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Erie County (PA) Genealogy

Waterford Township - St. Cyprian Church

Contributed by Regina Flahie

The information below was submitted by Regina Flahie based on information provided to her by the Diocese of Erie. Regina has advised that her great great grandfather, Michael Flahie, donated land on which the church was built.

Michael Flahie was born in 1833 in Ireland.  He married Bridget Maloney (b. 1834 in Ireland) either in Ireland or Canada around 1855.  In 1865 they moved to Waterford Station (Erie) Pennsylvania.  He was a section boss for the Philadelphia and Erie Railroad.  On March 17, 1873, he was naturalized in the Court of Common Pleas in Erie (Erie) Pennsylvania. Michael and Bridget Flahie owned 50 acres in Waterford Township (Tract 201 in 1876 -- name mistakenly spelled Flachey on the 1876 Atlas of Erie County).  On August 30, 1877 (recorded January 8, 1878), they transferred East 13.2 Perches, North 99 feet, West 13.2 Perches (about one-half acre) to Rev. Tobias Mullen, Bishop of Erie, to build St. Cyprian's church.  It is possible that others similarly donated land. Michael died at home in 1882 and is buried at St. Teresa's cemetery in Union City.  Bridget died in 1886 and is buried with Michael and their three daughters who predeceased them.

Any additional information, comments, or questions concerning this information should be sent directly to Regina Flahie.


There has been a Catholic presence in Waterford since 1753 when the Chapel of St. Peter was noted by George Washington in his journal during his visit to the French Fort at LeBeouf. More than one hundred twenty-five years later in 1878 the Lake Shore Visitor published the notice that a new Catholic Church at Waterford was to be dedicated by Bishop Tobias Mullen assisted by the Reverend James M. Dunn of Union City September 22, 1878. The Erie Observer in 1880 reported that the church was a Mission of Union City and was built in 1878 at a cost of eight hundred dollars.

St. Cyprian’s remained as a mission of Union City for more than sixty years when in 1840, the parish was transferred from the pastorship of the Reverend John W. Ring of St. Theresa, Union city, to the Reverend Victor F. Miller, pastor of St. Boniface, Hammett.

In December 1940, the Reverend Francis S. Franklin celebrated the first Midnight Mass in the history of St. Cyprian. However, Father Miller remained as Pastor of the combined parishes for only six months when he was appointed headmaster of Cathedral Prep High School. He was succeeded at St. Boniface by the Reverend Francis J. Schlindwein who built the Parish Center in 1953. Especially during the earlier years, the financial statements of the parish were signed by the Trustees. Among those who served were John Cantlon, Paul Thompson, Elmer Wick and Stanley J. Wisniewski.

On June 11, 1960, St. Cyprian was elevated from its mission status to an independent parish. Its first pastor was the Reverend Eugene B. Coleman. He resided in a trailer on the parish grounds. Following the pastorate of Father Coleman, several priests who did not reside within the parish administered the parish. They had ministries elsewhere and commuted to Waterford. On April 30, 1962, the Reverend John Thompson of Gannon College became administrator. The Reverend Robert Hannon of St. Matthew of Summit followed him on June 6, 1966. In July 1967, the Reverend John Snyder of St. Mark Seminary began ministering to the parish until June 1969. In the meantime, the Holy Name Society was formed under his direction in 1968.

For almost fourteen years the Reverend Bruce Allison served the needs of the St. Cyprian Parish. He succeeded Father Snyder in September 1969 and was named administrator on October 1, 1976. Under his direction, the first Parish Council was formed in 1970. Prior to this, as has been noted, a Board of Trustees guided the parish. Also, for many years, the laity of the parish had active roles as religious education teachers, ushers, choir members and directors, sacristan and maintenance personnel. And, as the ideas of Vatican II became more fully implemented, the laity began serving as lectors, cantors, and special ministers.

In 1971, the old frame church was torn down. By 1975, a new boiler room, kitchen and meeting rooms were added to the parish plant.

On August 1, 1983, the Reverend Monsignor Homer C. DeWalt became administrator of St. Cyprian’s in addition to his ministries at Gannon University, St. Julia’s Parish, and Springs Manor, Cambridge Springs, Pennsylvania. Under his direction, St. Cyprian’s celebrated its Silver Anniversary as a parish (1960 – 1985). The three day celebration, September 14, 15, 16, included concerts by the Erie Chamber Orchestra, the John Sulkowski Band, and the Son-Shine Group. The celebration was highlighted by special liturgies culminated by a Mass celebrated by Bishop Michael J. Murphy on the feast of St. Cyprian, September 16, 1985.

Monsignor DeWalt left St. Cyprian’s August 20, 1990, when he was appointed chaplain at John XXIII Home, Hermitage, Pennsylvania. Since that time, St. Cyprian’s has been the responsibility of the pastor of St. Matthew-in-the-Woods of Summit Township.

Change 1 [11/9/07] - update contributor email address.

This page was originally created on  Sunday, December 30, 2001 .

This page was last updated on  Friday, November 9, 2007 .

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