Saint Alphonsus Parish was founded in 1901. Its life and history are wound up in the great movements which affected the Universal Catholic Church, the history of our own nation, and the particular circumstances which affected the development of the Church in the Pittsburgh Diocese and region in the nineteen hundreds.
On September 9, 1901 Father Richard Hamilton was appointed by Pittsburgh Bishop Richard Phelan as the first Pastor of Saint Alphonsus, a post, which the pioneer priest held for the next 30 years. Father Hamilton was still here when, on September 5, 1926, Bishop Hugh C. Boyle dedicated the present Church building. This present Church building is the third building to serve as a Church for the people of Saint Alphonsus.
There were two great pastorates which dominated Saint Alphonsus Parish in its first century: those of Father Richard Hamilton and Msgr. Leo Pastorius. Between them they governed the parish for 51 of its 100 years. Less is known of Father Hamilton simply due to the time difference, but as founder of the parish and builder of the present Church, together with his wisdom in providing for a parish school almost as soon as the parish was started, he demonstrated his pastoral wisdom. Msgr. Pastorius, who died in 1969 after serving for 21 years, is still fondly remembered by many of our parishioners. He was renowned for his simplicity, kindness and holiness of life. He also presided over the expansion of the school at a time in the fifties when student enrollment was at an all-time high.
Together with these two priests, the Sisters of the Divine Providence stand out in the history of our parish, for they served the school for over 90 years, with a dedication and trust that reflected the name of their community.
But time flies, things change. The Church is no exception. At the peak of its existence in the 50’s, the new school had more than 500 students, requiring two shifts in 16 classrooms. The enrollment was 42 when it closed in June of 1995. Saint Alphonsus is still a vibrant parish, but it has had to adapt to changing times. This is true of the entire Diocese, which has 200,000 people less than it had 20 years ago, down from 320 to 220 parishes. In spite of the vocation shortage and general Diocesan-wide downsizing, the parish is still “bringing theology down to the people.”
As we enter into our second century we rededicate ourselves to the Lord Jesus and to our Patron, Saint Alphonsus, who faced all the challenges of life in his time with cheerful patience, good will, and a lively faith. May the name of Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior, be praised forever and ever.
St. Alphonsus Ligouri
The life of Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787) virtually spanned the 18th century. Born in Naples of distinguished parents, he demonstrated intellectual ability at an early age and became a doctor of civil law at 17.
Ordained in 1726, he soon won a reputation in Naples as a preacher and became widely sought as a confessor. Throughout his life he was committed to preaching sermons that were simple to understand and well structured so as to hold the listener’s attention. In 1732 he founded an order of mission priests which became the Redemptorists. His famous Moral Theology was published in 1748.
Alphonsus Liguori was known for his great kindness and concern for others. He was made a bishop in 1762. He died on August 1, 1787, and was canonized in 1839. In 1871 he was named a Doctor of the Church. In 1950 Pius XII declared Alphonsus the official patron of moralists and of confessors.