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History

Welcome to Moon Township, Pennsylvania, and Saint Margaret Mary Church. Our township is one of the oldest communities in Pennsylvania, having been chartered in 1788. This was a quiet rural area until a military airport was established here during World War II. The military airport evolved into the Pittsburgh International Airport and triggered the growth of Moon Township. As the area began to develop, it became evident that there was a need for a Catholic church in the area. Bishop John F. Dearden established Saint Margaret Mary Parish on June 8, 1956, the Feast of the Sacred Heart. At the time the parish was established, it was determined there were 337 families in the parish with 324 children receiving religious education. St. Margaret Mary Parish has since grown in size to 1,800 families with over 700 children receiving religious education.

The first pastor, Father Leo Beck, took temporary residence at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Convent and Academy in Coraopolis and began making plans for the newly formed parish. The first Mass was attended by a handful of people at Mooncrest Community Center on June 17, 1956. Until the first church was built, Masses were scheduled at the Carnot Grade School as well as the Community Center. Meetings were often held at the Moon Township Fire Department Hall, while baptisms, weddings, and funerals took place at St. Joseph Church in Coraopolis.

On August 17, 1958 ground was broken for the temporary church. The dedication was held during a ceremony conducted by Bishop John J. Wright on May 16, 1959. The following day, Maureen Wheatley was the first baby to receive the Sacrament of Baptism. Robert J. Tipper and LaVerne Richie were the first couple married in St. Margaret Mary Church on June 6, 1959.

Dompka Education Center

Father Beck continued to see the parish grow until his reassignment on June 7, 1967 to Blessed Sacrament Church, Natrona Heights. That same day Bishop Wright transferred Father John A. Dompka from St. Bede Church in Pittsburgh to succeed Father Beck. Father Dompka's first order of business was to pay off the $65,000 mortgage. So successful were his efforts with the cooperation of parishioners that a mortgage burning ceremony and dinner were held on December 10, 1967 just six months later.

Moon Township and St. Margaret Mary Parish experienced such a rapid growth that on October 22, 1969 Reverend Anthony G. Bosco, Chancellor of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, granted St. Margaret Mary Parish permission to erect a new church and to renovate the existing building into the Religious Education Center. The former church was partitioned into twelve full-size classrooms and religious instruction began once the current church was occupied.

Sister Mary Mildred Moroz became the first Coordinator with Sister M. Andrew Budinski and other Felician sisters to assist her. Through the years the position was held by Sr. Rose Marie Tumicki, Sr. Mary Sharon Iacobucci, and our current director, Sr. M. Jeanine Morozowich. The Religious Education Building was renamed the Rev. John A. Dompka Religious Education Center in October 1995 to honor Father Dompka's many years of service.

The first Mass was offered in the new church early in the morning of May 1, 1972 in honor of our Blessed Mother. The dedication ceremonies and blessing of the Religious Education Center were held three months later on August 27, 1972 by Bishop Vincent M. Leonard. The building program was completed when the present rectory was occupied in September 1976.

The beautiful hand-carved marble statue of Our Blessed Mother, located in a prominent position on parish grounds, was the inspiration of Father Dompka. On October 1 and 2, 1988, a "Shower for Mary" was held to raise the necessary funds. Auxiliary Bishop William J. Winter conducted the dedication ceremony just a year later on October 15, 1989. It was Father Dompka's fervent hope that the statue of Mary would inspire all to pray who passed by the Church.

On November 6, 1995 Bishop Donald W. Wuerl accepted Father Dompka’s retirement letter. Father John Ayoob was transferred from St. John Church, Lyndora, Pennsylvania to become the third pastor of St. Margaret Mary Church. Father Ayoob continues the fine leadership experienced at St. Margaret Mary and emphasizes the benefits we can receive through continued spiritual renewal. He and the parishioners of St. Margaret Mary strive to move into the new millennium with pride in past accomplishments and fervent hope in our future.

In anticipation of the 50th anniversary a 2004 capital campaign raised $700,000 for renovations to the church. Special monthly activities were held in celebration of the Jubilee year. Among the planned activities:

1. A Golden Jubilee Mass was celebrated at 12:30 PM on June 11, 2006 followed by a parish reception;
2. A $10,000 shipment of medical supplies to the St. Joseph’s hospital, Maracha, in the Diocese of Arua, Uganda , East Africa;
3. Money and materials to the Felician Sister afterschool tutorial program in Moon Crest, Moon Township.
4. A 5 day Parish renewal program that focused on our parish mission.

Over the fifty-year history of St. Margaret Mary, several men and women have found a vocation serving the Church:

• Three young men from the parish were ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Pittsburgh. Reverend Harry Bielewicz, May 24, 1986; Reverend Michael Yaksick, June 25, 1994; and Reverend Kevin Poecking, June 26, 2004.

• Reverend Carl Nicola Gismondi, Jr., F.S.S.P., was ordained June 29, 2002 in Lincoln, Nebraska, for the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter.

• During that period, Jeanne McNulty was consecrated a member of the Order of Consecrated Virgins by Bishop Bernard Schmitt. She currently lives at the Franciscan Hermitage in Spencer, WV, serving the Diocese of Wheeling Charleston under Bishop Michael Bransfield.

• In 2006 St. Margaret Mary's 50th Anniversary year, Laura Hackenberg joined the Franciscan Sisters of Millvale as a Postulate. In August 2007, Laura became a Novice at the Common Franciscan Novitiate in Joliet, IL. As part of the order's outreach, Sister Laura is currently working in a shelter for Homeless Woman and Children.