The following history was taken from the 2009 Saint Brendan Parish Directory. The history has been revised with current information and will be updated as needed. If you have any information or photos that would add to our parish history, please email the webmaster.
In 1893, Father Haimann, the Pastor of the Catholic parish in Thomas, traveled to Elkins once a month to celebrate Eucharist for the newly begun mission parish. Right from the beginning, Father Haimann spoke of erecting a church building for the handful of parishioners who make up the mission of Elkins. In February of 1896, he purchased a parcel of land for $300 and by March of 1897, with the help of approximately fifty Catholic families in the area, he had reached his dream of constructing a wooden Catholic church building in Elkins.
In 1897, Bishop Donahue chose a young man born in Kerry, Ireland to serve as the first Pastor of Elkins, which now became a Parish instead of a mission. Father John J. Daly spent only seven months after his ordination as an assistant to the Cathedral parish in Wheeling before being sent to Elkins. He would spend the rest of his life, the next twenty-seven years, serving the newly founded parish at Elkins, where he died at the age of fifty-seven.
In 1901, Father Daly concluded the construction of a rectory on Henry Street (currently Park Street) at the cost of $5,000. The newly built rectory still stands to this present day, now attached to the large granite structure of the corner of Randolph Avenue and Park Street. On October 28, 1900, Bishop Donahue dedicated the church building in Elkins under the name and patronage of Saint Brendan. The name Brendan was an appropriate name for the parish situated in the midst of such beautiful mountains, since the name means, "A Dweller In The Hills". Father Daly began this parish with one hundred and eighty-seven parishioners.
Father Daly's vision of opening a Catholic School in the area led him to purchase a triangle of land on the corner of Randolph Avenue and Fourth Street, which included a frame residence that was used as the first school. On September 23, 1907, Father Day opened Saint Brendan grade school with an enrollment of sixty-five children. A Miss Carrie O'Neil managed and directed the school. On September 4, 1918, the Dominican Sisters from Springfield, Kentucky accepted direction of the school. Father Daly built a new school and by September 1920, the school opened for the new school year.
While leading the parish in its physical and spiritual growth, Father Daly purchased two cemeteries. The first, purchased in 1900, was only a short distance from the church building, while the second cemetery, on the Beverly Pike, was purchased in 1907. On October 13, 1924, Father Daly died and was buried at Saint Brendan Cemetery on the Beverly Pike.
As early as 1908, Father Daly began to express his dream of constructing a new church building to replace the wooden structure that had become so sacred to the parishioners. Many rejected Father Daly's idea for a new building, contesting that they saw no need for a new structure. Father Daly, however, kept the vision alive and was moving in that direction when he died.
The new church building became a reality three years after the death of Father Daly. At the time, Father John H. Corcoran was Pastor of the parish, and he noted that Father Daly left a large donation to the parish for the new Church building. Father Corcoran dedicated two of the largest windows in the building in honor of Father Daly.
Father Corcoran and the parishioners of Saint Brendan became extremely fond of their new, beautiful parish home. On September 30, 1928, Bishop John J. Swint, Bishop of Wheeling, celebrated the Sacrament of Confirmation in the new parish building for the first time. The growth of the parish is reflected in the fact that there were 100 children and adults confirmed.
Another important and proud moment for the parish came with the celebration of the First Eucharistic Liturgy by a native of Elkins. Father Charles Hamlin celebrated his First Eucharistic Liturgy in the new parish building on May 30, 1928. On March 12, 1933, just nine years after the death of Father Daly, Father Corcoran died in the parish rectory and was buried in Saint Brendan Cemetery.
In April, 1942, due to failing health, Father Othling had to leave the parish. For the next nine months, several ordained priests came to fill in for Father Othling.
On January 1, 1943, Bishop Swint appointed Father Joseph Sieber as pastor. He soon won the hearts of many in the parish with his deep concern and love for the people. Father Sieber continued to enhance the beauty of the church building by purchasing oak pews and a Wicks organ for the parish. After serving the parish for seven years, Father Sieber died in Elkins, to the great sadness of many who highly regarded his holiness and dedication. A series of pastors followed Father Joseph Sieber. Father Paul Helsley served as pastor from 1950 to 1954. On May 30, Bishop Thomas J. McDonnell ordained Father Patrick Gillooly in Saint Brendan Church. Father Gillooly, a native of Elkins, celebrated his First Eucharistic Liturgy at Saint Brendan. Father Edward Belanger followed Father Helsley and served from 1954 to 1956. He had hoped to build a High School attached to the Grade School, but he could not raise enough funds for the project. Father Eugene Jacobs became pastor in 1956 and served for three years. He renovated the rectory which was now fifty-five years old and in need of repair.
In 1959, Father Charles Doyle, the new pastor, became known and loved throughout the city of Elkins for his daily walks and chats with merchants and others in town. He too redecorated the interior of the church building, and he renovated the Sister’s residence, which was attached to the school.
The Second Vatican Council took place during the pastorate of Father Doyle, and the pastor's role in the parish began to change with the greater involvement of laity in the ministry of the Church. Father Doyle retired from the active ministry in 1965.
In May of 1966, Father Frederick Heckle, a native of Elkins, was ordained for the Richmond Diocese. He celebrated his first Eucharistic Liturgy at Saint Brendan.
On September 3, 1968, Bishop Joseph H. Hodges, the Bishop of Wheeling, appointed Father Mark Kraus as pastor of Saint Brendan Parish. Father Kraus established the first Parish Pastoral Council in the parish and had the sad duty of closing the Catholic school due to rising costs and declining enrollment. He brought two Dominican Sisters to help direct religious education programs for the parish
On April 3, 1971, Bishop Hodges ordained Charles McCallister to serve in our Diocese. The next day, on April 4, Father McCallister celebrated his first Eucharistic Liturgy in Saint Brendan Parish.
Due to the failing health of Father Kraus, Bishop Hodges appointed Father William A. Anderson as Pastor of Saint Brendan Parish on November 6, 1979. In 1980, Sister Marjean Staud, a Sister of Saint Joseph of Wheeling and Sister Ann Flynn of the Sisters of Charity, accepted the positions of pastoral associate and directress of religious education. Deacon Dean Borgmeyer (now Father) served several months in the parish as part of his pastoral training, followed the next year by Deacon Paul Wharton (now Father).
Many of the changes rooted in the Second Vatican Council were beginning to have their effect during the 1980's especially in the area of lay ministry. Among these changes was a need to renovate places of worship. Father Anderson proposed to the Parish Pastoral Council in 1981 that a renovation of Saint Brendan church building be undertaken to adapt the structure to the liturgical requirements of the Second Vatican Council. The renovation plans caused some understandable reaction from some older parishioners who saw no need for change. Others in the parish saw a need for reconstruction and supported the idea.
When the estimated cost of renovated reached $500,000, Father Anderson, after conferring with the Parish Pastoral Council, asked the parish to vote whether to proceed with the renovation or build a new parish home. Father Kraus had purchased eight acres adjacent to the cemetery on the Beverly Pike and it was this land which was to be used for the new parish home.
At the end of August, 1985, Sister Mary Ella Morrison, a Dominican Sister of Hope, became a pastoral associate in the parish.
After the retirement of the parish secretary, Mrs. Mary Patterson (who had served the parish for many years), Mrs. Patricia Karlen became the Parish Pastoral Coordinator.
On September 25, 1995, the parish took its first major step in building its new parish home. Parishioners joined in a ceremony on the building site where Father William A. Anderson blessed the site and prayed, along with the assembled members of the parish, for God's blessings on the project.
During the next four years, parish members watched their parish home being built under the direction of Willie Arbogast, the construction manager. The architectural firm for the structure was Knights Associates, with Mr. Tom Cain as the central architect for the building. Throughout the building of the new parish home, parishioners took part in tours during each new phase of the construction.
On October 3, 1999, Bishop Bernard Schmitt, Bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, joined with twenty-five ordained priests of the Diocese and close to seven hundred parishioners and visitors to dedicate our new Saint Brendan Parish home. Craig Stihler, a parishioner, composed a song for the occasion entitled, "We Are the House of the Lord". The song reminds us that we are a people dedicated to God and His true Church.
At the time of the dedication, the worship space within the church had been completed, but there remained a great deal of finishing work throughout the rest of the building. During the first couple of years in the new church, stonework continued on the outside and finishing work continued in the parish hall and religious education classrooms. Countless hours of volunteer work by parishioners occurred during this time to supplement the work on the construction crews. In 2005 the parking lot was blacktopped.
Also during this time, Saint Brendan became the home for a cluster of parishes that included Saint Patrick Parish in Coalton, Resurrection Mission in Belington, and Saint John Bosco Parish in Huttonsville. Father Anderson was assisted in providing pastoral services to the cluster by Father Giles LeVasseur from 2002-2003; Father Thomas Dagle followed from 20032004 and then by our present Priest in Residence, Father Eric Antwi from the Diocese of Konongo-Mampong, Ghana beginning in 2005. Additional staff serving in the cluster parishes includes Rev. Mr. Louis Bellina, permanent deacon at St. John Bosco; Sister Teresa Reddington, administrator at Resurrection Mission; Rev. Mr. John Sarraga, permanent deacon at St. Brendan and Rev. Mr. Raymond Goodwin, Pastoral Services Liaison for the Weston Vicariate and Director for Religious Education at St. Brendan Church.
In the fall of 2006, Father Anderson announced his plan to retire from active ministry. He celebrated his final liturgy as Pastor of Saint Brendan on January 31, 2007. That same day, several hundred parishioners attended a celebration honoring Father Anderson's 27 years of dedicated service to the parish. Everyone thanked him for his spiritual guidance and counseling that his ministry as Pastor provided to the church family.
Bishop Michael Bransfield appointed the Very Reverend Donald X. Higgs to serve as new pastor of Saint Brendan effective February 21, 2007. Father Eric Antwi continued to serve as Pastor in Residence at Saint Patrick Parish in Coalton and assisted in the pastoral work for the cluster as well as Sr. Teresa Reddington and the Deacons.
Father Eric Antwi was appointed pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in New Cumberland and left in May 2008. Also the Resurrection Mission was closed after celebrating the last Mass in May and Sister Teresa Reddington continued working for Saint Brendan and Saint Patrick Parishes.
In November 2009, Saint Brendan Parish was shocked and saddened with the death of Sister Teresa Reddington, just five weeks after the parish held a 60th Anniversary Celebration honoring her 60 years she committed to religious life. Sister Teresa’s religious work and volunteering touched the lives of many Catholics and non-Catholics in the Elkins, Belington, Coalton and surrounding communities.
Starting in 2009, parishioners raised money for the Saint Brendan Statue that now sits in the Courtyard at the front entrance to the church, kneelers that were added to the worship area chairs, and a digital baby grand piano for the music program.
Through a Capital Campaign, funds were provided for the replacement of the roof and gutters, repairing and repaving the parking lots and entrance, addition of heaters in the entrance area, and replacing the worship area sound system.
In May 2016, Bishop Michael J. Bransfield named Father Higgs pastor of the Basilica of the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Charleston, WV and named Father Mark T. Gallipeau as pastor of St. Brendan. Father Mark's first day at St. Brendan was June 15th. Together with the Finance Council, Father Mark worked diligently to reduce the church debt and automatic doors for the handicapped on the worship area level were added.
On April 25th, 2017 Father Mark passed away after a short illness. Father Mark's funeral Mass was celebrated by Bishop Bransfield and priests from the Diocese, family members, and parishioners from both Saint Brendan and Saint Partrick Churches and he was laid to rest in the Saint Brendan Catholic Cemetery.
Bishop Bransfield then named Father John "Chapin" Engler Jr. as pastor of Saint Brendan on May 10, 2017. Father Chapin had been serving the parishes of Saint Charles Borromeo in White Sulphur Springs, Saint Catherine of Siena in Ronceverte, and Saint Louis in Lewisburg before his appointment to Saint Brendan and Saint Patrick. He also had a weekly TV and internet program called Daily Living which he continued doing after coming to St. Brendan.
With Father Chapin's guidance and through the active and generous participation of parishioners, Saint Brendan Parish continues to thrive and carry out its mission “as stewards of God's creation, striving to work for the greater honor and glory of God in our families, our parish and our community."