Saint Philip Parish, Crafton, was founded on July 25, 1839. Bishop Francis Patrick Kendrick of Philadelphia dedicated the original church building on that date. It was made of brick and measured 40 feet by 25 feet.
Bishop Kendrick recorded the following in his diary:
"July the twenty-fifth day. I dedicated to divine service a church under the invocation of St. Philip the Apostle, distant about four miles from Pittsburgh, near Chartier's Creek. The ground (for the church) was given by Philip Smith, a truly worthy Catholic and esteemed for his sincere and upright life. The Rev. John O'Reilly celebrated the High Mass and there were present also the Rev. Edward Garland and the Rev. Joseph Cody. Jeremiah Dunlevy, a very good man, who lives not far from the Church, entertained us for dinner."
At that time, Western Pennsylvania was part of the Diocese of Philadelphia. When the Diocese of Pittsburgh was eventually established in 1843, Saint Philip (named after Philip Smith's patron saint) was one of only six parishes in Western Pennsylvania. At the time of its dedication, there were approximately 150 parishioners living in what was then called Broadhead (named after Col. Daniel Broadhead, who commanded Fort Pitt during the American Revolution) and the surrounding area. The territory of Saint Philip's was so large that eventually 122 parishes and missions were established within its original boundaries.
As Philip Smith originally intended, a cemetery was also established on the land surrounding the original church building. The earliest grave markers commemorate Mary Bush Murphy, who died on May 17, 1841 and Robert Keenan, a native of Ireland, who died on December 24, 1842. There are five Civil War veterans buried in the cemetery and 25 natives of Ireland.
At first, Saint Philip's was a mission of Saint Paul Parish on Grant Street, Pittsburgh. (Saint Paul's was eventually moved to the Oakland section of Pittsburgh, where it became Saint Paul Cathedral.) Later, Saint Philip's became a mission of Saint Patrick's Parish in the Strip District of Pittsburgh. It wasn't until 1874 that the parish was assigned a full-time pastor. Fr. John Ward resided in a little home near the church in a field at what is now the end of Thomas Street. Fr. Ward baptized the first baby at Saint Philip's. His name was John McCabe.
Father William Kelty arrived at Saint Philip's in September of 1898. He would serve the parish for over 50 years. At the time of his arrival there were 140 families registered in the parish. His pastorate witnessed a period of tremendous growth. At one point, the school he started had an enrollment of 1,200 students. The small church building had become totally inadequate, and he began making plans to replace it. Ground for the current church was broken in 1903, and the completed church was dedicated by Bishop John Francis Regis Canevin on February 6, 1906.
Father Kelty also made plans to build a school building. It opened in 1915. He invited the Sisters of Charity to staff the school. They have faithfully served the parish and school to this day.
Father Kelty eventually retired as pastor because of old age and declining health at the age of 91 on January 15, 1953. When he arrived in 1898, the parish consisted of a small brick building on Steubenville Pike and a cemetery. At the time of his retirement, there was a magnificent Gothic church and a fine school building with a large addition. In recognition of his many years of service to the people of the parish he was name pastor emeritus.
Father William McCashin succeeded Father Kelty on January 22, 1953. Because of the increasing enrollment, another addition was attached to the school building. A modern cafeteria was also added to provide lunch to children who came from a distance. The new school addition was dedicated by Bishop John F. Deardon in September, 1954.
In 2006 the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the current church building took place. Two thousand and fifteen marks the 100th anniversary of Saint Philip School. And the parish is now 177 years old and remains a vibrant spiritual community.
On August 1, 2016 the St. Philip community merged with the communities of the former parishes of Guardian Angels in the West End, Holy Innocents in Sheraden, and Ascension in Ingram. This larger parish, both in membership and geographical area are now served by two worship sites - St. Philip in Crafton, and the Ascension worship center in Ingram.
Saint Philip parishioners value their history and are grateful for the faith that has been passed down to them by past generations. They are dedicated to passing on that faith to future generations in turn.