Our parish was founded with the dedication of St. Alphonsus Church on July 19, 1840. This first church building was a simple brick structure, which was replaced by another brick church sometime before 1860.
The current building was constructed in 1889, the year inscribed in stone above the main doors.
The “new side” addition was constructed in 1968, which doubled seating capacity.
In the beginning years the parish area was a German and Irish immigrant community with early settlers Ambrose Schaeffer from Baden-Baden, Germany, and Martin Byrne from Wexford, Ireland, playing important roles in attracting missionary priests to the area. Mr. Byrne’s log cabin home was the site of the first Mass in the area in 1832. In that same year Mr. Schaeffer purchased a parcel of land that would be later donated to become the site of St. Alphonsus parish grounds. The local area became known as “Schaeffer’s Corner” and the surrounding community postal area known as “Wexford,” after the birth place of Mr. Byrne, who was the first postmaster.
With the Redemptorist Fathers (founded by St. Alphonsus Liguori) coming to Pittsburgh as missionaries to the German-speaking people in 1839 under the direction of Father Joseph Prost, our parish began as a mission under the spiritual care of priests coming from the Redemptorist mission center of St. Philomena in the Strip District of Pittsburgh.
Three priests who would become renown in the history of the Catholic Church in Pittsburgh and beyond, were associated with the first decade of our parish. Father John Neumann traveled frequently to our mission from Pittsburgh in 1840 and 1841, and would later become pastor of St. Philomena and bishop of Philadelphia. Canonized as St. John Neumann in 1977, he was joined in the acclamation of the Catholic Church by the recent beatification of Blessed Francis Seelos, who was an assistant priest to Father Neumann in Pittsburgh, and served St. Alphonsus from 1847 – 1850. The first permanent pastor of St. Alphonsus and its added mission in Perrysville (St. Teresa) was Father Suibertus Mollinger, appointed in 1864. Our first pastor went on to become the founding pastor in 1868 of Holy Name of Jesus Parish on Troy Hill, a place known even to today for the St. Anthony Chapel of the relics of saints. Father Mollinger not only was able to acquire 4200 relics from Europe for the chapel, but also attracted thousands of people for healing services at the chapel.
Catholic educational schooling existed almost from the very beginning of the parish, and a two-room school building was built on the church property in 1889. That was a glorious year in the parish with the construction of the present church and the beginning of our annual Harvest Home Dinner, then called the “Harvest Home Picnic.” The current day school was built in 1955.
The strong heritage of our historic church and school, and our parish gatherings, should continue into our third century with our current plans to expand our school and parish facilities. We look forward to additional school space for our students, as well as a facility for all of our people to assemble together for parish activities.