Saint Barnabas, Swissvale

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Parish History

St. Barnabas was established in 1909 as a Slovak parish.  However, the parish was originally located in Rankin.  Before the parish was founded, local Slovaks attended St. Michael parish in Braddock.  In 1906, a group of Slovaks living in Rankin held a meeting to discuss the possibility of opening a school.  In 1907, the group purchased property and petitioned the bishop for permission to build a school.  On June 30, 1907, the bishop granted permission  to build a school only, with an understanding that a church might also be built at a later date.  After the first floor of the building was completed, the group decided on August 23, 1908, to go ahead and build a second floor to serve as a church, without waiting for permission from the diocese. At this time the new church was named St. Michael the Archangel.   The new building was completed in early 1909.

The first Mass in the new church was celebrated on January 17, 1909, by the pastor of Sacred Heart parish in McKeesport, who was given temporary responsibility for the church.  At this time, the church was renamed St. Joachim, a name that only lasted for two weeks.  On January 31, the church was given the name of Holy Cross.  In August of 1909 responsibility for the church was reassigned to St. Mary Magdalene.  In November of 1909, a resident pastor was assigned and the parish had its final renaming as St. Barnabas.

In the early 1930's, the building underwent repairs.  On the date of its 25th  anniversary, January 21, 1934, the church was finally formally dedicated.  By the late 1930's, the parish began making plans for a new church.  However, the outbreak of the war put a hold on these plans.  During the war, the congregation began migrating to Swissvale from Rankin.  In 1945, the parish purchased land in Swissvale for a new church.  Work on a new church building began with the groundbreaking on June 17, 1950.  The cornerstone was laid on September 17, 1950 and the completed building was dedicated on July 1, 1951.  The old church was later sold.

 The church was renovated in time for the church's 75th anniversary in 1984.  By this time, however, the parish was experiencing a steady decline in the congregation.  As a result St. Barnabas merged with two other parishes to form the new Word of God parish in 1994.  St. Barnabas Church originally remained open and served the new parish along with the other two churches.  However, the congregation of the new parish continued to decline and by 2011 the parish decided that it did not need three church buildings.  They discontinued using St.Barnabas Church in that year and three years later, on June 30, 2014, formally closed the church.

Photos From the Diocesan Archive:

St. Barnabas Church, 2002
Interior of St. Barnabas, 2002

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