fr. gartlandRev. Albert Gartland was appointed pastor of St. Peter’s Parish in 1943. A year later, he reported that the Somerset parish numbered 438 souls. In 1950, the population of St. Peter’s had grown to 708 persons, prompting Father Gartland to request permission from Bishop Richard T. Guilfoyle to buy land for a new parish complex. The current site, 9.5 acres on West Church Street, was purchased in 1951, and site preparation began immediately. Groundbreaking for the new church and rectory occurred in October 1953, and the cornerstone for the new church was laid on August 15, 1954. The church was finished in December and the first Mass was celebrated on Christmas Day that year.

By 1960, the parish population totaled 301 families, or 1,019 souls. In November of that year, Father Gartland began to plan for the construction of a school of eight grades and a convent to accommodate eight sisters. The goal was to have the school open by September 1961. Construction began in April. The school was designed to match the already existing parish buildings. The school officially opened its Fall term with a Mass of Thanksgiving in the parish church, with the Rev. Albert A. Gartland officiating, on September 18, 1961. T total enrollment of 144 students were registered in the first four grades. These students were from St. Peter’s Church, Somerset, and its two Missions, St. Joseph Church, Boswell, and St. Michael’s Church, Listie. Seven students also are from the neighboring parish of St. John’s Acosta, Pa. St. Francis Regis of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Baden, Pennsylvania, was the first principal. Since then, other members of her religious community have served as prinicpal, including: Sr. Ann Francis, Sr. Mary Victor, Sr. Mary Bernadette, Sr. Francette, and Sr. Mary Louise, Mrs. Susan Curfman, Mrs. Karen Ferry, Mrs. Jill Harris.

school dedication