|Pioneer Catholics||St. Joseph's Mission Years||Parish
|Current Property Purchased||New Church
& School Dedication
|New Church Entrance
|New Parish Sign
& Other Facelifts
|St. Joseph School Closes||Personnel Changes in 2010||Capital
Our parish has undergone tremendous growth, from the small group who founded the mission in 1864 to the nearly 950 presently registered families at St. Joseph. Our parish has been richly blessed through the years with loving, caring and welcoming parishioners who reflect the Word of God in their faith life. Together, let us celebrate our unique history, accomplishments and blessings of our parish and rededicate ourselves to serving the future needs of our community.
Catholic settlements in the area (the six counties in the northeastern part of Ohio now known as the Youngstown Diocese) date back to the early 1800's when pioneers moved westward from the Atlantic states and from Europe to settle in towns such as (New) Lisbon, Canton, Massillon, and Canal Fulton. Coming from central Ohio, Father Fenwick may have visited the log cabin of Daniel Shehy in Youngstown as early as 1815 or 1816. In 1817 the first Masses were celebrated in the log cabin home of Daniel McAllister at St. Paul Settlement near Dungannon in the dense forests of Columbiana County and under an oak tree on the property of John Shorb at Canton. Three years later the small congregation built the first permanent church in northern Ohio, St. Paul's.
But the "mother church" of the area was St. Columba's in Youngstown. Through the exertions of William Woods, a small frame church was completed in 1853. This was replaced in 1864 by a large brick Gothic church built under the pastorate of Father Eugene M. O'Callaghan. St. Columba's became the cathedral of the new diocese when it was founded in 1943, and the present cathedral building was completed in November 1958 (the first St. Columba's Cathedral burned to the ground in 1954 due to a lightning strike).
Youngstown's first bishop was James A. McFadden, who had been auxiliary bishop of Cleveland since 1932. In 1952, Bishop McFadden was succeeded by his coadjutor, Bishop Emmet M. Walsh, formerly the bishop of Charleston, South Carolina, and who served until his illness in 1966 Bishop James W. Malone was named auxiliary bishop in 1960, apostolic administrator in 1966, and the Ordinary (bishop) of the diocese in May 1968. Bishop Thomas Tobin was appointed Youngstown Diocesan Bishop on December 5, 1995 & installed installed February 2, 1996. Upon Bishop Tobin's appointment as the new Bishop of the Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island, May 31, 2005, Msgr. Robert J. Siffrin was elected Diocesan Administrator of the Diocese of Youngstown until a new bishop is chosen by Pope Benedict XVI.
Bishop Amadeus Rappe of Cleveland established a mission in Mantua in 1864, with priests from Cleveland's Holy Name Church traveling to Portage County for Mass. The old Irish settlers of this area with a great desire to worship God, though few in number, welcomed the spiritual services of a faithful corps of priests. Rumors exist that Mass was said in Mantua by a Father Kindergraph in 1854 and 1855 but he must have been a missionary because no priest by that name was known in the Diocese of Cleveland. Rev. Jacob A. Kuhn took care of the new mission 1864-1865. St. Joseph Mission was then attached to St. Stephen's Church in Niles & the priests from Niles (Rev. Alexander R. Sidley, Rev. Edward J. Conway, Rev. Bernard B. Kelley, Rev. Michael Ivers), came from 1865 to 1870. [Refer to Leadership page for more details on priests who served St. Joseph]
In 1870 Mantua came as a mission to Warren & Father Edward Murphy built a frame church which was blessed Christmas, 1871 (this was built on the site that the brick church building, now Crestwood Schools Board offices, stands on Prospect St. in Mantua Village).
Until then Mass was said in the house of Patrick Calvin, the old schoolhouse, and then mostly in the house of Brian Reagan (later occupied by Mrs. Mary Paul). The money to build the church was collected from the poor people and John King, a section foreman on the Erie railroad from his men from Warren to Warrensville. He paid the contractor, Mr. Farr, as he got it, and in 1872 as the report shows, all was paid and everybody was glad, but it shows, too, the spirit among these old setters.
Father Murphy had left Warren in 1873 and Father Timothy A. Mahoney came from Niles 1871 to 1873 and took care of Mantua, too. From 1873 to 1875 Father Angelo Paganini and Joseph Paganini, cousins, took care of Warren and Mantua. From 1876 to 1877 Fr. Bernard Kelley returned to St. Joseph mission as pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Warren. From 1877 to 1879 Father M. Murphy came who was then succeeded by Father William J. Manning from 1879 to 1882. In July, 1882, came Father Felix Scullin until February, 1884. He was succeeded by Father Denis O'Brien, who died in the late 1930's, in Chicago. In August, 1886, came Rev. Ambrose Weber and served until 1901. Under his guidance the church was beautified and a steeple added.
Father Patrick Dwyer came to Mantua until 1903. Jesuits from St. Ignatius College (forerunner of John Carroll University) in Cleveland were given charge of St. Joseph Mission starting on March 15, 1903 through 1910. During this time the mission was attended twice a month. Click here to more information about the Jesuits & other leaders of St. Joseph's. In 1911 Father Michael F. Shannon received charge of Mantua as a mission, January 1, 1911 through 1918 while pastor of Assumption in from Royalton (now Broadview Heights). The 1919 and 1920 Official Catholic Directories list Mantua as being administered from St. Mary Seminary. Rev. James A. McFadden (later bishop of Youngstown) was the rector. Rev. Richard Brennan was listed as being a professor of Canon Law, Introductory Sacred Scripture & Liturgy during that time period. It is safe to say that they probably took care of Mantua during these years. From March 19, 1920 to June 15, 1938, Diocese of Cleveland records show Father Shannon was once again Pastor of Assumption in Royalton and took care of St. Joseph, Mantua until Father Gracey was assigned as the first resident pastor in 1923.
In 1923, with Rev. Edward Gracey as the first resident pastor, St. Joseph was established as a parish serving thirty-five to forty families. Under Rev. Gracey's supervision the first St. Joseph Church was built & was dedicated in May, 1924 (building 4571 Prospect St., now known as the "Old" Church, was bought by the Crestwood School District Board of Education in 1968 & is currently used to house Special Services). It was hard labor to bring all members, who had been coming only once or twice a month to come to the church every Sunday, but by and by they got used to it and everything went fine. St. Joseph's became a parish with 35 to 40 families. Father Gracey opened a mission in Geauga Lake to give those people, especially during the summer time, an opportunity to fulfill their Sunday duties.
Father Edward Gracey was followed in 1925 by Father Hugh L. Collins, coming from the St. Joseph's Church in Collinwood. Father Oldrich Mazanec was pastor after Father Collins and served from 1927 to 1930 with Geauga Lake as a mission. Then, Solon established a mission and when in 1930 as St. Rita's became an independent parish, Father Mazanec left Mantua where he had worked faithfully. As Father Mazanec became pastor of St. Rita's in Solon, Father Frank P. Brennan came to Mantua in 1930 from St. Catherine's Church, where he had worked as assistant pastor. Mantua was his first parish and so his first love. He worked hard as all these priests did. He was transferred to Immaculate Conception in Willoughby in October, 1934.
In 1934 Father Anton (Anthony) L. Battes followed Father Brennan & built the "new" rectory in 1935. In 1968, this building located at 4565 Prospect St. in Mantua (next to the "Old" Church) was bought by the Crestwood School District Board of Education & is currently used as Board & Administration offices.
The Diocese of Youngstown was established May 15, 1943.
The Catholic Church in this area grew to such an extent that in 1943, the Holy Father announced the establishment of the Youngstown Diocese, comprising the six counties of Northeastern Ohio.
Msgr. John Toole, whose fatherly guidance and love of his people, imprinted the character of what a priest is and must be upon his people. He served at St. Joseph's from 1945 to 1951.
Msgr. Father John Lavelle, with big heart and booming voice, made St. Joseph's remember priestly service and dedication. He was pastor from 1951 to 1960. It was he who renovated the old church and extended his service to the mission in Aurora, and who planned well for the future by purchasing ninety-six acres of property on Pioneer Trail for future development just north of the Village of Mantua. In November 1957 he also lead the fund drive for the first parochial school in northern Portage County.
Father Francis Hughes served from 1960 to 1966 & opened St. Joseph's first "school" in the basement of the old church, using also the facilities across the street loaned by the Hilltop Christian Church. He later served as Pro-Tem Administrator from March-July, 1989, & April 30-July 1, 1994, when the parish was without an assigned pastor.
With zeal and selflessness, Father Hughes continued the plans of his predecessor and brought about the building of the first portion of a million and half dollar dream of a parish complex on the new, 96-acre property - a church, school and auditorium. Climaxing nearly a century of spiritual service to the Catholics of Mantua, Ohio, St. Joseph's formally dedicated its new church and school on Sunday, July 28, 1963. The Most Reverend Emmet Michael Walsh, D.D., Bishop of Youngstown, officiated at the ceremony. Located off Pioneer Trail, on one of the highest points in Portage County, the new church and school unit was designed by Architect Charles J. Faroni. The plan was to eventually build a permanent church & use the "temporary church" space as a gymnasium and convert part of the hall into classroom space.
Father Hughes enlisted the services of the Dominican Sisters of Akron (Our Lady of the Elms is their mother house), whose pioneer spirit and dedication made St. Joseph the recognized school that it is today. Under his supervision the men of the parish renovated an old building (known as the The Faragher House) on the corner of the new property to house the nuns during the school year. This was a red-brick Victorian home built around 1885 by Martin B. Sanford [son of Jason and Hannah (Ladd) Sanford]. This building still exists today as a private residence (Bill & Valerie Fosnight), 10941 Main St., on the corner of St. Rt. 44 & the entrance to Crestwood High School.
St. Joseph School description and photos from
the church and school dedication booklet . . .
"The altar from the old church continues to hold the place of honor in the new St. Joseph's. The unique seating arrangement of six sections of pews formed in a semi-circle around the altar was designed to permit a better view of the altar by a greater number of people."
"To the left of the vestibule is the sacristy and the altar boys' room; to the right are the baptistry and the mothers' crying room for babies [this was later converted into a Day Chapel & is now our All-Purpose Room]. Two confessionals are located adjacent to the sacristy to allow the priests to enter them directly from the sacristy. Two more with similar access are adjacent to the baptistry."
"Another front entrance, which features modern ornamentation, opens into a corridor which affords easy access into the church or lower level school area. This hallway also leads into the kitchen and cafeteria."
"The cafeteria can be used as a social hall or all-purpose room, providing a church-centered place for meetings and recreation for all age groups. There is ample space in the cafeteria to create four meeting rooms in part of this all-purpose hall. If needed, this space can also be used for classrooms."
"The first floor school area includes two classrooms, administrative offices, a checkroom, religious article store, a book store, rest rooms, lay faculty and Sisters' lounges and a boiler room and janitor's shop. The boiler room houses two oil-burning furnaces, an incinerator and a hot water tank. This lower level school area also has it's own entrance on the right side of the building."
"The second floor features six classrooms, a library and rest room, in addition to the choir loft, which overlooks the church proper [this choir loft is now our computer lab]."
In September of 1963, St. Joseph School had five grades and continued to add another grade each year. At that time, three school buses provided the children with transportation.
Father Hughes stated that this was the start of a new chapter in the history of St. Joseph's Church & it was his hope that this chapter would continue until some day we would have the dedication of a permanent church.
Then came Father John Vasko, in 1966, and Father Francis Snock, in 1967, both of whom carried on the work of building and spiritual development initiated by their predecessors. Rev. John H. Hoey became pastor in 1974 followed by Rev. George Balasko in 1978.
Church Renovated in 1983
Father Joseph Fata received his first pastorate when he was assigned to St. Joseph in 1981. In May, 1983, under Rev. Joseph Fata's direction, a renovation of the church was completed:
The ceiling was refinished to brighten the area and enhance acoustics. Buttress-like beams were added to create the illusion of a lower ceiling. New lighting was also installed.
All the walls were covered with vinyl wall covering (unnecessary doors and openings were eliminated for simplicity and smoothness).
New carpeting was installed & a canopy was added over the enlarged sanctuary area including lighting to enhance the focal point for worship.
Travertine marble in individual rectangles was added to the wall behind the altar.
Three chapels were added - a Day Chapel for small group celebrations, etc., a Blessed Sacrament Chapel for reservation of the Eucharist (southeast corner), and a Reconciliation Chapel for celebration of the Sacrament of Penance (southwest corner).
Organ speaker/pipes were placed above the Reconciliation Chapel with the option of additional speakers over the Blessed Sacrament Chapel.
The Narthex was enlarged to allow for and encourage the gathering of people before and after worship and celebrations.
After some window openings were eliminated, the remaining windows were installed with antique and cathedral glass.
New statues of Mary, Joseph, and the Christ Child were commissioned and sculpted in ceramic by Akron artisan Brian B. Heard (visit Tour of St. Joseph page).
The Risen Christ for the sanctuary wall was carved from black walnut on the property by Sister Evangeline Doyle, O.P. (details of process with photos available from Tour of St. Joseph page).
New furniture and appointments included: altar, ambo, chair, tables, servers benches, Baptismal font, Eucharistic tower and tabernacle, and cantor's lectern.
For the configuration of the 14 Stations of the Cross, the former wood-carved plaques were used.
The large wooden cross at Station 12 formerly hung on the sanctuary wall.
Father Fata also oversaw the addition of landscaping throughout the property. Effective July 26, 1988, Fr. Fata was been named pastor of St. Luke Church in Boardman.
Rev. John Trimbur served in 1988 with St. Joseph's being his first pastorate. Rev. Francis Hughes came back as interim pastor in 1988 and 1989 after Fr. Trimbur left. Father Hughes especially loved the children & the thriving school, his dream come true from 1963. Rev. James M. Fondriest came in 1989 and remained until 1994 when he stepped down as pastor to take a leave of absence from his spiritual duties. Rev. John Dailey was appointed by the diocese for one month (April, 1994) and Rev. Francis Hughes was back again serving as interim pastor, April 30-July 1, 1994. During his second interimship at St. Joseph's Father Hughes' duties consisted of a myriad of weddings, funerals, training classes and overall supervision of the school. Rev. Richard Murphy came to serve at weekend Masses from July 2 to August 31, 1994, until Father Tom McCarthy came.
New Entrance & Landscaping
Rev. Thomas J. McCarthy came to the parish in September, 1994 . In September of 1995, the parish hall was named and rededicated the Rev. Francis Hughes Hall. In celebration of the parish's 75th anniversary (1998), a time capsule was buried, the carillon was purchased and the interior of the church was cleaned & painted from ceiling to floor. In 1999, the Garden Club funded, organized & completed the new entrance to the church with the help of many parishioners who gave of their time & talents. Father Tom oversaw the addition of a beautiful piece of artwork by world famous sculptor, Joseph Turkaly, entitled "Joseph & the Children" that was added to the alcove of the new entrance in 2001 (dedicated to the memory of parishioner Linda Kulka who was tragically killed in an auto accident). Click on Tour of St. Joseph page to visit our St. Joseph & The Children page & view Joseph Turkaly's work.
In October, 2002, the Garden Club began the first stage of their landscape renovation by coordinated the removal of "overgrowth" on either side of the Church entrance. New dirt and a new bed of grass plus a few small trees & shrubs have been added (with plans to add more plantings in the future). As money becomes available, the rest of the plans will come to reality.
Forty years of quality Catholic education was marked as St. Joseph School commemorated its 40th anniversary during the 2003/2004 school year. Catholic Schools Week was an annual celebration of what makes our school special. The celebration continues with the Ox Roast Fair. This wonderful community event was started in 1964 by Father Francis J. Hughes to help pay for the new school and continues as one of the area's most anticipated activities.
Father Michael D. Balash, was welcomed to the parish August 1, 2003. Father Tom McCarthy was appointed Bishop's Delegate for Retired Priests and continues his position of Priest Personnel Advisor for the Diocese of Youngstown.
New Parish Sign & Other Facelifts
In the Fall of 2005, a new lighted sign & St. Joseph statue were installed at Pioneer Trail thanks to volunteers who worked and donated towards this project.
In the Fall of 2005, St. Joseph Parish took part in the Diocese of Youngstown's first and largest capital campaign in its 61-year history, "Today's Sacrifice . . . Tomorrow's Church Capital Campaign". This four-year pledge commitment is the first step in establishing a Building Fund for the building of a permanent church structure (after meeting our Annual Bishop's Appeal goal & target campaign goal, the parish is rebated a percentage of the pledges received).
During the late summer and fall of 2006, areas of the parish received "facelifts". The Parish Center saw painting of the kitchen and meeting room (decorative items and updated lighting added), the addition of new chairs and carpeting, and replacement of a badly deteriorating garage door. Hughes Hall & Narthex were also painted. The parking lot was re-lined and Home & School adding two benches and two permanent garbage cans to the playground area. The areas in front of the Parish Center & School received much needed updates to the landscaping in "phase II" of landscaping improvements. Romano & Sons (Pat Romano) handled the removal and designing and preparation of the beds. Volunteers from the Garden Club and Knights of Columbus assisted with planting and mulching (Garden Club funded half of this project).
Pope Benedict XVI Appoints New Bishop for Diocese of Youngstown
The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, announced January 30, 2007, at noon in Rome (6:00 a.m. EST) that the Most Reverend George V. Murry, S.J., has been appointed Bishop of the Diocese of Youngstown by Pope Benedict XVI. Bishop Murry is currently Bishop of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. Upon his appointment, Bishop Murry stated: “I am honored to accept the Holy Father’s appointment to serve as Bishop of Youngstown and I look forward to meeting and working with the priests, deacons, religious and laity of the diocese.” Bishop Murry will be installed as the fifth Bishop of the Diocese of Youngstown on Wednesday, March 28, 2007. To learn more about Bishop Murry, click here.
Msgr. Robert J. Siffrin served as Diocesan Administrator of the Diocese of Youngstown from June 2, 2005 (following Bishop Thomas J. Tobin's appointment as the new Bishop of the Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island, effective May 31, 2005) until the Most Reverend George V. Murry, S.J., was installed as the fifth Bishop of the Diocese of Youngstown on Wednesday, March 28, 2007 (Bishop Murry was appointed January 30, 2007).
During the summer of 2007 improvements included all of the hallways, stairwells, and doors of the school of the entire school building receiving a fresh coat of new paint, new carpeting for the church, Narthex, All-Purpose Room, and school office, and new ceiling fans were installed in the church.
New Pastor Welcomed
Our current pastor, Fr. Michael Garvey, was welcomed as our new pastor as of July 1, 2008. He served 20 years and his assignments were with the Navy, the Marines, and Coast Guard. His duty included assignments in Cuba, Japan, and Alaska. Father retired in June of 2007 from Corry Station, Pensacola, Florida. In December, 2008 he was assigned to St. Rose Parish in Girard as the Associate Pastor before coming to St. Joseph's. Fr. Michael Balash was assigned to St. William Parish in Champion.
St. Joseph School Closes
St. Joseph School in Mantua closed at the end of the 2009-2010 school year. Declining enrollment was a major factor in the decision. In mid-March, only 59 students in kindergarten through eighth grade registered for the 2010-2011 school year. Reverend Michael Garvey, pastor, informed parents of the decision by letter on March 26 and during weekend Masses on March 27/28.
Personnel Changes in 2010 & 2011
As of the first of July, 2010, our Pastoral Minister, Sr. Rose Anne began in ministry at Immaculate Conception in Ravenna and still in residence in Aurora. At this same time our DRE, Mac Clapp, also left taking on the full-time DRE position at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Aurora. With the closing of St. Joseph School (June, 2010), Miss Beth Frank then accepted the DRE position for the 2010-2011 PSR year. As of October 1, 2010, Sr. Joyce Schreiber, S.N.D., became our new Pastoral Minister. During this same time period, our Food Service Manager, Al Roberts, had his position end and he moved on to other employment opportunities.
After forty seven years of combined academic and religious education ministries, Beth Frank retired on June 30, 2011 (However, as of August 15, 2011, she became the new principal at St. Joseph School in Randolph for the 2011/2012 school year). Mrs. Margaret "Peg" Haney became our new DRE as of September 1, 2011.
Capital Improvements & Additions
During 2012, the roof of Hughes Hall was resurfaced to eliminate leaks. A new Advent wreath was purchased with donations from the Koval family in memory of Joe Koval.
The Parish Center received some upgrades in 2013 with new carpeting and flooring throughout. Thanks to the creative talents of Marianne Berzinskas, a new Parish Banner was added for sanctuary and diocesan celebrations. Andy Kollarik made some improvements to the Baptismal fo nt. This year also marked the 50th Ox Roast Fair.
In 2014 the Feddor family donated a new processional cross in memory of Carl Feddor.
Railings in the sanctuary hand-crafted by Charlotte Baumbick were added thanks to a donation from the Sawyer family in memory of Robert Sawyer.
Liturgical symbols were added to the Baptismal font, a project taken on by the Worship Committee and funded by the Brugmann family in memory of Roy Brugmann.
Father Garvey blessed our new church doors at the 11:15 a.m. Mass on Sunday, November 30, 2014. The new church entry doors allow plenty of light to enter the Narthex and provide a beautiful and secure welcome to parishioners and visitors. Designed and installed by Radiant Arts of Beach City, Ohio, the project was coordinated by members of the Worship Committee.
Etched crosses adorned the two entry doors and angels are on either side.
Trinity symbols are above the doors - The Eye of God is a symbol that is representative of divine watchfulness, of the Supreme Being taking care of the entire universe. It is shown as a single human eye enclosed in a triangle and often surrounded by clouds or burst of light.
The Chi Rho is one of the earliest cruciform symbols used by Christians. It is formed by superimposing the first two letters of the word "Christ" in Greek, chi = ch and rho = r. Although not technically a cross, the Chi Rho invokes the crucifixion of Jesus as well as symbolizing his status as the Christ.
The Holy Spirit is represented by the dove, an emblem of purity, innocence, and the gentle Savior bringing peace to mankind through His sacrifice.
In 2016 the talents of Char Baumbick and Marianne Berzinskas are recognized. Char crafted the new holy oil stands and Marianne painted the cross designs on them to match our candlestick and processional cross stands.
In 2017 the St. Joseph Garden Club funded a new side table by the Deacon’s chair in the sanctuary which was crafted by Charlotte Baumbick.
These items will be used to enhance our church sanctuary for years to come. Thank you to everyone for your generosity of time, talent, and treasure.
Stewardship In Action!
The Hughes Hall ceiling project is completed thanks to the hard work of our volunteers. It began with a donation of gently used ceiling tiles (Dave O’Donnell’s workplace replaced theirs) and a Saturday, January 7 work day with members of the K of C, Boy Scouts, and other volunteers. Available volunteers continued on weekdays through February 8.
The rails were repainted, additional support was fabricated and installed, and the tiles were cut and installed. A big thank you to all who had a part in beautifying our Hall including: Bill Cleary, Bill Curtin, Bill Custer, Kyle Gregel, John Kruis, Marvin Litz, Mel Romanello, Dan Nuti, Connor Rowe, Jake Rowe, Mike Rowe, George Trares, Jack Wilk, Richard Wilk, and Steve Zwolinski.
Administrative Secretary Changes
Welcomed Ruth Fitzgerald our new administrative secretary March 1, 2015, and said farewell to Jan Huter who faithfully and steadfastly served our parish since November, 1995. There are so many projects, things, and organizations that Jan had been a part of, you can’t begin to count. We acknowledge her devoted role in the Ox Roast Fair, the Worship Committee, and a champion of office administration. Whatever Jan had been asked to do, she rose the challenge and completed the task on time and in an excellent manner. She has been bright, creative, and most generous with her time and talent. All of us will miss her dearly. She has retired and we wish her all the best.
In March of 2016, Cindy Clark took on the Business Office Manager duties and Ruth Fitzgerald focused on the finances of the Ox Roast Fair. Moving to Mantua in 1984, Cindy has been a member of St. Joseph Parish since 1989 and is involved in the St. Joseph's Garden Club, K of C Women's Auxiliary, Reception Committee, and as a Eucharistic Minister, and former Eucharistic Bread Baker.