First Mass repeats history in Pittsburgh

July 29, 2015
Source: District of the USA

Continuing a parish and family tradition, recently-ordained Fr. Michael Brown celebrated his First Mass at St. James Church in Pittsburgh.

History seems to keep repeating itself at St. James in Pittsburgh, PA. Last Christmas the SSPX offered Midnight Mass as the official reopening of St. James, as had been done twice before in the parish’s history.

On Sunday, July 26th, as the Society in Pittsburgh was celebrating the external solemnity of St. James, the newly-ordained Fr. Michael Brown offered a first Mass for the parish. This too was very interesting in view of the parish’s history as Fr. Brown’s great-great uncle, Fr. Thomas Brown, was the pastor of St. James for some 20 years.

Fr. Thomas Brown took up the care of St. James parish in 1941 and played a pivotal role in the parish’s history, being the one who burned the mortgage after all of the renovations needed from the 1927 explosion that destroyed so much of the church. There too he celebrated the parish’s 100th anniversary on June 13, 1954.

Another family member, Fr. John Fording, also celebrated a first Mass at St. James under Fr. Thomas Brown’s tenure as pastor. Now, 61 years to the date after that 100th anniversary Mass, Fr. Michael Brown offered his first Mass as a priest in Winona and on this Sunday in July returned to the parish marked by his ancestors to offer some of the first fruits of his priesthood with his family and the faithful of St. James.

370 friends and faithful filled the pews of the church to unite themselves to the sacrifice of the Mass offered by Fr. Brown, the exact same Mass his uncle and relatives offered in this sanctuary of sacrifice. Surely Fr. Thomas Brown smiled in his eternal rest as he saw his family coming back to the church in which he labored so much. How truly Providential it is that God has brought back St. James church just in time for Fr. Michael Brown to be able to offer a first Mass there.

In August, Fr. Michael Brown will be assigned to the priory in Walton, Kentucky from which he will take care of the SSPX faithful of St. James in another interesting act of Providence. Please pray for Fr. Brown, and all the newly-ordained priests, as their new assignments take effect in August. May they all bear great fruits in union with Our Lord.

You're invited!

The current pastor, Fr. Patrick Rutledge, is inviting everyone to join a Marian Procession that St. James Church will host on Saturday, August 15th at 8:30pm (following the 7:00pm Mass).

This procession was promised to Our Lady if she helped the Pittsburgh area chapel to acquire St. James Church, and so on August 15th—exactly one year after we closed on the church—we will hold a candlelit procession in her honor. We will also consecrate the parish and the West End Village to her Immaculate Heart at the official entrance to the West End.

For details, please contact the parish:

St. James Church
326 S. Main Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15220
412-875-6323 | email