History and Mission Statement

The History of Saint Paul’s Parish

Before July 4, 1920, a Catholic parish for Northside Richmond was a dream. That dream, the longing for a neighborhood church and school, became a reality when St. Paul’s Parish was established.

Prior to the formal establishment of St. Paul’s Church, Northside Catholics had worshiped at other parishes in the city. In approximately 1915, the Barton Heights Catholic Church acquired a small frame building on Fendall Avenue for services of their own. The group was served by a visiting priest and by the Sisters of Charity. With the establishment of a Northside parish, the little building on Fendall Avenue became St. Paul’s first church site and the visiting priest, Father Edwin P. Shaughnessy, the parish’s first pastor.

As St. Paul’s flourished, the desire for a parish school increased and the need for a larger church building became apparent. On August 6, 1922, St. Paul’s Parish dedicated a new church building on North Avenue and in the following September, St. Paul’s School opened its doors in the rear of the church to ninety-five students and to five sisters from the Order of St. Benedict.

For twenty-eight years, St. Paul’s Church remained on North Avenue. During that time, St. Paul’s School expanded and in 1926, the school moved to a building on Fendall Avenue. By the early 1940’s, St. Paul’s was outgrowing the North Avenue location. Under the guidance of Monsignor Thomas E. O’Connell, a series of fundraising drives began and in 1950, St.   Paul’s present church building on Chamberlayne Avenue was constructed and dedicated. In September of 1967, St.   Paul’s School located to a new building on Noble Avenue. This project was completed under the watchful eye of Monsignor Justin D. McClunn.

On Sunday, March 26, 2000, Father George E. Zahn broke ground for a new Parish Center. After a ten year study, this project became a reality. With the dedication of the new Parish Center by The Most Reverend Walter F. Sullivan, D.D. on Sunday, October 14, 2001, the congregation now has an inviting space in the Commons to gather before and after the Liturgies. The additional meeting and office space, kitchen and restrooms provide for the spiritual and physical needs of parish life.

The diversity of Saint Paul’s parishioners has helped it grow and prosper through the years. The parishioners’ devotion to God, their hard work and financial support have made St. Paul’s the outstanding parish we all cherish so very much. As we look ahead to the future, may we continue to rejoice in the gifts we have as a parish family.


Our parish is a rich mosaic of people — many ages, colors, cultures, and backgrounds — who call each other to full and active membership. We gather regularly, and in this gathering, continually welcome new members as we challenge ourselves to be ever more aware of all the needs of those in our midst.

As worshipers, we gather to break open the Word of God and to share the Bread of Life and the Cup of Salvation.  We proclaim, preach, sing out, break and pour forth the presence of the Lord in the midst of the Lord’s people. Our continuous hope is that the care and ability of our ministers of word, sacrament, music and hospitality call forth and encourage the participation of all members, welcome all visitors, and send us forth to serve. Our Sunday celebrations incorporate special events essential to the Church universal and to the parish.  Sunday Eucharist also leads us to festival and weekday celebrations.
As believers, we hunger for the growth that leads to a deeper understanding of our faith.  We are concerned that all parish members and those wishing to join the Church have opportunities available to them to deepen their faith.  Consequently, St. Paul’s offers opportunities for parishioners to expand their education and form a deeper faith by participating in a variety of lay ministries and social activities.  We are committed as well to regular evaluation and new models of formation and education.

As Christians, we are led by the life of Jesus to reach out to others. At the heart of this outreach is our care for the sick, the homebound, the hungry, the homeless, the elderly, and all in special circumstances.  As a faith community we are committed to using the resources of time, talent, and finances which our parishioners have entrusted to our stewardship, for the needs of our community.

Our parish is dedicated to building up God’s kingdom. We constantly are thankful for all of God’s gifts to our parish, our parishioners, our history, and our physical environment.  We are committed to being good stewards of the gifts entrusted to us and we recognize people as our most precious gift.