SAINT CHARLES BORROMEO CATHOLIC CHURCH
The history of the Catholic Church in Jacksonville, Alabama goes back to the War Between the States in the 1860's when General Joseph W. Burke camped his Union Troops on the site now occupied by Bibbs Graves Hall on the Jacksonville State University campus.
General Burke was so impressed by the beauty of the area that he returned with his wife and two daughters in 1870 to make their home here. They became the first Catholic residents in the area. A plaque marks the spot on the campus. Joseph Arthur Gaboury, a French Canadian engineer from Montreal, built his home within sight of the Burke residence. General Burke donated property (on what is now West Francis Street) and Mr. Gaboury built a small church there. This church disbanded before the 1930's, and no church name is found in extant materials.
The number of Catholics increased in the area as military personnel assigned to Fort McClellan made their homes in Jacksonville. After the erection of the WAC Chapel at the Fort, people of the area attended Mass there. As many service families chose this city as their retirement home, city officials made available a room in the Recreation Center for Catholic services.
In 1962, Rev. Frank Giri, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, Anniston, to which the Mission was attached, purchased property on East Seventh Street and renovated the house located there. It was named Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Student Center, and for ten years Mass was offered here. But as more Catholics moved in and more students came to the university, the congregation outgrew the building.
Rev. Donald J. Grainger, assistant at Sacred Heart, Anniston, was placed in charge of the Mission and began a campaign of letter writing asking for donations from parents of students and from all the military families who had attended the Mission. The ladies of the Mission held bake sales and bazaars and other projects to secure funds to build a larger church. Bishop Vath made available the Holy Name Chapel Fund of $13,000; the Extension Society of Chicago and an anonymous donor comprised the rest of the needed funds.
On Sunday, April 16, 1972, Saint Charles Borromeo Church was dedicated by Bishop Vath and Father Peter McDonald was appointed as the first resident pastor.
308 7th St NE, Jacksonville, AL 36265