SS. Cyril & Methodius Catholic Church

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SS. Cyril & Methodius Catholic Church was a Roman Catholic mission church founded in 1895 in the Western Jefferson County mining town of Brookside.

The church was established by petition numerous Slovak-speaking Roman Catholic families in Brookside to Jeremiah O'Sullivan, Bishop of Mobile. O'Sullivan directed James Meurer, Dean of North Alabama and pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church in Birmingham, to oversee the establishment of a new parish.

The Diocese purchased a half acre from Joseph and Mary Slovensky and John and Ana Pavlik on December 30, 1895. Meurer directed the construction of a small frame church for masses and engaged a Slovak priest from New Orleans to come to Brookside four times a year to hear confessions.

In 1899 Father Robert Reitmeier of St Bernard Abbey in Cullman was appointed as the first resident pastor for SS. Cyril & Methodius. He presided at the formal dedication of the church on May 15, 1899.

The name of the church honors the 9th century brothers Cyril and Methodius who spread the Christian Gospel among the Slavic people in Central Europe. Though they were commissioned by the Byzantine church, the pair based their Slavonic mass on Roman texts and were invited to Rome in AD 867. They brought with them the relics of St Clement and were ordained in the Latin church by Bishop Formosus. Their feast day was added to the Roman Catholic calendar by Pope Leo XIII in 1880.

Reitmeier's fluency in Slovak and other European languages was important to his mission, as the growing parish also came to include speakers of Italian, French and German. A rectory was constructed in 1900. Reitmeier also ministered at missions in Blossburg beginning in 1900 and in Republic beginning in 1905.

The church purchased additional property in 1901 for the establishment of the Brookside Catholic Cemetery. In 1904 Reitmeier brought three sisters from the Benedictine Sacred Heart Motherhouse in Cullman to open the St Joseph's School in Brookside. Father Celestine Mittermeier succeeded Reitmeier following his retirement on June 5, 1906.

The church survived the departure of a group following the Greek Orthodox rite who joined the nearby St Nicholas Orthodox Church, and dramatic fluctuations in membership brought about by labor strikes and shutdowns at the mine. The school closed in 1936 and the sale of its building and property in 1940 supported renovations to the church. The mission was placed under the directorate of the newly-created North Alabama Mission Band in that decade. William V. Higgins, third director of the Mission Band, oversaw the demolition of the frame church in 1954 and the establishment of the new St Michael's Catholic Church in its place in 1955.

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