St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church
Saint Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church was built in Montevallo in 1951 under the guidance of Reverend Joseph A. Durick, the Director of the North Alabama Mission Band. It was dedicated by Bishop Thomas J. Toolen on May 11, 1952.
Saint Thomas served the people of Montevallo and the surrounding area as a mission church of the North Alabama Mission Band until October, 1956.
Saint Thomas Catholic Church was raised to the status of parish in October, 1956, when Reverend Thomas J. Blythe was assigned as the first resident pastor. Father Blythe served as Catholic Campus Minister to Alabama College (later called the University of Montevallo), as well as Pastor of Saint Thomas Parish until June, 1960.
However, the history of Catholic ministry in the Montevallo area began long before the building of Saint Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church. Montevallo is mentioned in documents as a mission from the Church of the Assumption in Selma as early as 1869. Other communities served from the Church of the Assumption included Straven, Aldrich, and Marvel Mines.
In the early 1880’s Jesuit missionaries built a frame church in Brierfield. That church was destroyed by a cyclone in 1905. Some ruins from that church building remain in Brierfield Ironworks Park.
In the late 1880’s, Saint Francis of Assisi Catholic Church was built in Blocton, being served as a mission church by the priests from Saint John’s Catholic Church in Tuscaloosa. Saint Francis Church was later served by the priests from Saint Paul’s in Birmingham, and then by the priests on the North Alabama Mission Band.
The center of activities in the area shifted from Blocton to West Blocton. Thus, in 1950, Saint Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church was built in West Blocton. This church was served as a mission of Saint Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church from 1956 until 1973. There remains a cemetery in the area, where many Catholics are buried.
The Pastors and Administrators who have served Saint Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church include: Reverend Edward L. Foster (Administrator), Reverend Oliver Adams (Administrator), Reverend Thomas J. Blythe, Reverend Michael J. White, Reverend J. Peter Sheehan, Reverend Joseph Underwood, Reverend Joseph McDevitt, Reverend John J. Owen, (Administrator), Reverend Philip N. O’Kennedy, Reverend Raymond J. Remke, Reverend Ray W. Keiser, and Reverend Raymond A. Dunmyer.
The Pastoral Associates who have served the parish include Sister Deborah Kennedy, RSM and Sister Pat Hinton, OSF.
The original Saint Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church was built on the corner of Highland and Moody Streets near the campus of the University of Montevallo. With an increase of parish membership, new property was purchased for a larger church building. The new site includes more than 20 acres of property on Highway 119 in Montevallo near the Alabaster City Limits.
A new building was constructed on this site, with the First Mass being celebrated in the new facility on August 17, 1991. The new worship facility was dedicated on October 13, 1991.
Saint Thomas has been blessed with continued growth, including a large number of Spanish-speaking parishioners.
Plans for future expansion were unveiled at the 50th Anniversary Celebration on May 12, 2002. The first phase of that vision included a new worship facility and a new education building. Those two new buildings were dedicated on April 20, 2005.
St. Thomas serves people from Bibb County, Chilton County, and Shelby County. Cities and communities served include: Montevallo, Alabaster, Calera, Helena, Jemison, Columbiana, Maylene, Wilton, Marvel, West Blocton, Centreville, and Randolph. There are presently more than 800 families registered in Saint Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church