We are the family of St. Regis, a diverse, faith-filled community of caring people. We commit ourselves to be Christ-like to one another, promoting active participation by all in the parish faith community. Unified through word and worship, we answer the call to love and serve God. We resolve to share our faith through prayer, outreach, and service.
The history of our Catholic Church in Trafford and the history of Trafford itself are closely related. The opening of the Westinghouse plant in this area was the impetus for the establishment of the town of Trafford. Most immigrants, regardless of their nationality or religious persuasion, were interested in educating their children and having a place of worship.
Since there was no Catholic Church, the residents of Trafford had to travel to nearby towns in order to attend the church of their choice. Eventually, it was decided it was time to establish their own parish. Then, 18 families petitioned the late Bishop J. F. Regis Canevin, for permission to establish a church in the new town of Trafford. Father Michael Ward, pastor of the former St. Aloysius Parish in Wilmerding, and Father M.A. McGarey, assistant pastor, regularly visited Trafford, administering the sacraments. Father McGarey celebrated the first Mass for 60 people in a hall on the third floor of the Euwer Building.
In July 1905, Bishop Canevin erected St. Michael Parish, Pitcairn. Trafford became a mission in that parish. In 1906, with permission from the bishop, the church purchased a property from the East Pittsburgh Improvement Company. Plans were drawn up for the church to resemble St. Michael Church. The name of the church was selected by Bishop Canevin to honor St. John Francis Regis, a French Jesuit, who was canonized in 1737.
Bishop Canevin dedicated the church in the summer of 1907 and Father John Moore, pastor of St. Michael Parish, served St. Regis until Father Patrick J. O’Neil was appointed as the first permanent pastor. When the church was completely destroyed by fire in February 1910, the parish community was determined to rebuild, but this time their plans included a design that would serve as both a church and school. A new building was constructed later that year and the first Mass was celebrated on Christmas day.
The interior was not completely furnished, but the parishioners were so eager to worship in their own church that they willingly accepted all inconveniences. By 1913, Father O’Neil was transferred, and Father Patrick F. Quinn took his place, followed by Father Thomas F. Walsh. By 1922, Father Terence F. McCabe arrived as pastor and served the community for 25 years.
In January 1943, the church suffered its second fire. Fortunately, the damage was confined to the interior of the church and the sanctuary was rebuilt. Then in December 1947, the late Bishop Hugh C. Boyle, bishop of Pittsburgh, appointed Father Thomas J. Gillen as pastor. He has significant goals, one of which included released time from public school for religious education. The Sisters of Mercy from St. Colman Parish, Turtle Creek, taught students religious education on church grounds for 40 minutes each week during school hours. Additional instruction was given on weekends.
In 1951, the Diocese of Greensburg was erected. The late Bishop Hugh L. Lamb encouraged the establishment of parochial schools. Father Gillen negotiated the purchase of a former residence and office with the intention of creating a convent for the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill who would staff the anticipated St. Regis School.
The current church building was constructed in 1959 to house the church, social hall, cafeteria, and school. A rectory to house the priests and provide office space was also constructed. The first Mass was celebrated on Dec. 25, 1959, 55 years to the day after the first Mass was celebrated in the Euwer Building.
The construction debt ($800,000) was also paid off when the parishioners attended the first Mass. The late Bishop William G. Connare dedicated and blessed the new church and school on May 14, 1960, but it wasn’t until Sept. 6, 1960, that St. Regis School marked its official opening with a Mass celebrated by Father Gillen. The school housed primary grades, and later expanded to serve kindergarten through eighth grade until declining enrollment forced the school to close in 1993. Several classrooms remain in use for religious education classes, with others remodeled to serve as the parish’s administrative center.
The parish’s centennial campaign, which raised nearly $600,000, was a three-year drive to fund major renovations in the church. Phase I of the project, completed in 2001, including the installation of a new heating and air conditioning system for the church and parish center. Phase II was the renovation of the church. The first Mass in our new worship space was celebrated on Holy Thursday in 2003 by Pastor Father James D. Tringhese. The Rededication Mass was celebrated by Bishop Anthony G. Bosco, on July 13, 2003, with many former pastors and parochial vicars in attendance.
Since that first Mass on Christmas morning, 1904, St. Regis Parish has grown to nearly 1,100 families. Throughout all the changes in the last century (including changes in personnel and location, and even the transition to a new diocese), our parish continues to be a strong, faith-filled community.
Our Patron – St. John Francis Regis
St. John Francis Regis was born in 1597 in France and joined the Society of Jesus in 1615. Among his fellow Jesuits, he was particularly known for his prayer life. During his early years, St. Regis shared his faith as he traveled far and wide instructing people of all ages. Because of his evangelizing efforts, he converted a great number of people to the Catholic faith.
He saw his mission as God’s steward to be one of service to the less fortunate. He ministered, particularly to the poor, in the most desolate villages. With the help of monetary donations, St. Regis established a granary for the poor and a refuge for women and girls. He also organized a complete social service with prison visitors, sick nurses, and guardians for the poor.
Through his influence of prayerful service and compassion, he brought about a lasting spiritual revival in all the areas of his ministry. St. Regis died in 1640 at the age of 43 and was canonized in 1737.
St. Regis is truly an example of how to live out our mission as a faithful steward of St. Regis Parish.