When the first Catholic families came to what is now McComb, Mississippi, most settled on and around Bunker Hill and Vinegar Hill. Today, Bunker Hill is where Sixth Street and Louisiana Avenue intersect; Vinegar Hill is the intersection of Fourth Street and Delaware Avenue.
The City of McComb was incorporated in 1872. The area was the Diocese of Natchez and a mission area of the Church. McComb had neither a parish nor a church building. Diocese of Natchez records state that the “Catholic Population” of the area in 1873 as 25 families. Mass was held in private homes and did not occur on a regular basis.
Plans were discussed in the fall of 1872 for the erection of a Catholic Church in McComb City. Land was deeded and Colonel Henry S. McComb was contacted about donating a lot owned by the railroad. Colonel McComb agreed but had restrictions on the building size and cost, neither being practical for the small congregation. With Colonel McComb unwilling to compromise, the congregation purchased a lot in East McComb in 1873. However, the lot was never developed.
With land donated by the Mississippi Valley Company, Father Joseph Firle selected the site of the Catholic Church, two lots at the corner of present-day Delaware Avenue and Fifth Street. Construction of the church began December 1875 and completed in 1876. It was the first church building in McComb City. The first Mass was celebrated on July 16, 1876 by Reverend Benedict Niethard, C. Ss. R. Since the community had been served and staffed by Redemptionist, the church was dedicated to Saint Alphonsus Liguori, founder of the order. In 1878, the Mississippi Valley Company donated a third lot to be used for a school.
By the 1920’s the Catholic population had outgrown the original wood frame church. the wooden church was moved to become the parish hall. The new northern Italian style church was designed by then pastor, Reverend John J. Igoe. On May 14, 1922, the cornerstone was laid where the original church had stood. The new church was dedicated on December 17, 1922, and still serves the Catholic community. The building was refurnished and redecorated in the 1940’s; renovated, refurbished and redecorated in 1975-76 and again in 2004-2005.
Compiled by Mike Austin.