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.

Father Leo Provost came to St. Catherine’s in March 1938. His pastorate of four years duration was marked by untiring efforts to establish a parish school. Father Daniel Harnett succeeded him at St. Catherine’s in November 1942, and opened the parish school in September 1943, utilizing the gymnasium until the completion of a new school building in September 1949. Dominican Sisters of Caldwell, N.J. staffed the school. These good sisters served the parish school until June 1976, and were replaced by the sisters of Mercy of the Union of Baltimore.
The school and a new rectory were solemnly dedicated by Arch Bishop Toolen on December 11, 1949. Msgr. James Rogers, a former pastor of St. Catherine’s preached the dedication sermon.

In 1954, preliminary steps were taken to build a new church for the 1,386 parishners of St. Catherine’s at that time. The ceremony of the blessing and breaking of ground for the new church was done by Arch Bishop Toolen on Palm Sunday, March 30, 1958. When St. Catherine’s parish was established in 1914, there were 44 families and about 250 parishioners. When plans were made in 1954 to build a new church, the parish had grown and now there are more than 600 families and over 1,700 parishioners.  Prior to the dedication of the new church two other parishes were opened extending within the boundaries of the original parish, so that at the time of the church’s dedication in 1959, St. Catherine had less than 400 families. The last mass in the old church, April 25, 1959, was offered by Msgr. Harnett for all deceased members of the parish.

Bishop Toolen presided at the dedication of the present church on April 30, 1959. Bishop John P. Cody of Kansas City, -- St. Joseph M.O. , delivered the sermon. The Most Reverend Vincent S. Warters , of Raleigh, N.C., Bishop Joseph Brunini of Natchez-Jackson, also assisted in the dedication.
The new church, an imposing Gothic structure, is a brick construction with stone trim. A new convent was erected in 1962, completing the parish complex, which at the time served 135 families, with 224 pupils in the parish school. Father Joseph C. Gill became the seventh pastor of St. Catherine’s in October 1972, and Msgr. Charles F. Aucoin succeeded as pastor in May 1975. In 1976, extensive renovation of the church sanctuary and creation of the chapel of reconciliation and recommendations of the National Commission on Liturgy.

Msgr. Oliver E. Adams became the ninth pastor, served briefly assigned August 11, 1981. Fr. Joffre Robichaud, the tenth pastor, served briefly in 1987, and when transferred to Grove Hill, Msgr. Adams returned as pastor and continued to serve until his death in 1997.
The Sisters of St. Agnes replaced the Sisters of Mercy in August 1983.

The school closed at the end of the school year in 1986. The Sisters continue to live in the Convent and serve the pastoral assistants in this and other parishes.

On June 17, 1983, the old gymnasium was destroyed by fire. The original church, which served for many years as the parish hall, burned on May 27, 1984. In September 30, 1984, the new Parish Center was dedicated to serve the needs of the parishioners.


After Msgr. Adams death.  Father Beechum was pastor, and after him, Msgr. Kee, where he presides today as Pastor.

 

St. Catherines Catholic Chuch Priest Order of Succession

† Indicates whether or not they were Pastor

 

Name

Notes

 

Rev. John W. Dunne

1915

Rev. Thomas J. Eaton

Built the Church. Attended as a Mission of St. Mary’s of which he was Pastor.

Rev. Emmett B. Kennedy

First Residential Pastor March 25th, 1915 - November 2nd 1919

Rev. James B. Rogers

 

Rev. Leo Provost

 

Rev. Michael B. Daly

 
 

Rev. Michael J. Keys

1934-1938

 

Rev. James F. Madigan

Subsitute for Summer of 1933

Rt. Rev. D. P. Hartnett

October 29, 1942

 

Rev. Joseph Raney

 
 

Rev. Phillip Lambert

 
 

Rev. Denis Killian

1945-1953

 

Rev. Ramond Mullins

March 19, 1953- September 14, 1962

 

Rev. Bernanrd Morgan

October 1953-September 1955

 

Rev. Francis J. Mueller

September 1955- September 1957

 

Rev. Thomas W. Murphy

April 1956 - Summer 1958

 

Rev. Kevin Duignan

September 1957 – September 6, 1961

 

Rev. Patrick O’Donoghue

September 1, 1961 – October 9, 1965

 

Rev. James W. Oberkirch

September 14, 1962 – August 1, 1965

 

Rev. Sean O’Conner

October 9, 1965

 

Rev. Patrick C. McGrath

September 1, 1965

 

Rev. Michael Dyer

Left June 1976

 

Rev. James Zoghby

 

Rev. Joseph Cecil Gill

Left May 1975

 

Rev. Austin Conry

Left June 1977

Rev. Charles F. Aucoin

May 27, 1975 – July 31, 1981

 

Rev. Kenneth Klepac

June 1976 – June 1978

 

Rev. Vernon Dahmen

June 1977 – June 1978

 

Rev. Michael D. Kelly

June 1978 – December 1980

 

Rev. John Q. Minvielle, S.J.

January 10, 1981 – June 21, 1991

Rev. Oliver E. Adams

July 31, 1981 – July 31 1987

 

Rev. John J. Ventura

July 31, 1984 – December 7, 1984

 

Rev. Davis Trosch

June 6, 1986 – January 21, 1987

Rev. Joffre Robichaud

August 1, 1987 – December 18, 1987

Rev. Oliver E. Adams

December 18, 1987 – July 21, 1997

 

Msgr. Guido J. Calleja

February 1992

Rev. Dr. Edwin P. Beachum

1998-May 22, 2008

Rev. Msgr. James S. Kee

August 22, 2008 - Present