History of St. Michael Church

The history of St. Michael Parish has been a long and meaningful one. Originally it was part of St. Colman parish in Turtle Creek. In those days our few Catholic families hitched up horses and buggies and drove over dirt roads in all kinds of weather to assist at Mass on Sunday. Their distance from church was lessened somewhat when Pitcairn became part of St. Aloysius parish in Wilmerding, after the Turtle Creek parish was divided.

 

The influx of many Catholic families made it necessary for a Mission church. For the first few years Mass was celebrated in Pitcairn only on Christmas and other holy days, while parishioners had to travel to St. Aloysius to hear Mass on Sunday.

Original St. Michael Church 1933

 

In 1895 the Catholic families of Pitcairn organized for the purpose of building a church of their own, and before the end of the year St. Michael Church was completed. It remained a mission of St. Aloysius for the next ten years. The first regular Sunday Masses at Pitcairn were offered by the late Most Reverend Hugh C. Boyle, Bishop of Pittsburgh, who was then assistant at St. Aloysius.

Interior of St. Michael Church 1933

Interior of St. Michael Church 1933

In 1905, to the joy of Catholics in Pitcairn, St. Michael’s became a parish with Reverend John Moore as first resident pastor. During the early years of the parish the religious education of the children was supervised by the good Sisters of Mercy from St. Colman’s. They prepared the children for Confession, First Holy Communion and Confirmation

 

Under the guidance of Father Thieret the parish dream materialized and the new St. Michael’s church became a reality and brought great joy to all the people. At the same time there was sadness in leaving the old building that had served the people for so many years as the House of God.

 

Monsignor William Maher, who is now pastor of St. Jerome ’s Charleroi , Pennsylvania , continued the expansion work of the parish. He renovated the old rectory on the hill and made it a beautiful convent for the Sisters. He also purchased the home on Taylor , and with volunteer work by the men converted it into a comfortable Rectory where the priests now reside. He was very active in the school and did much to give St. Michael’s an outstanding school.

The parish continued to grow and become one of the most active parishes in the Diocese. In 1950, however, there came a crushing blow to parish development when the church was damaged by a series of fires. The parish reverted, almost overnight, to the status of earlier days when there was no church building.

 

The Pitcairn School Board, however, made the High School Auditorium available for parish use so that Sunday Mass could be celebrated. In addition, the Civitarese family donated the use of their theater, which for a short time became the scene of Sunday Mass.

 

In 1950 Father John Bosiet came to Pitcairn as pastor. He rebuilt the church and again it was ready for parish use. The parish conducted a drive for money to complete their rebuilding program. The second floor of the building was divided into classrooms and the first floor was used as a temporary church.  The church was dedicated on November 19, 1956.  The old church was converted to classrooms and a school cafeteria.

 

The school closed in 1969.  In the 1970's the church was renovated, including the replacement of glass windows with stained glass windows.  In 1986, the original church building was torn down and the church was remodeled.  The second floor of the church/school building was renovated.  The classrooms were removed and the space made into a social hall.

 

Beginning in 2007, the pastors of North American Martyrs Parish and St. Michael Parish, Pitcairn began discussions on a possible merger.  In early 2009, the formal merger process began with the parishes meeting with diocesan officials, holding parish town hall meetings, and seeking parishioner feedback.  The study recommended that the two parishes merge, that the parish retain the name of North American Martyrs and that both churches remain open to serve the parish.  The recommendations were accepted and the merger took place on September 4, 2010.

 

Current view of the Altar at St. Michael

Current view of St. Michael

Copyright 2016 North American Martyrs