ANDREW ARNOLD LAMBING, LL.D.

ANDREW ARNOLD LAMBING, LL.D.
1842-1918
Pastor of St. James Parish
October 15, 1885 to December 24, 1918.

 

Born near Kittanning on February 1, 1942, Andrew was the third of nine children of Michael Anthony and Ann Shields Lambing. He was ordained in 1869 and had a priest brother, a sister who was a Sister of Charity, and three brothers who fought in the civil war. His beautiful chalice remains at St. James parish with this inscription under the base: ‘Chalice used by Rev. A. A. Lambing at his First Mass, August 15, 1869, Kittanning, Pa.

Msgr. Lambing was founder of St. Mary’s of the Point church in 1876. For many years Msgr. Lambing was president of a Catholic Institute, which was the forerunner of Duquesne University. Andrew Carnegie asked him to join the Board of Trustees of Carnegie Institute of Technology; Notre Dame conferred an honorary Master of Arts degree on him in 1883, and, three years later, Doctor of Law. He was president of the Diocesan School Board, and a consultant to many church, civic, and educational undertakings in the city, state, and church at this time. He wrote many books, including a history of the Diocese of Pittsburgh entitled ‘Foundation Stones of a Great Diocese’, and ‘A Brief Sketch of St. James Roman Catholic Church, Wilkinsburg’ and ’The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary’. A considerable part of ‘The History of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, in two volumes, was written by him in 1888; and ‘The Standard History of Pittsburgh’ two years later. In 1884 he began publication of a quarterly magazine, Historical Researches in Western Pennsylvania, Principally Catholic.

Msgr. Francis A. Glenn, in his book ‘Shepherds of The Faith: a Brief History of the Bishops of the Diocese of Pittsburgh’, says “Msgr. Andrew A. Lambing is recognized as the greatest historian of the Catholic Church in Western Pennsylvania in the nineteenth century. His collections of historical data and his publications of histories pertaining to the Diocese of Pittsburgh are invaluable resources of historical knowledge”.

Msgr. Lambing was the first of only five pastors to St. James parish since 1885. The first church was dedicated on Thanksgiving Day. November 18, 1869. Father Joseph Suehr was the first resident pastor from the parish’s founding. He was followed by Father Walter L. Burke, who became pastor on June 28, 1873 and remained here until his death on Monday, September 21, 1885.

During his 33 years as pastor of St. James parish, Msgr. A.A. Lambing, as he chose to be called, accomplished much for the growing congregation at St. James. He invited the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill to begin and staff St. James school in September 1886. Msgr. Lambing had the original church, dedicated in 1869, enlarged early in his pastorate. At midnight on December 23-4, 1888, the church burned to the ground. It was rebuilt on the same site and dedicated on December 22, 1889. The new building contained a meeting room in the basement, four classrooms on the first floor and the church proper on the second floor. It remained until 1961, when it was torn down to make way for the present new addition to St. James school. In 1912, Msgr. Lambing saw to the building of the main school building on Rebecca Avenue, and the present rectory and convent.

During his time here, other parishes were formed from the St. James boundaries. Among them were: St. Brendan’s, Braddock, 1891; Holy Rosary, Homewood, 1893, St. Anselm, Swissvale, September, 1903; Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament, 1910.

Msgr. Lambing served St. James faithfully until Christmas Eve, 1918, when, at the age of 76, he died in his sleep. He is buried in the priest’s plot at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Lawrenceville. His headstone, shaped like a large open book, has the inscription, ‘Rt. Rev. Msgr. A.A. Lambing 1842-1969-1918. Ever Faithful to God and His Diocese. May He Rest in Peace’.

I thank my God every time I remember you. I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, confidant that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians Chapter 1, v. 3-6.