Ministries and Organizations

Want to get involved?
Click Here to download our brochure now!

Online Giving

Click to learn about our new online giving program and how it will benefit both you and St. James.

Recent News

  • 18.09.15

    Attachments:FileDescriptionRELIGIOUS ED FACT SHEET.doc ...
  • 16.02.15

    Attachments:FileDescriptionPastoral Plan 2015-2018.pdf  Year One.pdf ...
  • 20.12.14
    What is the Parish Pastoral Council?  Prior to 1999 parishes in our diocese functioned with a group of men and women, elected by the parish members under the heading of Parish Council.  There were four major committees that assisted the Pastor in managing the day-to-day tasks of running a parish.In the year 2000, the Bishop asked all the parishes to adopt a new model of operation call...
  • 19.12.14
    Patte Grey - FacilitatorIvan HofmannMarty McDanielJeff MinarekJean BleyDonna PavlisAnna VillellaLinda SoldressenDonna Best...
  • 30.04.13
    Registration forms are found under the "Forms" subsection shown above....
  • 03.03.12
    We are excited to inform you that we now offer Online Giving! As a church that seeks to serve, we wanted to provide you the convenience of being able to give the way you want, whenever you want. Online Giving offers you the opportunity to make secure, automatic contributions from your bank [or credit card] account to our church.As we begin this new program, you may notice your neighbors placin...
  • 02.08.11
      Please join the Saturday morning Men’s Bible Study in a journey through the history of the Catholic Church. Learn about the major people, places and events of two thousand years of church history. A DVD by Professor Steve Weidenkopf will be used, followed by a discussion of the material presented. Join us every Saturday morning at 7:30am in Meeting Room #1.  ...


<<  February 2018  >>
 Su  Mo  Tu  We  Th  Fr  Sa 
  6  7
Home Home History Early 20th Century
Early 20th Century
Rev. Florence F. O'Shea
Rev. Florence F. O'Shea
Born: 1863;
Killarney, Ireland
Pastor: 1892-1906
Died: July 18, 1948

In 1892, Rev. Florence F. O'Shea was appointed pastor. Born in Killarney, Ireland, in 1865, he came to this country at an early age for primary education and was ordained in Buffalo in 1889. During his 14 years of leadership, the parish grew and began to show a new surge of strength.

Instead of following the example of his predecessors in reducing the debt, Father O'Shea immediately increased it by $3,000. During his pastorate a rectory was built and furnished for $6,800. About $10,000 was spent in completely refurnishing the church with a new furnace, stained glass windows, altar and sanctuary furniture and new pews. The purchase of the present five-acre cemetery which had been arranged for by Father Kaylor was completed for the amount of $500, on August 1, 1892.

The Sewickley Valley newspaper reported the following social event in 1895, "Ladies of St. James Church will give a select picnic at the Haysville grounds on Thursday, June 20th. As there will be good music on the grounds all day, an enjoyable day will be a sure thing for those attending."

In 1903 the same paper reported, "An organ recital held on Thursday evening, under the direction of Miss Alice Carter, former organist at St. Paul's Cathedral, Pittsburgh, was a success artistically and financially. The occasion was the dedication of a new pipe organ donated to Saint James Parish by Andrew Carnegie."

For the benefit of Catholics in Ambridge, Father O'Shea celebrated Mass for the first time in Ambridge at 9 a.m., Sunday, May 8, 1904, in the Ambridge Trust Company Building.

The Most Rev. J. F. Regis Canevin, the fifth Bishop of Pittsburgh, assisted by six priests, confirmed 142 persons in St. James Church in September, 1904. This was the first class that had been confirmed in eight years, and included 30 people from Baden and five from Emsworth.

The last Sunday in August, 1905, was the occasion of one of the most memorable ceremonies ever to be performed in St. James Church. Following the celebration of a solemn high Mass, Father O'Shea asked the congregation to remain and take part in an interesting ceremony: the formal wiping out of the church debt by the burning of the mortgage.

For the first time in its history, the parish was free of debt. He summoned to the altar rail John Gilroy, who had the distinction of lighting a match to the mortgage, which was resting on a silver plate. This was the same John Gilroy who had been the first baptism to be entered on the parish records 40 years earlier.

Rev. Miles Sweeney
Rev. Miles Sweeney
Born: May 25, 1873;
Lattimer, PA
Pastor: 1906-1914
Died: 1946

On November 11, 1906, Father O'Shea began his duty as pastor of Saint Mary's Church, New Castle. After 14 years service here he had accomplished much, and there was a surplus in the treasury.

A number of events reported in the local newspapers show that the parish was a center of many social activities during Rev. Miles Sweeney's pastorate which began on November 6, 1906.

The crowning of the May Queen on the last Sunday of May was a colorful ceremony looked forward to with great anticipation. It was a glorious pageant of children, beautifully gowned young ladies, and parish organizations in procession to the church honoring the Blessed Virgin Mary. The choir and soloists would often be accompanied by an organist and violinists. The May Queen, dressed in a long white gown, addressed the assembly which included non-Catholics occupying reserved seats in the front center aisle.

Lawn fetes were frequently held on the church property. Booths, gaily decorated by the ladies, offered varieties of home-made foods and goods. The Citizen's band of Sewickley, and other orchestras from Pittsburgh, added to the entertainment of the evening by giving concerts. Proceeds went to the parish, the St. Vincent de Paul Society's program for the poor, or other worthy causes, including the Sewickley Valley Hospital.

Lawn Fete
Lawn Fete

Songs, gospel readings, recitations and debates were regular events on programs given by the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine. On another occasion, a liturgical music program was rendered in St. James Church by the choir of St. Paul's Cathedral, Pittsburgh, under the direction of Professor Joseph Otten. The young ladies of the parish and the Ushers Club often gave euchre and dance socials in the Garage Hall which was located over the Old Sewickley Automotive Company at Beaver and Chestnut Streets.

In 1907 it was reported that Bishop Canevin preached a very interesting sermon at St. James Church on the lift of St. Patrick, after which the congregation was invited to meet the bishop at the residence of Father Sweeney.

Saint James School, 1919
Saint James School, 1919

At 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, December 7, 1912, solemn high Mass marked a rededicatory service at St. James Church. On this occasion, the following progress was recalled: "As it stands today, the church has been practically rebuilt. Father Sweeney installed new tile floors, several new statues and new electric lights. Frescoing was done and many minor improvements were made.

The greatest improvement, just completed, is the covering of the church with concrete, the placing of a life-sized statue on either side at the cornice, and construction of a concrete arch on the lawn in front of the parish house for the statue of Saint Joseph. A lot was bought at the corner of Walnut and Thorn Streets for $10,000 which is intended for building purposes."

A lyceum was organized in 1912 and was located in the Gray Building at 428 Beaver Street. Its purpose was to "promote culture, refinement and Christian manliness." It was noted that "no toleration will be given to rowdyism in any shape or form." Mr. Nicholas Geary was the director of sporting events. There are many references to the lyceum up until 1913.


First Communion Class, 1914
First Communion Class, 1914

The parish and community women were encouraged to attend dancing and needlecraft lessons. Plans were mentioned for building a lyceum on the corner of Walnut and Thorn Streets to house facilities for the art of boxing, a pool room, gymnasium, library and even schoolrooms. However, these plans never materialized.

On December 6, 1913, St. James Parish's first school building was dedicated. The 100' by 300' property and three-story residence were purchased from D. C. Herbst for the amount of $21,000. Eighty students were enrolled during the first year. Rooms were named for saints which corresponded to the names of the donors who gave from $100 to $500 to help establish the school. Bishop Canevin donated the bell and tower. This building is now being used for the convent.