Our Lady Help of Christians, East Liberty

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East Liberty

Parish History

Our Lady Help of Christians was established in 1898 as an Italian parish.  The origin of the parish can be traced to the rise of immigrants from Italy in the late nineteenth century.  In 1895 the Italian Franciscan Fathers were invited to come to Pittsburgh.  They took charge of the Italian parish in the Hill District, St. Peter.  In 1894, the Italian residents of the East Liberty area petitioned the bishop for permission to form their own parish.   This petition was denied.   To meet the needs of the East Liberty Italians, the pastor of St. Peter began visiting the area to celebrate Mass.  The first Mass for Italians celebrated in East Liberty took place in February of 1895 in the school hall of Ss. Peter and Paul parish.  From that point, a Mass was celebrated almost monthly for the Italians. 

In 1896, the pastor of St. Peter again petitioned the bishop for permission to establish a parish for the Italians in East Liberty.  This time permission was granted.  The first organizational meeting of the parish was held on April 12, 1896.  Fund raising for a church began in 1896.  Work on the church began in 1897.  The cornerstone was laid on September 17, 1897, and the completed church was dedicated on April 17, 1898.  Even after the church was built, improvements continued to be made to the building.  In 1904, frescoes were painted on the walls and ceiling of the church.  Unfortunately, the next year an electrical fire destroyed the church. 

While reconstruction of the church took place, Mass was moved to the school.  By December of 1905, the basement of the new church was completed and beginning on December 17, Mass moved to the basement.  The superstructure of the church was completed earlier the next year and the building was dedicated on April  17, 1906.  Over the years the church was renovated and redecorated.  Renovations took place in the late 1940's, the late 1950's, the 1970's, and the 1980's. 

By this time the population of the city had dropped to the point that it could no longer support the number of independent parishes in existence.  In 1992, Our Lady Help of Christians merged with five other parishes to form the new St. Charles Lwanga parish.  As part of the merger, Our Lady Help of Christians Church closed and was later sold.

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