A Blessed Union of Three Parishes ...
Saint John Paul II (est. 2011)
St. John Paul II Parish was established in 2011 as a consequence of a merger of three west-side of Warren parishes of Christ Our King (est. 1951), St. Pius X (est. 1959) and St. Joseph the Carpenter (est. 1928).
Christ Our King (1951-2011) – 60 years
Sixty-seven years ago, October 5,1951, Christ Our King Parish, Warren, was formed, with Father Edward Labbe as pastor. Mass was offered at Horace Mann School on Austin Avenue for about 1,000 families until a permanent church could be built. A year after the establishment of Christ Our King, groundbreaking for the new church was held on Tod Avenue.
Father Labbe was given a new pastorate, St. Mary’s in Massillon, in January 1955 and was succeeded at Christ Our King by Father William O’Neil. During Father O’Neil’s 16-year pastorate an eight classroom school, with a convent on the second floor to house the Sisters of Notre Dame who staffed it, was built. Sister Mary Jonathan was the first principal.
When St. Pius X Church was created in 1959 on Moncrest Dr., many parishioners who had been members of Christ Our King transferred to St. Pius X, the new parish being closer to their homes. Despite the loss of parishioners, the 1963-64 school year found the parish school with the largest enrollment ever with 295 students attending.
In June 1971, Father Donald Oser was assigned pastor of Christ Our King. The Ursuline Sisters began teaching at the parish school in 1971. Prior to the school’s opening, they held CCD classes at the parish. The lack of enrollment and the high cost of running the school caused the closing of Christ Our King School in June 1972.
For three years, beginning in August 1972, Precious Blood Sister Mary Lou Schmersal and St. Augustine Charity Sister Patricia Gist worked at the parish as religious education coordinators.
On August 29,1972, the church caught fire. Interior damage was extensive but remodeling began immediately. By August 1973, the repairs were completed. Christ Our King Parish celebrated its 25th anniversary in 1976, with Father James McKarns as pastor.
The following pastor was Father Thomas Ziegler. He led the 340 families of the parish spiritually through various involvements and organizations. Father Zeigler was assisted in his duties by Director of Religious Education Katherine Bair and Pastor Emeritus Father Stephen Horvath.
The past pastors:
Fr. Edward Labbe (1951-1955)
Fr. William O’Neil (1955-1971)
Fr. Donald Oser (1971-1974)
Fr. James McKarns (1974-1984)
Fr. Stephen Horvath (1984-1988)
Fr. Thomas Ziegler (1988-1995)
Fr. Thomas Spisak (1995-1997)
Fr. James Walker (1997-1998)
Fr. Frederick Lukehart (1998-2008)
Fr. James Walker (2008-2011)
Fr. Christopher Henyk (2011)
St. Pius X (1959-2011) – 52 years
St. Pius X parish was begun in 1959 when Bishop Emmet M. Walsh announced that a parish would be formed to accommodate Catholics in northeast Warren who had been worshipping either at Christ Our King or St. Mary parishes. Father William Lawler was the founding pastor.
Even before the first spadeful of earth was turned, parish life got underway with a Mass celebrated by Father Lawler in Dickey Avenue School. Shortly thereafter the fledgling community formed a Parish Council, a Men’s Club and an Altar & Rosary Society. In July, 1960, ground was broken for a church and school building that would be built on a lot on Moncrest Dr., NW at a cost of $325,000.
That fall, 95 parishioners set out to raise pledges for $150,000 to apply to the new buildings. They managed to raise about $116,000 in their first effort, with an additional $28,000 in subsequent drives. Construction began that same year. The following spring, parishioners installed tile in the church and school and remodeled pews that had been donated by North Canton St. Paul Parish. Workers completed construction in July 1961, and on August 6, the Feast of the Transfiguration, parishioners participated at the first Mass in the new church.
The next year the parish added a new rectory and a fourth grade to the school. They formed a Men’s Choir and started the first Parish Festival, which has been a successful yearly event. When Father Lawler was transferred to St. Aloysius Parish in E. Liverpool in 1965, Father Edward Gallagher took over as pastor and served until 1973. He was succeeded by Father John Lody. It was during Father Lody’s tenure that extensive physical improvements were made on the church and school: installation of air-conditioning in the church and social hall, resurfacing the parking lot, painting the school, convent and rectory, and clearing the woods behind the building.
The parish retired its debt of $250,000 in 1979 and formed a committee to renovate the church according to Vatican II guidelines. The renovated church was dedicated Decemeber 7, 1980. When in 1982 Father Lody accepted the pastorate at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Aurora, he was succeeded by Father Thomas Cebula. Under Father Cebula’s leadership, the parish has focused on its development as a faith community, empowering the laity with a greater role in ministry. Mrs. Ruby Petersal, pastoral associate, has concentrated her energy on pastoral care, the liturgy and catechumenate.
The following summer the parish build a pavilion that could accommodate up to 150 people for socializing after Mass and special events held by parish organizations. The school building, became part of the Warren Parochial School system, and was staffed entirely by laity, with grades K-4, serving all of the 10 participating parishes. Grades 5 through 8 attended St. Mary Middle School building. At that time, St. Pius X had about 980 parishioners.
The past pastors:
Fr. William Lawler (1959-1965)
Fr. Edward Gallagher (1965-1973)
Fr. John Lody (1974-1982)
Fr. Thomas Cebula (1982-1993)
Fr. William Loveless (1993-2011)
Fr. Christopher Henyk (2011)
St. Joseph the Carpenter (1928-2011) – 83 years
By the late 1920s, Catholics of Polish descent were living in Warren in sufficient numbers to require their own church. Father Adolph Bernas helped to lead and organize the Polish Catholic Community into a parish. At first, the parishioners of St. Joseph did not have a permanent structure to attend worship services. Mass was held in rented rooms. During the first year of the Great Depression, the St. Joseph parishioners united to construct a church. St. Joseph the Carpenter was chosen as parish patron. In keeping with the patronal vocation, the parishioners decided to build it with their own hands in his honor.
A little more than a year after the parish was established, the building was completed. The church was Gothic in style. Archbishop Joseph Schrembs dedicated the church on October 13, 1929. The church bell was installed in 1933.
The great spirit and enthusiasm of the parishioners of St. Joseph was nurtured through the years by the following pastors: Father John Foster, Father Ignatius Piotrowski, Father Alphonse Konarski and Father Joseph Czaja.
The present church was built during Father Czaja’s pastorate. The building is beige brick, in contrast to the original wooden framed church, and seats about 600 people. The structure was erected in 1963, more than 30 years after the dedication of the first St. Joseph Church. The blessing of the church was March 8, 1964.
For several years, the parish was known for the rosary group that met there weekly to make rosaries to be sent to the missions and to the needy. Father Czaja began the group, whose members were from surrounding parishes. After Father Czaja’s retirement, the group continued to meet at St. Joseph’s for several years. The rosary group also began recitation of the rosary on radio, WRRO (AM 1440) in 1982. It aired for 11 years.
St. Joseph’s following pastor, Father John Turk, has been spiritual leader of the 300 families of the 65-year old parish for 10 years. Father George Popovich, chaplain of St. Joseph Hospital, was in residence.
The past pastors:
Fr. Adolph Bernas (1928-1932)
Fr. John Foster (1932-1935)
Fr. Ignatius Piotrowski (1935-1939)
Fr. Alphonse Konarski (1939-1961)
Fr. Joseph Czaja (1961-1983)
Fr. John Turk (1983-2000)
Fr. Frederick Trucksis (2000-2011)
Fr. Christopher Henyk (2011)
St. John Paul II (2011-2019) - 8 years
St. John Paul II was established by a merger of Christ Our King ($33,000 in debt), St. Joseph ($125,000 in debt) and St. Pius X ($375,000 in debt) parishes. Father Christopher Henyk was appointed by Bishop George Murry on March 8 of 2011 as the last pastor of these three parishes, and he was charged with the merger process. With the help of the new formed Parish Council, Father Henyk petitioned Bishop Murry in June of the same year to create the new parish. In August of 2011, St. John Paul II was formed, and Father Henyk was appointed the first pastor. Within the two-year-time two churches were closed and sold and all debts were paid-off.
The former St. Joseph church was decided to become the new home for the new St. John Paul II Parish. Many of the holy artifacts from Christ Our King and St. Pius X churches were saved and placed in the new parish church space. A new sound system, as well as, new lights were installed in our new parish church.
A shrine was created in front of our office on Moncrest Dr. with Christ Our King statue that was restored and moved from Tod Ave. The old convent on Moncrest Dr. was razed. The old St. Pius X office became the new office for our newly created parish and it was fully renovated: new roof, new windows, new siding, new computers and phone system, as well as a new surveillance system with new light poles were installed not only for our office but as well as for our church on North St., and rectory on Vernon Ave. The pavilion and garage were also renovated and repaired. The old St. Joseph church was restored and converted to accommodate the social hall and religious education classrooms.
St. John Paul II has 477 active families and 810 inactive families, and it has now over 203 years of combined history of ministry. St. John Paul II is the only parish on the west-side of Warren and is also serving the people of Lordstown, Levittsburg, Southington and Champion. Our parish offers many different ministries, programs, services and has many active organizations, like: Men’s Club, Altar & Rosary Society, Food Pantry, Worship Committee, Environment Committee, Bereavement Committee, Adult Choir, Children’s Choir, Hospitality Committee, etc. We are very proud of our history. Canon Christopher Henyk - the founding pastor, together with Ruby Petersal – the Pastoral Associate and a lay minister for almost thirty-four years, and many other lay ministers and volunteers, work together in leading this young, but old parish.
The past pastors:
Can. Christopher Henyk (2011-2019)
Compiled and edited by:
Very Rev. Canon Christopher Henyk
Pastor of St. John Paul II Parish
August 17, 2019