History of SS. Simon & Jude
“…In order to provide more efficaciously for the welfare of souls, it has become necessary to establish a new parish for the faithful residing in the district of Charter Oaks (Scott Township) Greentree Borough and the City of Pittsburgh along Greentree Road.” And with that decree Most Reverend John F. Dearden, Bishop of Pittsburgh, established SS. Simon & Jude Parish” effective, Thursday, June 16, 1955. Bishop Dearden then appointed Father Ignatius Koller to be the first pastor of the new parish. At that time Fr. Koller took possession of a large field full of weeds, brambles, blackberry bushes, rocks, and stumps and dreamed of the parish he would help create. Now the hard work would begin. Fr. Koller and about 50 men of the new parish rolled up their sleeves and dug in. Fr. Koller worked right along side of the parishioners and they went from a weed patch to a parish church in less than eight months. Two hundred and eight families pulled together to plant the seeds of this new parish. Today the parish has branched out to include almost 1,500 families. Fr. Koller was the founder of the Parish, but in 1963, with his health failing, Bishop John J. Wright appointed Fr. Thomas F. Carey as the second Pastor of SS. Simon & Jude Parish. Fr. Carey continued the dream of Fr. Koller by the expansion of the church building. Each day of his 25-year tenure, he demonstrated his love and reverence for the Eucharistic Presence, his great devotion to the rosary, his dedication to the sick and his unceasing love for the congregation of his church. In 1988, Most Reverend Donald W. Wuerl, Bishop of Pittsburgh, appointed a strong successor to lead the parish into the 1990’s. Father Richard E. Ward, STD was tabbed. While Father Koller oversaw the initial building of the church and Father Carey its expansion, Father Ward would be responsible for its renovation. Father Ward stated, “The Liturgy is the center of the parish”. He believed that an active participation in the Liturgy results in an active lively parish. Fr. Ward continued to identify areas vital to the spiritual and social needs of his parishioners, such as programs for the elderly, and outreach to the homebound, the sick, and those in need of assistance. Over the years SS. Simon and Jude has been blessed with the love and care of several Sisters, including the ever-popular Sister Jeanne Scott, who served as Director of Religious Education for a number of years – amongst dozens of other duties. SS. Simon & Jude Parish would not be where it is today without the leadership of its next two Pastors. Though only here for a short time, Fr. Dennis Bradley and Fr. Daniel Maurer both had a lasting impact on the parish and its parishioners.
At the Gateway of the South Hills, as SS. Simon and Jude Parish celebrates its 60th Anniversary, the tireless work that transformed a dream into a shining symbol of the power of faith in God and in each other. So many wonderful Pastors, parochial vicars, religious, lay teachers, visiting priests, and parishioners have strengthened the faith and helped to light the pathway on the journey to the Lord ¬– who through their sacrifices, dedication, talents, and God’s abundant grace have led SS. Simon & Jude into the 21st Century. The catalyst for the next steps of change is the current Pastor, Fr. Jay Donahue. Fr. Jay has revitalized a Parish with his words, but also with his actions. He is leading a new Marriage ministry through his Renew the “I Do” Foundation where SS. Simon and Jude is the pilot parish. He has also put a focus on the Youth while keeping a strong foothold with the founding members with several mission trips and service projects aimed at aiding those in need. The current amplification of the Parish is being fueled by Fr. Jay’s desire to learn the best way to communicate in today’s fast moving world. The steps to do this have begun with creating a strong social media presence, crafting a brand new website, and enhancing print materials such as Welcome packets for new Parishioners and the weekly bulletin. The future of SS. Simon and Jude is in great hands as the parish ministries are taking shape as SSJ strives to be Alive with Christ!