The Pioneer Days
The patron saint chosen for the parish was St. Alphonsus Liguori, the founder of the Redemptorist Fathers.
The contract for the church and school was signed on May 20,1882. The architect was Adam Boos; the carpenter contractor, Peter Hurter; painting Jos. Wallner; brickwork, Peter Eberthauser; plaster, August Zander. By September, the church and school were completed at a cost of $12,000. The church faced east on the corner where the Athenaeum now stands. It measured 120 feet long, 50 feet wide and the interior was 20 feet high.
The area assigned to the spiritual care of the Redemptorist Fathers extended from the lake to the river and from Fullerton to Lawrence Avenue. That territory was reduced as other parishes were founded.
In the beginning, there was no resident pastor or rectory. For three years Fathers Charles Hahn and Peter Hellers traveled to St. Alphonsus from their Redemptorist headquarters at St. Michael’s. The congregation increased to such a degree that it required a resident pastor and thus attained status of canonical independence from the mother-church. From 1885-1887 Father Max Leimgruber, then 65 years old, became the first pastor of the parish. In that two year period, Fr. Leimgruber and two other priests baptized 1,091 infants and converts, performed 130 marriages, prepared 393 for Confirmation and administered the last rites to 502.
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