It began with the organizing of the local Jednota Branch #764 of the First Catholic Slovak Union on May 18, 1924, by the Slovak immigrants of Warren, Ohio. Under excellent leadership, the Jednota lodge organized and established the means for the formation of the only Slovak parish in Warren, Ohio. The Slovaks of Warren were most enthused about having their own parish, and with the help of the Rev. Emil L. Schaider, then pastor of St. Mary's parish in Warren, they petitioned Bishop Joseph Schrembs of Cleveland for a parish to serve their needs.
The parish was organized in July of 1928, and the Rev. George R. Bobal was appointed by Bishop Schrembs as the first resident pastor. During the first five years, masses were celebrated in the Ruthenian Uniate Church, later named SS. Peter and Paul Greek Catholic Church, located at the corner of School and Prospect Streets N.E., in Warren.
In February of 1929, the Rev. Bobal asked the Bishop to approve the election of the first councilmen of the new parish: Messrs. John Dratva, John Liptak, John Manofsky and Joseph Seko. The congregation initially purchased six lots on Oak Knoll N.E. and Genesee Avenue N.E. for their church. When the Diocese preferred another locale, the congregation sold the property and purchased a plot of ground in April of 1930 which was 317 feet on High Street N.E. and 276 feet deep between Laird and Iddings Avenue. Also on this property was a nine-room stucco house on the corner of Laird and High Street N.E. On May 2,1930, the Rev. George Bobal took up residence in the rectory.
The Altar and Rosary Society of SS. Cyril and Methodius is a spiritual group that was begun in 1930 by many of the founding women of the parish.
When Rev. Bobal was appointed to another parish, he was succeeded by the Rev. John M. Kandrac. In 1933, Rev. Kandrac purchased two used portable school buildings from the Warren City Board of Education, and had them moved to the church-owned property on High Street. Parishioners dug the foundation and donated labor and materials to complete their own church building, an L-shaped white frame structure. One section would be used as the church, the other section would be a meeting and social hall.
It was blessed on September 17, 1933, by the Most Rev. James A. McFadden, Auxiliary Bishop of Cleveland, who said the first Mass. Preceding the church services, a parade formed near SS. Peter and Paul Greek Catholic Church, located on School Street, where the SS. Cyril and Methodius congregation had worshipped for five years, and marched through the downtown section of Warren to their new church home. The parade consisted of St. John's Cadets of Lakewood, in khaki colored uniforms, St. John the Baptist Society of the Greek Catholic church, children of St. Anthony's Society, the First Catholic Slovak Union - Branch 764, Ladies of St. Elizabeth's Lodge - Branch 422, and the Sodality of Mary and many members of the congregation taking part. Hundreds of friends of the congregation from Cleveland, Lakewood and Youngstown and other nearby places attended the service.
Prior to the mass, the church was dedicated and the Bishop blessed the large bell which was placed in the belfry to announce the daily Angelus and church services. The Rev. Gregory Vaniseak, O.S.B., prior of St. Andrew's Priory, Cleveland, preached the sermon. Many of the clergy from the Mahoning Valley participated in the dedicatory services. Miss Pauline Manofsky was the organist and altar boys serving at the mass were Jack Urchek, George Shimko, John Tomko, Albert Franko, Albert Shamrock and George and Frank Dubasik. Sophie Kline and Elizabeth Straniak presented Bishop McFadden a beautiful basket of red roses.
During the celebration, it was noted that most of the church equipment, including the bell which was purchased from a church at West Austintown, was donated, and men and young men of the congregation did practically all of the work including the painting, decorating, and grading as volunteer workers, thus cutting the construction cost to a minimum.
Masses in the new church were at 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. each Sunday. In October of 1935, eighteen women of the parish formed the SS. Cyril and Methodius Mothers' Club. On February 21, 1941, the Rev. Joseph A. Krispinsky was appointed as pastor to SS. Cyril and Methodius, In 1943, the St. Therese Sodality was organized for the young single ladies of the parish. The C and M Ladies Guild was organized by the married women. 100 men enlisted in the newly-organized Holy Name Society. Each organization was a great asset to parish life by serving spiritual as well as social purposes.
The 15th anniversary celebration of the founding of SS. Cyril and Methodius parish was held at 7:30 p.m., on Sunday evening, October 17, 1943, at the American Legion Hall. This gathering also marked the 20th anniversary of Father Krispinsky's ordination and he was presented a beautiful gold chalice from the parish societies by John Liptak, one of the first parish councilmen. Details of the founding of the parish, in St. Mary's parish hall was given by another original councilman, Joseph P. Seko. Joseph T. Molitoris served as toastmaster and various priests and civic leaders were on the program to offer their congratulations.
Architect C.W. Stickle of Erie, PA announced the prepared plans to build the new parish church in a modern gothic style. Construction would begin as soon as materials and manpower were available, and for which a considerable sum money had been raised. Musical numbers were sung by the young ladies of St. Therese Sodality accompanied by Felix A. Wolski who also presented a piano selection. Michael Pirosko and his orchestra furnished music for the evening and women of the parish served the refreshments. At the conclusion of the program Joseph Martinek presented Father Krispinsky with a check for $100 toward the new church.
Ground was broken for a new church on July 11, 1948, the 20th anniversary of the founding of the church and the observance of the patronal feast of the parish - the feast of SS. Cyril and Methodius.
A special ceremony was held at 4 p.m. for ground-breaking of the new church which would be 58 feet wide and 142 feet long with a seating capacity of 500. Architects who planned the building in a modern gothic design in Wisconsin sunset stone were Stickle, Kelly and Stickle of Cleveland, who drew plans for the Cathedral Square in that city. It was projected that the new church would be ready for use on Easter Sunday of 1949. The L-shaped church will be remodeled and used as a parish school and social hall. Parish councilmen were Stephen Futey Sr., John Amrich, Andrew Bokros and Stephen Varnarsky, Jr.
October 10, 1948, marked the 25rh Anniversary of the ordination of Rev. Joseph A. Krispinsky. The event was attended by children of the parish Sunday school, and members of the Vincentian Sisters of Charity of Bedford, Ohio, who taught in the parish Sunday school. Eight former members of the parish, now members of the Bedford order, were among the 44 nuns from the convent also present at the affair. Two parish Girl Scout troops, the first Catholic troops in Warren, also attended.
A procession of clergy took place between the rectory and the church including Rev. John W Krispinsky of Cleveland, the jubilarian Father Krispinsky, Rev. Martin Rubicky of Clairton, PA., Msgr. Edward A. Fasnacht, pastor of St. Mary's church Rt. Rev. Msgr. George Habig of Canton, Msgr. S.G. Kocis of Youngstown and Msgr. A.A. Prokop, secretary to the Bishop. They all assisted at the Mass held to honor Father Krispinsky. A Silver Jubilee reception program to honor Father Krispinksy followed the mass. Andrew Bokros, Sr. served as general chairman, Rev. Rubicky was the toastmaster and the speakers included Mayor Harold C. Smith, civic leaders Lewis Guarnieri and William M. McLain, and parishioner and Jednota official John S. Saluga, Sr. An eight piece parish boys' orchestra chose the 25th Anniversary of their pastor's priesthood to make their opening public appearance. Members of the newly-formed orchestra, directed by Matthew Dubasik Sr., were Matt Dubasik Jr., Joe Ondik, Ronald Fialko, Paul Hiryok, Paul Petrilla, Gerald Kurdilla, Bernard Kurdilla and Thomas Pabin. The orchestra provided music for the jubilee program.
More than 1000 persons were present for the cornerstone-laying ceremony of the new church, on November 12, 1948, officiated by Bishop James A. McFadden. Inside a copper container positioned in the cornerstone of the new church, he placed newspapers, money and parish mementos. The pastor's brother, the Rev. John W Krispinsky, was deacon, and the Rev. John M. Kandrac, former pastor, was sub-deacon. Rev. Joseph Bresnyak led the chants assisted by a priest's choir. Msgr. Andrew Prokop was master of ceremonies.
The parish societies, children of the Sunday school, members of the parish Girl Scout troop, altar boys and Knights of Columbus took part in the procession from the rectory to the new church, and back to the old church for the sermons given by the Rev. George Bobal who preached in Slovak, and the English sermon given by the Rev. Benjamin Bayus, who complimented the parishioners for their sacrifices and the great achievements made in the past 20 years. He said that in the 61 years since the Slovak people came to America they have sacrificed to build many beautiful churches, all monuments to their deep religious convictions and love for their faith. The church choir sang for the solemn benediction which concluded the cornerstone ceremony.
On the day preceding the ceremony, the Rev. Joseph A. Krispinsky, with the altar boys and children of the Saturday catechism class, erected a wooden cross about six feet in height on the place where the future altar will be placed. The bishop then blessed the site for the altar, blessed the foundations of the building and offered an invocation.
The first mass to be offered in the new SS. Cyril and Methodius Church on October 2, 1949, was also the occasion for a 25th anniversary observance by Jednota Branch 764, of the First Catholic Slovak Union. More than 400 members attended the mass and an evening dinner at the Packard Park closed shelter house in Warren. Diamond studded Jednota emblems were presented to charter members and to Father Joseph Krispinsky by Michael Vargovic, National Jednota President. The honored charter members were: Frank Bacigal, John Dratva, Joseph Grega, Michael Hudak, Steve Koval, John Liptak, Michael Phillips and John Takach. Ladies of SS. Cyril and Methodius parish served the banquet to guests from Youngstown, Cleveland, Salem, Sharon and other nearby areas.
On November 1, 1949, the Most Reverend Bishop James A. McFadden consecrated all three marble altars in the new church. Assisting him with the ceremony were the Right Reverend Monsignor Andrew A. Prokop, the Reverend Stanislaus Crovella, the Reverend Matthew Carmone, and pastor Krispinsky. The main altar was consecrated in honor of the two patrons of the parish Saints Cyril and Methodius. One side altar in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the other side altar in honor of Saint Joseph. The relics of Saint Jucundus and Saint Benigna were placed in all three altars.
On the eve of the day of consecration, Monsignor Prokop and pastor Krispinsky carried the relics to the church, and placed them into a special tabernacle in preparation for the next day. The Divine Office from the Proper of Martyrs was then recited by both priests.
On Sunday, May 21, 1950, the coadjutor Bishop of the Youngstown Catholic Diocese, Most Rev. Emmet M. Walsh, D.D., officiated at the blessing and dedication of the new $185,000 SS. Cyril and Methodius Church. A procession from the rectory preceded the church service and High Pontifical Mass. Members of the various parish societies were in the procession and the guard of honor and escort to the bishop were composed of members of the Fourth Degree Assembly of the Knights of Columbus from Warren, Niles and Girard.
Young girls from the parish dressed in snowy white dotted Swiss formal gowns made by their mothers, and carrying colonial flower bouquets, also were in the procession. Before he entered the church, greetings to Bishop Walsh were given by Margaret Kurdilla, Carolyn Phillips, and Judith Ondik, children of the parish. After the blessing, the Pontifical high mass began. The SS. Cyril and Methodius parish choir, directed by Charles D. Kissling of Cleveland, sang the parts of the mass and the responses.
Msgr. Alfred J. Heinrich and Rev. Albert J. Klein were masters of ceremonies, and the assistant priest was Rev. John W. Krispinsky, brother of Joseph Krispinsky. Rev. George R. Bobal, first pastor and organizer of the parish, and Rev. Joseph F. Bresnyak were deacon and sub-deacon of the mass. Deacons of honor were Rev. Alphose A. Konaski and Rev. Clarence A. Halter, and the Rev. Martin Rubicky preached the dedicatory sermon at the mass. He gave a brief history of the faith and the ideals of the Slovak people and, speaking in both English and Slovak, he paid tribute to the sacrifice and deep devotion of the congregation in erecting and financing such a beautiful church. Bishop Walsh spoke briefly following the mass.
At 1:30 p.m., a banquet was held at the American Legion Hall on High Street, in Warren. Wives of World War II veterans assisted with serving the dinner. At the banquet, Bishop Walsh gave as the next project for the parish "a parish school- another goal for your generosity."
In September of 1960, fifty-seven students in four grades enrolled in the new SS. Cyril and Methodius School. The patron saints, Cyril and Methodius, venerated as the apostles of the Slavs and the fathers of Slavonic literary culture, were represented in multi-colored ceramic half-reliefs above the entrance to the school. Vincentian Sisters of Charity greeted the incoming students. On October 16, 1960, Bishop Emmet M. Walsh dedicated the $310,000 SS. Cyril and Methodius School, the newest school of the diocese. The Knights of Columbus were present along with priests from Youngstown and McDonald, Ohio.
On July 6, 1963, a High Mass of Thanksgiving marked the 1,100th anniversary of the patron Saints Cyril and Methodius and the 35th anniversary of SS. Cyril and Methodius parish. At the 10 a.m. mass, Msgr. Krispinsky led the celebration with congregational singing under the leadership of the Pius X Men's choir and Mary Kay David at the organ. Present at the mass were members of the Jednota, Branch 764, members of all the Catholic Slovak societies, St. Therese Sodality, Boy Scout Troop 55 and men of the Holy Name Society.
The significance of Saints Cyril and Methodius in the spiritual and cultural history of the Slavs, especially in the history of Slovakia and Moravia was great. They laid the foundation of Slovak literature and raised the Slovaks to the level of the cultured nations of the world, and helped preserve for the Slovaks their national character, independence and· language. The mass here in Warren was a part of a worldwide observance of the anniversary wherever there were Slovak colonies.
Celebrations culminated September 15, 1963, with the dedication of the SS. Cyril and Methodius' Slovak Mission Institute in Rome, Italy. This mission would train young men to serve as missionary priests in Czechoslovakia, if religious freedom is restored there. Much of the planning and financing, for the new building in Rome had been done by the Slovak Catholic Federation of America. For the past ten years, Msgr. Krispinsky had been a member of the national executive committee of the federation and traveled to Rome to attend the dedication of the institute.
In July of 1968, the C and M Ladies Guild of SS. Cyril and Methodius parish celebrated their 25th anniversary with their founder and moderator, Msgr. Joseph Krispinsky. President was Mrs. Andrew Petrilla; vice president, ·Mrs. Stephen Yovich; secretary, Mrs. Frank Sotak; and treasurer, Mrs. Barbara Harrill.
Mass in honor of the parish patron saints was offered at 10 a.m. in Slovak and the jubilee dinner was held at 6 p.m. in the school auditorium. Mrs. Petrilla recounted the history of the guild which was formed to promote Catholic action and interest in the Catholic press and church history, as well as encourage socialization among the parish women.
On Sunday, October 14, 1973, Monsignor Krispinsky was honored on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his ordination. SS. Cyril and Methodius church was filled to overflowing that afternoon as more than 100 priests and 50 nuns representing six orders were among the 650 attending a special mass featuring Gregorian Chant performed by the Men's Choir, and a dinner reception at the Mahoning Country Club.
Also present were several generations of Monsignor's relatives. Bishop James Malone, of the Youngstown Catholic Diocese, saluted Msgr. Krispinsky, as did Mrs. Mary Piroch, national president of the Slovak Catholic Federation Auxiliary who praised him for five decades of distinctive contributions to Slovak-Americans. Master of Ceremonies was Theodore T. Macejko, supreme legal counsel of Jednota.
Among the many congratulating Msgr. Krispinsky following the program were Msgr. Joseph A. Altany, past president of the Slovak Catholic Federation of America, Congressman Charles Carney, Judge Lynn B. Griffith Sr., former judge of the Ohio Supreme Court, Stanley E. Hart, editor of the Warren Tribune Chronicle, Craig H. Neuman, executive secretary of The Children Services Board, and national officers of the Slovak Federation and Slovak Catholic Union.
Following Monsignor Krispinsky's retirement in 1973, Rev. George P. Popovich served as pastor until 1980. Rev. David Rhodes served as Pro-Tem Administrator from January to April of 1979. Rev. Richard Buchman was administrator and temporary pastor from April of 1979 through January of 1981.
The Reverend Stephen C. Karas served as pastor from 1981 until 1985. During this time major renovations were done to the church, conforming to the dictates of Vatican II. Blessing of the Renovated Church took place on May 23, 1982, followed by a Renovation Banquet held at Cesta's Golden Gate restaurant, where the invocation was given by Most Rev. Benedict C. Franzetta, Auxiliary Bishop of Youngstown. Earl Kopnisky served as master of ceremonies, and remarks were given by Stephen Sinchak, chairman of Parish Council and the Renovation Committee. Benediction was given by Rev. Karas.
Also under the direction of Father Karas, the 300 Club was formulated to serve as a major fundraiser and social event for the parish.
The Reverend Melvin E. Rusnak served as pastor from 1985-1990, and initiated a newsletter entitled "Views from the Pews." Under his guidance, the Heritage Fund was created in 1987 out of a desire by parishioners to preserve their Slovak heritage in' memory of loved ones. Heritage Fund donations would also include gifts of thanksgiving or support of a particular parish need.
Monies from this fund were allocated towards the construction and landscaping of an outdoor shrine to the Blessed Mother. The statue of Our Lady of Grace was donated by the First Catholic Slovak Union, Jednota, and bench seating was provided by the Heritage Fund. A Memorial Plaque commemorating all donors of $100 or more was crafted and installed in the rear of the church.
In February of 1988, Msgr. Krispinsky returned to SS. Cyril and Methodius, joining the Rev. Stephen Karas and the pastor, Rev. Melvin Rusnak, for a special 10 a.m. mass commemorating the founding of the parish 60 years ago. U.S. Rep. James Traficant Jr. joined the three priests and the parishioners at a noon celebration dinner in the school social hall. Entertainment was provided by the Lucina Ensemble of Cleveland, Ohio, who performed authentic Slovak folk dances and led the guests in song.
The Reverend Thomas M. Spisak served as pastor from 1990-1998. During his tenure, the limestone sign bearing the name of the church was erected in front of the church. He established the Social Concerns committee, which initiated the monthly "Sharing from Our Pantry" food collections for the needy; a yearly baby shower for New Life Maternity Home; donations to Someplace Safe, a battered women's shelter; and the Christmas Giving Tree, which provided gifts to families selected by Catholic Social Services.
Also established was the Parish Nurses' Ministry, which provided monthly blood pressure screenings after all weekend masses and monthly bulletin articles concerning matters of general health.
In 1998, the Reverend James P. Walker became pastor. In 2002, under his direction, extensive renovations and repairs were done to the church and school funded by a pledge drive entitled "Pathway to the Future." The rectory was also renovated to include a chapel, a conference room, and a fenced garden area for outdoor meetings and social gatherings. An altar was added to the outdoor Heritage Shrine to the Blessed Mother, and wooden benches were placed in the surrounding lawn areas.
He also initiated sacrificial soup suppers during Lent; the Lazarus Committee, consisting of volunteers who prepare and serve luncheons after a funeral; an Environmental Committee, responsible for the beautification of church grounds; and the weekly meetings of the Men's Fellowship. During his tenure, the annual church picnic was re-established, and there has been an annual rectory open house during the Christmas season. Epiphany concerts performed by our church choir and visiting choirs have been held annually in early January.
William Robert Dailey, CSC, was ordained on Saturday, April 21, 2001, at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at the University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana. A member of the Congregation of Holy Cross, Indiana Province, William is the son of Olga and Thomas Dailey, members of both SS. Cyril and Methodius and St. Mary Parishes.
He attended SS. Cyril and Methodius grammar School, St. Mary's Middle School, and John F. Kennedy Catholic High School were he graduated valedictorian in 1990. He studied philosophy at Notre Dame, graduating summa cum laude in 1994. On Sunday, June 24, 2001, Rev. Dailey returned to SS. Cyril and Methodius to concelebrate the 9:30 a.m. mass. William is the first son of the parish t0 be ordained to the priesthood in its 75-year history.
On Sunday June 23, 2002, Rev. James Walker celebrated a mass of thanksgiving on the occasion of his silver jubilee in the priesthood. Concelebrants were the Revs. Donald King, Blaine Pierce and William Dailey, C.S.C., who was the homilist. Musicians were Jim and Angie Cerenelli, Theresa Dixon and Joan Quinlan. Immediately following the mass, over 300 people attended the reception in the school social hall from 10:30 to noon.
Later in the afternoon, nearly 600 people attended a beautiful reception and buffet dinner at the St. Demetrios Community Center. A full slate of dignitaries, fellow priests, parishioners and friends delivered remarks and congratulations t0 the jubilarian.
In 2003, the parish participated in a year-long celebration of the 75'h Anniversary of its founding.
The stained glass windows are an intrinsic part of the church. An overall concept of subject matter and decorative execution is presented by the images on glass.
Rambusch Studios of New York in association with Joep Nicholas, a stained glass artist of inter-national fame, designed the eight windows to depict the eight beatitudes as told in Matthew, Chapter 5.
The windows individually are colorful and form a beautiful decorative pattern. They admit light that creates a very pleasing and comfortable church interior. Approximately three-fifths of each window is dominated by one figure with a decorative background, while two-fifths of the window is translucent panes of precious Blenko antique glass in off shades of amber.
Prominent saints who excelled in one of the beatitude virtues where chosen to embellish each window. The figures are painted on the glass in bold and free improvisation without trace lines and present a spontaneous and fresh quality combined with structural simplicity. The subjects are set in liturgical order from the Gospel side near the sanctuary towards the rear of the church and returning towards the altar along the Epistle Side.
In the vestibule of the church are two small windows, showing St. Michael and St. Gabriel, done in grisaille and silver stain, standing as guardians at the entrance.
In the restroom (formerly the baptistry) is one window which displays the inscription "In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost" with symbols of the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity and one with symbols of the Three Divine Virtues, which represent the grace conferred upon us by Baptism: Faith, Hope, and Charity.
The fifth small window on the East wall of the church depicts symbols of the four Evangelists: St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke, and St. John.
The First Window - Blessed are the Poor in Spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. St. Francis of Assisi rejected a life of riches and comfort and adopted Dame Poverty. Portrayed in his beggar's robe, he is contemplating the vision of the crucified Seraph, who appeared to him in the moment he received the Stigmata.
The Second Window - Blessed are the Meek for they shall possess the Earth. St. Stephen, the Protomartyr prayed for his henchmen while dying. He holds the palm of victory over death, also the book, symbol of the Deacon, loaded with stones, which were the instruments of his martyrdom. In the background is the jail in which he awaited his execution.
The Third Window - Blessed are They that Mourn for they shall be comforted. Mary Magdalene is portrayed mourning the death of Christ. On her way to the tomb, she carries the vessel of ointment for the Lord's body.
The Fourth Window - Blessed are they that Hunger and Thirst after Justice for they shall be satisfied. St. John the Baptist, who preached a baptism of repentance in anticipation of Christ's Kingdom of Justice.
The Fifth Window - Blessed are the Merciful for they shall obtain mercy. St. Elizabeth, Queen of Hungary, who was the great patroness of the poor and the destitute, obtained God's mercy by the miracle of the flowers.
The Sixth Window - Blessed are the Clean of Heart for they shall see God. St. Agnes, who according to tradition, was 13 years old when she made the ultimate sacrifice for her faith and purity during the persecution of Diocletian, in the year 304 A.D.
The Seventh Window - Blessed are the Peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God. St. Andrew, brother of St. Peter, pictured with an X shaped cross, on which he was crucified for baptizing the wife of a Roman governor.
The Eighth Window - Blessed are Those Who Suffer Persecution for Justice Sake for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. There is Saint Paul who in his letters prides himself on all the trials and tribulations, which were inflicted on him because he was an impressive fighter for righteousness in a perverted and corrupt world.