Welcome to St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church. We are a community of more than 1,300 parishioners in Greenville, South Carolina called to welcome all people to worship God in the genius of African American Catholic spirituality.
Drawing on the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi, whose followers formed and guided this parish, we seek to reach out in loving and joy-filled concern to the changing needs of persons and groups of their journey through life. At St. Anthony of Padua, we are committed together to initiating activities that reacH out to the alienated, inactive and un-churched in West Greenville and beyond.
We are committed to the education in faith of all generations, especially those who come to learn and serve in our parish school.
In the mid 1931’s Fr. Sydney F. Dean, a diocesan priest assigned as an associate pastor at St. Mary’s Church in Greenville, felt called to evangelize the African American. The first work was done with the Sisters of Mercy of St. Mary’s convent. On September 24, 1934 Fr. Dean organized the St. Peter Claver Society. The first members of the society were baptized in May 1935. Most of the members however, worked in St. Francis Hospital which made it more convenient for the group to meet in the chapel of the hospital.
By the early months of 1939 it had been decided to build a mission church for serving the growing number of black Catholics. February 1, 1939 Fr. Joseph Michael McGrath O.F.M. arrived in Greenville as the first pastor of the new mission. Six acres of land on Gower Street was purchased by the Franciscans and ground was broken for construction of a combined chapel and friary on May 1, 1939. The new friary and chapel were virtually completed by the end of August; the first Mass was celebrated on Sunday September 3rd. The mission under the title “St. Anthony of Padua: was formally dedicated by Bishop Walsh on Mission Sunday October 22, 1939.
For several years the friars and parishioners sought to build an activities center. In 1949 this dream became a reality and on July 17th a solemn Mass was offered in the new center. On June 17, 1950 an old farmhouse at 204 Douthit was purchased to be used as a school and convent. After much hard work and preparation on the old house, school opened on September 8, 1951. Sisters were assigned from the Franciscan Community of Stella Niagara. The school included kindergarten through fourth grade.
During 1956 a new church and school was built and included kindergarten through eighth grade. The parish continued to grow numbered 232 people. The Franciscan sisters has to withdraw from staffing at St. Anthony’s School. In the summer of 1972 the Dominican sisters came from Adrian Michigan. On July 20, 1986 the Franciscan sisters of Williamsville, New York staffed the school and continue to the present. The parish continued to grow and the church was expanded in 2002 to accommodate over 600 people.