Original Wooden Church - 1915
In 1913, a handful of Slovak families from Lansingville, who attended Saints Cyril and Methodius Roman Catholic Slovak Church, met regularly and with the assistance and advice of the pastor of Saints Cyril and Methodius, Reverend Oldrich Zlamal, petitioned The Most Reverend John Farrelly, Bishop of the Cleveland Diocese, to authorize the establishment of the Saint Matthias Parish in Lansingville. In 1914, permission was granted and the Slovak people of Lansingville enthusiastically and gratefully received the newly ordained Father John Gerenda, shown at the right, as their first pastor.
Minutes of a July 5, 1914 meeting of the new church, indicated 35 families in attendance and a week later, 52 families attended another meeting indicating their strong support of the new parish. Construction of the new church, a wooden frame structure began and was dedicated on July 5, 1915. During construction of the church, masses were offered in the “Gergus family home” on Homewood Avenue shown at the right in a 1914 photograph. Financial assistance and other support was generously offered by Saints Cyril and Methodius Church.
In 1917, a rectory of red brick was constructed and in September of that same year the first parish school was opened in the basement of the church, consisting of grades one through four. The remaining grades, students went to Adams School. The Slovak Vincentian Sisters of Charity from Perrysville, Pa. were in charge of the parish school and a convent for them was built in 1921.
The Reverend John M. Gerenda served the parish until February 4, 1922, at which time The Reverend Francis Kozelek, shown at the right, was appointed pastor. In the 1922 Census of Slovak People Living in Mahoning County, a list of 276 different Slovak surnames in the Lansingville area are noted. The parish grew so rapidly that the church was found to be too small to serve its needs and on June 18, 1925, a new church of red brick with sandstone trimming was begun to replace the wooden church. It was built on the corner of Indianola and Homewood Avenues. On June 13, 1926 the new church was dedicated by The Most Reverend Joseph Schrembs. The wooden church was then remodeled and grades five and six were added. Grades seven and eight were then opened in the basement of the new church. Some of the students that went to Adams School after the fourth grade returned to the Saint Matthias School. The first eighth grade class, graduated on June 19, 1927. There were 13 girls and 12 boys in the class.
Rectory and Brick Church - 1925
The Reverend Francis Kozelak resigned on May 1, 1938, and Bishop Schrembs appointed a native son of the parish, The Reverend John G. Hamrak, shown at the left, as Saint Matthias’ new pastor. Under his guidance, the parish advanced in spiritual strength, increased in membership and more frequent reception of the sacraments. Saint Matthias School increased in enrollment to nearly 400 students.
In August 1948, the parish community had increased to 625 families and it was decided to purchase 7 ˝ acres of property bordered by Shady Run Road, Florida and Cornell Avenues, and Zedaker Street. This property was located more in the center of the parish population. The parishioners were unanimous in building a new school on the new property.
Saint Matthias School - 1952
Saint Matthias Convent - 1957
In May 1961, Saint Matthias Parish was honored as The Reverend John Hamrak was rewarded for his priestly work by being made a Domestic Prelate with the title of “Right Reverend Monsignor” by His Holiness, Pope John XXIII.
Monsignor John G. Hamrak was called to his eternal reward by the Heavenly Father on February 18, 1965. The Reverend George Winca, shown at the right, a former associate pastor at Saint Matthias, became the parish pastor on March 25, 1965.
In 1966, the parishioners of Saint Matthias became separated from Rev. George M. Winca their church by the construction of Interstate Highway 680 , causing many parishioners on Homewood and Taylor Avenues to move elsewhere. The interstate dissected the parish, causing the church and rectory to be east of the freeway and the school, convent, and a majority of the parishioners west of the freeway. The only solution to the problem was to construct the rectory, offices, and church on the new property. Permission was granted by the bishop to build the priest’s rectory and office facilities on the Cornell Avenue and Zedaker Street location. On July 1, 1968 the buildings were completed.
Saint Matthias Rectory - 1968
Saint Matthias Church - 1973
In the spring of 1974, The Reverend George Winca retired and The Reverend Francis Snock, shown at the left, former assistant pastor to Monsignor Hamrak, was appointed pastor.
From 1975 to 1987 there was continual renovations and remodeling to modernize the facilities, including the school kitchen, auditorium, renovation of the 62 year old organ, new roofs on the school and convent and landscaping the entire property.
In May of 1988, the Marian Shrine, on the northwest portion of the property, was dedicated and in September 1988, the Kindergarten was added to the curriculum.
The Reverend Francis Snock retired in August 1994 and The Reverend Peter M. Polando, shown at the right, was appointed pastor. In addition to being pastor of Saint Matthias, he serves as judge in the diocesan tribunal. On March 23, 1997, Saint Matthias Parish was again honored, as The Reverend Peter M. Polando was rewarded for his priestly work by being appointed “Chaplain of His Holiness”, by Pope John Paul II. His title now is Rev. Monsignor Reverend Monsignor Peter M. Polando Peter M. Polando
Renovations and repairs continued to the property and computers were added to the school.
Today there are 1127 families registered at Saint Matthias. The school is the only Slovak school in Youngstown with 164 students and is the only school that requires its students to attend daily mass before school.
Saint Matthias continues to be a vibrant parish community and many of its members are first and second generation American-Slovaks who treasure the heritage of their Slovak ancestors. Saint Matthias Slovak Parish community is proud that it has been able to continue its positive influence on the upper south side of the City of Youngstown (Lansingville) and hopes to be a visible presence there for many more years to come.
Aerial View of the Parish Community:
Written by George Malinich June 24, 1997.
Edited by Reverend Monsignor Peter M. Polando September 1, 1998
We are sorry to say that the author, George Malinich passed away in the spring of 2001. Information was obtained from:
Back to the ASCA Home Page
Back to Slovak Genealogical Research