St. Pius X Church and School History

St. Pius X Roman Catholic Church

3040 Pioneer Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15226 * Phone 412-563-5423

<St. Pius X Church Website>

Parish History     The Pastors     The Sisters

The Formation of a New Parish

The story of St. Pius X Roman Catholic Church began in the the early 1950s. By 1951, school enrollment at the Church of the Resurrection on Creedmoor Avenue had reached 1,171, and the parish had grown by over 1,000 families since the dedication of their new church in 1939. By September 1953, Resurrection enrollment was 1,346 and the parish census listed 2,842 families.

It was at this point that Bishop John Dearden set about to establish a new parish. The formal decree, for the erection of the third offspring parish from Resurrection, was issued on June 9, 1954. The new parish was dedicated as St. Pius X. Several families from Resurrection Parish in Brookline were to be merged with families from St. Bernard Parish in Mount Lebanon and St. Catherine of Sienna in Beechview to form the new congregation.

From St. Bernard, the parish inherited approximately 430 families. Another 100 families came from St. Catherine, and from Resurrection came an additional 260 families.

The parish name was in honor of the cannonization of Pope Saint Pius X, on May 29, 1954. The parish location was secured with the acquisition of the Lydia Fleming property at 3020 Pioneer Avenue. On the three and a half acre plot there was to be erected a combination church and school.

Patron - Pope Saint Pius X

Pope Saint Pius X

"To defend the Catholic faith and make all things new in Christ" was the task St. Pius X set for himself. His motto "To renew all things in Christ" was the guiding principle of his reign as Pope, as noted in the Opening Prayer of the Mass dedicated to him.

Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto was (1835-1914) was born to poor parents. He entered the seminary at the age of fifteen and was ordained in 1858 at age 23. For seventeen years he was a parish priest, then Chancellor of his Diocese. Appointed Bishop of Mantua in 1884, he endeared himself to his people by his gentleness and warmth as he went about renewing his Diocese. Then years later he was named Cardinal and Patriarch of Venice, and in 1903 was chosen to be Pope.

His was a time that called for strength in leadership in the Church and this humble saint was equal to the challenge. The Opening Prayer of the Mass celebrating his feast recognizes that he was filled with "heavenly wisdom and apostolic courage." He met the needs of the Church and the needs of society. Primarily he turned to the spiritual needs of the Church and is remembered as the pope who encouraged frequent reception of Holy Communion, especially by children, and he urged that they receive this wonderful sacrament as early as possible.

Of great interest to us today is the personal initiative that he took and encouraged in liturgical matters. He initiated reforms of liturgical books, a revision of the text of psalms, and he encouraged active participation of the laity in the celebration of the Mass. It is known that he was convinced of the value of the vernacular in liturgy, but thought the time was not yet right for its use. Much of what he envisioned and encouraged is a reality for us today.

In the internal affairs of the Church he gave impetus to the codification of Church law. He took a strong stand against interference in the internal affairs of the Church by governments, especially France. He was concerned for the correct teaching of Catholic doctrine and the strong catechetical formation of youth. He encouraged the serious and critical study of the Scriptures.

The years of the pontificate of Pope St. Pius X were difficult, but he untiringly gave of himself "in the spirit of simplicity, poverty and courage, arousing the faithful to a Christian way of life...." He was a gentle and sensitive shepherd after the model of Jesus the Good Shepherd. An historian wrote of him: "he was a man of God who knew the unhappiness of the world and the hardships of life, and in the greatness of his heart wanted to comfort everyone."

The Early Days

Father Patrick Cullen, the parish's first pastor, took possession at 2:30pm on June 10, 1954. The Sisters of Charity, from nearby DePaul Institute, planted a medal of the new parish's Patron Saint on the newly acquired grounds.

St. Pius X First Mass - June 13, 1954
The first Mass was celebrated on June 13, 1954.

Several Sisters of Charity worked late preparing a temporary church at DePaul Institute for the parish's first Mass, which was celebrated on June 13, 1954, in Our Lady of Victory Hall. Everything except the Priest and the Missal was borrowed. The plywood altar came from St. Peter and Paul in Beaver; the tabernacle and sanctuary light from Toner Institute; linens from Resurrection; ciboria from St. Bernard; candles, candlesticks, Missal stand, lectern, cruets and Communion wine from DePaul Institute. The Communion rail was made by Mr. Jamison, head of the DePaul woodworking department. There were no pews or cushioned kneelers, just folding chairs and a hard, bare gymnasium floor.

The first baptisms in the parish occurred on Sunday, June 20, 1954. Richard B. Martin, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Richard C. Martin, and Patricia Louise, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Louis Rago Jr., were christened.

The former Fleming estate was transformed into a parish house and chapel, with the first daily Mass held on August 20, 1954. In December of that year, men of the parish constructed an outdoor crib and placed it on the grounds facing Pioneer Avenue. During that first year, the parish witnessed sixteen weddings, the first being the marriage of George Leo Harbin and Helen Catherine Noceti.

Church and School Construction Begins

In January of 1955, plans were made for a Building Fund drive, with a $100,000 goal set for the end of the year. Ground was broken on February 13, 1955 for the new church and school. A second general meeting was held in March to make plans for a fundraising Summer Festival.

St. Pius X construction - 1955.
Church construction nears construction nears completion in 1955.

On Easter Sunday, 1955, it was announced that St. Pius X School would be accepting registrations for the 1955/1956 school year, grades one through four. In June, Reverend Jerome F. Logue was ordained, becoming the first member of St. Pius X Parish to enter the priesthood.

The Summer Festival, the first annual St. Pius X Expo, was held in July 1955, and despite threatening weather was the most successful fundraising venture the parish had held to date. The school building was nearing completion and the congregation's spirits soared.

Father CUllen - 1956.
Father Patrick Cullen in 1956.

Shortly after the Summer Festival, it was announced that the Benedictine Sisters were to staff the new school. Later in July, parishioners were told that grades one to four would be open in September. A fifth grade would be added the following year, the sixth the year after, and so on, until eight grades were established. The initial staff of Benedictine Sisters were Sister Edith Collins, Principal, Sister Mary Damian, Sister Mary Anthony and Sister Virginia. To house the Sisters, the parish house was converted into a convent.

St. Pius X laying of the cornerstone - August 1955
Laying of the cornerstone - August 1955.

On August 21, 1955, the cornerstone of the Church and School were laid with the appropriate dedications and ceremony. On August 31, the new rectory was completed at 3059 Pioneer Avenue. On September 7, the school opened for the first time to the first through fourth graders, and on December 3, Bishop Dearden dedicated the new Church. By the end of 1955, the congregation had grown to over 430 families.

St. Pius X Church - 1955

Forty Years to Grow Strong Roots

Father Cullen oversaw the parish until an illness forced him to retire in March of 1968. During his fourteen years as spiritual leader of St. Pius X, the congregation continued to see steady growth. Once again, overcrowding became an issue for the diocese. The parish of Our Lady of Loreto opened in 1961, made up of families from St. Pius X and Resurrection. And finally, on March 25, 1965, a new convent was dedicated at 2681 Waddington Avenue to house the growing number of Benedictine Sisters teaching at the school.

Father Patrick Cullen and Cardinal John Wright
Father Patrick Cullen and Cardinal John Wright.

Father Cullen celebrated his final Mass on March 17, 1968. Father Thomas McCarthy was named the church's second Pastor shortly afterwards, but served only three months before reassignment.

On June 10, 1968, Father Thomas M. Marpes was installed as the parish's third pastor, and began a thirty-four year tenure as spiritual leader of St. Pius X congregation.

During Father Marpes' first year with the parish, work began on renovations to transform the temporary sanctuary into a permanent church. Work also began on renovating and repairing the school building. On December 10, 1971, Cullen Hall was dedicated in honor of Father Patrick Cullen. In January of 1973, the former convent was rededicated as the St. Pius X Home, which is part of the UPMC Mercy Health System. Finally, on August 18, 1974, the new Church Bell Tower was dedicated.

Reverend Marpes and
 the St. Pius Expo - 1974
Father Marpes promotes the 1974 St. Pius X Expo.

February of 1977 saw the opening of a School Chapel for Daily Eucharist, and in May of that same year the congregation met a major milestone in the life of the parish. On May 8, 1977, Bishop Vincent Leonard and Father Marpes had the honor of burning the original mortgage papers, with the appropriate ceremonies, of course. Also in May, the Shrine to the Mother of God was dedicated. To end the decade of the 1970s, the parish celebrated its 25th Anniversary on June 10, 1979.

Groundbreaking for new addition - June 24, 1983.
Groundbreaking for the activities building
was held on June 24, 1983.

The 1980s saw more changes to the church and the parish grounds. In the church, the new altar mosaic background featuring faceted color glass and the hanging crucifix was installed on April 17, 1983. Outside on the school property, ground was broken for the construction of a new Activities Center on June 24, 1983. The blessing and dedication of the new addition occurred on March 11, 1984. The building is now named "Marpes Pavilion" in honor of Father Thomas M. Marpes.

1980-1981 St. Pius X Saints
8th Grade basketball team
The 1980-1981 St. Pius Saints Varsity basketball team.

<See Some Photos of St. Pius X Athletic Teams>

On May 4, 1986, a new tabernacle with the Last Supper Relief was dedicated, along with the intertwining rings. The following year, on October 25, 1987, the monument with the name of the church, school and pavilion, along Pioneer Avenue, was dedicated. Finally, on August 7, 1988, the Relief of the Holy Spirit and the Relief of St. Pius X were added to the church facade.

On November 11, 1990, the crucifix from Toner Institute, which stands next to the rectory, facing Pioneer Avenue, was dedicated as an outdoor shrine. It has become a frequent devotional stop for many in the neighborhood.

On a low note, between late February 28 and March 1, 1995, vandals did an estimated $20,000 in damage to church and school property. Damage included graffiti scrawled inside and outside the church, pew upholstery was ripped and an oriental carpet at the altar was destroyed. The damage was repaired and prayers were offered for those who committed the crime.

St. Pius X
 monument

St. Pius X and Brookline Regional Catholic School

The year 1996 was a time of change for St. Pius School. The diocese was facing increasing financial hardships supporting three school buildings in the same neighborhood. In a move to ease this burden, Resurrection School was closed permanently, Our Lady of Loreto School was reduced to grades K-3 only, and grades four through eight were held at St. Pius. This new configuration was part of a new school system that was named Brookline Regional Catholic. In 2004, Our Lady of Loreto School closed permanently and Brookline Regional Catholic School classes, including all grades kindergarten through eighth, were held exclusively at the St. Pius location.

2002 Brookline Regional Catholic Soccer Team
The 2002 Brookline Regional Catholic soccer team.

<See Some Photos of Brookline Regional Catholic Athletic Teams>

On June 11, 2000, Father Marpes, now in his 32nd year with the parish, celebrated the 50th Anniversary of his ordination. Father Marpes was one of the longest serving pastors ever in the Brookline area and had become like a father to several generations of Brookliners. His golden anniversary was a time for the entire community to celebrate.

The last changes to occur during the tenure of Father Marpes were the donation of the Book of Gospels and the addition of the ambry where the Holy Oils are stored, on April 8, 2001, and the dedication of the Holy Family Statue on February 14, 2002.

The Lord is My Sheppard ...

On August 15, 2002, Father Thomas M. Marpes, thirty-four year pastor of St. Pius X and a man revered among the congregation, the Community of Brookline and the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, passed away after a long battle with cancer. The humble servant joined his Father in heaven, and generations of his friends and neighbors mourned his passing.

Father Thomas M. Marpes
Father Thomas M. Marpes was the pastor of St. Pius X parish from 1968 through 2002.
Long-time school principal Sister Mary Ann Karas (1974-1992) holds the microphone.

We Remember, We Celebrate, We Believe

On September 21, 2002, Father Robert J. Miller was installed as the fourth pastor in the forty-eight year history of St. Pius X parish. Then, in November of the same year, Fran Markey, the long-time church secretary, retired. Fran had served as secretary for all four of the church's pastors.

The year 2004 marked a major milestone for the parish and school. On January 3, 2004, Bishop Donald Wuerl celebrated Mass on the Feast of the Ephiphany, opening a year-long celebration of the 50th Anniversary of St. Pius X Parish. A year later, in January 2005, Father Miller was assigned as dual-pastor of both St. Pius X and Our Lady of Loreto parishes, both part of the Brookline Regional Catholic charter.

50th Anniversary of St Pius X Church

During Father Miller's pastorship, he worked tirelessly throughout the community of Brookline and led the congregation of St. Pius X parish during difficult and trying times. Under his guidance the parish remained strong and the congregation benefited from his patience and wisdom. Beloved by parishioners at both St. Pius and Our Lady of Loreto, Father Miller's ten year pastorship ended in November 2011, when he was reassigned to St. Peter and Paul in Beaver.

Father Gary Krummert

Father Gary Krummert hailed from Kennedy Township and was a graduate of Montour High School. He was ordained into the priesthood on June 22, 2002. As Parochial Vicar, he served at St. Ferdinand in Cranberry (2002-2005) and at St. Joseph and Most Blessed Sacrament in Natrona Heights (2005-2007). For the next four years Father Gary served as Pastor of Ave Maria in Bentleyville.

In December, 2011, Father Gary Krummert was assigned as pastor of St. Pius X, assuming the dual pastorship role with Our Lady of Loreto. The church's Fifth Pastorate lasted a brief year. In December of 2012 Father Gary went on a sabatical and the pastorship passed to another priest with local ties, Reverend James Bachner.

Reverend James Bachner - The Sixth Pastor

Already the pastor of Saint Catherine of Sienna Church in Beechview, Reverend Bachner was called upon to assume the dual-role as leader of St. Pius and Our Lady of Loreto. Already quite popular with his congregation in Beechview, Reverend Bachner has brought his youthful exhuberance and leadership qualities to the families of St. Pius in Brookline.

Reverend Bachner officially took on his new assignment as the sixth paster of St. Pius X Roman Catholic Church during a Mass in April 2013 celebrated with Bishop David Zubik. He is currently the Pastor of three distinct churches, all within close proximity to each other.

The congregations of Saint Catherine of Sienna, and now St. Pius X and Our Lady of Loreto, here in Brookline, are fortunate to have such a fine man leading the way through these difficult and challenging times. Reverend Bachner is prepared to guide the parish through the second decade of the 21st Century and beyond.

St. Pius X Roll Call of Pastors

Reverend James Bachner

Reverend James Bachner
(2012-present)

Father Gary Krummert

Father Gary Krummert
(2011-2012)

Father Robert J. Miller

Father Robert J. Miller
(2002-2011)

Father Thomas M. Marpes

Rev. Thomas M. Marpes
(1968-2002)

Father Patrick R. Cullen

Rev. Patrick R. Cullen
(1954-1968)

Father Thomas J. McCarthey

Rev. Thomas McCarthy
(1968)

Priests Who Served as Parochial Vicars

Father James Cullen (1956-1960)
Father Stephen Chervenak (1960-1965)
Father C. William Hausen (1965-1969)
Father Russell Maurer (1969-1974)
Father Bernard Shulik (1974-1977)
Father Vincent Marino (1977)
Father Daniel DiNardo (1977-1980)
Father Edward Kryston (1980-1984)
Father David Kriss (1984-1991)
Father Kenneth Lovasik (1991-1993)
Father Robert M. Miller (1993-1994)
Father George Palick (1994-1995)

Note: On October 17, 2007, the Holy See announced that former St. Pius X Parochial Vicar Father Daniel DiNardo and twenty-three other clergymen would be elevated to the College of Cardinals by Pope Benedict XVI. He was created Cardinal-Priest of S. Eusebio in the consistory of November 24, 2007 at St. Peter's Basilica. In 2008 he was awarded Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic. Cardinal Daniel DiNardo will be eligible to participate in any future papal conclave until he reaches the age of 80 on May 23, 2029. At the time of his elevation, he was the youngest of the American Cardinals.

Priests Who Served In Residence

Father John Geinzer
Father Magnus Rau
Father Noriel Priela
Father Matthew Chukwulobe
Father Raymond Tamale
Father Robert Muhiirwa
Father Richard Lelonis
Father Michael Mukasa
Father Camillus Ugwa
Father Everistus Mushi

Priest Vocations From St. Pius X Parish

Father Jerome Logue (June 1955)
Father James Graham (May 1966)
Father Robert Craig (October 1967)
Father Charles Coury (1976)
Father David Pusateri (September 1979)
Father Francis Grinko (May 1981)

The Principals of St. Pius X Elementary School

Sister Mary Damian Thaner (1955-1960)
Sister Mary Ellen Sullivan (1960-1961)
Sister Mary Damian Thaner (1961-1963)
Sister Regis Walter (1963-1967)
Sister Mary Anthony Wild (1967-1973)
John Bobinski (1973-1974)
Sister Mary Ann Karas, RSM (1974-1992)
Maryann Knoll (1992-1996)

Note: Sister Mary Damian Thaner, OSB, the first principal of St. Pius X, is the oldest member of the
Benedictine Community. She celebratee her 75th Anniversary as a Benedictine Sister on June 16, 2012.

The Sisters who taught at St. Pius X Elementary School

Sister Charlotte Abel
Sister Miriam Ausec
Sister Janet Barnicle
Sister Bernice Bartholomai
Sister Marie Breinig
Sister Sharon Brink
Sister Julia Brink
Sister Magdalen Budicky
Sister Mary Jane Burkhart
Sister Susanne Chenot
Sister Edith Collins
Sister Benita DeMatteis
Sister Cecilia Evans
Sister Lois Ford
Sister Marilyn Fox
Sister Raphael Frank
Sister Noreen Gallagher
Sister Gabriella Goncar
Sister Constance Hartung
Sister Columba Heyl
Sister Margaret Mary Jones
Sister Mary Robert King
Sister Anna Marie Kunzler
Sister Leona Lacsny
Sister Anne Lazar
Sister Jonathan Luther
Sister Colette Malinoski
Sister Clementine Matiba
Sister Mary Ruth Miller
Sister Corinne Moeller
Sister Irene Moeller

Sister Beatrice Munk
Sister Catherine Murphy
Sister Valeria Osterreider
Sister Wilfrid Palladino
Sister Camilla Puvogel
Sister Virginia Reckley
Sister Bridget Reilly
Sister Henrietta Reinersmann
Sister Aquina Ritzel
Sister Alice Rock
Sister Ludmilla Rojik
Sister Laverne Rush
Sister Matilda Schoenecker
Sister Georgine Schweers
Sister Celine Sheeler
Sister Monica Silan
Sister Lorraine Simmons
Sister Lucille Snyder
Sister Rosalyn Soller
Sister (Marian) Mary Catherine Stana
Sister Mary Ellen Sullivan
Sister Mary Damian Thaner
Sister Mary Bernard Ubinger
Sister Maura Ubinger
Sister Marie Vigna
Sister Regis Walter
Sister Norma Weigand
Sister Mary Anthony Wild
Sister Ursula Wilzoch
Sister Donna Wojtyna

* Thanks to Sister Judith Ann Criner, OSB, for providing the list of the Benedictine Faculty *

The Principals of Brookline Regional Catholic School

Maryann Knoll (1996-1998)
Janet Salley-Rakoczy (1998-present)

Thanks also to Sharyn Ott for providing a copy of the 50th Anniversary booklet.
Much of this information was retrieved from that publication.

Inside St. Pius X Church

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