A Brief History of Our Lady Queen of Mercy

In 1954, responding to the growth of the City of Montgomery, then Archbishop Thomas J. Toolen saw that a need existed for a new church in the southern part of the city. He appointed Father Joseph Toomey as pastor of the new parish. Several families joined Father Toomey, and together they became the founding pastor and families of Our Lady Queen of Mercy Church. The families included the Cranfields, Deas, Golabs, Grimes, Sullivans, and Williams. The auditorium at the nearby Cloverdale School was rented and masses began on November 7, 1954. Nine acres were subsequently purchased on Narrow Lane and soon after construction began on the church, hall and rectory. The first mass in the new church was celebrated at midnight on Christmas Eve, 1955, and the formal dedication by the Archbishop occurred on February 19, 1956.   

The following years saw the construction of several new buildings on the church property, including a Catholic school. The downtown building housing the St. Mary of Loretto School was closed and the diocese decided to relocate the school to the Our Lady Queen of Mercy site.  The new school opened on September 4, 1962, with an enrollment of nearly 400 pupils. A convent was soon completed and housed the twelve Sisters of Loretto who staffed the school. However, as the sisters’ numbers dwindled they were replaced by lay teachers and eventually the convent was converted to offices and a kindergarten.

Father Toomey and succeeding pastors expanded on the ministries active in the parish, including the Altar Society, the Legion of Mary, the Bereavement Committee, Keenagers, Bible Study, Adult Education Classes, Vacation Bible School, Stations of the Cross, Meager Meals, Respect Life Committee and RCIA, many of which continue on through today.

Throughout the years several additions and renovations were completed on the church grounds. In 1990, a daycare center was constructed, and in 1994 a major renovation occurred adding a narthex, new stained glass windows, Stations of the Cross, altar and ambo. Archbishop Oscar Lipscomb rededicated the Church in September, 1995. Also in 1994, the convent chapel was updated and opened as a perpetual adoration chapel which remains in continuous use to this day with an adorer present each hour of the day, each day of the week, in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. An Endowment Fund and later a Building Fund were created to pay for special projects planned by the school board and later the parish council.

Pastors/associate pastors succeeding Father Toomey (1955-1977) were:  Father Maurice Shields (1977-1984), Father Patrick Gallagher (1984-1987), Father Michael Kelly (1987-1997); Father Leo Weishaar (1984-1996), Father Beachum in residence (1996-1997), Father William Folsom (1997-1998), Father David Carucci (1998-2002), Father Jose Paillacho (2000-2003), Father Stephen Martin (2002-2003), Father James Dean (2003-2009). Father Michael Sreboth is presently serving as pastor since 2009.

Vocations from Our Lady Queen of Mercy include Fathers Kidwell, Sherlock, Hughes, Martin, and Labadie, and Sister Mary Joseph. Members ordained to the permanent diaconate include Deacons Carmelo Graffagnini and James Labadie.

As the population of Montgomery migrated east, other Catholic Schools were opened and Our Lady Queen of Mercy School was closed in 2008. In 2010 under the guidance of Father Michael Sreboth, the church underwent needed renovations to the roof and the Marion Center, and included carpeting, new paint, and a beautiful altar.

The Church itself remains a vibrant religious institution.