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St. Theresa of the Child Jesus

History

 

St. Theresa of the Child Jesus Catholic Church

 

Click here for more pictures of our beautiful church.

St. Therese of Lisieux

Patron of the Missions

Novena

Feast Day: October 1

Click for more about St. Therese

 

HISTORY

Between the years of 1933 1940 there were four known Catholic families living in or near Leeds.  Prior to this time there was a mission station at Henry Ellen Mines, near Leeds.  Upon formation of the North Alabama Mission Band in 1933, street preaching was initiated on the streets of Leeds.

Catholics of the area attended Holy Rosary Church, Gate City, where Mass was offered bi-monthly. They went to St. Barnabas in East Lake, on alternate Sundays. In 1941, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Becker invited Father Giri to offer Mass in their home. The living room was a chapel, the dining room buffet served as an altar and confessions heard in another room. Sister Mary Alice taught Catechism to the children under a pear tree in the back yard.

The congregation grew in numbers and the men of the mission rented space on the second floor of the Evans Department Store in downtown Leeds and converted it into a chapel. The congregation selected the St. Theresa of the Child Jesus as the patroness.

When Rev. Joseph Adams became first resident pastor of Holy Infant of Prague, June 21, 1947, St. Theresa was attached as a mission.  Norah Ann Katz was the first infant to be Baptized in the chapel (March, 1950).  James Dowling and Betty Smith were the first couple married there.

Rev. James Gallagher was appointed pastor of Holy Infant and missions in 1951. There were 30 Catholic families here at this time and due to new industries moving into the area the congregation grew to number 60 families. The Extension Society donated funds.  A modern brick structure was erected at a cost of $19,600 to seat 150 persons. Father Gallagher offered the first Mass here on July 27, 1952. Bishop Toolen dedicated the church on February 15, 1953.

Further additions were a parish house (1960), a church hall (1987), and a bell tower (1989).

The church hall is named Martin Hall, in honor of the family of St. Theresa.  The parents of St. Theresa were declared Venerable in 1994, and Beatified as a couple in 2008.

     

During the ten year period from 2000 to 2010, Mass attendance grew from about 100 to over 450 people and PSR attendance grew from 12 to 88 students.  Although one additional weekend Mass was added to accommodate the influx of new parishioners, it was decided that the church building needed to be expanded and remodeled.

The expansion project was completed in 2011:  Seating capacity was increased by over 80%; restrooms were expanded and remodeled; and new carpeting, seating, painting, sound system, heating and air systems, landscaping, and other needed improvements were included. Click for a more detailed presentation

After several months of hosting a Tuesday evening Hispanic service, the first Sunday Hispanic Mass was celebrated on August 5, 2012. Continual outreach to the local Hispanic community offers the sacraments, pre-baptism and pre-matrimony preparation; and Hispanic cultural celebrations.

A new Parish Life Center was constructed in 2017 with a 5,000 square foot Hall, large Kitchen, Parish Office, Pastor's Office, Offices for the Director of Religious Education and Hispanic Ministry, 10 large classrooms, and a very large Meeting Room / Library. The new facility was dedicated by Bishop Baker on March 4, 2017.

The present day (2017) congregation has grown to about 400 families and over 1,000 parishioners.

 

 

PASTORS

  Rev. James Gallagher 1950 - 1958
  Rev. Owen Connaughton 1959
  Rev. Desmond Regan 1959 - 1966
  Rev. Robert Bauler 1966 - 1972
  Rev. Michael J. White 1972 - 1974
  Rev. Robert Bauler 1974 - 1982
  Rev. Peter MacCarthy 1982 - 2000
  Rev. James Naughton 2000 - 2013
  Rev. E. Gray Bean 2014 - Present
     

 

18th CENTURY AUSTRIAN MADONNA

The Statue, donated by P. David Romei, is located in the back of the church below the choir loft facing the altar.