's the economics."

Potential buyers aren't influenced by the number of New Church members in town, said Etta Norton, a real estate agent with Quinn & Wilson who is handling the sale of a Colonial on South Avenue once owned by a Pitcairn.

"They don't care," she said. "I think the reputation is it's a very accepting community."

Some New Church members hope that by opening up Bryn Athyn the faith itself may grow. Though in the 19th century it was popular, the church today has only about 5,000 members in the United States. Others think that whether newcomers join the church or not, change in Bryn Athyn is welcome, and is in fact something Swedenborgian ideals should embrace.

"I think that faith is the foundation of Bryn Athyn," Lermitte said. "I think how you practice that faith will always evolve and change, and I think that's a good thing."

12 Most Beautiful and Awe-Inspiring Churches and Cathedrals in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is rich in religious history and boasts some of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring churches and cathedrals. These gorgeous structures were built and designed with intricate attention to detail, making them unforgettable and breathtaking.If you’re visiting Pennsylvania and want to see historical sights, these churches and cathedrals are places to explore. Likewise,...

Pennsylvania is rich in religious history and boasts some of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring churches and cathedrals. These gorgeous structures were built and designed with intricate attention to detail, making them unforgettable and breathtaking.

If you’re visiting Pennsylvania and want to see historical sights, these churches and cathedrals are places to explore. Likewise, if you’re a local, you won’t want to miss these spectacular sights.

1. First Presbyterian Church is one of the Most Beautiful and Awe-Inspiring Churches and Cathedrals in Pennsylvania

Construction for the First Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, PA, finished in 1787 on an old Indian burial ground. It had to be rebuilt four times, and the current church was built in 1903.

Even with the multiple rebuilds, the church has a unique and long history. It is one of the oldest churches in the area, with 14 stained glass windows designed by Tiffany Studios.

2. St. Joseph Church

Located in Erie, PA, St. Joseph Church has a beautiful, frescoed ceiling painted dark blue with white speckles. It has 20 stained glass windows, wood-carved pews, marble accents and fixtures, and other eye-catching touches.

While the inside of the church is beautiful now, it wasn’t always that way. The church was left bare when mass began to be held there, with ongoing projects continuing for many years.

3. St. Mark’s and St. John’s Episcopal Church

You can find St. Mark’s and St. John’s Episcopal Church in Jim Thorpe, PA. It has stained-glass windows from Tiffany and Gibson, providing beautiful sights throughout.

This church offers tours and has a working antique elevator, so you don’t have to take the steps. You’ll be glad you took the opportunity to learn about this church and understand why it’s on the list of most beautiful and awe-inspiring churches and cathedrals in Pennsylvania.

4. Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul

Located in Philadelphia, PA, the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul is the largest Catholic church in the state. This beautiful church opened in 1864 during the anti-Catholic sentiment. Many people believe architects placed the windows high enough to prevent vandals from breaking them.

Constantino Brumidi did most of the interior painting in the Cathedral. Brumidi was a renowned painter and painted murals at the Capitol in Washington D.C. This church holds the Philadelphia seat of the diocese and is a national historical monument that many tourists wish to visit.

5. Heinz Memorial Chapel

The Heinz Memorial Chapel is in Pittsburgh, PA, on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh. It isn’t based on any religion or denomination but rather a place for various religious services, concerts, tours, and weddings.

The founder of the H.J. Heinz Company, Henry John Heinz, founded the chapel in honor of his mother. After 26 years of planning and construction, the structure was completed in 1938.

The steeple rises to 256 feet, while the chapel was designed in the shape of a cross. You can view 23 stained glass windows containing 250,000 individual pieces of glass.

6. Mount Saint Peter Church

Mount Saint Peter Church, located in New Kensington, PA, is one of three parishes involved in the New Kensington Catholic Community. Construction of the church ended in 1942, with the purpose of providing a place for Italian immigrants to worship. It has a marble hall in the basement used for special meals, fundraisers, and holidays.

7. St. Anthony Chapel

In Pittsburgh, PA, St. Anthony Chapel houses 5,000 venerated catholic relics, among them the bones of Saint Demetrius. They hold the second-largest collection in the world, only outranked by the Vatican. You’ll find history in the architecture, design, and relics, giving you plenty to explore and learn about.

St. Anthony Chapel is a sight for everyone to see, but you can also attend Mass on Sundays or a Visitation and Prayer service. They also have a gift shop if you’d like a souvenir of your visit.

8. Bryn Athyn Church

You can find the Bryn Athyn Church in Bryn Athyn, PA. This church is part of the New Church, which is a type of Christianity based on insights from the Bible from Emanuel Swedenborg. Founders of The New Church believe the theory that God spread his word through Swedenborg.

Bryn Athyn contains stained glass windows, and the main building is Gothic architecture style. However, other buildings added to the site are in Romanesque style, adding to the unique characteristics.

9. Cathedral of Saint Patrick

The Cathedral of Saint Patrick is in Harrisburg, PA, and construction ended in 1907. It is the mother church of the Diocese of Harrisburg and boasts a beautiful structure with intricate designs.

The green-copper dome stands out, making this cathedral easy to spot. Its unique exterior is one reason it makes the list of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring churches and cathedrals in Pennsylvania.

10. Saint Thomas of Villanova Church

Located in Villanova, PA, Saint Thomas of Villanova Church is a beautiful place to spend time. The church is on the Villanova University campus and construction ended in 1887. This church boasts a Gothic Revival Style with matching spires on each side.

Students and parishioners use Saint Thomas of Villanova Church for religious services, with music from Villanova University’s Pastoral Musicians. Plus, many alumni use it for weddings and funerals.

11. Christ Church

Christ Church in Philadelphia, PA, is steeped in history because many Founding Fathers and other notable people worshipped there. Benjamin Franklin even helped raise money to build the steeple. Plus, this church is where the American Episcopal Church originated.

Built and designed in Georgian style, many people consider Christ Church one of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring churches and cathedrals. You can book a tour of the church and join the other tourists who help it stay on the top-ten list of frequently visited sites in the area.

When you go, look for the marked pew to find where George Washington and his wife preferred to sit during his presidency. You can also visit the burial ground to see Benjamin Franklin’s final resting place.

12. Holy Family Catholic Church

The Holy Family Catholic Church in Latrobe, PA, boasts a Modern English Gothic architectural design. The exterior includes granite and Indiana Limestone, while the inside has two marble shades on the floors, side altars, sanctuary columns and arches, and a baptistery. This church also has beautiful stained-glass windows, intricate details, and other eye-catching aspects.

Summary of the Most Beautiful and Awe-Inspiring Churches and Cathedrals in Pennsylvania

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Walt Bilous/

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