The unofficial history of Catholicism in our local area, now known as Colbert County, dates back almost as early as the founding of Tuscumbia. In fact, Catholic families began moving into the Muscle Shoals District shortly after 1816 when Michael and Sene Dickson arrived at Spring Creek in their little keelboat and purchased the spring and the surrounding land from Indian Chief Task Kanbi for the meager sum of two pole axes and five dollars in cash.
After 1.5 centuries, the town has a population of about 9000 townspeople who attend churches of various denominations. The Catholic Church has approximately 700 members living in the vicinity.
In order to give rightful recognition to all the faithful, the history of the parish must include that of St. Joseph’s and Our Lady of Grace Churches which were located in Sheffield. Though the Tuscumbia church had the earliest beginning, for the sake of clarity and continuity in relating the story of the existing parish, the history of the Sheffield parishes will be dealt with first.
St. Joseph’s Church of Sheffield
Saint Joseph’s rectory and church
According to parochial records, Catholic missionary activities in Sheffield date back to 1876 when Father John A. Baasen was in charge of this section. Having been called by his Bishop to the southern diocesan field, Father Baasen prepared the way for his successors, the Benedictines.
Sheffield appeared on the scene with the Shaut, Machtolff, Fossick, Casey, Lagomarsino and Gusmus families.
Mass was said in private homes until a small frame church, poorly equipped, was donated by a non-Catholic friend and erected by Father Cyprian in 1887. It served for both Church and school purposes.
The first few years, Sheffield was supplied as a mission from Tuscumbia. Later on, after the Florence congregation obtained considerable size and had a resident pastor, Sheffield became a mission of Florence.
In 1899, Father Gammelbert, then pastor of Florence, erected a church.
About the turn of the century, the need for a school became apparent, and Father Gammelbert remedied that by using the old chapel for a school building and employing a lay teacher. After the close of the first term, he made arrangements with Mother Superior of Sacred Heart Academy at Cullman for a Staff of teaching nuns. A combination building of school and convent was completed in 1903.
Father Gammelbert, anxious to save every dollar for his building funds, made many trips on foot from Florence to Sheffield.
According to one source, after financial conditions improved somewhat, Abbot Bernard sent Father Giles as first resident pastor to Sheffield in 1904. (This conflicts with another record which states that in 1904 the little flock welcomed as its first resident priest, Father Aegidius Schulkers.) Still a lack of funds made it advisable to postpone building a priest’s residence. Father lived for several years in two small rooms of the sacristy until a rectory was completed in 1907.
Father Sebastian Siemers was the second resident priest. He served the spiritual needs of the people from 1091 to 1922. He was astute in financial affairs. He liquidated past debts as well as made improvements in Church, school and rectory without incurring further debts.
Father Sebastian was succeeded in 1922 by Father Theodosius Osterrieder, OSB. Having been in Tuscumbia at the time of the establishment of this Sheffield parish, Father Theodosius had visited this station quite often to conduct divine services. This made him well acquainted with the people before entering his pastoral charge which lasted until 1926.
The intricate altar and statues of Saint Joseph’s Church
In 1926 Father Osmond Wiesmeth, OSB, came to serve St. Joseph’s congregation. He remained as pastor for twenty-one years.
Seven additional resident priests served the Saint Joseph Parish from the time of Father Osmond’s departure in 1947 until Father Claude St. Germaine moved from Sheffield to Tuscumbia in 1960.
Our Lady of Grace Church
The interior of Our Lady of Grace Church
In her One Hundred Years of Work and Prayer: St. Joseph Catholic Church, Florence, Alabama 1898-1998 Dr. Suzanne Thurman Makowski writes:
During the early war years [WWII], Rev. Isidore Fussnecker’s work was part of the broader attempt of the Catholic Church to reach out to non-white Catholics in response to a 1936 letter from the Sacred Consistorial Congregation encouraging the establishment of more ‘Colored Missions’ in the United States. American bishops took this admonition to heart, and in 1941 ‘an intense program in behalf of the Negroes [was] undertaken by the Bishop of Mobile, Thomas Toolen, D. D., whose diocese had 29 ‘Colored Missions’ at the beginning of the year.
Father Germain blesses the cornerstone of Our Lady’s Mission
As mentioned above, the first non-white Catholic community in the Muscle Shoals District was a mission church founded between 1945 and 1955 by Father Isadore Fussnecker, OSB.
African-American businesswoman and entrepreneur Bessie Rapier Foster (1882-1963), a convert to the Catholic Church, was also instrumental in the founding of this mission. It was named after Blessed Martin De Porres, and it was located in in a grocery store on Mobile Street in Florence until it was moved to Sheffield in 1959.
With the help of the Catholic Church Extension Society and Cardinal Cushing, Father Germaine Taylor built a modest, but beautiful, stone church at the Southeast end of Nineteenth Street in Sheffield in an area locally known as “Baptist Bottom,” now known as Sterling Boulevard and Avalon Avenue. It was the warm-hearted generosity for the friends of the mission and Father Germaine’s undaunted efforts that made the building of the church possible.
In The Heritage of Colbert County, Alabama, the late LaFreda Winston, long time Our Lady of the Shoals parishioner, writes:
A new church was needed and contributions were accepted from many areas; the biggest contribution came from W.C. Handy, “Father of the Blues,” by way of a benefit concert on Sunday, June 12, 1949, at 3:00p.m. at the Princess Theater; directors were Dr. Bessie Foster and Mrs. Magnolia Watkins. Patrons came from all over North Alabama, raising over $11,000 for the building fund.
At the ground breaking for the new church in Sheffield were families, both black and white, from the Tri-Cities. The members were the Lowerys, Watkins, Brewers, Miltons, Moores, Longs, Henrys, Christains, Williams, Buckners, Stalworthes, Crawfords, Reynolds, Clayes, Mullins, Walkers and Napiers.
After Father Germaine’s death on October 8, 1959, the mission was served on weekends by Father Abbot Bede Luibel until 1960, at which time, Father Brice Joyce, became the resident priest.
The parish was called Our Lady of Grace or Our Lady’s Mission.
Father Brice and his mother, Mrs. Joyce who served as his housekeeper, became very active in the community and won many converts to the Faith.
The Mission had a very active and effective Legion of Mary. The fervent members were inspired by Father Brice to visit the sick and shut-ins, give support and encouragement to the troubled, and to welcome newcomers.
Father Brice served the Parish until 1967 at which time the members of the congregation joined those of Our Lady of the Shoals Parish, and the mission church building and rectory were sold.
Our Lady of the Shoals, Tuscumbia
Officially, the history of the Tuscumbia parish and other parishes of the Muscle Shoals District and North Alabama begins in 1869. But many years previous to that date priests visited the area. The first mention of such a visit is that of Father Robert Abell, of Bardstown, Kentucky, who said Mass in Tuscumbia in 1824 and again a few years later. There were about 200 Catholic families in Tuscumbia and the surrounding territory. According to an old diary, some 600 Catholic tapestry workers had come from France to establish a tapestry mill and homes along the river on the site now occupied by the TVA National Fertilizer Development Center. This took place shortly after the Cherokee and Chickasaw Indians had ceded their claims to the Shoals. Financed by Eastern capital, the newcomers built crude shelters, no more than huts, to house the skilled workers. In a short time these primitive shelters were supplanted by homes that were more or less exact replicas of the French homes of the craftsmen. It was not long before there was a church for the worshippers and gardens and vineyards for every home. French songs and customs were transplanted into the alien soul. Gaiety and happiness were found among those Catholic settlers, for their mill, which was erected along the riverside, brought rich returns. The French songs and customs, not to mention the foreign tongue, must have been a strange sight and spectacle for their fellow settlers of other nationalities.
The mill was very productive and the Eastern capitalists were well satisfied. Business improved to such an extent that a spur track, still there in 1918, was built from the first railroad to the factory to facilitate transportation.
Misfortune, however, befell the colonists. Unaccustomed to the climate and unmindful of well-meant advice, many of them became victims of malaria, and where happy laughter had prevailed, sorrow soon struck; many deaths occurred among the French, and over three hundred graves dug on the hillside told the story of broken hearts and lonely homes. Consternation reigned in the colony. Many were for returning to France immediately. Work began to slacken. Disheartened, the Eastern employers still tried to hold on and to encourage those who were left in the village. Yet, further adversity was to befall the little colony. One night the mill and the dormitories for the single men and women workers burned. All tapestries on hand were destroyed or damaged except those in the homes of the workers. Following this disaster, two hundred of the workers and their families returned to France, the others, some of whom had married in the colony and had grown attached to the country, decided to remain. Their descendants are to be found today in the Tri-Cities. Their French ancestry was the finest. The tapestry workers were a cultured people, well educated and well trained in the work they had in hand. In many homes pieces of the silk tapestry may still be found.
Excavation work in 1918, at Village No. 2, unearthed some of the old graves of the Frenchmen, many of them marked in a crude way, the name and the date hardly legible, but sufficiently so as to verify the story of the Catholic silk tapestry workers laboring in Muscle Shoals. With the destruction of the first tapestry mill and the subsequent dispersion of the Catholic workers, their little church in the colony soon fell prey to the elements and disappeared.
In the meantime, Tuscumbia itself had grown into a quite prosperous town, and by 1830 it had a population of 1000. But the number of Catholics at this time was small. The next priest-visitors to Tuscumbia, after Father Abell’s visits in the 1820s, were Fathers Loras and Chalon in 1830. The Bishop of Mobile, Bishop Portier, had intended to pay a visit to North Alabama just as he had looked after the spiritual interests of the Southern part of his large diocese, but sickness and urgent business at home prevented him from coming north. Consequently, he sent his vicar general, Father Loras. This excellent priest, who a few years later was made Bishop of Dubuque, Iowa, and Father Chalon, a nephew of the Bishop, traveled north, in July 1830. Their apostolic trip included Montgomery, Tuscaloosa, Huntsville, and Moulton. Everywhere they found Protestant temples of worship, but not a single Catholic church in the entire Northern territory. When coming into any of these towns they made their home with a Catholic family. Setting up an altar upon which they placed flowers and a Crucifix, they said Mass in turn, and then Father Chalon preached on the necessity of a sacrifice in a true religion. Catholics were few, indeed, but these were supplemented by curious Protestants, among them several ministers. The priests administered the Sacraments of Baptism, Penance and Holy Communion, and witnessed many marriages. Their stop in Tuscumbia was short, but they tended to spiritual necessities of the people, and taught and instructed daily and lectured to crowds in the evening. It is not known in what home they said Mass at Tuscumbia. This apostolic mission tour to the Muscle Shoals District and Northern Alabama was made on horseback.
The outcome of these visits was the erection of a small church at Moulton. This town was chosen as the center because of its rich agricultural environment. Its Catholics had come from Ireland some years previously. By 1835 the church was finished and Father Peter Mauverney was pastor and missionary to the North Alabama District. But this proved to be only a temporary arrangement. Father Mauverney died October 25, 1839, and as the Bishop had no more than ten priests in the entire diocese, this field again was without a priest. Thus it came about that from 1839 till 1865 priests from St. Peter’s Church in Memphis, Tennessee, looked after the Catholic population in this district as is evident from various baptismal entries made by Father Joseph Sadoc Alemany, Father Thomas Grace and others. During the War between the States, Father John Ireland, a Northern Army Chaplain, stationed at Cherokee, Alabama, said Mass in the home of Dr. William Des Prez, who, with his family, resided at Cherokee and later in Tuscumbia.
Up to this time there had been no regular church nor resident pastor in the Muscle Shoals District if we except the rather short-lived pastorate of Father Mauverney at Moulton. In Tuscumbia, Mass was held in the home of an Irishman by the name of John Baxter who lived in the old home at the corner of Third and Cave Streets, now called the Throckmorton home. It was here that the first High Mass was sung. The actual commencement of the church and congregation at Tuscumbia is associated with families of the great Celtic branch of the Commonwealth of Nations, one being Irish, the other French, namely, John Baxter and Dr. William Des Prez. One was born in Ireland, the other a native of Paris.
Other Catholic families who kept the spark of faith alive were the Clouds, Bowsers, Fossicks, Hastings, Gormians, Bennetts and Moriaritys. Around 1870 these families were joined by a number of German families from Pennsylvania, Ohio and other northern states. Among these newcomers were the Moorman, Henke, Neiman, Gusmus, Schwager, Gattman, Seegar, and Zehnder families. These were followed by the Moselages, Gaike, Carls, Gass, Urban, and DiRago Families.
The priest who was commissioned to administer in North Alabama was Father John B. Baasen, a native of Luxemburg, Grand Duchy of Luxemburg. This zealous priest took charge of the widely scattered Catholics. Some ten counties formed his parish. He sought out the Catholic scattered as they were over such a large field, organized them into congregations, and built churches for them. To increase his task, there was the additional hardship of providing a regular services for newly established colonies of Germans in Lauderdale County, at Cullman, Hanceville, and Warrior. The border communities on the Mississippi and Georgia side also experienced his guidance.
Father Baasen, kind-hearted and hard-working, soon had the satisfaction to establish several churches and to see them forming independent congregations in St. Florian, hitherto under the charge of his assistant, Father Michael Merz, became an independent parish after the death of Father Merz in February of 1876.
Eventually a small church was erected in Tuscumbia on the corner of Third and Cave streets. On November 22, 1874, a tornado struck the town of Tuscumbia, causing quite a loss of life and destroying the church and many other buildings. This being about that time of the depression following the Civil War, Father Baasen found it impossible to raise the necessary funds to rebuild the church. He did, however, have a barn at his residence a few blocks east of the old church site, and with some repairs, he converted to building into a chapel which was used for several years.
During this period of time, an agreement was reached between Bishop Quinlan of Mobile and Right Reverend Archabbot Boniface Winimer of the Benedictine Fathers of St. Vincent Archabbey in Pennsylvania turning over the spiritual care of the parishes of Tuscumbia, St. Florian, and Huntsville to the Benedictine Order. On May 12, 1878, the Benedictines acquired the property held by Father Baasen and Tuscumbia. Father Baasen left for the southern mission field of the diocese and in 1901 he was made Right Reverend Monsignor.
The first priest assigned to Tuscumbia after the departure of Father Baasen was Father Matthew Stuerenberg.
Shortly after Father Matthew’s coming to Tuscumbia, he, with the permission of the Bishop of Mobile and of his immediate superior, Abbot Boniface of St. Vincent’s, Pennsylvania, set about the project of building a new church. However, since the members of his flock were not overly blessed with worldly goods, the question of the necessary funds was a serious one. Finding local funds inadequate, Father Matthew turned the temporary care of his parish over to his confrere, Father Joseph, and set out on a mission to northern states, and through the generosity of the Catholics in those districts, he was able to get quite a bit of assistance. Still the funds were not sufficient to warrant making a start. Father Matthew again set out on a second mission and this time was successful in raising funds which, which with the labor and material donated by the members of his congregation, was adequate to go ahead with his plans and by dint of his own personal labor and bodily injury, (injured while assisting in the uploading of a car of lumber) finally realized his dream.
The church, with a small rectory attached, was built under the supervision of the late Henry Moseland and his son and was completed and dedicated on August 8, 1880, by Bishop John Quinlan.
Having completed the building of the church, Father Matthew soon recognized the need of providing for the Catholic education of the children. After securing the necessary consent of the powers that be, he was, within a short time, successful in interesting Mother Superior of a Benedictine Sister’s Convent in Covington, Kentuchy, and four Sisters, Sister M. Evangelista, Sister M. Baptista, Sister M. Henrietta and Sister M. Scholastica in coming to Tuscumbia. The Sisters lived in the residence acquired from Father Baasen, and part of the lower floor was remodeled into two school rooms. Within a short while they had established a school that, due to its efficiency, soon began to draw many non-Catholic, as well as Catholic children.
St. Mary’s School in Tuscumbia, with the original church in the background.
Shortly after the establishment of the school, Father Matthew was transferred and replaced by Father Herman Wolf. Father Herman was given an assistant in the person of a young priest, Father Henry, who looked after a number of small missions in the district. From that period on, the turnover in pastors of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart was, for some reason, very rapid. It might be mentioned that at different times during the period of 1880 and 1890 many of the notables of St. Vincent’s Abbey were, at one time or another, pastors at Tuscumbia; also, that Archabbot Andreas Hintenach of St. Vincent’s, and the first and second abbots of St. Benard at Cullman, Alabama, Abbot Benedict Menges and Abbot Bernard Menges, were all former pastors of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart.
The 1913 Sacred Heart Choir. First row: Fanny Cloud, Carroll Brown, Pauline Goike. Second row: Lily Cloud, Martha Roggenbuck, Lucie Cloud, Katie Moore.
Beginning around 1889 the parish was supplied by St. Bernard Abbey with Father Dennis Stolz being the first rector. According to an earlier church historian, “from the time of Father Theodosius’ incumbency (1894-1895) there was always pretty much of a ‘tempest in a teapot’ between the German and Irish-American faction, as to what was going to be preached to whom, or what should be the prevailing language of the sermons and public prayers. The older Germans, not being any too well versed in the vernacular, and feeling that they had put in the hardest licks in the construction period as well as their share of the cash, felt that they should have the most consideration, and said so very emphatically. The others thought the ‘Duch” should learn English. Thus, the various pastors always found themselves between the”devil and the deep blue sea” trying various experiments of alternate Sundays, two sermons per Mass or per Sunday, if two Masses were said, or what have you. During the pastorate of Father Dennis, he decided on one German sermon per month, and as a result, got himself very much ‘in dutch’ with the ‘Dutch’. Finally the old-timers passed out of the picture and the German Sunday also, and presumably everybody was happy.”
In the meantime, the Catholic school continued to successfully operate from the time of Father Matthew’s pastorate in 1876-1882 until 1924. However, due to a dwindling Catholic population, the school was discontinued sometime before the end of 1924.
On October 3, 1924, Tuscumbia Catholics again experienced a disaster when fire destroyed the church. Today the only remaining physical evidence of the existence of the church are two concrete columns which stand at the former site on Fourth Street in front of the home of Dr. Archie Carmichael. Fortunately, there was some insurance on the building but not enough to finance the construction of a new one.
After a few years of hard work on the part of the pastor, Father Francis McVeigh, and his Altar Society, a stone structure was erected on the corner of Fourth and East Street close to the sight of the old church. The building was constructed of native sandstone and Tennessee marble. With its beautiful stained glass windows, it was another realization of a pastor’s dream.
Sunday, May 8, 1932, the church was dedicated to the services of Almighty God under the name of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart.
The first parishioner from the parish to choose the religious life of a priest was Father Lambert Gattman, OSB, who was ordained May 16, 1934, by the Most Reverend T. J. Toolen, Bishop of Mobile. Father Lambert’s parents, Benjamin and Louise Gattman, owned the land where the present church is located.
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Church, dedicated in 1932
The Dedication of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Church. Benedictine Priests — front row: Fathers Osmund, Alphonse, Aloysius, Abbot Bernard, Theodosius, Clement. Back row: Fathers Phillip, Sylvester, Thomas, John, Anselm, Francis (Pastor), two priests not identified, Isidore, Lambert, Marion. Altar boys: John Funke, Tommy Cox, Bolger Semmes, F.M. Semmes, Oliver Semmes.
A number of other parishioners of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart chose religious life as their vocation.
The parish was under the pastorship of seven priests from 1932 until the church was closed on December 26, 1959, after the completion of the second Catholic school to be erected in the city of Tuscumbia. Father Gilbert O’Neill was serving the parish at that time. Our Lady of the Shoals School, on East Commons between Third and Fourth Streets opened, and the auditorium was converted into a chapel. The first Mass was celebrated on December 27, 1959, and the chapel continued to serve as the place of worship until the completion of the new church.
The Benedictine nuns were housed in the old two-story Gattman home on East Commons at the end of the first section of Fourth Street and the present site of the new church.
Plans were later initiated which would eventually result in the closing of St. Joseph Church. Following the departure of Father Gilbert from Tuscumbia in 1959, Father Claude St. Germaine, pastor of St. Joseph, moved from the rectory in Sheffield to the rectory on Fourth Street in Tuscumbia, returning to St. Joseph to hear confessions, and to say one Mass on Sundays. The church was kept open as a mission church until it was closed in 1965.
Construction of a convent was begun in 1962 and completed in March of 1963. The nuns moved into the modern structure which was attached by a breezeway to the west end of the School building. Father Claude the moved into the former Gattman house.
The church property on Fourth Street between East and Hickory Streets was sold. The buildings were removed and homes have been erected at the location.
Due to exorbitant operational expenses and difficulty in staffing the school, Our Lady of the Shoals School closed in May 1971, leaving St. Joseph School in Florence the only Catholic school in the Muscle Shoals area. Catholic children in Tuscumbia either transferred to St. Joseph’s (transportation being provided) or enrolled in the public schools of Tuscumbia.
Our Lady of the Shoals Rectory, Parish Hall, and Religious Education Classrooms
The main altar, crucifix, and canopy were transferred from Sacred Heart Church to be used in the chapel of Our Lady of the Shoals Church. The front altar was first used in Our Lady of Grace Church. The crucifix and main altar are now used in the new church.
KNOWN PARISHIONERS WHO HAVE CHOSEN VOCATIONS:
Rev. Lambert Gattman, O.S.B.
Rev. Leo Carter, O.S.B.
Rev. Gerard Kitts, O.S.B.
Sr. Mary Cornelia, O.S.B. (Regina Beckman)
Sr. Mary Vincent, O.S.B. (Cecelia Beckman)
Sr. Helen Carroll Petty, Order of St. Clare
In August of 1971, the priest’s home was moved to the convent which had been vacated by the nuns. Under the direction of Father Richard Jax, OSB, who came to the Parish in 1972, the old two-story rectory was demolished in November, 1973, to make way for a new church.
Father Richard and members of the various parish committees spent many hours planning, negotiating, and directing the building of a new church which consists of 5,200 square feet in the church proper with a seating capacity of 308. The interior of the building is of wood paneling with laminated wood beams and exposed decking. Located in the basement is a social room for after-service coffees and other congregational get-togethers.
Mr. Howard A. Griffith, architect, and Father Richard have designed one of the most magnificent buildings in North Alabama.
Though the new church is modern in design and function, there is evidence of appreciation of the treasures of God. In this imposing new edifice, one sees the beautiful memorial windows of stained glass from Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Church of Tuscumbia. Also, the bells of both Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Church and St. Joseph Church of Sheffield can be heard resounding from the bell tower where a statue of the Blessed Mother of Jesus, from Our Lady of Grace Church, now stands. This amalgamation of artifacts of the past truly completes the uniting of three parishes composed of parishioners justly proud of their separate heritages, yet, humbly grateful for their mutual blessings.
The school building will continue to serve as the Parish Hall to accommodate the library and meeting rooms for religion classes and parish organizations.
The congregation of Our Lady of the Shoals Church, including Catholics from Tuscumbia, Sheffield, Muscle Shoals City, Cherokee, and Margerum, now numbers approximately 270 families.
Most of the above text was compiled by Sarah Turberville in 1974
Construction of Our Lady of the Shoals Church
Our Lady of the Shoals in 1974
History of Pastors in the Shoals Area
Pastors of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Church in Tuscumbia
1868–1876: Rev. John B. Baasen, founder
Rev. Michael Merz, assistant
1876–1881: Rev. Matthew Stuerenberg, O.S.B.
1881–1883: Rev. Herman Wolfe, O.S.B.
1885: Rev. Athanasius Hintenbach, O.S.B.
1885–1886: Rev. Emmeran Singer, O.S.B.
1886–1888: Rev. Andrew Hintenbach, O.S.B.
1888: Rev. Benedict Menges, O.S.B.
1888–1889: Rev. Otto Kopf, O.S.B.
1889–1890: Rev. Dennis Stolz, O.S.B.
1890–1892: Rev. Fridolin Meyer, O.S.B.
1892: Rev. Basil Singer, O.S.B.
1892–1894: Rev. Dennis Stolz, O.S.B.
1894: Rev. Bernard Menges, O.S.B.
1894–1895: Rev. Theodosius, O.S.B.
1895–1896: Rev. Dennis Stolz, O.S.B.
1896–1897: Ref. Theodosius, O.S.B.
1897–1898: Rev. Leo Mayer, O.S.B.
1898–1901: Rev. Dennis Stolz, O.S.B.
1901–1902: Rev. Theodosius, O.S.B.
1903–1912: Rev. Clarence Reitmeier, O.S.B.
1912–1922: Rev. Placidus Becher, O.S.B.
1922–1940: Rev. Francis McVeigh, O.S.B.
1940–1946: Rev. Norbert Russwurn, O.S.B.
1946–1952: Rev. Fabian Hoffman, O.S.B.
1952–1954: Rev. Sylvester Fangman, O.S.B.
1954–1955: Rev. Albert Hilger, O.S.B.
1955–1959: Rev. Gilbert O’Neill, O.S.B.
Pastors of Saint Joseph’s Church in Sheffield
1904–1909: Rev. Giles, O.S.B., First resident pastor
1909–1922: Rev. Sebastian, O.S.B.
1922–1926: Rev. Theodosius, O.S.B.
1926–1947: Rev. Osmond Wiesneth, O.S.B.
1947–1952: Rev. Gilbert O’Neill, O.S.B.
1952–1954: Rev. Marion Schwallie, O.S.B.
1954–1955: Rev. Ambrose Sudduth, O.S.B.
1955: Rev. Germaine Taylor, O.S.B.
1955–1956: Rev. Kevin Cronin, O.S.B.
1956–1958: Rev. Paul Koehler, O.S.B.
1958–1960: Rev. Claude St. Germaine, O.S.B.
Pastors of Blessed Martin de Porres Mission in Florence
1945–1955: Rev. Isidore FussNecher, O.S.B.
1955–1959: Rev. Germaine Taylor, O.S.B.
Fr. Abbot Bede Luibel, O.S.B. (temporarily)
Pastors of Our Lady of Grace Mission in Sheffield
1959: Rev. Germaine Taylor, O.S.B.
1960–1967: Rev. Brice Joyce, O.S.B.
Pastors of Our Lady of the Shoals Church in Tuscumbia
1960–1964: Rev. Claude St. Germaine, O.S.B.
1964–1967: Rev. Eugene Flynn, O.S.B.
1967–1969: Rev. Raphael Salasek, O.S.B.
1969–1971: Rev. William Moylan, O.S.B.
1971: Rev. Luke Fazi, O.S.B.
1972–?: Rev. Richard L. Jax, O.S.B.
?–1981–?: Rev. Lawrence D. Phillips, O.S.B.
?–1992: Rev. Bernard, O.S.B.
1992–2009: Rev. Patrick Tierney
2009–2013 : Rev. Don Bosco Forsythe
November 1, 2013–February 19, 2022: Rev. Michael Adams
February 19, 2022– : Rev. Benny Karimalikkal
Parish Organizations in 1974: