About Our Church

The Italian and Irish immigrants who lived in Bessemer and the surrounding areas organized Saint Aloysius Catholic Church in the fall of 1886. Rev. Patrick A. O’Reilly offered the first Mass in the old Montezuma Hotel. Fr. O’Reilly later became pastor of the Cathedral of Saint Paul and also was founder of Saint Vincent’s Hospital and the East Lake Orphans Home.  After fire destroyed the hotel, Associate Pastor John Daley began offering Mass twice each month in Leonard’s Grist Mill on 5th Avenue North in Bessemer.  On January 25, 1888, the church was deeded land from  the Bessemer Land Company  along 5th Avenue North and 17th Street North. Catholic men from the local rolling mill erected a frame building on the site.  

Bishop Edward P. Allen appointed Rev. Joseph A. Wright, the first resident pastor, in 1899.  Fr. Wright brought the 

Sisters of Mercy to staff the parish’s school in late 1900.  Fr. Malachi E. Kitrick replaced the old frame school with 

a modern brick building in 1912, the first of its kind in North Alabama.  Fr. Michael Hourican erected a brick church 

beside the school in 1924.  Several renovations and improvements were made to the church and school 

buildings over the years.

 

In 1935, Joseph A. Durick, a seminarian and Saint Aloysius parishioner, was in charge of the CCD summer 

religion classes.  In 1955, Msgr. Durick was consecrated Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Mobile by Archbishop 

Thomas J. Toolen.  Bishop Durick was the first American bishop of Slovak origin, the first priest to be elevated to 

the Episcopate in Cathedral of Saint Paul, and the first to be named Auxiliary for the diocese.  He later became 

Bishop of Nashville.

 

Rev. Francis T. Coyle served the longest period of time of any priest at Saint Aloysius.  He was appointed pastor 

in 1938, retired in 1947 due to ill health but remained at Saint Aloysius as Pastor Emeritus assisting his 

successor, Rev. John H. Stack, until shortly before his death in 1971.

 

In 1981, the Sisters of Mercy discontinued their work to Saint Aloysius School after over 80 years of service.  

Church members honored the sisters with a reception.

 

Rev. Desmond Regan and Associate Pastor Gerard Kitts, OSB, saw the parish grow and prosper under their 

leadership in the late 1970s through the late 1980s.  Bishop Raymond Boland, the second bishop of the 

Birmingham diocese, appointed Rev. Louis Giardino pastor in 1988.  After fire destroyed the church on 

December 21, 1989, Mass was offered in the school’s gym.  Many donations and fundraisers later, property was 

purchased on Academy Drive, just off I-20/59, and a new church was built and completed in time for Christmas 

services in 1992.

 

Rev. Gerald Holloway currently serves as Pastor of Saint Aloysius Catholic Church.  Father Holloway is also the 

Chaplain of the University of Alabama football team, a ministry he has performed since 2003 when Mike Shula 

was Head Football Coach.

 

Our parish has approximately 420 registered families.  The school permanently closed its doors in late June 

2018 due to low student enrollment.  Our school proudly served children in the Bessemer community and 

surrounding areas since 1912.

751 Academy Drive, Bessemer, AL 35022  | staloysius@bellsouth.net |  Tel: 205-424-2984

 Office Hours: Mon - Fri: 8am-4:30pm

©2020 SAINT ALOYSIUS CATHOLIC CHURCH

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