Welcome to St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church. We are a vibrant faith community of more than 1,300 parishioners. We exist in the heart of the City of Greenville, yet our parishioners come from considerable distance to worship here. St. Anthony’s is a parish of compassionate outreach within the inner-city. Our parishioners experience the joy of giving to others and making a difference.
We are called to embody the universality of the Catholic Church by nurturing the genius of African American spirituality and by welcoming all people.
Drawing on the spirit of St. Francis, 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 on their journey through life. An attempt to being the body of Christ and a sign of His kingdom leads us to be ever committed to initiating activities that reach out to alienated, inactive or un-churched people.
We are committed to the education in faith of all generations, especially those who come to learn and serve in our parish school.
St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church, one of the most sacred spaces in Greenville, boasts a fascinating parish history.
In the mid 1930s, Fr. Sydney F. Dean, a diocesan priest assigned as an associate pastor at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Greenville, felt called to evangelize African Americans. 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. On February 1, 1939, Fr. Joseph Michael McGrath, OFM, 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 completed by the end of August. The first Mass was celebrated on Sunday, September 3, 1939. The mission under the title “St. Anthony of Padua” was formally dedicated on Sunday, October 22, 1939.
St. Anthony’s School and Convent
For several years the friars and parishioners sought to build an activities center. In 1949 this dream became a reality and on July 17 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, St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School opened on September 8, 1951. Sisters were assigned from the Franciscan Community of Stella Niagara, NY. The school included kindergarten through fourth grade.
In 1956, a new church and school were constructed. The school included kindergarten through eighth grade. The Franciscan sisters of Stella Niagara eventually withdrew from staffing St. Anthony’s School, and in the summer of 1972, the Dominican sisters came from Adrian, Mich. On July 20, 1986, the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities, staffed the school and continue to the present.
For more on one of the oldest private schools in Greenville County, click here.
Fr. Patrick Tuttle, OFM, a priest from the Franciscan Friars of Holy Name Province in New York, became pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in 2005. Since then, St. Anthony’s has grown from 150 to 1,300 members.
In 2013, thanks to a community of generous hearts, a new 26,000-square-foot, two-story school was built. It houses K3-6th grade, as well as a music/resource room, art room, library, chapel, cafeteria and gym. At present, the school consists of Pre-K through Grade 6.