Saint Anselm, Swissvale

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Parish History

St. Anselm was established in 1903.  The parish was formed in response to the increase in population caused by the rise of industry in the area.  As mines and industrial plants opened up, they attracted workers.  By 1903, the bishop created the parish for Swissvale.  The first Mass of the new parish was celebrated in a private home on September 13, 1903.  Two weeks later the pastor rented a house to serve as a combined temporary church and rectory.  However, as the house was too small to accommodate the entire congregation, the parish began to take steps to build a church.  The church was completed in October of 1904.

As the population of the area continued to grow, the congregation soon outgrew the church.  In a meeting held on November 17, 1923, the congregation agreed to the building of a new church.  Work on the new church began shortly afterwards.  The cornerstone of the church was laid on May 4, 1924, and the completed church was dedicated on July 19, 1925.  The new church was built in the Italian Romanesque style in buff and brown brick with limestone trimming.  The old church was sold and torn down.

The interior of the church was extensively renovated in the 1970's.  A new altar was installed, the communion rails removed and a new pulpit erected.

As the growth of industry at the end of the nineteenth century led to the creation of the parish, the loss of industry at the end of the twentieth century led to its suppression.  By the 1990's Swissvale could no longer support the number of independent parishes in existence.  In 1994, St. Anselm merged with St. Barnabas in Swissvale and Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Rankin to form the new Word of God parish.  All three churches remained open to serve the new parish.

As time went on, the size of the congregation continued to drop.  By 2014, the parish determined that they only needed one church.  They chose to retain St. Anselm Church and on June 30, 2014 renamed the church Word of God.

Photos From the Diocesan Archive:

St. Anselm Church, 2002
Interior of church, 2002

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