of the

Dedication of Most Holy Name Church

Troy Hill

North Side - Pittsburgh



1868                                             1928


[Most Holy Name Church]



History of Most Holy Name Church

Early Catholicity and Pioneer Catholics

     To begin the narration of the history of Most Holy Name Church, it is necessary to go back many years before the actual building of the church, and consider the circumstances that led to its formation.  We must start by reviewing early Catholicity on Troy Hill.


     First of all, let us try to picture one locality as it was in the days long before the Civil War.  Old Allegheny, as the North Side was then known, was a small municipality.  From the City Hall at Federal and Ohio Streets, one easily walked not more than a dozen squares to arrive at the City limits.  Proceeding eastwardly along Ohio Street, the boundary line was reached soon after crossing Chestnut Street, and if the traveler were to continue along the boardwalk up the ungraded road leading to the little hill overlooking the Allegheny River, he would find himself in a sparsely settled locality far in the country.  Troy Hill was then a part of Reserve Township with woods and orchards, farms and gardens.  A hemlock grove graced the rear section, from which fact that locality was known, until very recent years, as “Black Hemlock.”


     The Catholics who may have been living on Troy Hill, could attend Holy Mass and receive their spiritual consolation at Saint Patrick Church, the only Catholic church in this section until 1842, when St. Philomena Church was built at Fourteenth Street.  Some years previous to its erection, the German Catholics converted an old cotton factory into a church, and by this association it became known as “The Factory Church.”  Upon its site the handsome old St. Philomena’s was built, which stood the test and served its time until the commercial interests of a congested city demanded its removal.  The old church was torn down and the property transferred to the Pennsylvania Railroad a few years ago.


     We refer to the German Catholics because they were the chief settlers of old Allegheny and vicinity, at least of the section east of Federal Street.  For this reason, the entire community was commonly known in the by-name of Germantown, and not infrequently, but more vulgarly, as Dutchtown.  The English-speaking settlers lived in the lower or western section of Allegheny, and the Catholics among them remained attached to Saint Patrick’s after the above division was made.


     The increasing number of German Catholics who lived north of the Allegheny River demanded, in the course of time, the establishment of a new parish, and with the approval of the Rt. Reverend Michael O’Connor, first Bishop of Pittsburgh, Saint Mary’s was organized.  A site was purchased at North Street, between Washington and Liberty Streets, now known as Nash, Pressley and Lockhart Streets, where a little church was built in the year 1848.  It was a small frame building of unpretentious design, which was razed after seven years to give place to the present handsome edifice.  The Catholics of Troy Hill became members of this newly organized parish, unless perchance there were those among them who were of Irish extraction; but even these organized their own parish, St. Peter’s, at the corner of Ohio Street and Sherman Avenue, within one year after the establishment of St. Mary’s.


     Before this time, however, the attention of the German Catholics was directed already to Troy Hill, and indications appeared that this locality would become in time a staunch Catholic settlement.  The first movement occurred in 1842, when the Redemptorist Fathers of Saint Philomena’s acquired a tract of land that is now the Park of the Saint Joseph Orphanage, for a burial ground.  In the year 1849, they built a very small chapel in this cemetery and dedicated it in the following year in honor of the Sorrowful Mother.  The old members of our congregation will recall the tiny edifice, pretentiously claiming to be of Gothic design, with its four windows and door.  A little pointed belfry surmounted it.  The blessing services were conducted during the



afternoon of All Saints Day, in the year 1850, and on December twelfth of that same year Holy Mass was offered therein.  It was a Solemn High Mass of Requiem for the repose of the souls of the Faithful Departed - the first Holy Mass ever offered on Troy Hill.

[Chapel of the Sorrowful Mother]


     The Chapel, of course, was but an oratory wherein services were conducted only on the day of All Souls, and on occasions of funerals, but it was not a long time after the dedication of the little house of prayer, when another building was erected in the land adjoining the cemetery, and in this place Holy Mass was offered daily.  This was the Saint Joseph Orphan Home, an institution for the bereft children of Saint Philomena Church, and later, as it still remains, an orphanage for all parishes of German speaking people.  The cornerstone of the Home was laid on July 22, 1851, and the building completed the same year.  Three years later, on July 25, 1854, a fire occurred which leveled the building and caused a total loss; but the work of reconstruction was started at once, as soon as the debris was cleared away, and on May first of the following year the new building was ready for occupancy.


     Saint Joseph Orphan Asylum did not enjoy parochial rights, of course, and the Catholics of Troy Hill were still members of Saint Mary Church, but it offered a convenience to the people living in the neighborhood, and they readily availed themselves of the opportunity, even to the extent of sending their children to the school of the Sisters de Notre Dame, who were in charge of the Home.  During the winter season, and in times of inclement weather, this arrangement was more than appreciated, because at such times the unpaved streets of Troy Hill became veritable pools of mud, and the Troy Hill Road was but a little better than a Stygian pathway.


     The middle of the past century, the period in which Saint Mary Church was built, was a trying one for Catholics.  A very bitter and bigoted movement was directed against them, the so called Know-Nothing disturbances, which in later years found their revival in periodic waves of bigotry that swept over the country under such names as the A.P.A. Movement, the Guardians of Liberty, and the now defunct Ku Klux Klan.  In pioneer days such disturbances were more virulent and oppressive than any manifestation of intolerance at the present day when Catholics are more numerous and non-Catholics more liberal in their views; but in those days they hindered to a great extent the advancement of Catholicity among the settlers.  New congregations might have been established earlier and churches built sooner had not the opposition been so vehement.  Destroying church property and breaking church windows seems to have been a favorite pastime of the “patriots” of the past century.  The construction of Saint Mary Church demonstrated this intolerant spirit.  The older ones of the present generation can recall that this church had no windows other than small semi-circles near the roof, which were intended for ventilation rather than the admission of light.  Know-Nothings could not break windows where none existed.  It is not more than a score of years since windows were cut in the building of Saint Mary’s.


     Under such conditions, it was foreign to the question that the Catholics of Troy Hill could band themselves for the organizing of their own parish; but had the times been tranquil, the question might have been considered.  Waves of bigotry, however, subside and the Church remains always an impregnable fortress against which the darts



of the enemy avail nothing; and thus the Know-Nothing disturbances passed into innocuous desuetude and again the times were favorable for Catholicism.  But then followed some years that were most severe and trying for the country.  Strife and disagreement entered the land, which resulted in the Civil War, accompanied by the usually prevailing hardships and privations that accompany an outbreak of hostilities.  We, of the present generation, know full well the meaning of war, for within our memory lives the picture of the vicissitudes of the great World War of 1914-1918.  With such harassing conditions, parish formation and church building were not to be dreamed of, and therefore, the Catholics of Troy Hill were still to be without their own church.  After the cessation of hostilities, however, when peace and order were re-established and the Union preserved intact, the Church assumed new vigor and enthusiasm which resulted in the formation and development of several new parishes.


The Establishing of the Church of the Most Holy Jesus

     During the trying days of intolerance and the severe days of the Civil War, Saint Mary’s, the mother church was administered by the zealous and saintly priest of God, Father John Stibiel.  His encouraging words and bright example of a true Christian life, sustained the spirit amongst the Catholics who were under his spiritual care.  Their number increased steadily, and the Pastor, with foresight, saw the possibility of a greater increase if new parishes were established.  There were almost seventy families of Catholics on Troy Hill, and in the Manchester section, a borough adjoining old Allegheny, a greater number had homes.  The time and occasion were mature for the organizing of parishes in both these sections.  Father Stibiel recognized the necessity of churches in these localities, and his personal piety speeded the work.  The venture was great, but with keen discrimination the priest decided to erect one church in honor of Saint Joseph, the pure Spouse of the Immaculate Mother, and another church in honor of Mary’s Divine Son, under the title of the Most Holy Name.  He built Saint Mary’s, and now he would complete the work by adding the two churches necessary to form a Holy Family.  The Virgin’s church being in the center, he would place to the right of it, and upon the prominence of Troy Hill, the church dedicated to the Savior's Saving Name; and to the left, in the flat lowlands of Manchester, indicating the lowly humility of the great Foster-Father, he would have the church to Saint Joseph.  With this lofty idea, Father Stibiel organized the two parishes and built the churches.  Both projects were started in the year 1866.


     The first to be organized was Saint Joseph’s and after the cornerstone was set on June 24th, the congregation on Troy Hill was formed without delay.  For this purpose, Father Stibiel purchased, over the signature of Bishop Domenec, the property at Clark and Hazel Streets (now called Claim and Harpster Streets), for the sum of $3,100.00 from Elizabeth A. Seymore, a resident of New York State, and to the best of knowledge, of Troy, N.Y., and let those take note who seek an explanation for the name of Troy Hill, that it was conferred possibly by this lady.  In fact, the original deed of the property designates the locality as the Village of New Troy, Reserve Township, Pa., in tribute, no doubt, to her home on the Hudson.  But, as the matter of nomenclature is of no importance, they shall be left undisturbed in their contentions who seek to refer its origins to the Troy of classic lore.


     The cornerstone of our church was laid August 26, 1866, and Father Stibiel, although continuing as Pastor of Saint Mary’s, supervised the construction of the building simultaneously with the erection of Saint Joseph’s.  The work, however, progressed more rapidly in Manchester than on Troy Hill, and its church was dedicated about a year before the completion of Most Holy Name; but, although the latter work was slow, it was non the less sure, and several reasons might be assigned for the delay.


     One of them was that much of the work was the gratuitous labor of the parishioners who sacrificed several hours each evening after a working day.  These people, as



sturdy pioneers, tired from heavy toil, but imbued with the spirit of faith, were willing and glad to wield the pick and shovel, or perform any such menial work as might be required of them.  They regarded their sacrifice as a privilege, and were happy to help in rearing an edifice to the worship of God Almighty.  Not all of the work, of course, was gratuitous, for necessary tradesmen and mechanics had to be engaged for particular hire which could not be performed by common artisans; but whatever service could be rendered by the people, was forthcoming with a willing and cheerful spirit.  Slowly, therefore, and by dint of perseverance, the new church was finally completed and ready for the solemn services of its blessing and dedication.


     The Rt. Reverend Michael Domenec, Bishop of Pittsburgh, set June 7, 1868, as the day of the dedication, and personally performed the ceremonies.  It was a day of happiness, indeed, for the Catholics of Troy Hill, and as we, with solemn festivities commemorate the day and breath our prayers of thanksgiving to the Heavenly Father for the blessings of three score years, let us strive to realize the strive to realize the sentiments of those original Catholic families, three score and ten in number, and remember them as our forefathers who labored and sacrificed in order to bequeath to us the grand congregation of which we are so justly proud.


     The original church, as the accompanying picture shows, had not the proportions of the present building, but measured only about one hundred feet in length, of which not much more than one-half was used for church purposes.  The interior was partitioned to allow the rear section to be made into a two-story dwelling for the Pastor.  At the time of the dedication, the Bishop appointed the Reverend Father Mollinger as the first Pastor.


Father S. G. Mollinger, First Pastor

     The choice of this celebrated priest as Pastor of the new congregation was a happy one.  He entered upon the duties of his office on July 4, 1868, and immediately set himself to labor for the best interests of the infant parish.  Endowed with solid German characteristics, he did not tarry before taking up in the order of their importance the many problems that confront a young church and his very first concern was to arrange for the teaching of the little children.  For this purpose, he decided to curtail and restrict his personal requirements in regard to his dwelling apartment and arrange one of the rooms in the rear of the church for school purposes.  The arrangement was quite satisfactory for the time being, and a lay teacher was engaged to conduct the class.  Hence, three months after the dedication of their church, the Catholic children of Troy Hill enjoyed the benefits of an established school.  The number of pupils was not more than twenty-five or thirty, but within a few years a steady increase necessitated the erection of a new building, as will be noted later on.


     At his accession, Father Mollinger was obliged to assume great financial obligations.  Whenever seventy families, whose income is not above the moderate average, attempt to organize a parish and build a church, it follows as night the day, that heavy debts are incurred despite the fact that much personal labor be offered free of cost.  Materials cannot be obtained gratis and hired labor demands its pay.  But the new Pastor was willing to shoulder the responsibility and add to it both the embellishing of the House of God and the arranging of whatever was necessary for the advancement of the  congregation, and that he would succeed was a matter almost self-evident, for he had two powerful allies to assist his projects and to accomplish his aims.  The one was a Heavenly intercessor in the person of Saint Anthony of Padua, his favorite Saint and chosen Patron; the other, a material ally in the form of a substantial fortune which he received by inheritance and of which he lavished freely upon his church.


     After providing, as just stated, for the Catholic education of the little ones, Father Mollinger directed his attention to the beautifying of the interior of God’s dwelling.  First he built two side altars and then re-



[Most Holy Name Church of 1868]



placed the temporary main alter with the present beautiful marble construction. Bishop Domenec solemnly blessed the new altar on the Feast of Our Lady's Assumption, August 15, 1869. Many details of a minor nature were likewise attended to, and in all things Father Mollinger manifested his conviction that for the House of the Lord nothing should be too costly and no sacrifice considered too great. He allowed himself to be guided by his principle in everything he purchased for the church and in later years for is chapel. Many of the articles purchased by him, as for example, vestments, are still being used and will be serviceable for many another year.


     With Troy Hill's church and school completed, the number of families soon increased, and in about a half dozen years was estimated at nearly two hundred. The increased population naturally necessitated better and larger accommodations, especially in the school. For the time being, the church could be considered sufficiently large because the people cold be accommodated by extra Masses, but the small school rooms in the rear of the building would no longer seat the children. The parish was confronted, therefore, by the necessity of erecting a new building, and without delay plans were drawn and the work started in 1874. In the following year the work was completed and the Sisters de Notre Dame, who were stationed at the Orphanage, took charge of teaching the girls and small boys, whilst the larger boys remained under the tutorship of the lay professor.


     The cost of the new school was $8,105.17, according to an annotation found in an old book, and if we assume these figures to be true, we see that they meant the imposition of another heavy debt upon the small congregation; but again the people indicated their willingness to sacrifice for the love of their parish. Money was raised by various methods besides the regular church contributions. Here is reproduced a ticket for an evening entertainment held in the year 1876, one of the many money-making affairs. Observe, that in spite of the meagre wages earned by the people of bygone days, the price of admission was one dollar! All tickets were numbered and marked "Not  Transferable."

[Worn ticket for “Evening Entertainment, Troy Hill Literary Association].


     The people, however, were prompt to co-operate with their Pastor in all the methods employed to gather funds. Picnics, socials, suppers, raffles, entertainments were the order of the day, and were just as common in the olden times as they are in most parishes at the present. One parish record shows, for example, that in he year 18882 a set o harness was placed on raffle and returned in net proceeds the very fair sum



of $440.00. No person could find fault with these returns, if with a mind to business he figured the percentage of profit, for the harness cost only $35.00. Every swain, no doubt, and city dandy purchased numerous tickets and secretly hoped to be the fortunate winner.


     These various affairs, however, were means whereby the interest of the people was sustained and the parish enabled to thrive. The parishioners realized, more over, that if they wished to have a church and school of their own and desired to transmit a flourishing parish to their posterity, they must contribute their share and perform their duty in the financial upkeep and be loyal to every endeavor. Such a spirit of sacrifice, once engendered, soon permeates the entire Catholic being and manifests itself on every occasion, and so our forefathers learnt to give to their own church without forgetting the needs of others. For example, when in 1889 the Johnstown Flood, one of the greatest calamities in the history of Pennsylvania, demanded its heavy toll of life and property, the people of Most Holy Name Church were very prompt to offer the generous contribution of $300.00 for the poor suffers. Three hundred dollars from a parish of approximately four hundred families, and at a time when a dollar or two was consider a good day's wage! This is charity at a sacrifice!  But, we are getting ahead of the time.


     The school was completed, as we said, in 1875. The next project was to build a suitable dwelling for the Pastor. As the old school increased, the priest's apartment decreased until only three small rooms were left to him on the second floor rear of the church. But Father Mollinger would not ask the parish to build the rectory, but at his own initiative and from his own resources he purchased a site on Hazel Street (Harpster Street) and built thereon his own house. He moved into the new home in 1877 and delivered both floors of his former dwelling, with the exception of a single office room, for the use of the Sisters. Until this time the teaching Sisters dwelt at the Orphanage and came to and fro each day to school. In the office room Father Mollinger received the many clients who came to him daily for help and advice, and there he transacted all parish business, A very unfortunate occurrence happened, however, when after a few months' use of the office a small fire broke out which caused irreparable damage. It was only a small blaze, which caused but little damage to the building, but it was destructive enough to cause the loss of all church records. Hence, there are no records existant of baptisms, deaths, marriages, etc., previous to the year 1877. All that would be interesting historical data is lost forever!


     In the years that followed after this, events transpired which introduced a new chapter in the history of Troy Hill and its flourishing parish, and which culminated in the chief life's labor of its Pastor. These were the circumstances which led to the erection of the Saint Anthony Chapel and the steady concourse of devotees after its completion. Troy Hill became a center of attraction from far and near; Catholics and non-Catholics regarded it as a place of pilgrimage; and in numbers of the thousands did the afflicted and distressed flock to its priest for help and alleviation. So great was the name of the Pastor and so  great the fame of the place, that neither has yet passed into oblivion.


     From the time Father Mollinger took charge of the parish he conducted devotions in honor of his beloved Saint of Padua, and even before the Chapel was built people were wont to come to him for help and advice. He devoted the greater part of his energy to the propagation of devotion to his household Saint, and the remaining part was given chiefly to collecting Relics of Saints, which were displayed in the church and in the rooms of the pastoral residence until every available space was filled. This led him to entertain thoughts for the erection of a new church which would be of a proportionate size so that all the Relics could be displayed properly and at the same time large enough to accommodate the ever increasing Catholic population of the Hill. The idea gripped him so firmly that before long he resolved to broach the question to the members of the Church Committee. What, with his personal means and with the obligation of the parish would assume, could



[Corpus Christi Procession of 1890 - Hatteras St. from Froman St.]



be accomplished in church building! The thought was fascinating and entrancing; it took complete possession of the priest; but whether fortunately or unfortunately, we know not, the Committee was not in accord with the pastor's plan, and as opinions clashed we may imagine how hotly all the pros and cons were debated. A casual observer might have mistaken the meeting for a preliminary bout of civil war, but happily peace was restored before any casualties were recorded. Father Mollinger's intention was to build a church to cost approximately $150,000.00, of which amount he offered to pay one-half provided the parish would pay the other. But this seemed too great a risk for the committee. Not confident of their abilities, and apparently not capable of thinking in the terms of large sums, they concluded that so great a venture could not be chanced and that the parish should not steep itself so heavily in debit. And there the matter ended.


     What a magnificent edifice would grace Troy Hill today had the plans of Father Mollinger not been thwarted! Imagination suffers no violence if we say that in all the country there would not be its equal. If all the treasures of the Saint Anthony Chapel, together with its beauteous works of art, were embodied in a church according to the ideas and plans of Father Mollinger, that church would claim more uniqueness and fame than the small Chapel, which is nothing more than a substitute for a cherished plan. But the hand of God directs even when men fail to recognize its direction; and the truth of the statement may apply in this particular case. A church should be practical and serviceable, rather than unique, and the crowding of many reliquaries might have detracted from its usefulness. Moreover, the veneration of so many Relics and the particular devotion to Padua's Saint might have diverted all attention from the Veneration and honor due to the Saviour's Sacred Name, under which tutelage the church was dedicated. It is most foreign, however, from the writer's mind to judge the case or even to offer a humble opinion concerning it. The fact stands, that Father Mollinger was obliged to provide in some other manner for the accommodation of the people in church and to think some other way to house his collection of Relics.


     The solution of the new problem was found in the enlargement of the church and and the erection of the Saint Anthony Chapel. The latter was built in 1882 as the private property of the Pastor, and the church was enlarged by removing the partition which separated the former residence of the Pastor, then used as a dwelling for the Sisters. The original construction of the building under one roof easily permitted this. The alter was set against the rear wall in a line with the side altars. The arrangement was very satisfactory and by it the church was made into a plain but beautiful interior, unobstructed in view by posts or pillars, homelike and devotional in every regard. It does not boast of architectural merit or artistic perfection, but it is a church in which the faithful feel at home and are inspired to pray to their Eucharistic Friend Who seems so close. The Saint Anthony Chapel, too, is a valuable asset to the parish and a beauteous house of worship.


     As one problem is solved another usually presents itself and so before the extension of the church building could be effected, another dwelling had to be provided for the Sisters. For this purpose a small house was purchased on Hamilton Street, now called Hatteras Street, but was resold in later years and moved to another location on the same street nearer to Forest Street (now Froman), and upon its site was built what we now style the "old convent."


Last Years of Father Mollinger's Pastorate

     Under the administration of Father Mollinger the school building was enlarged and the third story built to it and made into an auditorium. Until this time, there was only a small hall on the second floor and this was now converted into two class rooms. Under the management of its first Pastor, the parish also purchased land in Reserve Township for a cemetery, as will be noted later on under its proper heading.



     As the years of Father Mollinger passed in turn, one by one, until he counted almost twenty-four that were spent on Troy Hill, he saw a steady and flourishing expanse, even to the extent that before his last year arrived a division was made of the parish whereby a large territory was ceded to the newly organized congregation of Saint Aloysius in Reserve Township. During his years, Troy Hill, which at the time of the church's dedication was a part of the township, became the eleventh ward of the City of Allegheny, whilst the district in Spring Garden was formed into a Borough. After its admission into the city, Troy Hill Road was graded and paved, an improvement which contributed largely to the growth of the community. All property holders were assessed for this work and even the congregation was obliged to pay the sum of $801.25. This was back in the year 1880. The street car line also helped to advance the building of the district which became populous. In 1885, the city built a public school and about the same time provided for the housing of the fire department. A private enterprise constructed an inclined railway from East Ohio Street to Lowrie Street, but this eventually ended in financial failure. All in all, however, Troy Hill was no longer the farmland or wooded district of twenty years previous, but a thriving little city with its own shops and store, a segregated section where the German Catholics retained the lead in population with Father Mollinger as one of the principal characters.


     The spiritual care over these people became so great that one priest alone could no longer give all the attention necessary, especially since pilgrims in numbers pressed upon the time and consideration of the Pastor. For this reason, Father Mollinger engaged the assistance of priest from several religious houses. Generally, one, and at times two, remained resident with him and devoted themselves to the needs of the parishioners. A score and more of years had passed since Bishop Domenec blessed the church and sent Father Mollinger to guide the little flock and build the congregation, and during all those years he characterized himself by untiring efforts and unremitting zeal for the parish welfare, so that when at last the word "Finis" was written to the chapter of his life, he left a parish that had grown from a small beginning, as the acorn into the oak, strong and sturdy with promise of longevity and ever increasing activity. The hand of death removed Father Mollinger on June 15, 1892, and the bereaved parishioners displayed in their deep morning that they appreciated the earnest endeavors, sincere efforts and wonderful accomplishments of their first Pastor.


Father J, B, Duffner, Second Pastor

     As previously stated, the Rectory and the Saint Anthony Chapel were built out of the private resources of Father Mollinger, whose intention it was to leave them as the property of the parish, according to the tenor of his last will and testament. But oftimes death discloses startling facts, and so it happened at the death of Father Mollinger. The alleged will was never found, and to this day its disappearance remains a mystery. It is certain that it was written, for one of the parishioners was witness thereto, but it is equally certain that its traces were never discovered. Perhaps Father Mollinger himself destroyed it--who knows? But, what boots it now? Let it remain a mystery, for we cannot undo the past; but neither can we overlook the fact as it affected the parish at the time. Whatever intentions the Pastor may have had regarding the transference of the property, the parish had no claim to its inheritance without the will. Moreover, legitimate heirs soon appeared upon the scene and claimed the estate, and this left the parish to choose of the alternatives of either purchasing what rightly belonged to the church, or of allowing it to pass into non-Catholic possession.


     The situation was all but pleasant and priests were not readily found who were willing to cope with it; but finally the Reverend Father John B. Duffner volunteered and was given charge in September, 1892. In order to save Father Mollinger's estate for Holy Name Church, he resigned the



rectorship of the church which he built on the South Side, namely Saint Peter's. His sacrifice was great and sincere, and the labor arduous, but Father Duffner would not permit himself to be deterred and he proved that he was an indefatigable worker. He succeeded at last in rescuing the property upon the payment of the sum of $30,000.00. Father Mollinger expended over $200,000.00 in erecting and embellishing the chapel and the house, but as Father Duffner was able to prove by documentary evidence that many appointments and appurtenances were purchased in the title of the church and thus imported free of tax, the heirs were obliged to relinquish some claims. Considerable controversy ensued, but the settlement was reached when the articles of agreement for the sale of the estate were signed on June, 25, 1893. This final transfer was effected on May 9,1895.


     When Father Duffner took charge of the parish the Rt. Reverend Bishop also appointed a diocesan priest to be his assistant and thus the services of the Fathers of the Holy Ghost College (now Duquesne University) ceased. The first priest to be appointed Assistant was Father Erhart, and since that time the parish has always had its Assistant Pastors who have labored faithfully with the Pastor for the promotion of the parish welfare, both spiritual and temporal. Every person knows that the spiritual cannot prosper alone without the aid of the material. The temporalities of a parish must be cared for as well as the spiritual advancement of the flock, and zealous priests must be stewards of financial matters as well as ministers of the Divine Dispensations. Especially is this true when a heavy debt rest upon the Parish, as was the case when Father Duffner and his Curates were in charge. Money had to collected by every possible means, and therefore socials, suppers, theatrical performances, and what-nots were the order of the times, and usually the energies and abilities of the Assistant priests were called into action to make these affairs successful.


     Father Duffner's chief improvement to the church building was its extension as it stands today. First he undertook to break the rear wall and build the Sanctuary and the Sacristy and place side entrances from Harpster Street and Thumb Way. The second and greater undertaking was the extension of the church at the front and erection of the belfry. The work was completed in 1898.


     Next in order was to provide additional accommodations for the school children. The number in attendance increased steadily until all rooms were filled. An L was proposed as the solution to the question. It was built westwardly along Thumb way, three stories in height, with a single room on each floor. The first floor is now being used for the Kindergarten. Many years, however, did not elapse until even this addition was insufficient, and then nothing short of a new school could solve the difficulty. Accordingly, plans where drawn and work commenced in 1905. It was Father Duffner's last enterprise and not completed before death called him.


     Early in the summer of 1906, his health began to fail and before the approach of winter he reposed in his chill, silent grave. Father Duffner died October 15, 1906 after completing fourteen fruitful years as Pastor of the congregation. Always a true priest of God and a Father of souls, he was highly esteemed and loved by the people. Recognizing his amiable personal traits and noble character, they deemed his departure a real loss to the parish.


Father M. Mueller, Third Pastor

     At Father Duffner's death, Father Herman Killmeyer and Father Godfrey Pfeil were the assistants in the parish, and with them rested its administration until the appointment of another Pastor. Their principal work was to proceed with the school building, and they brought it to almost completion before the arrival of the new Pastor. The appointment was delayed for some months due to a canonical concursus which was necessary. During the life of Father Duffner the rectorship of Most Holy Name



Church was raised to the dignity and stability of a permanent or irremovable pastorate and such an office can be secured only by a candidate who has passed a successful examination. Father Michael F. Mueller was the one who bore the victory, if we may call it such, and took charge of the parish on January 13, 1907.


     We read in his biographical sketch that he served as Assistant here from April, 1893, until November, 1896, and hence, becoming Pastor, he was sufficiently acquainted with the conditions and needs of the congregation to know how to begin his work and by what means to accomplish his ends. His first obligation, of course, was the new school. On April 23rd, he conducted the dedicatory services and then turned his attention to the all important matter of paying for it. The debt of the parish was approximately $40,000.00, and a financial panic held the country in its grip. Those who remember the year 1907 will recall the distress that prevailed and the use of clearing house checks which where in circulation instead of real money. Therefore, a very difficult task confronted Father Mueller, but he was capable of managing the situation. In fact, he managed so well that at his death, not only were all debts cancelled, but a reserve fund of approximately 443,000.00 was created. Naturally, to accomplish this, it was necessary to apply every principle of economy, and economy became his watchword. He avoided all unnecessary expenditures, averted waste, and by dint of perseverance established a financially sound parish.


     This does not mean, however, that he shunned every incurrence of expenses. On the contrary, he spent great sums of money for necessary improvements. He built an addition to the rear of the Rectory and refurnished the greater part of the house. He bought a frame house on Hatteras Street, next to the convent, connected it with the main building in order to provide additional accommodations for the Sisters. (Last year this house was razed after the completion of the new Convent.) In the church, as well as in the school, he attended to several major improvements. he first work on the old school building was the alteration of the front entrance. The old steps extending over the pavement were  removed and the doors arranged so as to provide a safe and quick exit in case of emergency. To the Sacristy of the church he  built a very necessary extension and purchased many beautiful articles for use in Divine Service. Under the church and under the old school he excavated basements and installed furnaces and steam heat systems. He built the retaining wall, concrete steps and walks at the Cemetery, and attended to all ordinary repairs that are necessary annually on all church property. 


     All in all, Father Mueller accomplished very much for the material progress of the parish, and neither was dull to the spiritual needs of the parishioners. His zeal was relentless and his efforts untiring, despite of the poor condition of his health. He never failed to keep the interests of the parish uppermost in his mind.


     Several energetic Assistants aided him in his work, and notably amongst them was Father Killmeyer, who was stationed in the parish for a period of eleven years, and Father Otto Plantize, who spent nine years. Other Assistants were Father Aloysius Angel, Father August Bieger, and Father Joseph Young. At the time of Father Mueller's death Father Edwin Fussenegger and Father William Bey were associated with him, although the former was not home at the time. With permission from the Bishop, Father Fussenegger was on a pilgrimage to Rome and the Holy Land.


The death of Father Mueller occurred on the feast of Saint Francis, October 4, 1922, after an illness that had lasted several years. The orphaned parish remembered him well in their prayers and by the number of Holy Masses that were offered at their request for the repose of his soul.


     In the meantime, Father Bey was placed in temporary charge of the parish as Vicar Econome and held the position four months until the appointment of Father Pfeil as Pastor. He qualified well in the capacity of administrator. First he executed the plans of Father Mueller in regard to some alterations in the convent, a contract costing about $8,000.00. Then he devoted his energy to the interests of the people, especially by uniting the men of the parish and reorganizing the Saint Anthony Lyceum.



Father G. Pfeil, Fourth Pastor

     The vacancy of the pastorate was filled at length by the appointment of the Rev. Father Godfrey Pfeil, who took possession on February 1,1923, From that day forward, until the present, his record has been one of glorious achievement. In the first year of his rectorship he purchased the house and lot at the corner of Claim Street and Thumb Way for the sum of $4,100.00. And then prevailed upon the City Council to vacate the alley way so that two school buildings at its other end could be united. The City Fathers readily consented to this and a union was set over the alley to conform with the structures and make of them one continuous building. In this new part, modern sanitary lavatories were installed at a cost of $27,000.00. Next to erecting a brand new school, this addition was the greatest improvement that could have been made. It was a matter of absolute necessity and the rapid increase in the number of school children proved that the Pastor possessed wise perception and foresight. Within these four years since the work was completed four new class rooms were opened, which demonstrates that parents are eager to send their children to a school that has modern conveniences.

     Father Pfeil also considered the comfort and convenience of the people who attend Divine Service, and for this reason he replaced the old lighting fixtures of the church and chapel. All the old wiring was torn out and new lights installed at the cost of a considerable sum, and at the same time he spent $3,000.00 to install a steam heating system in the chapel.

     During the summer of 1925 a contract was let for a new floor in the church which cost $2,385.25.  And after plans were drawn for the greatest of the parish undertakings since the time when Father Duffner built the new school, namely plans for a new Sisters Convent. It was erected during the following year and when completed with furnishings cost about $80,000.00 {The actual contract price was $76,169.00.43} A description of this building will be found in another chapter. The Sisters moved into their new home on the Feast of the Epiphany, 1927.

     After the Sisters moved the old frame part of the former Convent was torn away and the brick building was remodeled to accommodate two classes on the first floor whilst the second story was converted for the use of the ladies societies and the Young Ladies Sodality. But the complication of the new Convent did not complete the ambitious plans of Father Pfeil nor cause him to descend into a state of lethargy. His energies never lie dormant, energy and progress might be listed as his maxims and so it appears that he must be always achieving something new. For this very reason the things necessary having been attended to. Father next gave his attention to matters less important but more desirable and the principal one of these was the redecoration of the church. The Lord deserved a nicer dwelling and $4,590.00 were spent in order to have it painted, with an additional $1,498.00 for the electric lanterns but the work most assuredly is worth the price.

     At the beginning of last year a new method of church support was inaugurated. The old system of pew rent, door collections, offertory collections and house collections was abolished and in its stead the budget or envelope system was introduced. This method is far superior to all others and is effecting marvelous results. The revenue has been increased substantially without inconvenience or hardship to the parishioners. At the beginning of the year every member of the parish receives a pack of envelopes numbered and arranged for every Sunday. The wage earners have one extra envelope each month for the monthly collection and every person receives a special Easter and Christmas envelope plus one more for a school contribution which is given in September. Every wage earner is urged to contribute twenty- five cents each Sunday and an extra offering once a month for the monthly collection. The results of this method are very gratifying. In this book is to be found a reprint of the financial report of the past year, the best in the history of the parish. The increased revenue also brought with it the realization of Father Pfeil’s fondest hope, namely, the abolition of tuition money in school. Since last September


no tuition has been charged, except for the Commercial Course and many poor children have been receiving free books.

     Last year the parish also spent $12,200.00 for the purchase on Hatteras Street of the property of the late John Miller in order to have possession of all the property along the old alley way. The entire Thumb Way is now the property of the church and will prove to be very valuable in years to come, especially when the proposition arises to build a new church.

     These are the outstanding accomplishments of Father Pfeil’s regime during the five years since his accession as Pastor of Most Holy Name Church. Numerous other improvements notably the remodeling of the auditorium stage and all ordinary repairs of Church property have been paid for and there is never a time when activities cease. What greater things will be accomplished in the future will be a matter for another historian to relate but basing our predictions upon the past we may expect that he will have ample material to fill huge volume.

     In all the years Holy Name Parish has shown continuous progress and with sentiments meet and just we now pause to celebrate in profound Thanksgiving the Sixtieth Anniversary of the Church’s Dedication . God has blessed the parish in all this time and let us now lift up our hearts to praise the Father of Mercies and to beg of Him that His favors will continue to descend and that Most Holy Name Church will prosper and increase in grace with each succeeding year. The record of the past remains as an accomplished fact. The loyal sacrificing spirit of the pioneers has been transmitted to every succeeding generation and using the ardor of our present parishioners as the norm we may look forward to great progress in the days to come. To God alone are known the secrets of the future but if the wish be the father of the thought and necessity the mother of invention we may prophesy that the next progressive step will be the erection of a new school building which will be modern in every respect and adapted to the accommodation of the ever increasing number of children. A new church spacious and beautiful such as should grace our beloved Hill will give occasion for gala day when dedicated but the day of its realization may still be far in the dim future. The present building and the extra accommodation afforded by the chapel may serve for a long while but the school rooms are overcrowded and the arrangements are not in accord with present day exigencies. Let this then rise upon the horizon of our hopes that if Almighty God will allot sufficient years to our beloved Pastor, the anticipation of a better school will become a realization. Then will the congregation have a set of buildings of which it can be justly proud and Troy Hill have a plant that will shed luster upon the progressive community. In conclusion we venture to predict that when Father Pfeil shall propose the project the parishioners will lend their heartiest support and attest that their loyalty is as staunch, their devotion as true and their adherence as firm as has been in any generation of the three score years that are past.



[Most Holy Name Rectory]


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Allegheny County, PA -  USGenWeb Archives - Church Records

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