In May of 1853, a small group of Catholics met at Frank’s Hotel in Auburn, NY, to organize the second Roman Catholic Church in Auburn. The very first Mass was held on May 5, 1853.
In 1861, a former Millerite/Adventist Church on Water St. was officially purchased, and in 1869 the Rev. Charles A. Vogl arrived as pastor, arranging for a tower and bell for the church and brick rectory to be built next to the church.
The history recorded at St. Joseph Church in Rochester adds some detail to our history.
“Among the mission-stations visited in 1857 was Auburn, where the Germans had a simple unpretentious church heavily in debt. Continual dissensions had disrupted the parish, and the church was about to be sold by the sheriff, when the Rev. John DeDycker, pastor of St. Joseph’s, went there and promised the people to send them a priest every month, if they showed any disposition to profit by his ministrations. This was practically the beginning of the present parish of St. Alphonsus, which the Redemptorists attended until 1869, when the Rev. Charles Vogl, of the diocesan clergy, became pastor.” (CENTENNIAL SOUVENIR ST. JOSEPH’S PARISH, ROCHESTER, N. Y. 1836 – 1936, )
This beautiful icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help is found at the threshold of our current sanctuary. This beautiful bejeweled icon is thought to have hung in the original church. The image is of special significance to the Redemptorist Order who helped to establish St. Alphonsus and a bit of its history can be found here.
In 1886, property for a new school was purchased on Franklin and Seminary St. It officially reopened in 1887 with 120 children and the Sisters of St. Joseph running the school.
The first parish census, taken in 1890, revealed approximately 160 families at St. Alphonsus Church.
In 1929, three pieces of property on E. Genesee St. were purchased as a site for a new church, which was finally completed on December 30, 1930 and dedicated by then Bishop O’Hern.
In November of 1938, property at 103 E. Genesee St. was purchased for use as a parish house, later home to two classrooms and a library. Ground was broken in 1949 for a new school, and on October 11, 1950, students were transferred to the new school. Just one year later, in 1951, it was decided an addition was needed for the school, as numbers had increased to nearly 700 students.
In 1962, fundraising began for a new convent, and construction began that same year. Five years later, in 1967, the new parish center opened. Additionally, the St. Alphonsus Food Pantry was established in 1972.
In 1973, St. Alphonsus joined with other Catholic parishes in Auburn to form Blessed Trinity School, using our school building, and in December of 1987, the former convent became the St. Alphonsus rectory and home for retired priests.
1996 saw the merge of the former St. Alphonsus and St. Mary’s schools, and Blessed Trinity School officially became St. Joseph School. On September 30, 2000, Bishop Matthew Clark presided at a joint celebration of the St. Alphonsus school building’s 50th anniversary and the St. Alphonsus Church building’s 70th anniversary on Genesee St.
On May 4, 2002, St. Alphonsus began its 150th Jubilee Year, and the St. Alphonsus Food Pantry celebrated its 30th anniversary. Bishop Matthew Clark presided at the celebration of the 150th anniversary of our founding on May 5, 2003.