St. Aloysius Church in Reserve celebrates 125th anniversary
St. Aloysius Church in Reserve hosted May 20 festivities to cap off the church's yearlong celebration of its 125th anniversary.
First, Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik visited the church, where he celebrated Mass with St. Aloysius' current pastor, the Rev. Jim Orr, and former pastors the Revs. Roy Conley, James Garvey and Lawrence Smith.
“The Bishop was, in his preaching, I would say, very energetic and spirit-filled. He certainly gave a rousing appreciation for the work of God and the Holy Spirit in the parish over the generations,” Orr said.
Parishioners presented Zubik with a book detailing the church's history, as well as Fred Rogers-related items.
“It was their thought that the bishop in many ways in his attitudes and approaches and concerns reflects very much what they saw in Fred Rogers and so that's why they selected those particular gifts,” Orr said.
Following Mass, about 80 gathered at Mt. Troy Ballroom for a luncheon, where they could peruse St. Aloysius photos and memorabilia. Guests left with the same history book that the bishop received. Orr, 63, said that the church's history is passed down through these books published for significant milestones.
In 1891, Reserve residents met to discuss difficulties they encountered traveling by horse and buggy on unpaved roads to Most Holy Name Church — which continues today as St. Aloysius' mother church — in Troy Hill. They collected $2,350 at that first meeting and continued their fundraising efforts thereafter.
When they had amassed $3,955, they petitioned Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh Bishop Richard Phelan for permission to build a church with a seating capacity for 400. Phelan granted his permission and named the church St. Aloysius after St. Aloysius Gonzaga, the patron saint of Roman Catholic youth. The St. Aloysius parishioners celebrated their first Mass on Jan. 8, 1893.
The Rev. S. Mollinger, St. Aloysius' first pastor, served both Most Holy Name and St. Aloysius, just as Orr continues to do so today. In 1905, the School Sisters of Notre Dame from Baltimore came to teach parishioners' children. In 1958, as school enrollment increased and the parish saved funds, parishioners decided to demolish the church and build a new one, along with a school. The school closed in 1998.
Claire Sigmund, 82, is one of about 650 St. Aloysius parishioners. The Reserve resident said that she got involved with the church when her children attended school there.
She oversees the church's 18-room Rummage House thrift sales.
“We fundraise for our parish but we also do other ministry work, like helping the needy or somebody that's had a fire, or even toys at Christmastime.”
Orr has served at St. Aloysius as well as Most Holy Name for four years.
“Getting to know the people of the parish has been a real high point, humbling really. The people of St. Aloysius work very, very hard to make their parish work well and it's humbling to see that kind of commitment.”
Erica Cebzanov is a Tribune-Review contributor.