At the start of the twentieth century, the Blacklick Valley was considered missionary territory by the Roman Catholic Church. The nearest Catholic Churches to the valley were St. Patrick in Camerons Bottom and Holy Name in Ebensburg, both of whom sent priests here in the earliest days for Mass.
The first priest assigned to Vintondale was Rev. Patrick O'Connor, a priest of the Pittsburgh diocese, who served here for only a few months in the winter of 1900. The parishes of Nanty Glo and Twin Rocks were not yet founded. When the diocese of Altoona was founded in 1901, with Bishop Eugene Garvey as Ordinary, a priest of the Philadelphia Archdiocese was sent to assist in the establishment of the missions in this valley. Father Thomas Hurton was assigned to live at Holy Name and minister to the people of this valley. The cornerstone of Immaculate Conception was laid in 1902. Father Horton served the people not only of Vintondale, but also of Twin Rocks and Nanty Glo.
Father Michael O'Connor moved his residence from Vintondale to Nanty Glo in 1908, establishing St. Mary's as the principal parish and Immaculate Conception as a mission. When St. Charles was established as a parish in 1917, Immaculate Conception became its mission. Father William McCook was assigned as first pastor of St. Charles, and attended to the mission of Immaculate Conception, and to a small mission in Wehrum.
The people of Twin Rocks worshiped first in what is the basement of the church, built in 1910 by Father O'Connor. The rectory for St. Charles was built by Father McCook's successor, Father Joseph Howard. It was during the pastorate of Father James Hebron that the Church was built at a cost of $15,000. The cornerstone was laid by Bishop McCort on October 24, 1924. Father Hebron was moved then in 1927 to Johnstown, where he was to be the founding pastor of Visitation Church.
Father Charles Gallagher was named pastor in 1927, and served
faithfully until 1943, when he was named pastor of Holy Name in
Ebensburg. An avid baseball player, Father Gallagher founded a
team called the St. Charles Athletics.
Father John T. Callan was appointed pastor of our parish in May 1943, and served until his death in 1969. Interestingly, Father Callan was transferred in 1948 to Holy Child in Windber, and was replaced by Father John Daley. This lasted for only a few months, however, when Father Callan requested to return to Twin Rocks. He and Father Daley simply changed places!
Father William Peters was appointed pastor of St. Charles/ Immaculate Conception upon the death of Father Callan, and had the challenging task of leading this parish through the changes of the Second Vatican Council, a challenge which he accepted willingly and at which he greatly succeeded. When named Director of the Family Life Center in Ebensburg in 1975, Father Peters was replaced by his assistant, Father Philip Bender, who ably continued the parish renewal begun by his predecessor. Father Bender was assigned then to St. Joseph's in Renovo in the Spring of 1988, at which time Father Michael Becker was appointed by Bishop Joseph Adamec as pastor. Father Leonard Inman joined our parish family as an active retired priest in August of 1989.
Parish Directory, 1990
Significant Dates in the History of St. Charles:
Mass was celebrated in Expedit/Twin Rocks as early as 1895, by the late Rev. James J. Deasy, then pastor of Ebensburg.
The funeral of an Italian woman and babe took place here [Ebensburg] on Tuesday morning, the interment being made in the new Catholic cemetery. The deaths occurred at Twin Rocks. (Cambria Freeman, Ebensburg, PA, April 6, 1900)
Former Twin Rocks residents have reported that services were first held starting about 1900 in a building located just off Station Road on Peach Street. The foundation of this old structure is still visible.
Rev. Thomas J. Hurton, pastor of the different Catholic churches along the Blacklick creek, including those at Vintondale, Nant-y-Glo and Twin Rocks will end his pastorate in that section on July 7. It is the intention of Father Hurton after being relieved, to visit his old home in Ireland for about three months after which he will return to Philadelphia and begin his labors at a church in that city, to which diocese he belongs. Cambria Freeman, June 3, 1904
Father Davis who has been at Twin Rocks and Vintondale for
some time has been transferred to Frugality, Amsbry and Baker's
Mines. Father Quinn of Altoona will succeed him at Twin Rocks
Vintondale. Cambria Freeman, September 21, 1906.
One acre of land for St. Charles Church was purchased from Charles McFadden in 1912 for the sum of one dollar.
Rectory was built by Rev. Joseph A. Howard in 1919.
The dedication of the completed St. Charles Church took place on July 25, 1925, with Rev. Charles W. Gallagher as pastor. St. Charles Church was built by Chal R. Dilling, a building contractor from Nanty Glo. Some of Mr. Dilling's other projects included the tile houses on Pergim Hill (Christoff Street), St. Mary's School, the C&I Railroad Station (1921), and the 10 brick homes at Eleanor (1923).
1939-1940 extensive landscaping around church and the section of land between Church Street and Station Road (route 271) was completed.
John McFadden sold 3.5 acres to St. Charles to enlarge the church grounds for the sum of one dollar, in 1944.
May 1971 Rev. Philip M. Bender assigned as assistant pastor.
In 1974 a little more than 2 acres was purchased form John McFadden for one dollar.
May 16, 1975 Rev. Philip M. Bender named pastor.
In 1975 Joseph Monfordini sold the parking lot across route 271 to the church for $1,000.
1981-1986 interior of church was completly renovated.
In 1993 the Rev. Matthew Misurda was named pastor.
In 1995 the name of the church was changed to Sts. Timothy & Mark
In 1999 the Rev. James H. Conrad, STL, was named pastor.
On May 30, 2010 Sts. Timothy & Mark church was consecrated by Bishop Adamac after being closed for three months following a break-in and removal of the tabernancle.
At this ceremony it was announced that the parish would be merged with St. Marys parish of Nanty-Glo upon retirement of Rev. James H. Conrad in July 2010.
October 8, 2011, Sts. Timothy & Mark church, rectory and surrounding land was offered for sale at $100,000.
Mr. & Mrs. Blair Stiffler
Stanley Butz, Sr. and Jr.
Mrs. Elizabeth Berish Family
Mr. & Mrs. Frank V. Kline
Mr. & Mrs. James Lanzendorfer
Julius Vizi Family
Edward Rager Family
James H. and Mary Rager
Mrs. Mary Bukovics & Stephen
Robert and Dorothy Beck
Mr. And Mrs. Michael Dugan
Mr. And Mrs Michael Cocho and
Betty Jane & Ruth Marie
In Memory of Deceased
Members of the Diamond Family
Edith and Paul Parish
Violet & Frances C. Paul
Mr. & Mrs. Joseph Tontala, Sr.
Trinity - John Black & John Sedlock
St. John Baptist - Mary, Caroline &
John, Jr. Swalligan
Confirmation - Thomas Columbus,
George Tatarko &
Joseph Kachik Families
Baptism - Father Tom (Callan)
St. Matthew - Father John (Callan)
St. Mark - Father Vincent di Paul
St. Luke - Mary A. Callan
St. John - W. A. Callan
past and present, thank God publicly for
having called to His holy priesthood three
of their sons. These vocations given at the
very moment of conception and accepted
some years later, were "prayed for" and
"sacrificed for " by many people, especially
the parents of these priests. All were aided
through the intercession of the Virgin Mary,
mother of the high priest, Jesus Christ.
FATHER LINFORD F. GREINADER - MAY 8, 1943
FATHER CHARLES D. RAGER - MAY 20, 1967
|James & Jude Adams||Ruth Kruper||Elizabeth Rabel|
|Rev. Charles M. Amershek||Joseph & Edith Kubat||Verona Rager|
|Joseph & Theresa Ardini||Ray & Bertha Kunst||Alex & Mary Reba|
|Margaret Babincsak||Dora Kupchella||Robert & Shirley Reese|
|Joseph & Sue Bankovich||John & Patricia Kupchella||William & Josephine Reeves|
|Rev. Philip M. Bender||Philip Kupchella||Emelio & Anastasia Rubbo|
|Veronica Berish||Dawn & Elaine Lanzendorfer||Jake & Ann Rummel|
|Mario & Mary Bianucci||Edna Lanzendorfer||Tyson & Dorothy Rummel|
|John & Mary Bubenko||Eugene & Jean Lanzendorfer||Frank & Carolyn Sabonya|
|John & Michele Bubenko||Francis Lanzendorfer||Richard & Tina Sabonya|
|Joseph & Frances Bubenko||George & Elizabeth Lanzendorfer||Catherine Scansaroli|
|William & Jean Bucci||James & Sophie Lanzendorfer||Joseph & Kathleen Scansaroli|
|Michael Bukovics||Mark & Rae Ann Lanzendorfer||Francis & Kathleen Schilling|
|Marie Butz||Paul Lanzendorfer||Elizabeth Seecs|
|John & Margaret Cherensky||Robert & Agnes Lanzendorfer||Eugene Shuhayda|
|Mary Ciszek||Thomas & Mary Ann Lanzendorfer||Richard & Herminia Silbaugh|
|Herman & Nancy Clauto||Lanzendorfer Trucking Co., Inc||Charles & Julia Skebeck|
|Michael & Anna Cocho||Wilfred & Julia Lanzendorfer||George & Mary Skubik|
|Anna Columbus||Thomas & Anna Law||Karen Smith|
|Thomas & Janet Crookshank||John & Carol Letizia||Walter & Barbara Smith|
|Mary Susan Cubeta||Dean Long||John & Kathryn Smolensky|
|Elizabeth Danti||Frank & Emma Malek||John Stossel|
|John & Linda De Armin||Pauline Malek||Joseph Stossel|
|George Diamond||John & Frances Malloy||Mary Stossel|
|Mary Dyson||Michael & Theresa Manculich||Michael Stossel|
|Stanley & Joan Fisher||Ardella C. Marhefka||John & Debra Stupsky|
|Leon & Margaret Frantz||Bernard & Carol Marines||Mary Stupsky|
|Thomas & Mary Margaret Fulton||Joseph & Catherine Marines||Michael & Julia Surkovich|
|Catherine Gambino||Michael Marines||Bernard & Ann Svidergol|
|George & Mary Gaydos||Robert J. Marines||Caroline M. Swalligan|
|Estay & Mary Ann Greene||Vincent & Mary Marines||Mary M. Swalligan|
|Anthony & Christine Gresko||Anges Matachosky||Stephen & Barbara Szymusiak|
|Michael Grosik||Andrew Matachosky||Gustav Tanish|
|Alex & Margaret Hancherick||Edward & Patricia Mayancsik||George & Irene Tatarko|
|Charles & Margaret Hoffman||Mary Mayancsik||Michael Tatarko|
|Walter & Patricia Hoffman||Margret McDonald||Teresa Tatarko|
|Arthur & Eleanora Hohman||Jerome & Marian McGlynn||Timothy Tatarko|
|Catherine Holmes||Marvin & Patricia Mearnic||Anna Tontala|
|Emil & Delores Isaacson||George & Antoinette Mesoras||Albert Topor|
|I. Emil & June Isaacson||Thomas & Theresa Mesoras||John & Mary Ann Topor|
|Joseph & Margaret Kachik||Stephen Mesoras||Mark & Rhonda Topor|
|Edward & Kay Kale||Harry & June Miller||Mary Ann Topor|
|Walter & Sophie Kania||John & Darlene Miller||Andrew Torok|
|Joseph & Sharon Kanich||Martin & Janet Miller||Paul Toth|
|John & Mary Kasecky||Richard & Norma Miller||John Tutko|
|Anna Kensek||Roger Miller||Barbara J. Vizi|
|John Kensek||Gustav & Cynthia Molinich||John & Mary Warholic|
|Ronald & Bobetta Kikta||Mary Molinich||Elaine Warzel|
|Evelyn Kish||Stefan & Cynthia Molinich||Theodore & Anna Warzel|
|Lewis & Christine Kish||James & Lois Mullen||George Weber|
|Stephen & Mary Kish||Joseph & Louise Obrets||Kirk & Mary Jean Weixel|
|Michael & Christine Knapic||Dennis Ostinowsky||Paul & Bernadette Whinnie|
|Helen Komerosky||Eugene Ostinowsky||Stuart & Kathleen Whinnie|
|Henry Kopka||James & Janet Ostinowsky||Thomas & Josephine Wixner|
|Elizabeth Kosh||Michael & Mary Ostinowsky||Walter & Kathryn Wojtowicz|
|Helen Kotelnicki||Francis & Mary Beth Parana||Donald & Dina Woodling|
|Charles & Pia Kovach||Michael Parrish||Frank & Louise Woznak|
|James & Helen Kovach||Walter & Catherine Parrish||John Woznak|
|Frederick & Elizabeth Kreashko||William R. Parrish||Michael & Sara Yanche|
|Tebo & Helen Kriston||Michael Pisarcik||Stanley & Althea Zeglin|
|Frank & Rose Krupa||Sophie Pisarcik||Sandra Zipper|
|Joseph & Irene Krupa||Thomas & Carol Polites|
|Michael & Pauline Krupa||John & Margaret Popp|
|Michael Krupa III||Anthony & Margaret Previte|
|John A. Kruper||Louise Puruczky|
TWIN ROCKS - SS. Timothy and Mark Roman Catholic Church likely will be one of three in the region impacted when the latest round of church closings is announced early next month by the Altoona-Johnstown Catholic Diocese.
Also anticipated in the July 2 announcement by Bishop Joseph Adamec will be word that St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church in Coupon will officially close after nine months without a priest.
Tony DeGol, the diocese secretary for communications, was tight-lipped Tuesday, saying he could not confirm any church closings in the seven-county diocese and further information will come next week when the summer transfers are announced.
Adamec did disclose this week in a column he wrote for the Catholic Register that some churches will close as part of the annual summer transfers impacting 25 priests, but no further details are available, DeGol said.
"These moves will necessitate the closing of three churches. This is not an easy or pleasant thing to do," Adamec wrote.
He urged those impacted by the closings to be "understanding."
Parishioners from Twin Rocks and Coupon told The Tribune-Democrat Tuesday they have been informed of the closings.
Jerry McGlynn of Twin Rocks, who has attended SS. Timothy and Mark for 40 years, said he has learned the official closing will take place July 20.
While McGlynn, 70, is not happy with the move, he and others in the Twin Rocks area said it was only a matter of time.
"I don't like it, but what can you do about it?" said McGlynn, who plans to attend St. Mary's Catholic Church, two miles away in Nanty Glo.
The church, located close to Route 271, has twice been hit by burglars and has seen its share of vandalism, McGlynn said.
St. Joseph parishioners in Coupon fought hard to keep their parish going even after a September 2008 blaze ripped through the 100-year-old historic church.
Church members came together and in near-record time renovated the parish social hall, giving it a new roof, equipping it with pews, the stations of the cross and other things to make it a real church, said longtime member Mary "Punkin" Pettenati.
The parish was dealt a blow in October when its priest, the Rev. Brian Saylor, was transferred from St. Joseph's to St. Rose of Lima following the death of Monsignor George Flinn, which created a vacancy at St. John Gaulbert Cathedral in Johnstown. The Rev. James Crookston of St. Rose of Lima was transferred to St. John's.
St. Joseph members were told at that time to attend Mass in one of the Catholic churches in Ashville, Gallitzin and Chest Springs.
Since the priest left, the parishioners, while unable to hold Mass in Coupon, have held worship services of a type every Wednesday.
But that too will end following what will be a final Mass on July 11, a service that is expected to include diocesan officials, Pettenati said.
"We'll form some kind of a guild.
"We'll still have a group, and we'll meet at friends' homes," she said.
St. Joseph's parishioners were informed of the closing in a letter earlier this month from three priests in the area, including the Rev. Sean Code, which said the closing will be effective at midnight July 20.
St. Joseph's financial records along with sacramental records will be stored at St. Demetrius, Gallitzin, the letter stated.
It could not be determined Tuesday what will be done with the churches and any other buildings impacted by the closings.
Pettenati said she has decided to attend St. Demetrius Church in Gallitzin, where she was raised.
"It's (the closing) not a surprise, but what was a surprise was that we just renovated the building," Pettenati said.
"There's nothing we can do anymore, I'm sure the Lord will guide us."
St. Timothy and Mark's Church Parish in Twin Rocks will gather in their church this Sunday, July 18 to celebrate their final mass together. The church, an officially recognized parish of the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese of the Catholic Church, will be closing their doors as Reverend James H. Conrad, STL will celebrate his retirement.
The real reason behind the church's closing though is because of attendance and the shortage of priests says Mary Beth Parana who is the church's secretary and an active parishioner for 32 years. "The Dioceses said that there is just not enough priests to go around and the smaller churches are suffering as a result," says Parana.
St. Timothy and Marks Church was established in 1917 and still has many members who have attended there their entire lives. Two of the oldest members is Mary Austin Ostinowsky and Catherine Smolensky who have been coming here for most of their lives. Parana says that their oldest member, Mary Kish, who is now in a nursing home, still goes to their chapel in Vintondale when someone can bring her.
Parana says that they have about 100 active members who attend
the two masses which are typically held on Saturdays at 5 p.m.
and 9 a.m. on Sunday mornings. Parana says that the Parish located
in Twin Rocks and their chapel in Vintondale will both be closing
after this coming Sunday's services.
Parana speaks briefly as to where people may go next for their place of worship, "Some people know where they may want to go and others are still considering their place of worship. It's a matter of finding a place they feel comfortable," says Parana.
"We are such a close knit community and have all been
here such a long time and have been very active with our parish
and have worked well together and we worship well together. You
hate to see it go," says Parana.
Last weekend members of the church held a farewell dinner and held a noon mass for all active parishioners. The last mass was also held at the Vintondale chapel last weekend. This coming Saturday will be the last mass held in Twin Rocks which will be at 5 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. on Sunday morning.
TWIN ROCKS - Some of the stained-glass windows that long graced the now-closed SS. Timothy and Mark Catholic Church will soon find a new home in Centre County.
Five of the windows were removed last week and are being restored for placement in the $6.5 million Catholic student center that is being named for Sue Paterno, wife of Penn State football coach Joe Paterno.
"We feel some good is coming of this," said Tony DeGol, secretary of communications for Altoona-Johnstown Catholic Diocese.
"They're certainly very beautiful, and it's a wonderful way to preserve a little bit of our churches," he said.
The Twin Rocks church building was closed in mid-2010 and the parish merged with St. Mary parish in Nanty Glo. The closure also resulted in the closing of a chapel in Vintondale, DeGol said.
The chapel was once the Immaculate Conception parish in Vintondale, which merged in 1995 with St. Charles Parish in Twin Rocks to become SS. Timothy and Mark parish.
The Twin Rocks and Vintondale buildings have a total of 30 windows.
John Phillips Sr. said they are some of the nicer stained glass examples he has encountered in 38 years of dealing with stained glass.
Phillips, a Pittsburgh native, and his son operate Associated Crafts with studios in Pittsburgh, Gilbert, Ariz., and other locations throughout the United States.
The Last Supper window is especially nice, Phillips said. It will be placed in an area designated for children's use at the State College center, which likely will be completed later this year.
He described the windows as being in pretty nice condition and of a shape that can be made to fit the design of the center.
Phillips is conducting an inventory of all the stained-glass windows in the parishes in the diocese, DeGol said.
Also at the top of Phillips' stained-glass list are windows at churches in the Windber area and in Johnstown.
"There are four or five churches, they are absolutely tops," he said.
The demand for stained glass, even the large church window size, has been strong for a number of years and remains strong despite the downturn in the economy, Phillips said.
"There's a lot of demand, but because of the economy it's taking more time," he said.
Most of the larger windows are going into new construction. In some cases, a church is designed around the size and shape of the windows, he said.
All of the windows from the Twin Rocks church and the Vintondale chapel will be saved and restored.
"It's just a matter now of determining where they will be used," Phillips said.
As Catholic churches close due to declining attendance or priest shortages, the diocese is taking steps to see that not only the buildings are put to suitable reuse, but the stained-glass windows and other items with strong religious value are put to use.
Along with finding suitable homes for the stained glass, the diocese also works to find reuses for others items of value from the closed churches, DeGol said.
Things such as statues, the chalice and other symbols of the faith can be purchased by other parishes.
But the windows, long some of the brightest aspects of many rural communities, are catching the greatest attention.
"They are certainly very beautiful. I think they are gorgeous," DeGol said. "I think it's nice for the Twin Rocks community, even though it's the end of an era."
That attitude of passing on a landmark is something Phillips often experiences from parishioners whose church has been closed.
"The first reaction is: 'They're tearing down my church,' " he said. "After it happens and they find out where the windows are going, they're happy."
Tribune Democrat, "Real Estate Weekly," October 8, 2011.
Journal, "Real Estate Transfers," March 1, 2012.