In April 1916, the men of the congregation of St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church in Ronceverte began the task of building a new church building on the corner of Walnut Street and Greenbrier Avenue, using all local materials.
Father John J. DeLaad, pastor since 1907, knew how to make bricks out of the sand of the Greenbrier River Valley, and the clay and wood milled from the nearby farms, and taught the local men how to do the same.
St. Catherine of Siena Church was organized in 1892 and had a building at the corner of Railroad Avenue (now Teaberry Road) and Vine Street in east Ronceverte, but the building was much too small. Catholics in the area originally attended Mass at the Immaculate Conception Church in Lewisburg, but with the growth of Ronceverte because of the lumbering industry and the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad, the church organization was moved to Ronceverte.
A daytime Mass on Christmas day in 1919 was celebrated by Father DeLaad in the still uncompleted church, and the church itself was completed in 1920 and the first Christmas Midnight Mass was held on Christmas Day, 1920.
To observe the 100th anniversary of the first Mass in the church, the Most Rev. Bishop Mark Brennan of the Diocese of Wheeling/Charleston will celebrate Mass at 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15, in the church and the public is invited to join the congregation of St. Catherine of Siena and its Mission, St. Louis, King of France, for this special service.
The Choir of St. Catherine of Siena Church, also known as the Hymns and Hers, has a special music program planned for the Bishop’s Mass.
A gold plated 2019 Ronceverte Christmas depicting St. Catherine of Siena Church is also available for $10 at the church as well as Edgarton Café/Bakery in downtown, across from the CSX Depot; the Ronceverte Development Corp. office on Mail Street; and Hair Mane Attraction Salon and Barber Shop at the corner of US 219 and Main Street at the foot of the hill.
In addition, a history booklet on the history of the parish of St. Catherine of Siena in Ronceverte is being published and will be available on the weekend of Dec. 15.
A catered dinner celebrating the 100th anniversary will be held following the special Mass, but reservations for the dinner had to be in by Dec. 9.
Beginning in April the congregation has had activities leading up to this special day in December.
For the Feast of St. Catherine of Siena, the Catholics invited the congregations of the nearby Trinity United Methodist Church and Ronceverte Presbyterian Church to an Italian luncheon after the Sunday services; in June, the congregation entered a float in the Ronceverte River Festival parade, commemorating the 100th anniversary; and in July, the congregation had a “float down the Greenbrier River” from Caldwell to Ronceverte and then a picnic on the banks of the Greenbrier.
A bonfire with hot dogs and smore’s was held on the first Sunday in November on the parking lot at the church.
For more information on the 100th anniversary events, telephone the office of the Catholic Churches of the Greenbrier Valley 304-536-1813 or e mail at firstname.lastname@example.org