The history of St. Dominic reaches into the second half of the 19th century to a chapel and cemetery located above Holly Springs that served Catholics in the west Mobile area and was run by Jesuit fathers from Spring Hill College. Near the end of World War I the little church was destroyed by fire, though the cemetery still exists on Cadiz Street. A new chapel was built on Cottage Hill Road and was dedicated to Saints Simon and Jude by Bishop Edward Allen in 1919. About 30 years later it also burned, but was rebuilt. Because of continuous growth in the area, in 1958 Archbishop Thomas Toolen announced the formation of a new parish to be known as St. Dominic. He appointed Reverend Joseph Adams as the founding pastor. His first Mass as pastor was celebrated in the Cottage Hill Road chapel on October 5, 1958.
On February 7, 1959 ground was broken for the first parish building at the present church and school location. The first Mass was celebrated there on July 5, 1959. Among the highest priorities for the new parish was the building and staffing of a school. By 1961 a section of the convent and six classrooms were ready. On August 15, 1961, five Sisters of Mercy arrived in Mobile from Newry, Ireland. September 5, 1961 marked the first day of school with an enrollment of 262 in six grades. The next year two more classes were opened, and there were 430 students in kindergarten through eighth grade. Enrollment steadily increased until 1971, when, with 622 pupils, St. Dominic School was the largest Catholic grade school in the diocese. The school continues to flourish to this day, with 560 students in preschool through eighth grade.
An official groundbreaking ceremony took place May 19, 1974 for the present church. It was dedicated October 28, 1975. In June 1977 Monsignor Adams was reassigned and Monsignor John O’Hara was appointed to the parish. He served as pastor until November 1983. It was during this time that the present parish office and rectory was built and occupied beginning in March 1981.
Monsignor Francis Murphy was assigned to replace Monsignor O’Hara November 30, 1983. Among the immediate priorities was building a parish center. Ground was broken in August 1989 and the center (now called the Murphy Center) was dedicated April 1, 1990. Numerous renovations and upgrading of parish facilities and grounds also occurred. Even with these capital improvements the parish became debt free, due in large measure to good leadership, careful planning and generous parishioners.
In June 1996 Monsignor Murphy retired and continues to live in residence at St. Dominic. Reverend William Skoneki was appointed pastor. Under Fr. Skoneki a new convent was purchased in June 1998 and the original convent was renovated for use as the school office. A new parish and school gymnasium (The Skoneki Center) opened in 1998 and the church interior was refurbished in early 1999. The Adams Center (the original parish building on the property) was renovated in 1998 and 1999 into school specialty classrooms. An adjacent house was also purchased and opened as the preschool in September 1999.
Reverend Ernest Hyndman was assigned to replace Fr. Skoneki in June 2005. Fr. Hyndman had a very special connection with St. Dominic Parish—this was his home parish.
During Fr. Hyndman’s time at St. Dominic, Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, heavily damaging coastal communities from Louisiana to Alabama. Many parishioners took in relatives and friends from these devastated areas. Fr. Hyndman welcomed these new parishioners and organized groups to cook dinner in the Murphy Center on a nightly basis for our new parishioners and the families who housed them. He spearheaded food and clothing drives, obtained furniture and household goods, and cleaning supplies for homeowners devastated by the storm. He personally delivered these supplies to homeowners in coastal areas along with the assistance of other parishioners. He also set up a special victims’ fund for Hurricane Relief.
Fr. Hyndman left St. Dominic in March 2006 on medical leave granted by the Archdiocese. Archbishop Oscar Lipscomb asked Monsignor Murphy to temporarily administer the parish until a replacement pastor could be appointed. Monsignor Murphy agreed to this challenge and once again managed the parish during which time he celebrated his 60th ordination as a priest. Reverend James Cink was assigned as pastor effective June 2006 and continues as pastor to this day.
St. Dominic Parish’s biggest asset has always been its people. Today St. Dominic Parish has nearly 1,500 households and 5,000 members, making it one of the largest parishes in the Archdiocese of Mobile.