OUR PARISH HISTORY
On May 21, 1963, the Most Rev. Joseph McShea, Bishop of Allentown, formally established the Parish of Our Lady of Perpetual Help as the first new parish in the new Diocese of Allentown. At the time of its establishment, the parish consisted of 450 families.
Bishop McShea selected Rev. Harry Hynes as the first Pastor, and the first order of business was to select a name for the parish. Bishop McShea suggested the title, "Our Lady of Perpetual Help". Dedication of the parish to Our Lady was very appropriate since the new parish was a daughter parish of St. Anne's Church in Bethlehem. Father Hynes knew that in undertaking the formation of a new parish, he would need much help from our Blessed Lady so he accepted the suggestion from the Bishop.
When the parish was established, a three bedroom split level house on Santee Road was acquired by the Diocese as a temporary rectory. The basement was converted into a combination office and chapel. The rectory was furnished and Father Hynes moved in on June 21, 1963. That house remained the rectory until the completion of our New Parish Center in November, 1989.
A location for the celebration of Sunday Masses had to be secured for the new parish as soon as possible. Father Hynes obtained permission to use the gym at Notre Dame High School. Two weeks after the official establishment of the parish on Trinity Sunday, June 3, 1963, the first Masses were celebrated.
In July of 1963, Father Hynes presented his ideas for a U shaped, one story colonial style building consisting of a Church, School and Hall with a separate convent building. The original estimate for this complex was $585,000.00. On August 1, 1963, permission to build was granted.
In order to open school as soon as possible, Father Hynes requested and was granted permission to use four of the classrooms on the lower level of Notre Dame High School. We opened school in September of 1964 with the first four grades having an enrollment of 135 students. We were able to move into our beautiful new school on Monday, March 1, 1965. The Sisters of St. Joseph from Chestnut Hill came to staff our parish school and lived in the convent, completed in 1967. They remained here at the parish until 1986. Three weeks after moving into the school we had the first Masses in our new church on Sunday March 21, 1965.
Father Hynes remained the Pastor of our parish until his death in July of 1975. He is buried in the courtyard in front of the statue of our Blessed Lady. It is a fitting way to remind all of us of his great devotion to our Blessed Mother.
In August of 1975, Bishop McShea appointed Rev. John Conte as the second Pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Under Father Conte the parish grew strong in every way. The population increased, school enrollment increased and our parish continued to grow under his kind and generous shepherding. When the Sisters of St. Joseph left our school in 1986, Father Conte was able to secure the Dominican Sisters, who taught in the school until 1988.
In February of 1988, Father Conte became the Pastor of Holy Guardian Angels Church in Reading, and Rev. Thomas Benestad was appointed Pastor. His stay with us was very brief. In May of 1988, Father Benestad was appointed to serve as special assistant to His Eminence, John Cardinal Krol, assisting him in raising funds for the Vatican.
In June of 1988 Bishop Welsh appointed Monsignor Sacks as the fourth Pastor of our Parish and also appointed the newly ordained Father David Breiner as Assistant Pastor. On August 16, 1990, Father Victor Finelli was appointed to succeed Father Breiner. On September 2, 1994, Father Hulko was appointed to succeed Father Finelli. On June 15, 1995, Father Frink was appointed to succeed Father Hulko. Father Sattler was appointed to replace Fr. Frink. Fr. Clement replaced Fr. Frink, Fr. Kern replaced Fr. Clement, Fr. Cletus replaced Fr. Kern and Father Rich Brensinger recently replaced Father Cletus.
Over the years, the parish has grown in many ways. Our parish now has over 2400 families and over 7500 people. Our school community has over 300 students. The old convent building, vacant since the Dominican Sisters left the parish in 1988, was renovated into our new Parish Center, housing the offices for the parish as well as the residences for our priests. In October of 1988 a Building Committee was I formed to develop a Master Plan for our Parish.
On November 23, 1991, our new Church was dedicated by Bishop Welsh with over 1300 people in attendance. Phase one of the Master Plan cost $3,600,000.00. The last phase (8 classrooms) remains to be done.