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Rochester Churches Monroe County
St. Pius X

Biography

Location: Monroe County, Chili
Address: 3000 Chili Ave. Map
Parish formed: 1854 as "St. Fechan" (later renamed "St. Feehan"), Jan. 1956 as "St. Pius X"
Present church built: 1971
Present church destroyed by fire: Jan. 1, 2015
Present affiliation: Parish
Web site: http://www.saintpiustenth.org/

Pastors/Rectors/Administrators

  • Frs. Richard Story, James O'Donoghue, Myles Loughlin, 1854-1869 [Pastors of St. Mary in Scottsville]
  • Fr. Michael Purcell, 1869-1873 [From St. Patrick's Cathedral, responsible for Churchville and Chili]
  • Fr. William Mulheron, June 1873-1874 [First resident Pastor in Churchville]
  • Fr. William Morrin, 1874-1881
  • Fr. Angelo Kugero, 1881-1882
  • Fr. Dennis J. Curran, 1882-1899
  • Fr. Michael J. Ryan, 1899-1900
  • Fr. J. J. Bresnihan, 1900-1914
  • Fr. Philip Golding, 1914-1932
  • Fr. Joseph Guilfoil, 1932-1940
  • Fr. J. Edmond O'Brien, 1940-1944
  • Fr. John J. Burke, 1944-1954
  • Fr. Donald J. Murphy, Jan. 6, 1954-June 1954 [Administrator]; June 1954-Jan. 1956 [First resident Pastor of St. Feehan]
  • Fr. Donald J. Murphy, Jan. 1956-June 28, 1978 [Pastor of St. Pius X]
  • Fr. Gerald T. Connor, June 28, 1978-June 1998 [upon retirement]
  • Fr. Charles L. McCarthy, July 1, 1991-Dec. 31, 1991 [Temporary administrator, sabbatical]
  • Foster P. Rogers, June 23, 1998-June 25, 1999 [Administrator] June 25, 1999-May 2002 [Pastor]
  • Dea. Leo Aman, May 2, 2002-June 25, 2002 [Temporary administrator]
  • Fr. Dan Holland, June 25, 2002-June 2010 [upon retirement]
  • Dea. William Rabjohn, June 30, 2009-Aug. 2013 [Administrator]
  • Rose Davis, Aug. 2013-June 24, 2014 [Temporary administrator]
  • Fr. Paul Bonacci, June 24, 2014-present

History

The origin of St. Pius X dates to the mid-1800s, when the Diocese of Rochester was part of the Diocese of Buffalo. Bp. Timon, shepherd of the Buffalo church, established a mission in Chili in 1854 to serve the growing number of Catholic farmers living in the area. At the encouragement of Fr. James McGlew, pastor of the nearby St. Mary of the Assumption in Scottsville, the people of Chili got to work on building their own church. Construction began Nov. 5, 1854, and was completed roughly a year later. The church was built on low-level swampy land, and would hence be nicknamed the "Swamp Church." At the suggestion of a founding parishioner, Mr. Patrick Golden, who also donated the land for the church, the new mission would be named after the obscure Irish saint, St. Fechan.

St. Fechan was under the pastoral care of St. Mary's in Scottsville from 1854 through 1869. In 1869, the mission would be transferred to St. Vincent de Paul in Churchville (which was under St. Patrick's Cathedral until 1873). Fr. William Mulheron, appointed in June of 1873, became the first resident Pastor of St. Vincent to oversee St. Fechan.

The community purchased land on Chestnut Ridge Rd from Michael McEntee in 1882 for use as a parish cemetery. The first burial would occur later that year. Due to the swampy conditions surrounding St. Fechan, the church was moved to higher ground at 200 Chestnut Ridge Rd. The former site was raffled off, and a house would be built upon the old foundation. During the early 1900s, a number of significant structural improvements would be made to St. Fechan church. A steel ceiling and steel walls were put in place, vestries were added, sidewalks were constructed around the church, and stained glass was installed. Further renovations would take place in 1930s and 1940s, which included a new altar, lowered ceilings, new lighting and carpeting.

Fr. Donald J. Murphy was placed in charge of St. Fechan's in January of 1954. Several significant changes took place during his lengthy tenure. The first, which occurred shortly after he was installed, was to alter the spelling of the mission from St. Fechan to St. Feehan. Next, a school would be established in September of that year under the instruction of the Sisters of St. Joseph. Fr. Murphy began outlining a plan to move the church from its Chestnut Ridge site to Chili Avenue. The Sachs family was willing to sell ten acres of land for $10,000, but Fr. Murphy also wanted to purchase land on Chestnut Ridge Rd. so that the church could be accessed from either road. Eventually this came to be, though for a somewhat higher cost of $15,000.

Since the community was going to be build a new church and become a full-fledged parish, a new name was to be assigned. Bp. Casey informed Fr. Murphy that the name of the new parish would be St. Pius X, who had just been canonized on May 29th, 1954. Bp. Kearney celebrated an outdoor Mass on the site of the future church the following year. The new parish would officially be established in January of 1956, supplanting the former St. Feehan mission. The first St. Pius X church building was completed, and the first Mass was celebrated Christmas of 1956. The tabernacle and pews from the former St. Feehan church were used in the new church. A large photograph of St. Pius X was situated atop the high altar with the inscription "Let us give thanks to the Lord our God." A house was purchased next to the church for use as a convent.

St. Pius X church was dedicated by Bp. Kearney on May 19, 1957. Soon after, two life-sized carved statues of the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph were installed. These statues were creations of Franz Mersa from Bressanone, Italy. A marble statue of St. Pius X was commissioned, but the hand was broken off by some of the parish children.

The parish would launch an appeal in 1958 for the construction of a new school. The appeal generated over $100,000, and a school with 12 classrooms was built attached to the church, with classes beginning on Sep. 8, 1959. The school would later be enlarged to 18 classrooms.

St. Pius X experienced significant growth throughout the 1960s. In May 1963, the community decided to do away with collection baskets in favor of collection boxes near the entryway. Bingo began Apr. 25, 1964 as an additional means of raising money for the church. On Oct. 22, 1965, construction took place on a new convent for the Sisters of St. Joseph, which was completed and ready for occupancy on May 14, 1966. A marble altar from the Abbey of the Genesee monastery was transferred and installed at St. Pius X early in 1966. Due to growth in the community, Masses frequently had overflow crowds with rows of folding chairs set up in the hallways of the school. Overcrowding would eventually be relieved with the establishment of St. Christopher in North Chili in 1968.

The parish opened up the St. Pius X credit union on June 18, 1967. A school of religion, for young people who were unable to attend Catholic schools, was established by the parish on Oct. 11, 1967 near Churchville Chili High School. The former St. Feehan church was given to the Genesee Country Museum in 1969, and the entire building (minus the steeple) was moved to that museum in Mumford. It's still there today, and is available for weddings.

Due to continued growth in the parish, the Ven. Fulton J. Sheen granted approval for construction of a new St. Pius X church on June 24, 1970. The design for the new church building, with its octagonal shape, was based on a church in the Diocese of Buffalo. Groundbreaking for the new church took place on Aug. 18, 1970. Each one of the arches supporting the structure contained an item representing the national origin of St. Pius parishioners. The first Masses in the new church were offered on Jan. 26, 1971. The former church was then converted into a gymnasium for the school. New stations of the cross were installed in the church in July of 1972. The church was dedicated by Bp. Hogan in May of 1973, and the bell tower was installed later that year.

Over the next few decades, St. Pius X would grow astronomically and become one of the largest parishes in the diocese. The parish boasted over 2,400 families and 7,000 parishioners as of the year 2000. The new church underwent a controversial renovation during the Summer of 1997. A wall was constructed behind the altar, the marble altar from the Abbey was replaced with an octagonal wood altar, pews were rearranged, and the tabernacle was moved to the left side. Masses were temporarily offered at the Party House on Beahan Rd during renovations.

In June 2010, because of a priest shortage in the Diocese of Rochester and because no priests applied for the vacant pastorate, St. Pius X was placed under the care of a lay pastoral administrator, William Rabjohn (who later became a deacon). His tenure was somewhat rocky, and because of disagreements with the assisting priest and parishioners, Dea. Rabjohn went on sabbatical and left his administrator position. Rose Davis was assigned as a temporary lay administrator in the Summer of 2013. St. Pius X would have a priest leader once again when Fr. Paul Bonacci was appointed on June 24, 2014.

Tragedy would strike the St. Pius X community on New Year's Day 2015. A fire broke out in the church narthex, around 11:45 PM, that resulted in significant damage to the church interior. The parish deliberated on what to do next, and a decision was announced on Feb. 22nd to demolish the church and build anew. The fire-damaged church was demolished, and a new house of God is being constructed on the site of the former church. The community is temporarily worshipping in the parish hall which was adjacent to the former church.


Exterior Photographs

Former Church
Interior Photographs

Stations of the Cross

Interior - Former Church

Stations of the Cross - Former Church
Historical Photographs

St. Fechan (predecessor to St. Pius X)
Map
www.map-embed.com

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