A Brief History
World War II ended in 1945 and many of the returning servicemen chose to relocate their families in the Bustleton area. This influx of fast growing families prompted the need for a Catholic School program for the parish. In September, 1948 Sister Rita Marie and Sister Anne Francis of the Sisters of Mercy, opened a school on the porch of the rectory. The rapid growth of both student body and interest in the school dictated an expansion program. A parcel of land was purchased near the intersection of Welsh and Bustleton Avenues and the school foundation was laid. On May 5, 1949, less than a year after the school’s inception, a one-level, T-shaped school with a large auditorium/church was dedicated by the Most Reverend J. Carroll McCormick. The auditorium was used for church services on weekends, accommodating approximately four hundred worshipers. The school continued to grow and in 1950, four classrooms were added. In 1957, ground was broken for two additional classrooms and a new auditorium. In November, 1957, the Pastor, Father John A. Wright died. He had fulfilled his vision to bring Catholic education and a Catholic school to Maternity B.V.M. Parish. As a memorial to the school’s founder, Father Wright’s body was buried immediately in front of the new school. A monument now stands at the site of his interment.
On December 18, 1957, Reverend John J. O’Neill was appointed pastor. Father O’Neill completed the construction of the two new classrooms and the auditorium. Due to increased enrollment, Father O’Neill added a second floor to the original school building providing eight new classrooms.
Ground breaking for a new convent took place on July 8, 1962. At this time, church services with five masses were being offered at the interim church, the auditorium and the old church in the hollow. With an increased census and continued overcrowding at masses, it became apparent that their was a need for a larger church, with more parking space, and an adequate rectory. On July 12, 1964, ground was broken for the planned new church and rectory. Eighteen months later, January 9, 1966, the Most Reverend John J. Krol presided at the dedication of our beautiful church and rectory. In 1967, a new school building was erected in front of the existing school. It provided eight additional classrooms for the students. On Mother’s Day, May 10, 1970, the Centennial Anniversary of the Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church was celebrated. His Eminence John J. Krol presided. In July, 1976, Msgr. John J. O’Neill, Pastor, retired and resided at Maternity B.V.M. until his death on February 27, 1996. Reverend James T. McDonnell was appointed Pastor.
The parish continued to grow, with only minor problems until 1983, when the auditorium/gymnasium was officially condemned due to a shifting foundation. A replacement program was immediately begun and a capital fund campaign initiated. Through this campaign, a gala carnival on church grounds was conceived and continues annually. This event has been a consistent success, both financially and socially. The beautiful and functional parish hall was built and dedication was held in May, 1988. The hall continues to live up to its expectations for activities of parish, school as well as social! After fourteen years as Pastor of Maternity B.V.M., Father McDonnell retired (He died on October 14, 1995). Reverend Monsignor Anthony W. McGuire was appointed Pastor in 1990.
Monsignor McGuire brought with him years of pastoral and administrative experience as well as a determination to foster the church’s spiritual growth and leadership in the parish. Parish activity increased with the formation of a Parish Pastoral Council in 1993 which has led to the formation of a number of church service committees. Monsignor McGuire’s goals for the revitalization of the parish included many of the physical as well as spiritual attributes necessary for the continued well being of the parish. Much needed remodeling work and major repairs have become an on-going project for all of the church and school buildings. School equipment, including computers, is being updated. All to ensure a safe and pleasant environment for our parishioners. In 1997, the remodeling of the cafeteria brought with it two new classrooms. Maternity B.V.M. Catholic Education program now includes a three year old and a four year old Pre-K program, Kindergarten, Grades 1 through 8, an after school CARES program, and a well organized C.C.D. Program. In June, 2003, after thirteen years of service to Maternity B.V.M., Monsignor McGuire retired. Reverend George A. Majoros was appointed Pastor.
Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary School continues to grow and prosper in this The Third Millennium of Christianity.
The projects envisioned by Father Majoros are being implemented by Father Quinter. In addition to the reconstruction of the Lower Church, the pews in the Upper Church have been replaced, the church’s stained glass windows have been repaired, and the hope is that one day there will be an elevator to enable many of our disabled and elderly parishioners to participate in both liturgical and social events.
Through compiling the history of our parish utilizing the various parish anniversary books, it needs to be noted that throughout the years, this parish began, survived turmoil and trepidation, and has grown to become what we see today. Credit is due to the unity, generosity and hard work of the priests, sisters and faithful of the parish. Maternity B.V.M. continues to grow and prosper in this The Third Millennium of Christianity. It is up to us, the present parishioners, to continue the legacy and be good stewards in assuring this parish is ready for our future parishioners.
This year our Parish reaches yet another milestone. On Saturday, October 2, 2015 we began our year-long celebration of our 145 years Serving God's People in the Bustleton Area.