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History

St. Thomas the Apostle Church

St. Thomas the Apostle Parish was founded in 1816. During a public meeting, on February 2, 1816, the Catholic membership of Bedford County pledged money and materials for the building of a church. A list of donors and donations is on parochial file. The monetary donations ranged from fifty cents to one hundred dollars. Building supplies such as wood and nails were also donated.

Father Demetrius Gallitzin, the legendary "Prince Priest of the Alleghenies", was the first priest to minister to the Roman Catholic population of the Bedford area as early as 1795, celebrating Mass and staying in various homes throughout the Diocese. Among these was the Heyden home. Following Father Gallitzin's example and with his help, young Thomas Heyden was sent to Mt. St. Mary's College in Maryland, ordained a priest on May 21, 1821 at the age of 23 and shortly afterwards became the pastor of St. Thomas, serving the parish for nearly 50 years until his death on August 25, 1870.

The original church was completed in 1817 and still stands on East Street next to the original cemetery. In 1833 a larger second church was built across the street to accommodate the growing population. It also proved inadequate in size and so the present St. Thomas Church was built in 1868. The original church, or "little church", as parishioners lovingly refer to it, was restored and declared a Community Shrine in October of 1958.

The present church located at the intersection of East Penn and South Richard Streets bears the inscription "Built A.D. 1868 By Very Rev. Thos. Heyden, D.D.". Father Heyden's remains repose in St. Thomas' "old cemetery" very near to the original church.

The carved wooden altars and figures were imported from Europe, and along with the stained glass windows, have earned St. Thomas Church the reputation of being an "artistic jewel."

Our gratitude goes to all of the priests and parishioners who have worked so hard to provide us with a beautiful church.

Priests who have served the people of St. Thomas Parish
1821-1870 Very Rev. Thomas E. Heyden
1870-1881 Rev. Andrew J.M. Brown
1881-1890 Rev. Daniel O'Connell
1891-1894 Rev. John Foley
1894-1908 Rev. Dennis Cashman
1908-1917 Rt. Rev. Msgr. William E. Downes
1917-1931 Rev. C.L. McKinney
1932-1953 Very Rev. Francis A. Magee
1953-1956 Rev. Edward J. Davis (Administrator)
1956-1972 Rev. Edward F. McConnell
1972-1989 Rev. Raymond G. Crosser
1989-2003 Rev. John C. Vago
2003-2016 Rev. Donald W. Dusza
Our current pastor is Rev. Richard B. Tomkosky.



Our Lady of the Rosary Novena

O, dear disciple, Mary. Each bead tells a story; each decade reveals a mystery to contemplate. Nourished by your close encounter with your Son, Jesus, growing alike mind and heart. Teach us from the fruits of your encounter as we ponder the mysteries, learning how to be disciples. O, Mary exemplar disciple. Help us encounter your Son! Amen
 
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