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Erie County (PA) Genealogy

City of Erie - St Paul's Roman Catholic Church

Contributed by Rick Landers

The information below has been extracted from the Souvenir Dedication Program, March 17, 1935, for Saint Paul's Roman Catholic Church. The church, located in the City of Erie on Walnut Street between 16th and 17th, had its beginning in May 1891. Ground was broken for a new House of Worship on August 19, 1928, but the economic recession at the end of the 1920s resulted in a partially completed building. With renewed funding efforts about 1933, the building was completed. Images of the pages in the dedication program have been scanned and provided by Rick Landers. Various individuals have assisted in transcribing the documents for presentation here. This particular page has been transcribed by Genie Flahie.

Souvenir Dedication Program

History of Saint Paulís Parish

SAINT PAULíS Parish was organized in May, 1891.Shortly afterwards, the Presbyterian Church building at Seventeenth and Chestnut Streets was completed, and the infant parish acquired the frame structure which had until then been used as a house of worship by the people of that denomination.Moving it to its present location on the east side of Walnut Street , between Sixteenth and Seventeenth Streets, the new congregation remodeled the building and prepared it for dedication as a Tabernacle of the Most High.The priest presiding during the period of organization was Reverend Francis Becherini, who remained with the flock until July, 1894.On January 6, 1895, Reverend Francis J. Bender (late pastor of Sacred Heath Church, Erie) was assigned to direct the parochial affairs.He was succeeded in 1896 by Reverend Agresti, who in turn was followed in the pastorate by Reverend Louis Marino, the present pastor.

††††††††††† When Father Marino assumed charge of Saint Paulís, a heavy debt was resting on the parish.Due to the good work and untiring zeal of their pastor, the people were soon able to discharge practically all financial obligations and to meet regularly the running expenses.Spiritual advancement was made as well as material progress.The religious life of the congregation was wonderfully quickened and a spontaneous, popular movement was soon afoot to raise a fund for the building of a new house of worship.

††††††††††† Father Marino, assisted by Father V. Marinaro, of Butler, Pa., and by priests of a neighboring parish, blessed the site and broke ground for the new church August 19, 1928, amid a large gathering of parishioners and friends.

††††††††††† The building to be erected was designed by Mr. G. Wesley Stickle, Architect, in Romanesque pattern with traces of late Umbrian delineation in the interior.Due to restricted finances the stone for the outer shell or walls of the structure was obtained from the discarded curbing in the city streets which were then in a process of modern improvement.Italian workmen were hired to put their skill and art to the task of refashioning the huge blocks of stone and to shape them into the growing edifice.The result stands today as a challenge to human ingenuity and resourcefulness as St. Paulís awaits its dedication to the great Apostle of the Gentiles who walked the streets of so many cities of the world preaching the story of Christ crucified and expanding the Church founded by his Divine Master.

††††††††††† The work on the new building progressed until on Sunday, October 5, 1929, amid impressive ceremony, His Excellency, the present Bishop of Erie, presided at the laying of the cornerstone of the church.But an unforeseen condition was soon to arise to deter the plans so well formulated.

††††††††††† At the beginning of the economic recession in 1929, work ceased on the building as the last tile was fitted into the roof of the church.For the next five years, want running rampant where before there was plenty, the new building remained uncompleted for lack of funds.

††††††††††† In the fall of 1933, Rev. Dr. Edward P. McManaman, Assistant Superintendent of Parochial Schools in the Diocese of Erie, became interested in the project.He organized the great army of youth in the parish into Sodalities, clubs and social and catechetical societies.The response from the people was immediate and complete cooperation with the Pastor Father Marino, whose hard work and intrepid energy in history, moved parochial life into a new cycle.Like the Crusaders, whose slogan was, ďGod wills itĒ, the parishioners rallied to the call for the opening of the new church.There followed many and diverse means for the raising of the necessary funds:theatrical productions, fetes, bazaars, card parties, suppers, etc., until at last, Father Marino appeared before the Bishop of the Diocese requesting a date for the dedication of the church.The date given is the one which has prompted the production of the Dedication Program, March 17, 1935.What remains to be written, what the future will bring to stand out in the history of this parish, God alone can tell, but it is hoped that whatever it may be it will redound to His own honor and glory and to the holiness of our people.

St Paul's Church


This page was last updated on  Saturday, January 24, 2004 .

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