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History

St. Cecilia Catholic Church – Jasper, Alabama

The first Mass was celebrated in Jasper, Alabama in the lobby of the Collins Hotel in 1902 by Father Patrick O’Reilly. He traveled to towns along the Illinois Central Railroad Line between Birmingham and the Alabama/Mississippi State line. He visited Catholic families and administrated the Sacrament to them.

Mass was celebrated monthly in the Collins Hotel until 1915. At that time they moved the celebration of the Mass to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Henry McLean. There were many Priests from the Mission that served the people in this area. Some of those were Rev. William Kerrigan, Rev. Andrew Sweeney, Rev. Max Coevert, Rev. James S. Down, Rev. M.E. Kitrick, Rev. John Bratton, Rev. Thomas Lenahan and Rev. Fred Diviney.

In 1916 Rev. Walter Tobin began visiting Jasper the second Sunday of the month to celebrate the Mass. At that time he listed his parishioners as Mr. and Mrs. Henry McLean and their four children. Also, Mr. Blanchard, Mrs. Schianser, Miss Simmons and Miss Anne Dever of Cordova.

1923 - 6th Ave Brick Church

1923 – 6th Ave Brick Mission

Rev. James White succeeded Rev. Tobin 1918-1920. Rev. Thomas Brady in 1920 listed three families with a total of nine persons in Jasper; eleven persons at Demar Station, two at Oakman, one family of six at Cordova and one family of six at Doleski Station.

Under the supervision of Rev. Joseph Parker who was here 1921-1923, the brick church on Sixth Avenue was erected. The 75 by 35 foot building was completed in 1923. It was the first Catholic Mission in Jasper. It seated 125 people and cost $12,000 to build. There were five families consisting of 23 persons in the parish.

The Mission was dedicated in 1923 by Bishop P. Allen and Rev. Parker, with a High Mass. Parishioners from surrounding Missions came to participate in the Solemn High Mass. The Holy Rosary Choir from Gates City, Birmingham, sang at the Mass. Mrs. John D. Gibbons played the organ and Mrs. Ellis Walker played the violin. There were basket dinners with picnicking on the banks of the Warrior River.

Rev. Francis McCormack was Mission Priest 1923-25.

In 1932 Rev. J.G. Moir, a Paulist Missioner, visited St. Cecilia Mission and baptized the son of Mr. and Mrs. Clarence and Sarah Pare Kreps, Clarence W. In 1934, Rev. Alexander O’Neil was here and following him was Rev. Hugh J. Duffy and Rev. Lorigan. In 1939 Rev. Alban J. O’Hara was appointed and remained in the mission until they were placed under the care of the North Alabama Mission in 1944.

The first Christmas Mass at midnight was celebrated in this Mission in 1944. There were 37 Catholics and 32 non Catholics in attendance. Other priests that served this mission were; Rev. Sallentine, Rev. Cordina, Rev. Campbell, Rev. Mullins and Rev. Michael Quealy, (who was killed in the Vietnam War. He was a chaplain).

1963 - 78 Highway Church

1963 – 78 Highway Church

In 1962 a new site was chosen on a hill on 78 Highway West. The property was donated by Dr. Chapman. Construction began on the church under the direction of Msgr. Foster, who was Director of the North Alabama missions.

It seated 125 people with a cry room on the right and small quarters for the priest on the left. The columns of marble at either side of the Altar were salvaged from the Cathedral in Mobile following the disastrous fire of 1954. The Tabernacle was donated by an anonymous giver. The front of the Altar depicts the Burning Bush, recalling the meeting of God and Moses indicating a Holy place.

1963 - 78 Highway Church

1963 – 78 Highway Church

The 34 unique windows were designed by Robert F. Philips, a Birmingham artist. One of these windows were featured in a Birmingham Museum Art Show on Feb. 2, 1964. The transoms above indicate the Seven Sacraments and the Seven Gifts of God. The front doors have the ends of four  prayers etched in the glass. The Altar rail was from the Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Birmingham. It was removed in later years. The Stations of the Cross were from the Catholic Boys Home in Mobile.

The pews in the cry room were from the Chapel of the old Community hospital.  The first Mass was celebrated on Easter Sunday, April 1963.

 

Hwy 195 Ground Breaking

Hwy 195 Ground Breaking

1999 - Hwy 195

1999 – Hwy 195