Saint Thomas, Braddock

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Parish History

St. Thomas parish, the first parish in Braddock, was established in 1854.  As with many parishes, St. Thomas began as a mission church.  What is different about the parish, however, is that the first mission chapel was not physically located in Braddock.  In 1854 a chapel to serve the Catholics of Braddock and what is now the West Mifflin area was built across the river from Braddock on Tara Hill.  This chapel did not have its own resident pastor, but was served from other parishes.  It was neither named nor dedicated.  As the population of Braddock grew, the inconvenience for the local Catholics of crossing the river and climbing a hill to attend Mass made the construction of a church in Braddock itself necessary.  In 1859 work began on a church in Braddock.  The cornerstone of the new church was laid on April 22, 1860 and the first Mass was celebrated the following October 10.  The church was completed and dedicated on October 28, 1862 as St. Thomas.  The last Mass was celebrated in the old chapel on Tara Hill on March 17, 1863.

At first, St. Thomas did not have a resident pastor but was attended from St. Michael Seminary and St. Paul Cathedral.  The first pastor was appointed in 1863.  To accommodate the growing population of Braddock, the church was remodeled and enlarged in 1871.  By the turn of the century, however, this church was no longer adequate and construction began on a new church.  This church was dedicated on November 22, 1903.  This church served the community until December 30, 1983 when it was totally destroyed in a fire. 

In the 1970's and 1980's, the population in Braddock had dropped dramatically.  Rather than rebuild the church, the diocese commissioned a study of the status of the parishes in Braddock.  This study led to the consolidation of all of the parishes in Braddock into one new parish, Good Shepherd.  Because other church buildings existed to meet the needs of the new parish, St. Thomas was razed in February 1984.

Photos From the Diocesan Archive:

St. Thomas Church, 1871-1903
Altar, 1973
Church after the fire, 1984
Church after the fire, 1984

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