Parish History

Parish History

Mother of Divine Providence Parish was created on December 8, 1954, the closing date of the Marian Year, by the late John Cardinal O’Hara, Archbishop of Philadelphia. Reverend James M. McGrory was named as our founding pastor. Fifteen acres of land were purchased to house the new parish. The grounds included a house, which was to serve both as a rectory and temporary church. The first parish Mass was celebrated by Father McGrory on March 6, 1955 on the 2nd floor of the Upper Merion Township Building, then located at DeKalb Pike and Allendale Road. The first Mass on the parish grounds was celebrated in the combination rectory and temporary church on May 15, 1955.

Ground was broken for the new school with a connecting auditorium used temporarily for Sunday Mass on December 11, 1955. A convent to house 12 sisters , Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart, was also built. MDP School formally opened on October 1, 1956 with 204 students.

The parish grew and received permission from the new Archbishop of Philadelphia, John Cardinal Krol to build a new church. The ground was blessed and construction began on February 18, 1962.

On Monday, December 24, 1962, the first Mass was celebrated in the new Church.

The peak growth period in Upper Merion Township was the 1960′s. Throughout that decade and into the 70′s MDP continued to expand and to grow and so did the number and membership of its organizations.

Father McGrory retired in June, 1973 and was succeeded by Monsignor William McDonough. Under his leadership the CCD program was expanded as were Parish Council and Parish School Board. Monsignor McDonough retired in 1981 because of failing health.

Father Charles Gormley succeeded Monsignor McDonough in 1981. Under Father Gormley’s leadership, the RCIA Program was initiated at MDP. He involved MDP in the King of Prussia Interfaith Council and established the Pastoral Council to develop MDP’s Renewal Program. In June, 1996, Father Gormley was named Pastor Emeritus of MDP.

Father Thomas P. Gaynard was appointed Pastor of MDP in June of 1996. Under his guidance and direction the Renewal Committees implemented a Parish Renewal Program. He provided encouragement and training for those serving in various ministries in the parish. Father Gaynard was actively involved in the work of the Cluster Pastoral Plan for Cluster 71 and was a member of the Implementation Committee. In June of 2001, Father Gaynard became the only priest serving the 5200 member MDP Parish Community, a decision reached by the committee that developed Cluster 71′s Pastoral Plan. After almost 6 years of service to our community, Father Gaynard was born to new life in his heavenly home on March 16, 2002.  We were helped through this difficult time by Reverend Anthony J. Costa, who acted as Parish Administrator until a new pastor was named.

In June 2002, our parish installed Father Thomas J. Furey as pastor.  Fr. Furey served for two years as pastor.

Rev. Msgr. John T. Conway was installed as pastor in September of 2004 and served the parish until June of 2010.   Monsignor Conway was responsible for initiating a Parish Self Study and Survey.  This introspection surfaced a need for additional meeting space, handicapped parking, upgrades to our worship space and rectory.  Monsignor officially announced the “Building on the Foundation” Capital Campaign to the parish in March of 2006.  This campaign funded the  addition of our Parish Center which was dedicated by The Most Reverend Daniel E. Thomas on September 14, 2008.

Rev. Martin T. Cioppi  was assigned to our parish on July 12, 2010 and installed on Sunday, September 26, 2010 by Bishop Thomas.  The parish celebrated Father Cioppi’s installation with a Parish Picnic on that date.    Father Cioppi brings with him a love for the Eucharist and all of the sacraments, a warm desire to serve the parish, and a peaceful spirit.

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