About St. Catherine Siena Parish Mobile, AL
Many years before the present St. Catherine of Siena Church was erected, Bishop Edward P. Allen and Msgr. Thomas J. Eaton, pastor of St. Mary’s Church, saw the need of a church for the Catholic population living in the western section of the city of Mobile, known as Crichton. Previously the area had been called Napoleanville as there was at one time a plan to resettle refugees of the late Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte of France in this area.
Early in this century Bishop Allen purchased property on the southwest corner of Spring Hill Avenue and Item Avenue. This property, part of a large tract of land granted by the Spanish Government to John Murrell for service and loyalty to that government. Descendants of Murrell lived on this granted property for almost 150 years.
Ground was broken here by Bishop Allen on November 21, 1913, for the erection of a church under the title of St. Catherine of Siena, in memory of Kate Long, who bequeathed a substantial sum of money for such a church. This groundbreaking ceremony was witnessed by a goodly number of laity and following members of the clergy: Father D.A. Brady, pastor of St. Vincent’s Church, Mobile, Father E.J. Hackett, Rector of the Cathedral, Mobile, and Msgr. T.J. Eaton, Pastor of St. Mary’s Mobile.
On February 1, 1914, the church was dedicated by Bishop Allen. On May 25, 1915, Father Emmett B. Kennedy was appointed first resident pastor by Bishop Allen. He served St. Catherine for 12 years, when in 1927 he was succeeded by Father James Rogers. In 1934, Father Michael Daly became the fourth Pastor of St. Catherine. During these pastorates the parish grew steadily and a rectory and gymnasium-parish hall were added to the complex of buildings taking shape on Spring Hill Avenue.