History of Holy Rosary
The parish of Holy Rosary began as a mission church of Saint Paul’s Cathedral, with Mass offered in the parishioners’ homes by priests from the Cathedral. These parishioners would have called their neighborhood “Red Gap”. They worked in the limestone quarries, iron ore mines, and in wrought iron manufacturing plants called “rolling mills”.
The president of Gate City Land Company, Maclin Ross, bought the original property of Holy Rosary for one dollar in 1889 for “Church purposes”. He then deeded the land to Bishop Jeremiah O’Sullivan. This simple church with its hand carved altar was built 125 years ago to accommodate the 80 or so parishioners of that time. The first parishioners were Belgian and Irish, and as the Mark’s Village community continued to evolve Holy Rosary became one of the first truly integrated parishes in the area.
Holy Rosary Mission became its own parish in 1955 when Archbishop Toolen placed it under the care of the Salesians of Don Bosco. Father Aloysius Trifari became the first Salesian pastor, and before he died in 1968 he had erected Saint Bernadette Church on Georgia Road in 1959. Years later, the Salesians opened the former Saint Clement’s Church in 1973 under the name of their patron, Saint John Bosco, and Bishop Vath, in announcing the decree establishing Saint John Bosco, closed Saint Bernadette Parish and assumed it into the newly formed Saint John Bosco parish. Under the direction of Brother Del Labonte, ordained a priest later in life, an emergency food service was started to serve the community of Mark’s Village.
But it was the Salesians’ ministry to the youth and their oratories that formed the foundation of Holy Rosary Catholic Church for the past 25 years. The Salesian Oratory is defined as “a place to pray and play.” In 1986 Brother Charles Todel arrived. The Oratory grew and prospered. He recruited Salesian Lay Missioners and Cooperators and parishioners to help him. The Youth Oratory grew into an after school program and summer-long day camp. Then, he took the emergency food service program and organized a food pantry and clothes closet.
On February 1, 2014, the two remaining Salesian priests were asked to relocate back to their U.S. provinicial headquarters and Holy Rosary Church and its Youth Oratory, food pantry and clothes closet is now owned and administered by the Diocese of Birmingham. Fr. Bryan Jerebek was appointed Administrator of the Parish from 2014-2016 when Fr. George Maniangattu was named. In 2017, Fr. Jon Chalmers became Administrator and the following year, Pastor.