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St. Anthony Catholic Church - Bessemer PA

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St. Anthony Parish was founded in 1909 to serve the Catholic parishioners of Bessemer, a rapidly growing rural settlement that went on to achieve borough status in 1913. The initial church services were held in a hall above a local hardware store until the new St. Anthony Church opened on Oak Street in October 1911. The church, pictured here not long after it was remodeled and enlarged in 1930, catered to a mostly Slovak ethnic congregation.

The interior of the cozy St. Anthony Church c1918, which had a seating capacity of less than 200 people. By the 1950’s the congregation had outgrown this small building and the parish purchased some nearby property across Poland Avenue to build a new house of worship. Construction of the newer and much larger church, spearheaded by the Rev. F. Clifford Soisson, began in October 1958. This old church, located in what is now St. Anthony Cemetery, was razed sometime after the new church was opened for services in December 1959.

The new St. Anthony Catholic Church was dedicated on Sunday, December 4, 1959. Beginning in 1995 it began sharing a pastor with nearby St. Lawrence Catholic Church in Hillsville. In June 2000 the St. Anthony and St. Lawrence Parishes were merged to form the new Christ the King Parish, but both churches remain open and continue to serve their local communities to this day. (c1970) Full Size

The interior of the sanctuary of the new St. Anthony Catholic Church, which opened in late 1959. (1980) Full Size

The stained glass window depicting Saint Anthony of Padua viewed from inside the church. (c1970) Full Size

(Jan 2012)

(Jan 2012)


  1. I was an altar boy under Fathers Young, Bonfield and Frawley.
    We lived on the east side of town in a Metropolitan Paving Brick Company house; had to walk each morning for 7:00 A.M. Mass.
    It’s a shame they tore down that beautiful church.

  2. So sorry they tore down that wonderful church on Oak Street. We had so many wonderful pot luck suppers there. My Grandfather, Anton Brncic, helped build that church and did all the brickwork on the Fathers house on Oak Street — across the street from my Grandparents home. My Grandmother, Anna, raised flowers all over their property, many were picked for the altar on Sunday. I remember Father Young and (my favorite) wonderful, jolly, Father Bonfield who shared so many Sunday dinners with us. Father Wm. Frawley gave me my first Holy Communion. The new church is beautiful – but so are my memories of the old church.

  3. Hello: I am seeking information of Father Francis Bailey. He was at St. Anthony’s in Bessemer in 1972 when he passed away. I am not sure how long he served there. I would love to have a picture of him. My email is snshine8@cvzoom.net Thanks!

  4. (EDITOR’S NOTE) Bobbi, I can tell you some basic information. The Reverend Francis J. Bailey (1903-1972) was a native of Uniontown PA. While serving as the pastor of St. Agnes Catholic Church in Pittsburgh he was assigned to St. Anthony Church in June 1967. He served the Bessemer community until he was forced to step down in about August 1969 due to ill health. He was replaced by the Reverend Thomas Sullivan. Bailey spent time at a diocese home in Pittsburgh and soon retired for good in September 1970. He passed away on January 17, 1972, in a hospital in Jeanette PA. He was laid to rest in St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Connellsville PA. I’ll see about finding a photo and posting it on this page. Hope this helps. Jeff

  5. My father P. Arthur D’Orazio designed St. Anthony Catholic Church and many othe catholic churched in western PA and Eastern Ohio back in the 50s and 60s. He passes away at age 91 on Aug. 17, 2000.

  6. I grew up on Oak st. and knew the three priest mentioned Young, Bonfield and Frawley. I also knew Audrey Brncic Atherton since I lived next to her grandparents only separated by a small fruit orchard. They also had a large garden. We played baseball on the old church parking lot. Everything talked about above was a staple of mid century Bessemer.


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