St. Alphonsus Welcomes All to ‘Come Home For Christmas’

St. Alphonsus Welcomes All to ‘Come Home For Christmas’

WHEELING — It’s more than a church building that sits at 2111 Market St. in the heart of Center Wheeling. St. Alphonsus Catholic Church has stood as a testament of the faithful and the architectural talents of past craftsmen.

Once a “German parish,” the church served the tightknit immigrant families who made their homes within its shadow.

According to historic facts from the diocese, the first building, erected in 1856 under Bishop Richard V. Whelan, made way for a second structure constructed between 1886-88 under the architectual supervision of the German Capuchin pastor, the Rev. Anthony Mary Schuermann.

When the cornerstone was laid on Aug. 1, 1886, the pastor gave an introduction in German amid much fanfare that including a procession of various Knights of Columbus organizations and a men’s choir performance.

It is that building that remains today, having undergone numerous renovations and changes over the decades to maintain its integrity and place within the community. Many of the original statues, carvings and stained glass windows remain intact. The parish once offered a grade school, which has since met the wrecking ball.

With Catholic church closings and parish consolidations in modern times, St. Alphonsus has welcomed many nationalities and heritages to its pews. When St. Ladislaus closed in South Wheeling, church members drifted north to the Center Wheeling parish. A Polish Mass is held monthly at St. Al’s, embracing the proud heritage of the Polish community.

Recently the church building, a longtime tourist destination for its beautiful statues, altars and construction, underwent some needed refurbishing and “freshening up,” according to diocese officials.

Just in time for the Christmas celebration, St. Alphonsus unveils its impeccable beauty with interior repairs to the ceiling plaster, repainting and other improvements. Christmas Eve Mass will be celebrated at 6 p.m. Monday, and at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Christmas Day. All are welcome to visit the church and take part in Mass. Children attending Mass can select an ornament from the Christmas tree to take home. “Come Home for Christmas” is the welcoming cry at the church.

The Rev. Arul Anthony, temporarily on loan from the Diocese of Delhi, India, is the current administrator at St. Alphonsus, as well as St. John in Benwood, and St. James in McMechen.

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