Saint Mary Help of Christians, McKees Rocks

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McKees Rocks

Parish History

St. Mary was founded in 1855 as a German parish.  The origin of the parish can be traced to the settling of German farmers next to Chartiers Creek in the 1840's.  These settlers were required to travel to St. Philomena or St. Michael in Pittsburgh or St. Philip in Crafton to attend Mass.  By 1855, enough Catholic families had settled in the area to make the establishment of a parish feasible.  In that year, the bishop granted their petition for a parish.  In the spring of 1855, work on a church began and the building was completed either at the end of the year or sometime the next year.  For the first few months, the parish was a mission of St. Michael, South Side.  In the fall of 1856, a resident pastor was assigned to the parish.

This church's location near Chartiers Creek proved to be a problem as the creek frequently flooded over the years.  Finally in 1882, land further from the creek was purchased for a new church.  The new church was dedicated on October 17, 1886.

By the end of the nineteenth century, the rise of businesses and factories in the area led to an increase of population.  In response to this growth, the church was enlarged in the 1890's.  Even with this addition, however, the church quickly proved to be too small.  In February of 1901 work began on a new church.  By March of 1903, the basement of the building was completed as a church.  This basement church was dedicated on March 18, 1903.  In 1904. work on the church's superstructure began and the completed church building was dedicated on May 28, 1905.

As the growth of population in the nineteenth century led to the creation of the parish, the loss of population in McKees Rocks at the end of the the twentieth century led to its suppression.  In 1993, St. Mary Help of Christians was merged with six other parishes to form the new St. John of God parish.  St. Mary church remains open and serves the new parish.

Photos From the Diocesan Archive:

St. Mary, 2001
St. Mary main altar, 1934
St. Mary side altar, 1934

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