The Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church in Duquesne, Pennsylvania was home to a Slovak congregation from 1901 to 1970, when the church relocated to a new facility. Prior to the establishment of the church in the early 20th century, worshipers traveled to Slovak churches in Braddock, Homestead and McKeesport.1


History

The first call for a Slovak church in Duquesne came in 1901, when various worshippers, with the assistance of Reverend Adalbert Kazincy from St. Michael’s Slovak Catholic Church in Braddock, began planning for the new church.1 A meeting was held at a worshiper’s residence where 46 churchgoers attended. Father Kazincy held the first Mass at the house that day along with a followup morning Mass. The gatherings became very popular, although it was straining Kazincy to travel from Braddock to Duquesne.

A petition was forwarded by a delegation to Bishop Regis Canevin for permission to build a permanent church in Duquesne.1 Out of the names suggested for the church, Holy Trinity was selected.

A small frame church was built in 1901, which quickly filled to capacity.1 The first pastor, Reverend Nicholas Hodobay, lived with a local worshiper as there was no rectory. It was not until 1902 that a residence on South First Street was acquired for use as a rectory.

Growth

The second pastor of the church, Reverend John Uhlyarik, began preliminary work to build a larger brick facility.1 3 Plans for the new church, projected to cost $40,000, was completed in June 1904.2 Designed by F.W. Wilson of McKeesport in the Gothic Revival architectural style,2 3 the building’s stance on the side of a hill, with its 150-feet tower, was to evoke a commanding presence over the Monongahela River valley.3 Wilson selected buff brick with stone trim for the 110-feet long by 60-feet wide structure. The contract for construction was awarded to F.E. Shallenberger of Pittsburgh.

The cornerstone was laid on October 21, 1904, in a ceremony attended by an estimated 8,000 people.3 The cornerstone was swung into place at 2 p.m. by a bishop, which was followed with a ceremony address by priests and other dignitaries. A parade, complete with eight brass bands, moved through the town.

Problems plagued the church’s construction. The original contractors, F.E. Shallenberger, failed to complete the contract.4 A replacement crew was hired but they also failed to finish, and so the church and the trustees of the congregation were forced to finish some of the remaining work. The sheriff also advertised the property for sale on two occasions due to lingering debt, but the obligations were eventually met and the finances were shored up. Upon completion, the debt load by the church stood at $40,000. The cost came to $37,500 for the superstructure, but the addition of altars and stained glass windows added an extra $12,500.3

The new Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church was dedicated on September 28, 1907.4 The ceremony included 5,000 guests, six societies and three bands from Homestead.

The old frame church structure was converted into a grade school, and the Sisters of the Incarnate Word from Victoria, Texas were brought on as teachers.1 A residence was purchased adjacent to the rectory and converted for use as a nuns’ convent in 1906. In 1918, 16 acres of land was purchased for use as a cemetery, but heavy debts incurred during construction of the church curbed any major expansion projects until those were paid off in the 1920’s.

On June 20, 1923, eight lots that belonged to the Carnegie Land Company at South Third and Whitfield Streets were purchased for $9,500 for a three-story, nine-classroom school.5 Construction began in February 1924 with the school opening in 1925.1 A brick convent next to the school was completed in 1926.

Relocation

The Incarnate Word Sisters, facing travel hardships with the commute between Texas and Duquesne, resigned in 1940 and were replaced by the Vincentian Sister of Charity.1 Shortly after, the original convent and rectory were demolished and a larger brick rectory was erected in their place.

In 1955, the church and school were extensively remodeled.1 A new roof was installed on the church, rectory, school, and convent, and the twin church spires atop the church were removed due to structural concerns on fears that they could blow over in a windstorm.

But remodeling was not enough for the ongoing maintenance problems plaguing the church. Planning for a new church structure began in the late-1960’s and an architect for the new facility, Joseph J. Balobeck and Associates of Pittsburgh, was selected.1 The new stained glass windows and Stations of the Cross were designed and painted by the Milcho Silianoff Studio of Greensburg. A contract for construction was awarded to The General Contractors of Pittsburgh.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held on Palm Sunday, April 7, 1968, with work beginning on May 7.1 The cornerstone laying ceremony was held on August 24, 1969, and the new facility was dedicated on April 25, 1970.

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