Holy Rosary Catholic Church
Holy Rosary began in the 1880s as a mission of St Paul's Cathedral, with priests offering Mass at the homes of parishioners in the Red Gap district around the Alabama Rolling Mills east of Birmingham.
When Maclin Ross's Gate City Land Company subdivided the district now known as Gate City, he purchased a parcel himself, which he deeded to Bishop Jeremiah O'Sullivan. A simple house of worship with a hand-carved altar was erected for the largely Belgian and Irish Catholics in the area.
The Marks Village housing project opened near the church in 1952. Holy Rosary Mission became its own parish in 1955 when Archbishop Toolen placed it under the care of the Salesians of Don Bosco. Father Aloysius Trifari became the first Salesian pastor and completed construction of St Bernadette Church, a mission church for African American parishioners on Georgia Road in 1959. Marks Village, which had been built for white residents, was desegregated in the 1960s. In 1973 the Salesians re-opened the former St Clement's Church in Woodlawn, absorbing St Bernadette parish and renaming the integrated church St John Bosco Catholic Church in honor of their patron saint. Holy Rosary became one of the first integrated congregations in the Birmingham District. The building was added to the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage on May 12, 1976.
Under the direction of Brother Del Labonte an emergency food service was started to serve the community of Marks Village. In 1986 Brother Charles Todel arrived in the parish. He recruited Salesian Lay Missioners and Cooperators and parishioners to help him expand the Oratory into a youth program, working with children after school and in the Summers. He also expanded the food service program, organized a food pantry and clothes closet, and co-founded the World of Opportunity educational and job-training program before moving to Chicago in 2001.
On February 1, 2014, the two remaining Salesian priests were asked to return to their provincial headquarters, leaving Holy Rosary Church with its Youth Oratory, food pantry and clothes closet to be administered through the Diocese of Birmingham.
- Holy Rosary Catholic Church website