Our Church History

 

Before 1911, the people of Phenix City and the local area were ministered to by the Priest from Holy Family Catholic Church in nearby Columbus, Georgia.

 

In 1910, the Bishop of the Diocese of Mobile invited the priests of the Congregation of the Mission (known as Vincentians) to work in the counties of Clay, Randolph, Coosa, Tallapoosa, Chambers, Lee, Russell, Macon, and part of Elmore.  The first group of Vincentians settled in Opelika, Alabama, then a railroad center in this part of the country.

 

Rev. Thomas McDonald, C.M., was inspired to establish a parish in Phenix City while giving a parish mission at Holy Family Parish in Columbus, GA.  Construction began on July 25, 1911, on a lot donated by Rev. P. McKenna, C. M.  The church was completed on October 15, 1911; the cornerstone laid on October 22, 1911; and the church dedicated by His Excellency Bishop Allen, on November 5, 1911.

 

In 1915, the Church broke ground for a permanent residence for the priests.

 

When Father Judge became head of the East Alabama Mission in 1915, he saw education as means to combat prejudice.  Through his recruitment efforts, young lay women came to staff the first Catholic School which opened in Phenix City in July 1916.  Later, it became St. Patrick’s Academy for a while.

 

From 1918 through 1919, Spanish influenza swept Phenix City.  The Associates from the School, as well as others, volunteered going from house to house.  They dispensed medicines, bathed fevered bodies, brought nourishing soup, and helped those who were dying to meet their God with resignation.  The people thus cared for never forgot the kindness and bravery of these women.

 

During his 17 years (1936 to 1954) as pastor, Rev. James Salway, C. M., built the first Parish Hall and erected the first shrine to the Virgin Mary in this part of the South. A new Parish Hall was built in 1981.  It was dedicated by Rev. Michael Kennedy, C. M., on January 9, 1982.

 

Rev. Thomas D. Weise has been at St. Patrick’s since June 8, 1997.  He had a dream and made a commitment to reopen St. Patrick’s School which was closed from 1994 until 1999. The school was destroyed by fire on January 15, 2010, and reopened on January 19, 2010, in the Cenacle (former nuns’ residence), a building next door to the school still on parish property.  Currently there is an active fund-raising campaign to rebuild the school along with worship space with monies beyond what the insurance allowed for a total loss.

 

More detailed information about our history can be found in our Centennial Memory Book.