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  • 18.09.15

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


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Home Home History Wars and Depression
Wars and Depression
Rev. William P. Curtin
Rev. William P. Curtin
Born: January 19, 1880;
Toronto, Canada
Pastor: 1914-1941
Died: November 9, 1941

In June, 1914, Rev. William P. Curtin replaced Father Sweeney as pastor of St. James Parish, at a time when the congregation was continuing to grow and take on new responsibilities. Three Masses were held on Sunday: 6:45, 8:00 and 10:30 a.m. An article in the Sewickley Herald stated that Father Curtin wanted it clearly understood that the general public was welcome to attend any and all services.

During the succeeding years, many activities flourished in the parish: the girls choir; the children's bazaar; speaking engagements by Father Curtin; a parish sewing society; men of the parish repainted the woodwork in the church; Christmas boxes were sent to soldiers at war in 1917; children raised money for a flag and pole at the school. During the flu epidemic in 1918 Mass was held, but the congregation was told not to attend for fear of spreading the dread disease.

A meeting was held in the St. James Rectory on Thursday, July 29, 1920, to make plans for another important milestone in the history of the parish: the Golden Jubilee celebration of the completion of the church. At this meeting it was unanimously decided by the committee of laymen to commemorate the 50th anniversary by raising $20,000 to pay off the church debt.

First Graduation Class, 1919
First Graduation Class, 1919

Immediately following this decision, $3,000 in cash was paid and an additional $3,000 was pledged. Father Curtin commented, "You might have suggested improving the exterior or redecorating the interior of St. James, but your decision to reduce the church debt is the wiser course. "

To commemorate the 50th anniversary, a Jubilee Mass was sung on Sunday, November 14, 1920. Rev. C. J. Coyne, pastor of St. James Church 35 years previously, and at that time pastor of St. Mary's Church, Pittsburgh, was celebrant. Bishop Canevin occupied the throne in the sanctuary. The Jubilee sermon preached by Father O'Shea, pastor of St. Mary's Church, New Castle, and former pastor of St. James, recounted the history of the parish.

During the services, a $13,000 mortgage was burned, having been liquidated through the efforts of the congregation of 800 persons during a period of only three months. A choir of 30 male voices from St. Peter's Church, Pittsburgh, sang at the ceremonies. In the afternoon of the same day, Bishop Canevin confirmed a class of 110 children and 40 adults.

Excerpts from the annual report of St. James Church, published in the Sewickley Herald in 1921, show how the parish had grown and prospered during the half-century since a handful of dedicated people gave birth to their dream for a permanent place to worship in Sewickley. Eight parishioners died during the year. There were 59 baptisms. Attendance at St. James School totaled 160 pupils, 30 of whom came from neighboring boroughs. Forty adult converts received the Sacrament of Confirmation which was also administered to 160 children over 12 years of age.

The census revealed 158 families and 800 souls. During Father Curtin's pastorate the parish debt had been reduced from $40,000 to $16,000. During the same period, $15,000 was spent on improvements for the rectory, church and school. The Young Ladies Society volunteered to bear the cost of placing a new carpet in the sanctuary, and the men of the Holy Name Society repainted the altar.

This period, like many others in history, had its share of opponents to established religion and religious education? Writing in the Sewickley Herald, Father Curtin countered an article which appeared in the Atlantic Monthly charging that citizens who devote themselves to the building up of private and parochial school have not been touched by the Americanization Movement and have never fundamentally grasped the American idea.

Father Curtin did not hesitate to meet the challenge with strong words: "The maintenance of a parish school is forced upon us because of our conviction that it is at least as important for the child to learn his duties to God as it is that he learns arithmetic. Parents intent upon giving their offspring the best education, have a right to send their child to any school of their choosing."

The Guild Hall, built to provide the Sewickley community with an auditorium, became a monument to the cooperative spirit of St. James Parish. Thirty volunteers from the congregation donned overalls and worked three to four hours in the evenings for eight months. In December 1921, the Hall, which was located behind the convent facing Broad Street, was completed.

Architect Carleton Strong designed the Hall and supervised construction. When he first learned of the way in which it was to be erected, he was reminded of the guilds of medieval times, and accordingly planned a building that would suggest a guild hall of the Twelfth Century. It was 122 feet long and 50 feet wide, with solid two-inch wood plank walls and a chestnut roof.

Over a sub-pine floor a waterproof paper was laid and covered with seaweed, then a layer of felt and a top floor of maple. The building's seating capacity was 900 persons. The stage was 30 feet deep and almost 50 feet wide. Two large Twelfth Century tapestries, designed by Mr. Woodman Thompson of New York, formed the stage curtain.

At the opening of the Guild Hall, Father Curtin said, "We hope to have from time to time, concerts, lectures, theatricals and educational pictures. As a recreational center, we want it to render the widest possible service to the entire community. It will always be available for public meetings intended to promote patriotic and philanthropic movements. An occasional dance may be permitted, but only under the strictest supervision.

The young people will dance, and it is better that they do so where they are protected by proper chaperonage." The building cost $14,000 and was appraised upon completion at $45,000. Over the years it was the center for many activities; the annual flower show, basketball games, graduation exercises, Christmas plays, card parties, dinners, minstrel shows and plays by the Sewickley Hospital Cot Club.

A review of a Guild Hall Players Minstrel Show in 1926, published in the Sewickley Herald, reported, "Before the closing chorus, Father Curtin, who, as the interlocutor said, had conceived, written and arranged the show, stage-managed it, directed the chorus rehearsals, had the scenery constructed to his designs, secured the various features and handled the business management, was called to the stage for a moment and greeted with spontaneous and hearty applause. He deserved it- it was a good show."

The 25th anniversary of Father Curtin's ordination was observed in March 1931, with an all-day program. At a public reception in the evening, Dr. Alleyne C. Howell of St. Stephens Episcopal Church offered the invocation; addresses were made by Edward Ducey for the members of St. James Church, and by Dr. Owen D. Odell of the Presbyterian Church for the people of Sewickley Valley; Rev. Henry A. Welday of the Methodist Church offered the closing prayer.

Father Curtin died on November 9, 1941. His assistant, Fr. Justin Gallagher, attended to the affairs of the parish until Rev. George F. Hurley was appointed pastor in March, 1942.

Numerous fires plagued the Guild Hall. A final fire in 1944 leveled the main building and brought an end to this popular meeting place for the parish and the community. The kitchen area of the Hall survived the fire and was remodeled to provide additional classroom space for the overcrowded school.