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St. John Cantius Parish - Cleveland OH

A brief parish hisrory from the 1949 Golden Jubilee Book

Over 50 years ago, a small number of Catholic Polish laborers settled on the South side of Cleveland. The early settlers although few in number, eagerly desired the ministrations of their Holy Faith.

As the spiritual needs of these families became known, the ordinary of the diocese, The Most Rev. Bishop Ignatius Horstmann, appointed the Reverend Hipolit Orlowski as the first pastor of St. John Cantius Church to serve the Polish Catholic families of the South Side. The Holy Sacrifice of Mass was offered up for the first time in a remodeled car barn at the corner of Professor and College Avenues.

A part of the two-story building at the rear end of the property was remodeled into apartments serving as a pastoral residence, school, and Sister's home, so that within three months from the date of its establishment, the parish was functioning normally. The Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis were appointed to teach, and they remain in charge of the school to this day.

The Parish of St. John Cantius grew rapidly to the extent that Father Hipolit Orlowski could not carry the burdens of his work due to ill health. He asked to be relieved of his duties and in August, 1908 the Most Reverend Bishop appointed the Reverend Francis Doppke as his successor. Under his administration a combination school and church were built In 1913. He also arranged for the building of a Parish house, and a Sister's home. His plans for a new church did not materialize because he too did not enjoy good health, and died at a comparatively young age on March 18, 1917.

Father Joseph P. Kocinski succeeded Father Francis Doppke on April 24, 1917. He soon realized that the school was too small for the large enrollment of children so he arranged for the building of six additional classrooms. He also enlarged the Sister's home which was too small for all the Sisters needed to serve the parish.

Having completed the school program, Father Kocinski with his committee were now planning a new church. So naturally the people of the parish were enthusiastic, to start building a new House of God. In 1923, Father Kocinski solicited the services of Potter & Gable Co., Cleveland architects, well experienced in church structure. This was the first step taken, having for its goal the present church. On Sunday afternoon, July 6, 1924, the cornerstone of the new church was laid. The church is of a beautiful Romanesque style, determined in every detail to be a fitting house of worship, a structure worthy of being dedicated as a Catholic church and also a fitting monument to the South Side of Cleveland, as well as the parishioners of St. John Cantius.

On Sunday, the twenty-fourth of November 1926, St. John Cantius parish witnessed the dedication of its new church. The Pontifical Mass was celebrated by His Excellency, the Most Reverend Bishop Joseph Schrembs. Many visiting clergy were present, and the Church was filled with parishioners. At the conclusion, Bishop Schrembs addressed the Congregation and was followed by Father Kocinski, the pastor of St. John Cantius, who conveyed to the parish his sentiments of joy and appreciation on this great occasion.

Father Kocinski has given his best efforts to St. John Cantius. He worked strenuously and conscientiously until May 17, 1932 when he was succeeded by the Rt. Rev. Msgr. Marion J. Orzechowski, who for seven years worked zealously for the welfare of the parish, both socially and spiritually. He was loved, by all the people, both young and old. His untimely death on May 1, 1939 put an end to a great benefactor. The present pastor, the Rt. Rev. Msgr. Francis B. Duda succeeded Msgr. Orzechowski.

During the 10 yrs. of his Pastorate at St. John Cantius, Monsignor Duda has been instrumental in furthering the progress of the parish. In the first place, he achieved the remarkable feat of clearing the parish of its heavy indebtedness.

Perceiving the appalling need of a Catholic high school on the south side, Monsignor Duda formulated plans for remodeling the auditorium into suitable classrooms for the high-school deportment. Assured that this was a step in the right direction he conceived the idea of erecting a new unit comprising a high school and recreation center. In 1947 Monsignor Duda requested the service of Mr. Ellsworth Potter, a Cleveland architect, who skillfully drew the plans for a high school and recreation center. The plans were submitted to His Excellency, the Most Reverend Edward F. Hoban, who approved them.

On Sunday afternoon, July 10, 1949, the cornerstone of the new high school was laid. The general contractors were Woods and Chleva.

With the completion of the new building, the fifth, sixth, seventh and eight grades were transferred to the former high school quarters while the wooden frame building in which these lower grades were housed was removed from the premises.

Undaunted by the difficulties besetting his path, Monsignor Duda succeeded in this great enterprise for the need of pro· viding a wholesome and religious environment for the training of youth both intellectually and socially is apparent to all who are aware of the modern atheistic tendencies.

On Sunday, the 16th day of April the Most Reverend Bishop Edward F. Hoban dedicated the new high school and recreation center in the presence of a large number of clergy and parishioners. This indeed, was a memorable day for It marked also the Golden Jubilee of the parish.

Monsignor Duda and his loyal parishioners deserve great credit and commendation for their zeal in the cause of Catholic education. Indeed, this was a noble work for the greater g lory of God and the welfare of youth. St. John Cantius Parish stands now as a complete unit - a memorial to the Priests, Sisters, and all the Parishioners who worked loyally for its accomplishment.

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Last Updated on October 20, 2011