A Roman Catholic Community in Newton Falls Ohio
A Story of Faith and Determination
History tells us that as early as 1870 there was a Catholic presence in the Village of Newton Falls.
In the early to mid 1920’s, what began as a dream of the local Catholic population soon gave birth to two strong and vibrant churches, St Joseph Parish and St. Mary’s Parish.
Originally two separate parishes, under Bishop James Malone, they began “Walking Together” in July of 1994. Under the “Walking Together” plan the churches would remain separate but share a Pastor, Reverend Kenneth L. Strader, and form a joint Parish Council. This was the first step in a formal joining of the two parishes
On May 13, 2008, Bishop George Murry, S.J. approved the merger of St. Mary and St. Joseph Parishes. The new parish, to be known as St. Mary and St. Joseph was formed. SSMJ has a total of 972 registered parishoners.
St. Mary & St. Joseph Parish
History of St. Joseph’s Church
In the 1920’s a committee of the faithful was formed and took a census of the local Catholic population. They approached the Most Reverend Joseph B. Schrembs, Bishop of Cleveland in the hope of forming St. Joseph’s Church.
Bishop Schrembs gave the committee permission to approach Reverend Emil Schrader of St. Mary’s Church of Warren for help in establishing a Catholic church in Newton Falls.
In September of 1922, the Newton Falls Mission was established and the first resident Pastor, Reverend Francis B. Tomanek was appointed. Working with the committee and the local Catholic population, Reverend Tomanek rented space in a building on Broad St. for a Chapel. On January 17, 1923 the first Mass was offered.
The Mission continued to grow and on February 27, 1923 it was officially named St. Joseph’s Parish. Plans were made to erect a permanent place of worship and the process to select a site for the new church was put in motion.
The newly completed church, a white framed concrete rectangular structure, was dedicated by Bishop Schrembs on Sunday, April 27, 1924.
Nearly 20 years later, in 1952 renovations on the original church building began. The church was refaced with brick and the basement remodeled for use as the parish social hall. At this time much needed permanent improvements were made to the cemetery.
A few years later a new much larger church was built on the site and was dedicated on September 15, 1957 to the honor and glory of God and to all those living and dead who made it possible.
In 1979 St. Joseph’s underwent extensive renovation and the Most Reverend James Malone, Bishop of the Youngstown Diocese offered Mass and blessed the renovated church on January 27, 1980.
History of St. Mary’s Parish
In the early 1920’s the Polish Catholic population of the Village of Newton Falls had a vision to establish a Catholic church with an “Old World Flavor”. An Catholic Church, “Our Lady of Czestochowa”, was formed and lead by the Reverend J. Nurkiewicz an independent minister.
When members discovered that the Church was an independent church and not in communion with the Roman Catholic Church they began the process of bringing the Church into communion. After months of hard work, Bishop Schrembs of the Cleveland Diocese was deeded the church property in 1927 and Reverend Joseph Jarosz was appointed to oversee the parish as a Mission and blessed as “ Our Lady of Czestochowa, (St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church).
In 1928 Reverend Adolph Bernas was appointed as pastor of the newly formed Mission, but was transferred to a much larger Parish, St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. During this time St. Mary’s was assigned to St. Joseph as a Mission under the administration of Reverends Adolph Bernas, John Foster and Ignatuius Piotrowski.
On April 2, 1939 after 10 years of saving money, the parishners of Our Lady of Czestochowa dedicated their new church, a 32’ wide, 80’ long building with a 22’ exposed beamed ceiling located on N. Canal St. The pews and Stations of the Cross were installed in July and a furnace was added in October in time for the chill of winter.
In 1949 under the direction of Aloysius Rzendarski, St. Mary’s purchased a large government complex,( formally used as a nursery for children of mothers who worked at the Arsenal), on the corner of Maple St. and SR 534, with the intent to use one of the buildings for St. Mary’s Catholic School.
In 1959 St. Mary’s social hall became reality under the guidance of Reverend Leon Dobosiewicz.
A few years later in 1964 Reverend William Slipski assumed the pastorate of St. Mary’s Church and during his tenure sold the original church and grounds on N. Canal St. Soon after the Social Hall was used for religious purposes.
In 1966 a large parcel of land was purchased from the Robert McCullagh family and a new rectory, convent and school were constructed.
Jointly owned by St. Joseph and St. Mary’s Parishes the school became known as the Catholic Elementary School and later in the 1990’s renamed as St. Mary and Joseph Elementary School.