Saint Michael, Munhall

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Parish History

St. Michael was founded as a Slovak parish in 1897.  The origin of the parish can be traced back to the arrival of Slovak immigrants to work in the local mills beginning in 1880.  As the Slovak population increased, they began to make plans for their own parish.  In February of 1896, they purchased land in Homestead for a church and in the same year built a wooden church. Initially, the new church was visited by the pastor of St. Michael Church, Braddock.  In April of 1897, the Holy Ghost Fathers of Duquesne University took responsibility for the church.  However, the congregation wanted a priest who spoke their language.  As there was no priest in the Pittsburgh Diocese who spoke Slovak available, a parish committee was formed to find one.  They found a Slovak seminarian in St. Paul, Minnesota.  He came to Pittsburgh and was ordained on September 26, 1897, and assigned as pastor to St. Michael.

As time went on, the congregation continued to grow, and the parish began making plans for building a new larger church.  In 1902 and 1903, land was purchased in Munhall.  On May 12, 1907, plans for a new church to be built on the Munhall property was announced.  This caused a split in the congregation, as the members who lived in Homestead did not want the church to be moved in Munhall.  In July of 1908, the pastor left for a visit to Europe and on August 12 an English speaking priest was temporarily assigned to the parish.  This caused additional dissention, to the point that the bishop temporarily closed the parish.  The parish remained closed until another Slovak speaking pastor became available for the parish on December 20, 1908.  Shortly afterwards, the dissenting faction of the parish decided to split off and form their own independent congregation.  This congregation eventually became St. Anne parish.

In 1909, the Homestead land was sold and the church was dismantled and reassembled in Munhall.  This church served the congregation until 1925 when it was torn down to make room for a new church.  The completed church was dedicated on December 11, 1927.  The church was renovated in 1949 with the sanctuary being enlarged and new altars installed.  The next year, new stained glass windows were added.  In 1953 the church baptistry was renovated.  In 1966, the statue of St. Joseph was placed on the church tower. 

Beginning as early as 1967 the congregation began to noticeably drop.  By the end of the century, the population of Munhall had dropped to the point that the area could no longer support the number of independent parishes then in existence.  In 1992, St. Michael was merged with five other parishes to form the new St. Maximilian Kolbe parish.  St. Michael Church remained open along with three other church buidlings and continued to serve the new parish.

However, it soon became obvious to the parish that the congregation could not financially support four church buildings.  The parish conducted a three year study beginning in June of 2006 to determine how many church buildings they could support.  The parish concluded that they could only support one church building and that the other three should be closed.  St. Michael Church was one of the building scheduled for closing.  The final Mass in St. Michael Church was celebrated on October 25, 2009 and the church was officially closed on November 1, 2009.

Photos From the Diocesan Archive:

St. Michael Church, 1927.  Behind the church is the school
St. Michael Church, 2002
Interior of church, 1927

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