Good Shepherd is the first consolidated parish in the diocese of Pittsburgh having been inaugurated on Good Shepherd Sunday, the Fourth Sunday of Easter, April 27, 1985. The Pittsburgh Diocese under the direction of Bishop Anthony Bevilacqua and Auxiliary Bishop Anthony Bosco merged St. Brendan (Irish) St. Isidore (Lithuanian) St. Joseph (German) St. Mary of Mount Carmel (Italian) St. Michael (Slovak) and St. Thomas (Irish) to form Good Shepherd Parish. All former worship sites and properties were sold to various other denominations and service organizations. At present the parish owns Sacred Heart Church/Rectory, Good Shepherd Parish Center and Good Shepherd Church.
After much discussion with the diocese and the parishioners, St. Michael’s Church was chosen as the parish church because of its location on Braddock Avenue and being next door to the parish school, which was originally the St. Thomas District High School. The Church underwent an extensive renovation in 1986 and suffered a devastating sacristy fire the Monday before Thanksgiving in 1994. Liturgies were held in the school gym while the initial remodeling and rebuilding were taking place.
The first pastor was Reverend Robert J. Boyle, who served the parish for 11 years until December of 1995. Reverend Albert Zapf served as pastor from February 1996 until November 1997. Reverend Thomas A. Wagner arrived as pastor in January 1998 and remained until April 2008. Reverend Thomas J. Burke was pastor from June 5, 2008 until August 26, 2012. Father Albert Semler arrived as Pastor on Monday, September 17 and installed by Bishop David Zubik on Monday, September 24, 2012.
The first Parochial Vicar was Reverend Leroy A. DiPietro who served the parish until October of 1991. The second Parochial Vicar was Reverend Robert Zajdel who served from 1992 until 2000.
Past residents were Reverend Joseph D. Karabin, UPMC Braddock Chaplain; Reverend Anthony Mgangha, Graduate Student and St. Francis Hospital Chaplain. Reverend Francis Bolek, Reverend Robert Miller and Reverend Chris Donley served as deacons. Reverend Douglas A. Boyd arrived as UPMC Braddock Hospital Chaplain in July 2002 and served until January 31, 2010.
During Father Boyle's tenure as pastor the six original parishes were combined into one. Father Boyle worked tirelessly to bring the these separate communities into a unified parish family, continually molding and shaping the liturgies and traditions into a cohesive whole. The work was challenging and time consuming, but Father Boyle is a worker and never gave up. The parish flourished and grew under his pastorate and over time everyone came to work together, pray together and exist as a unified entity. His quick wit, winning smile and sense of humor were a good match for Braddock. Good Shepherd's merger became the model of the diocese.
In February of 1996 when Father Zapf was appointed pastor of Good Shepherd, he was also named administrator of Sacred Heart Parish (Polish) in Braddock Hills.
With the appointment of Father Thomas Wagner in February of 1998, assuming both the pastorate of Good Shepherd and being administrator of Sacred Heart, he worked to bring both parishes under one umbrella. On April 24, 2005, Sacred Heart Parish was suppressed and became part of Good Shepherd Parish. Each building retains its name. Both buildings, together with all the parishioners now make up Good Shepherd Parish. Father Wagner transitioned the parish from the Parish Council to the Parish Pastoral Council paradigm and the Good Shepherd Parish Pastoral Council became the model for the diocese. In the spring of 2003 the old Good Shepherd rectory (formerly St. Thomas rectory) was sold to make way for new housing in Braddock. The parish office was moved into the newly renovated administration center and convent at 1024 Maple Way. The parish priests moved to the newly renovated Sacred Heart Rectory in Braddock Hills. In the summer of 2004 a new roof was installed on Good Shepherd Church in Braddock. In the spring and summer of 2006 new windows and a new pitched roof were installed on Good Shepherd School. In the spring of 2007 a new roof was installed on Sacred Heart Church and a new school entrance way was installed on Good Shepherd School.
In the spring of 2008, Father Thomas Burke was appointed pastor. News flagpoles were installed during the summer of 2008 and a new parish bus and van were purchased in the fall of 2008, along with copious signage and lighting. During the 25th anniversary year the parking lot of Sacred Heart was recoated and the electrical system in the church were updated. The interior of Good Shepherd Church was painted in November of 2009 and new sidewalks, concrete work and railings were constructed in front of the parish school. The entrance ramp in front of Good Shepherd Church was rebuilt during the fall of 2011 and the rear entrance and stairs to the Sacred Heart rectory were rebuilt during the spring of 2012.
Due to declining enrollment and to preserve Catholic education in the east hills and through diocesan mandate, at the end of the 2011-2012 academic year Good Shepherd Catholic School was merged with Word of God School (Swissvale) and St. Maurice School (Forest Hills) to form East Catholic Elementary School. The location of the newly merged school is 2001 Ardmore Blvd.
Father Albert Semler arrived as pastor on September 14, 2012, having been recalled from retirement a second time. Father Semler brings many years of diocesan experience to Braddock having served in several parishes and diocesan offices during his priesthood. Father Semler is an excellent preacher. His personality and winning smile quickly won the parishioners over and he is very pastoral to parishioners and the community alike. He is an excellent match for Braddock.
On June 25, 2013, Joseph M. Dougherty, a member of Good Shepherd Parish, was ordained a deacon and was assigned to serve his ministry at Good Shepherd and the Auberle Family Center in McKeesport. Deacon Joe assists at weekend Masses, attends to the sick and infirm, preaches the gospel and assists the pastor as needed.
In the fall of 2013, Sister Marita Charley, O.P. former principal of St. Brendan and Good Shepherd, teacher at St. Robert and Good Shepherd and long time Director of Development at Good Shepherd, broke her hip and was hospitalized for a time and was at Cedars in Monroeville for physical therapy. Sister returned to the Dominican motherhouse in Columbus, OH to live in early 2014. Sister Marita was a friend to all and a tireless fund raiser for all things Good Shepherd over the past 29 years. No one will ever know the scope and depth of Sister Marita's ministry here in Braddock. God could not have sent us a better disciple to spread his word and show his love in the Mon Valley. Sister Marita will be deeply missed by the parish and community a like.
On April 28, 2014, Holy Cross Parish (St. Helen & St. William) of East Pittsburgh was suppressed and the parish buildings were closed. The members of Holy Cross were invited to become members of Good Shepherd. This merger was deeply painful for the members of Holy Cross Parish. Every effort is being made to welcome the members of Holy Cross into the Good Shepherd Parish family.
Reverend Robert J. Boyle, April 27, 1985 - November 17, 1995
Albert Zapf, February 18, 1996 - November 24, 1997
Reverend Thomas A.
Wagner, February 7, 1998 - April 12, 2008
Reverend Thomas J. Burke, June 5, 2008 - August 26, 2012
Reverend Albert J. Semler, September 24, 2012 - to the present
Reverend Leroy DiPietro, April 27, 1985 - October 9, 1991
Reverend Robert J. Zajdel, March 1992 - June 10, 2000
Reverend Joseph D. Karabin, 1987 - 2002 UPMC Braddock Chaplain
Reverend Doulas A. Boyd, 2002 - 2010, UPMC Braddock Chaplain
Reverend Anthony Mgangha, St. Francis Hospital Chaplain
Reverend Robert J. Miller
Reverend Francis J. Bolek
Reverend Christopher Donley
Deacon Joseph M. Dougherty, serving at present
John Robert Lovre
Good Shepherd Parish 1024 Maple Way Braddock PA 15104 412-271-1515