Church History

Beginning around 1926, a priest from St. Aloysius Church in Pottstown would travel to the home of James and Philomena Bucciaglia on Sundays and offer Mass for the Catholics of Stowe. By 1927-1928, a priest came from Immaculate Conception, Birdsboro, and the locale for Sunday Mass was changed to the hall of the West End Fire Company. Cardinal Dennis Dougherty eventually established a parish in Stowe on June 16, 1929 and named it St. Gabriel of the Sorrowful Mother. St. Gabriel Lodge, a private club established by and for the people of Italian heritage living in the area, purchased nine lots at E. Howard and Jefferson Streets and donated the land to the archdiocese for the parish buildings to be built.

The original church was built in 1930 at a cost of $8,500.00. It was a pre-fabricated building that seated 225 people. Plans were undertaken by the late 1950’s to build a larger church and ground was broken on August 6, 1961. In order to make room for the new church, the rectory was moved to 512 Center Street in Stowe and the original church was demolished. Bishop Francis Furey dedicated the 604 seat church on September 2, 1962. A couple of pews were removed in the late 1990’s when an elevator was installed in the church. The relocation of the baptismal font to the front of the church in 2005 caused an additional loss of seating. The church now comfortably seats 580. A confessional was converted into a shrine in honor of the parish’s patron saint in 2006. The shrine contains a relic of the saint and a statue of him that was in the original church. Bishop Daniel Thomas blessed the shrine in 2007.

The parish school opened in 1951 in a building owned by St. Gabriel Lodge. Increasing enrollment during the 1960’s meant that some classes were held in the church social hall. A new school building was eventually built and it was dedicated by Cardinal John Krol in November of 1970. The school closed in 1989 due to declining enrollment. The building is now used for offices for the parish, pastor and religious education director; classrooms for religious education; and a parish meeting room. The school building is also the site of Little Footprints Day Care.

A convent was built on E. Howard Street in 1949 and opened in 1950 with the School Sisters of St. Francis taking up residence. Twenty-five years later, a new convent was built on Jefferson Street and the sisters moved there. The former convent then became the rectory as the priests moved from their Center Street residence. The School Sisters withdrew from the school and the parish in 1985. The priest moved to the vacated Jefferson Street building in 1989 and a Sister of Mercy who was hired as the Director of Religious Education moved into the E. Howard Street residence. The School Sisters of St. Francis returned in 1997 and served the parish until June 2009. The E. Howard Street building is currently unoccupied.

St. Gabriel of the Sorrowful Mother Parish is proud to have four vocations from among its parishioners. They are: Sister M. Xavier Bomberger, OSF (Grace Bomberger), Father Raymond Bomberger, SSJ, Sister Maria Derecola, OSF and Father Andrew McCormick.