Saint David, Willock

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Parish History

St. David was established in 1919.  The origin of the parish can be traced to the 1890's with the opening of coal mines in the area.  This caused a rapid growth in the village of Willock.  In 1913, the Missionary Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (MCCD) established a catechism class for the children of the miners.  The diocese formed the MCCD to bring religious instruction to Catholics living in small, isolated communities who did not have easy access to an existing church.  In October of 1919, the first Mass to be celebrated in the community took place in Miners' Hall.  An ironing board served as the Altar for this first Mass.  Mass continued to be celebrated in Miners Hall once a month for the next four years.  In 1922, fund raising for a church began.

Ground for the new church was broken in May of 1923.  The completed church was dedicated in the first Sunday of September of 1923.  In February of 1924, St. David became an independent parish with the appointment of a resident pastor.  Unfortunately, in that same year, a major coal mine played out and closed.  With the closing of the mine, the miners living in Willock began leaving the community.  This was a major blow to the parish.  The coming of the depression in 1929 also rocked the parish.  In 1931 the financially struggling parish again reverted to a mission of the MCCD, although the Confraternity was able to continue celebrating Mass every Sunday.

In February of 1937, St. David again became an independent parish.  While the population of Willock remained low, the nearby community of Pleasant Hills began to boom.  Catholics moving to Pleasant Hills attended St. David and the newcomers soon strained the capacity of the church to hold them.  The pastor of St. David sought permission of the bishop to build a new church.  Permission was granted and land in Pleasant Hills was purchased in 1941.  However, rather than replace St. David Church, the property was to be used to build a church that would be dedicated as St. Elizabeth Church.  In February of 1942, ground was broken for the new church and the first Mass in St. Elizabeth was celebrated on Christmas Day, 1942.  At that point, the pastor of St. David became the pastor of St. Elizabeth and St. David became a mission of St. Elizabeth.

In 1973, the status of St. David was changed from a mission of St. Elizabeth to a Chapel of Convenience.  It retains this status today and remains open and continues to serve the parish of St. Elizabeth.

Photos From the Diocesan Archive:

St. David Church, 1934
St. David Church, 2002

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