In one sense, the history of St. Michael the Archangel Parish begins with a stone and the dedication of a building. In another sense, it begins with a man named Edward Taggart. In still another sense, it begins with each of us every day.
The cornerstone for St. Michael’s was laid on a Sunday afternoon in November 1872 on Stow’s Hill. That marks one beginning. The parish was formally established in 1873 and the church building was dedicated in 1874, other beginnings. But a parish is much more than brick and mortar; it is human beings in search of God and following His will. So we could say that St. Michael’s began in 1874 when Edward Taggart, an adult, was baptized, the first baptism in our parish records.
In 1978, a tragic fire destroyed the first church building, but not the spirit which makes St. Michael’s unique. The parishioners banded together, kept their unity alive in an interim location, sacrificed for the construction of a new church and re-established their parish at a new site in 1982. They knew that they carried St. Michael’s within them as much as it existed as a building.
It was mentioned above that our parish begins every day with each of us. By that, it’s meant that our parish is renewed every time one of us attends Mass, participates in a parish activity, takes part in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, visits an elderly neighbor, counsels a troubled friend or performs any act of Christian charity. After all, a parish is its people; when its members live up to Christ’s call to serve others, then the parish is given a new life.
Throughout the decades, the people of St. Michael’s have given life to the parish:
Through the Jesuits who first staffed the church;
Through the diocesan priests who took over in 1888 and have served right up to the present;
Through the parents who sent their children to the school, which handed out its first diplomas in 1894;
Through the Sisters of St. Joseph who taught in the elementary school until wartime shortages forced it to close in 1943;
Through the Franciscans who have given so much of their time to the parish;
Through the laymen and laywomen who have served in suchorganizations as the Holy Name Society, Women’s Guild, St. Vincent de Paul Society, Parish Council and CYO;
Through the lectors, Eucharistic ministers, ushers, church musicians and others who participate in various lay ministries;
Most especially, through the people who live Christian lives in their everyday worlds of work and home, taking into those worlds the spirit of St. Michael’s.
So we see that the history of St. Michael’s is more than mortar and dates; it is the memories, dedication, loyalty and Christian action of its members.