History

Mrs. Jean Brandli

In 1890, it is said that some Polish coal miners in the northern part of St. Clair County held services in private homes. In recognition of these people, a painting of Our Lady of Csestochowa hangs in our church. Mr. And Mrs. H. E. Brandli brought it to Our Lady of the Lake from Poland.

In the Catholic Church's geographical organization in Alabama, Pell City was listed as a station served by the Jesuit Fathers from Our Lady of the Assumption Parish, Selma, in 1900. In 1902, the Jesuit Fathers returned this station to the Diocese of Mobile. Bishop Edward P. Allen placed missions and stations under the Sacred Heart Parish, Anniston, with Reverend Francis Doyle as pastor. Pell City was listed in the Catholic Directory as a station from Anniston through 1927. In 1930, Reverend Paul Klich served this mission as well as St. Stanislaus, Wylam, while residing at Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in Birmingham. In 1935, he began serving Pell City from hi residence in Wylam.

http://ollpellcity.com/ollimages/Coosa1.jpgFather Robert Bauler

The need for a Catholic Church was created when Logan Martin Lake attracted tourists, visitors and many permanent residents to the area. Archbishop T.J. Toolen approved the construction of a church, but for two years services were held in temporary quarters at the Coosa Valley Telephone Company in Pell City, beginning May 7, 1967. These quarters were generously provided by Mrs. Jean Brandli who was a driving force in the founding and funding of Our Lady of the Lake Church. Reverend Robert J. Bauler was appointed pastor of St. Theresa's Church in Leeds and the mission in Pell City.

1969 picture

With the help of the Catholic Church Extension Society of Chicago, Illinois, The Holy Name Society Chapel Fund, The Catholic Men's Club of the state, as well as many generous people of St. Clair County, Our Lady of the Lake Church was built. The dedication took place on August 18, 1970, with The Most Reverend Joseph G. Vath, Bishop of the new Diocese of Birmingham, concelebrating with Reverend Bauler.

Father Brennan Early Years

In 1976 Reverend Matthew Brennan was appointed pastor. During his pastorate, the parish hall, later named Brandli Hall in honor of Jean Brandli, was built and dedicated.

Since the early 1980's, several priests have been called to pastor Our Lady of the Lake as well as to serve other parishes in the diocese. In 1981, Rev. John J. Ventura was appointed. In July 1982, Reverend James F. O'Rielly became pastor.

Home Alter

With the growth of the church in Talladega, St. Francis of Assisi was established as a parish and Father O'Rielly was appointed there. With that appointment, Reverend John J. Owen was appointed pastor of Our Lady of the Lake, while continuing as Judicial Vicar of the Diocese of Birmingham. After 40 years of continued service in the priesthood, Father Owen retired in 1988. Upon his retirement, Reverend Charles J. Kennedy became pastor. Father Kennedy began his religious life as a contemplative monk in 1955, and became a diocesan priest in 1979. The entire Pell City community mourned his untimely death, in the rectory on August 4, 1991. Monsignor Francis J. Wade was called out of retirement in the fall of 1991 to continue Father Kennedy's work. He was the most senior priest in the diocese and served us well until sickness sent him back to retirement in the spring of 1993. Reverend Gregory T. Bittner, who also served as the Judicial Vicar of the Diocese, was appointed. Under Father Greg's leadership, Our Lady of the Lake added a beautiful stained glass window and a grotto area dedicated to The Blessed Mother, Mary, after whom the churched was named. During 1995, we celebrated the 25th Anniversary of our church. Preliminary plans were being discussed for the expansion or building of our facilities for future growth of our area.

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Father Matthew Brennan was appointed once again in 1998 to return to our parish to serve as pastor and continue our present plans for expansion. During the next year there were many meetings and discussions on the building of a new church or renovation of our present building. After debating the cost factor, and obtaining an architect to advise us, we decided on the expansion of our present building and the addition of a Religious Education building to serve our youth education classes. Father Brennan was an excellent choice to be in charge during this renovation as we doubled our sanctuary seating capacity from 150 to 320, and added eight classrooms for education. From March of 2000, as the construction began, we were sometimes in a crunch to have our sanctuary ready for weekend Mass, but we never failed. The construction crews were very good to work with us and listen to our ideas as we made a few changes during the renovation. Toward the end we were sitting on folding chairs until the new pews were delivered and installed. Work continued with lights, sound, new heating and air units, and the renovation of our Altar. This all began by searching out and finding a beautiful new Tabernacle and Candlestands, and assorted furniture items to enhance our Altar area.

Father James O'ReillyOur Sanctuary and Altar


The church had purchased a statue of the Blessed Mother, Mary, during the time Father O'Rielly was pastor in 1983. It hangs on the wall of the Altar. During the Altar renovation, The Knights of Columbus Council 12270 of our church began raising funds to purchase a statue of St. Joseph. After a few fundraising events, and the generous donations from our members and community, we now have a beautiful statue of St. Joseph, "The Worker", on our Altar wall opposite from Mary. 

Father Brennan today

Dedication services for St. Joseph were held on St. Joseph Feast Day, March 19, 2001, with the blessing of the statue and the placement of the American Flag and the Papal Flag upon our Altar. The Altar is well lit and is, as it should be, the main focal point upon entering our church sanctuary.

In the end, we have plans for future expansion as the need arises. Our church now has a permanent area for Baptism, and our Choir. There are now two entries into the church to accommodate parking in the three parking areas.

The focal point


 

 

 

 



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We now have been blessed with assignment of a Deacon to our Church.

Reverend Mister Terrance Rumore was appointed to serve us upon his being ordained as a Deacon. Deacon Terry has been a part of our congregation for many years and is familiar with many of the members. He is a needed addition to our staff, and serves with Father Brennan during Mass, pastoral duties and with spiritual guidance.

Fr. Brennan remained Pastor of Our Lady of the Lake until July of 2004. At which time, he retired to Ireland, and our newly appointed Pastor was Fr. Jose Maliekal, M.S.F.S.



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Fr. Jose came to us from St. Leo's in Demopolis, Alabama. He was born in Kerala State, India, and ordained in the Order of the Missionaries of St. Francis de S

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ales (MSFS). We were privileged and honored to have Fr. Jose as Pastor for a period of 3 years. His short assignment left us with a presence of spirituality that was embraced by all. Fr. Jose was then transferred to St. Joseph's parish in Marietta, GA. A statue of the Sacred Heart was purchased by Brian & Joanna Murphree and family, and was dedicated to Fr. Jose upon his transfer. The Statue and dedication sign, which was purchased by the teachers of the Religious Education Department, can be seen by all as they enter the North side of the Church. The plaque reads one of Fr. Jose's favorite quotes of St. Francis de Sales, "Be who you are and be that well." 

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~A sincere thanks and blessing to Jeff Burson, former parish webmaster, for having had the patience to collect all of the information it took originally and for having preserved the digital images on this page.~

© 2013 Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church Pell City Alabama