Rev. Anthony A. Ginzel (1923-1926)
Rev. Louis Bobek (1926-1928)
Rev. Stanislaus J. Slominski (1928-1931)
Rev. John So Witucki (1931-1931)
Rev. Francis J. Warunek (1931-1932)
Rev. Stanislaus P. Gajewski (1932-1942)
Rev. John P. Lipski (1942-1946)
Rt. Rev. Msgr. Clarence J. Sikorski (1946-1957)
Rev. Stanislaus Fo Banas (1957-1963)
Rev. Frank A. Barlik (1963-1966)
Rev. Hugh H. McGroarty (1966-1969)
Rev. Victor C. Zawadski (1969-1976)
Rev. Richard Zavacki (1976-1987)
RevoJoseph Kakareka (1987-1991)
Rev. Frank Skitski (1991-1993)
Revo William Blake (1993-1995)
Rev. Thomas Hudak (1995-present)
ASSISTANTS APPOINTED TO
OUR LADY OF MT. CARMEL CHURCH
LAKE SILKWORTH WHO SERVED AT ST. MARTHA PARISH
Rev. Edward L. Fundalewicz (1956)
Rev. Richard A. Zavacki (1957)
Rev. Leo I. Kozlowski (1958)
Rev. Andrew J. Marcinko (1959)
Rev. Bernard J. Kazlauskas (1960)
Rev.Francis A. Dobrydnio (1961)
No Assistant Assigned (1962)
Rev. John H. Louis (1963)
Rev. Robert P. Waznak (1964)
Rev. Francis A. Dobrydnio (1965)
Rev. Waiter L. Ferrett (1966)
Rev. Joseph Matz (In Residence) (1992-1995)
The founders of St. Martha Church, Fairmount Springs, Pennsylvania
Mr. and Mrs. Valentine Baluta
Mr. and Mrs. Anthony Ftorkowski
Mr. and Mrs. Francis Grabowski
Mr. and Mrs. George Grisco
Mr. and Mrs. Vincent Gromniak
Mr. and Mrs. Theodore Jablonski
Mr. and Mrs. Adam Matusheski
Mr. and Mrs. Leon Nareski
Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Ropel
Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Sadowski
Mr. and Mrs. Anthony Yarmolowicz
Mr. and Mrs. John Yarmolowicz
Mr. and Mrs. Ignatz Zultevicz
Towards the end of 1922 a small number of Catholic families of Polish extraction, corning from Plymouth and Nanticoke, settled in the Cambra, Fairmount Springs, and Harveyville areas. Since there was no Catholic church in the area at the time, and being most conscientious in the fulfillment of their religious obligations, it was necessary for them to travel to Mocanaqua, Nanticoke, and Plymouth to attend Holy Mass. This situation proved to be quite a hardship, inasmuch as very few families possessed automobiles at that time.
These families were also greatly concerned about the spiritual welfare of their children, and so with this and other concerns in mind, meetings were held at which this group of interested people were present to discuss the possibility of establishing a parish and building a church in the area.
On November 18,1923 a meeting was held over which the Pastor of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel church, Lake Silkworth, presided. It was decided unanimously by those present that plans should be made as soon as possible to build a church. At one of these first meetings, Mr .and Mrs. Valentine Baluta, Mr .and Mrs. Adam Matusheski, Mr .and Mrs. Anthony Yarmolowicz, and Mr.and Mrs. John Yarmolowicz volunteered the use of their homes for the celebration of Holy Mass and other religious services. The first Christmas Eve Mass was celebrated by Reverend Anthony Ginzel in the home ofMr. and Mrs. Matusheski. At this meeting it was also decided to choose a committee to evaluate possible sites for the building of a church. The members of the committee were: Mr. Francis Grabowski, Mr. Anthony Ftorkowski, and Mrs. Adam Matusheski. One site under consideration was a farm in the Harveyville area. The committee, upon investigation, found the farm building to be in a deteriorated condition, and much money would be required to restore them to a condition worthy for the celebration of Holy Mass.
On December 4,1923, His Excellency, Right Reverend Michael J. Hoban, D.D., Bishop of the diocese of Scranton, accompanied by the Reverend Stanislaus A. Dreier, Pastor of the Nativity B. V.M. Church, Plymouth, came to assess the site near Harveyville and the other possible sites. Bishop Hoban observed mere enthusiasm and agreed that something should be done regarding their spiritual needs. At first the Bishop felt that the building of a new church would be too great a financial hardship which would necessarily be imposed on such a small number of families, and suggested they travel to Lake Silkworth to church. However, this did not prove to be an adequate solution to the problem, since the distance between Fairmount Springs and Lake Silkworth was 18 miles. Impressed by their detennination to build a church, Bishop Hoban granted permission for this major undertaking. The Harveyville site was rejected, as unsuitable. The site in Fairmount Springs was decided upon as acceptable due to its geographical location, and the fact that the ground for the planned church was donated by Mr. and Mrs. Anthony Yarmolowicz, and Mr. and Mrs. Adam Matusheski. The cost of the construction of the proposed church was not to exceed $3,500.00, and was to be a Mission of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church, Lake Silkworth. At a meeting held on December 15, 1923 the question of a name for the church came up for discussion. Mrs Adam Matusheski made a motion that the church be named after St. Martha, and Mrs. Valentine Baluta provided a second to the motion, which carried unanimously. The Pastor noted that this was a wise choice, since the Feast of St. Martha is commemorated at the end of July, a beautiful time of the year .The Pastor also noted that he had a picture of St. Martha which was painted in Italy, and he would make a gift of this picture to the church.
The next parish meeting was held on March 16, 1924. Since the site was chosen and agreed upon, the next important order of business was to decide when to start building the church. Mr. Valentine Baluta made a motion to begin construction after April 1st. Mr. Anthony Yarmolowicz provided a second to the motion, which carried unanimously. Once the decision to build was made, a major financial problem confronted this small group of determined people. Money was scarce, and the interested families had a very difficult time providing for their meager needs. In spite of this and other seemingly insurmountable odds, with their tremendous faith in God they happily assumed this responsibility .Mr .and Mrs. Ignatz Zultevicz, Mr. and Mrs. Adam Matusheski, and Mr. and Mrs. Valentine Baluta volunteered to mortgage their farms for the amount of $500.00 each to begin construction.
With the funds thus obtained as working capital, construction began. As the work progressed, it was apparent that fund-raising projects were in order, for the work to proceed at a satisfactory pace. This proved to be very difficult since the men not only worked on their farms, but also in the coal mines to supplement their incomes. The first fund-raising affair was a clam bake held on the farm of Mr .John Yarmolowicz; This affair was considered a social and financial success with a total of$27.90 profit realized. Other affairs consisted offish suppers, chicken dinners, and dances, which were held at the homes of some of the parishioners. The income from these affairs ranged from $11.94 to $180.76, depending upon the season of the year they were held. The cost of a dinner ticket was 75 cents. Since the dinners and dances were a main source of income, they were. held as frequently as possible. Additional working capital was thus obtained very slowly but steadily. An interesting financial highlight was the fact that the gross income for the year 1924 was $1234.44, and expenditures were $1,219.89, leaving a balance of$14.55. In spite of many, many hours volunteer work provided by the members of the parish-in the conduct of the fund-raising affairs, it was apparent that the amount of$3,500.00 was insufficient to provide an adequate church building, and to the portion of the church serving as the foundation, walls and a roof were added, this making it a temporary church until more funds were available to complete the project as originally envisioned. Altars, pews, statues, vestments, and other necessary sanctuary and church equipment were donated by other churches which were already established for some time and financially able to assist the fledgling St. Martha Mission. The church was heated in the winter months by a coal stove located in the center aisle. The families who assumed the duties of janitorial and sacristan work would start the fire between 10:00 p.m. and midnight Saturday, and would return approximately 4:00 a.m. Sunday to see if the fire was extinguished or burning too furiously. Parishioners would arrive for Mass early in order to obtain seating near the stove. Since the heat emanating from the stove provided warmth for the few who were seated near it, those who were seated some distance away were warmed only by the heat of their bodies. Since the floor was level with the ground, water would sometimes flow from the surrounding hill and freeze on the floor. Many times men would use shovels to break up and remove the ice prior to the celebration of Holy Mass. Worthy of note is the fact that in spite of these very difficult and trying circumstances, the tiny church was filled with people every Sunday who came with joy in their hearts, and praise on their tongues to worship their God. Although Holy Mass was celebrated regularly in St. Martha's Mission Church, the Sacraments such as Baptism, First Holy Communion, Conformation, and Marriages were administered and performed at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church, Lake Silkworth. The first Conformation in St. Martha' s church was administered by Bishop Thomas C. O'Reilly, D.D. in 1933.
At a meeting held on June 27, 1926, discussion among those present revolved around the fact that the Mission was growing with the addition of new families moving into the area, and it would be necessary to build some type of structure, such as a social hall where dinners, dances, and other entertainments would be held for fund-raising purposes, since it was becoming more difficult and inconvenient to hold these affairs at the homes of parishioners. With this in mind, a pavilion was erected near the church, and during the next few years additions were made until the building was completed in July 1928. This, too was a major accomplishment; however, other obstacles presented themselves which had to be surmounted, such as, lack of a central water supply, cooking of all dinners had to be done on one coal stove, and for some time there was no electrical service. The problems facing the parishioners in preparing for a chicken dinner were almost unbelievable by today's standards. Chickens were donated by generous families, and these had to be collected with miles and miles of territory covered in the process. They were brought to the hall where they were dispatched, dressed, and fmally prepared for the dinners. All water used in the preparation of dinners was hand-carried in pails from the neighboring homes located some distance from the church and hall. Parishioners brought pots, pans, all manner of utensils and other needed equipment from their homes, since the parish was not yet in a position to provide these materials. Whole families worked long and hard, even young children were pressed into service to provide whatever assistance they could give. The members of the Mission performed these arduous tasks without complaint indicating the unity of spirit which pervaded the group. They understood that their dream was gradually taking shape in reality .
Towards the end of 1927 an important decision regarding the establishment of a cemetery was made. Because of difficult travel conditions to other cemeteries, Bishop Hoban gave permission to establish the cemetery on church grounds. To this day the mortal remains of some of the pioneer families rest in this hallowed ground. In the early days of the Mission traditional Polish hymns were sung during Holy Mass and other religious services. Mr .George Grisco was the first Organist providing his services for four years. Mrs. Frances (Baluta) Dembowski then assumed the office of Organist-Director of Music, and with help from several others, remained in that capacity until her retirement at the end of 1971. Mrs. Adam Matusheski voluntarily accepted the responsibility of providing janitorial and sacristan care of the church for approximately the fIrst ten years unti11934. Upon her retirement, Mrs. John Yarmolowicz assumed this privilege and provided her services until she passed on to her eternal reward in October 1968. For a period of34 years the people worshiped God in their tiny church, grateful for what they had as far as I the church building was concerned, and yet looking confidently into the future, and realizing that soon it would be necessary to build a larger House of God to accommodate the steadily growing Mission parish. During the time of the Pastorate of Reverend Clarence J. Sikorski, approximately eight acres of ground were purchased from Mr. Walter Wojciechowski for the sum of $500.00. This ground, located --approximately one mile to the East, was to be used for the construction of the new St. Martha Mission Church sometime in the future. During the 34 year period, the families of the Mission parish continued to sponsor various dinners and entertainments for fund-raising purposes to the extent that by the year 1958 they had accumulated a total of approximately $34,000.00. At this time the Mission parish numbered approximately 50 families. On March 12, 1959 during the Pastorate of Reverend Stanislaus F . Banas, His Excellency, Most Reverend Jerome D. Hannan, D.D., Bishop of Scranton accepted the recommendationsof the Diocesan Building Commission and Board of Consultors, and,authorized the drawing of plans for the construction of the new St. Martha Church and Social Hall. The preliminary estimate of the cost of construction was between $85,000.00 and $90,000.00. The services of Mr.Michael J .Bochnik, Registered Architect were engaged. Ground was broken for the new church on Sunday, June 14, 1959 after the High Mass at 12:00 noon in the presence of many parishioners. Construction of the church began immediately. Once again, as in the past, the problem of financing construction was faced. The members of the mission parish once again with deep faith in God and confidence in themselves subscribed to a loan of $80,000.00, since the total cost of construction including furnishings was estimated at $120,000.00. Construction of the new church and hall proceeded as scheduled with the result that the corner-stone was laid on October 4, 1959 after High Mass at 12:00 noon by His Excellency, Most reverend Henry T. Klonowski, D.D., V.G., Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Scranton. Almost one year later, on August 14, 1960 at 11 :00 a.m., before the High Mass Bishop Klonowski blessed and dedicated the new St. Martha Church with the St. Martha Mission parish continued to grow spiritually and numerically and remained a mission to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church for forty-two years until September 1966, when it was raised to full parish status in its own right by His Excellency, Most Reverend J. Carroll McCormick, D.D., Bishop of the Diocese of Scranton.
The Reverend Hugh H. McGroarty was appointed as the first Pastor of St. Martha parish, arriving here on September 14, 1966 and celebrated an evening Mass of thanksgiving. This parish, which for so long had been a Mission of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church, received the felicitations of both Reverend Frank Barlik Pastor, and parishioners of that church. Father McGroarty eagerly accepted his assignment, which also presented a challenge in that the parish possessed a beautiful church, but was without a rectory .He immediately rented a home in Harveyville which served as his residence for a very short time. The distance from his residence to the church was three miles. He felt that he should reside nearer to the church and purchased a mobile home, which was placed on church property, and which served as the first real rectory .Since this was to be a temporary rectory , he sought and obtained permission of His Excellency, Bishop McCormick to build a permanent rectory Even though a debt of $40,000.00 on the church remained at the inception of his pastorate, the rectory was built and paid for with the help of God's grace, and the volunteered manual labor of parishioners, friends, and Father himself. At this time an important Diocesan Program "Project Expansion" was being initiated, which would involve every parish of the Diocese. An assessment of $8,000.00 was placed on the parish. With much work and sacrifice on the part of Priest and people, the total amount obtained was in excess of $10,000.00, making the program a complete success in the parish. After the completion of "Project Expansion" and the payment of part of the church debt, attention was given to other parish needs. The old church and hall, which served the people so well for so many years, were sold. A new cemetery was established adjoining the church. In April 1967 to conform to the directives of the New Liturgy as decreed by the Bishops of the Second Vatican council, the Altar table was cut away from the background and moved forward to permit the priest to face the congregation while celebrating Holy Mass.
During the time of Father McGroarty's pastorate of three years duration, the parish continued to gain new members until towards the end of 1969, St. Martha Parish numbered approximately 100 families. After the completion of Project Expansion and the payment of part of the church debt, attention was given to other parish needs. The old church and hall, which served the people so well for so many years, were sold. A new cemetery was established adjoining the church. In April 1967 to conform to the directives of the New Liturgy as decreed by the Bishops of the Second Vatican council, the Altar table was cut away from the background and moved forward to permit the priest to face the congregation while celebrating Holy Mass.
On September 3,1969, Reverend Victor C. Zawadzki, in addition to his duties as Procurator of bishop O'Reilly High School, Kingston, was appointed to his first pastorate by His Excellency, Bishop McCormick, to succeed Father McGroarty .At this time there remained a debt of $20,000.00 on the church. In the course of time with the help of God's grace and the cooperation of the members of the parish, two yearly dinners were held to continue the tradition and raise funds to meet regular parish expenses, and hopefully, retire the debt as soon as possible.
Since 1969 a total of35 new families were added to parish rolls. This and other contributing factors enabled the parish to retire forever its indebtedness in September 1973. A mortgage-burning dinner was held to commemorate the important event.Even though there was now no debt the work of the parish was still far from complete. Once again, relying on the help of God's grace and the financial and other assistance of the members of the parish, much needed kitchen equipment to facilitate dinner preparation was purchased, as were tables and chairs for the social hall. To maintain the parish grounds in good condition, a tractor lawn mower was purchased. The church was painted inside and out, a set of electronic chimes was added, since the church had no bell system to call the people to worship. To add to the beauty of God's House, the aisles, sanctuary, and sacristy were carpeted. The parking lot and driveway to church and rectory were in a deteriorated condition, and were resurfaced in preparation for the Golden Jubilee Celebration.
Looking back on the significant milestone in the history of the parish, we stood at the pinnacle of its fifty years existence with humility, and justifiable pride and satisfaction. We must forever be mindful and grateful for all the hardship endured and sacrifices made, particularly by the pioneer families who had a dream and gave of themselves unstintingly to see it realized. May almighty God, through the intercession of St. Martha, Patroness, bless the parish, and crown with success all work done for His greater Honor and Glory, and the sanctification and salvation of souls.
Following the 5Oth anniversary celebration of St. Martha's parish in July 1974 our priest and parishioners again answered the Lord's call to continue His work in our beautiful country setting. Immediately they began plans for the Annual Fall Chicken Dinner.
Beyond the Golden Jubilee
In February of 1975 the Ladies Craft Guild was formed. Father Victor Zawadski celebrated his 25th Anniversary of his ordination. On June 8, 1975 the parishioners held a party in his honor at the Church Hall.
Under the guidance of Father Victor, the CCD program was organized. The program included pre-school to high school, the Annual Christmas Pageant and Children's Christmas party .The 1 st Easter egg hunt was organized by the CCD teachers in 1976 and was held annually under their direction into the 901s when the Ladies Club took over. Father Victor was reassigned in the fall of 1976 and Father Richard Zavacki was appointed as our new pastor. Along with his pastoral duties, he was also a teacher associated with Bishop Hoban High School in Wilkes-Barre.
In the later 7O's and early 5O's numerous fund-raisers projects were instituted (to aid in defraying increasing costs of Catholic school assessments) such as pizza, ponchi, clam chowder, potato pancakes and bake sales. The pierogi sale was increased to a monthly project. Due to these projects, updated equipment was necessary .These included a large refrigerator, new stove, pizza oven, and mixing machine with multi function attachments with most of the funding by the Ladies Club.
Under the guidance of Father Richard the CCD children held the first Annual Thanksgiving Mass. Thanksgiving baskets were provided to the needy in the area. A suggestion was made that the children of the second grade take part in the May Crowning. Father agreed and the first ceremony was held outdoors May, 1977 by the 1st Communion Class.
The Youth and "young at heart" had numerous opportunities to be involved in various activities such as teen recreation nights, youth council, adult volleyball, softball and basketball teams.
Adults could be entertained with the annual afghan and cash bingo and later the monthly "Koftee Klotches" held to get acquainted with the new members of our parish.
Major renovations began in the late summer of 1978. New altars, pulpit and baptismal font were ordered as were new statues of the Blessed Mother and St. Martha. The altar was centered with a large wooden cross depicting the Risen Christ. Flanked on either side were sculptures symbolizing the Holy Eucharist and the Holy Spirit. The nave and sanctuary were carpeted and upholstery of chairs were redone. In March of 1979 Bishop Timlin celebrated the liturgy to dedicate and bless the new sanctuary .
The Annual Chicken Dinner was extended to a '2 day festival" in 1980 which necessitated the building of our new outdoor kitchen facility which began our "Buck a Block" drive. A large refrigeration unit was added in 1991.
Cemetery markers were donated and installed in the new cemetery .Rules were issued regarding shrubs and flowers. A new granite cross was purchased for the new cemetery and a wooden cross was crafted by a parishioner for the old cemetery .
As we grew socially and numerically, we also grew spiritually necessitating the commissioning of these ministers of Communion -the first being Robert Riester, Josephine Wasechok and Gail Williams. Since, several others have been commissioned. We were honored on July 29, 1983, with the presence of Bishop John O'Conner to celebrate the Feast of Saint Martha. Shortly afterwards he was transferred to New York City to his present position of Cardinal.
In January 1987 Father Zavacki left St. Martha's and Father Joseph Kakareka became our new pastor. Farewell and welcome celebrations were held respectfully.
Father Joe in his first year, was not easily discouraged despite having to repair the steeple, purchase a new lawn tractor, replace the furnace, and meet the assessment of 1st Bishop's Annual Appeal. The parishioners and clubs again responded successfully to his plea for aid.
During his administration he was responsible for the beginning of RICA adult education program, Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration, Annual Paschal Dinner, and the Renew program. The latter three continue to the present day.
A beautiful statue of our Lady called "Madonna and Child " was erected in front of the church in memory of a parishioner by his family. Wooden folding doors replaced the vinyl ones between the hall and church area with a donation given by a good friend of the church.
Father Kakareka said farewell and we welcomed Father Frank Skitzki as our new pastor. During his management St. Martha's Flower and Garden Club was formed in November 1992 and continue the responsibility of beautifying our church grounds with much appreciated hard work. Also organized was St. Martha's Men's Association. These men have held numerous fund raising projects for the upkeep of our church plus provided donations for other needs of the parish. The spiritual welfare has been enhanced by reciting the Rosary as a group either before or after mass.
It was announced that on July 1,1993 Bishop DeLorenzo would hold a "town Meeting" to discuss reorganization of St. Martha's. At this discussion, we were informed that as of July 7, 1993 a pastor in residence would be banished at St. Martha's.
In 1993, the first Parish Council was formed with nine members being chosen from willing nominees, and three are chosen by the pastor. Also the first financial council was instituted - five parish members plus the pastor. On July 11, 1993- Father William Blake and his associate Father Joseph Matz were assigned to serve both Our Lady of Mount Camel and St Martha's. During this administration Liturgical committee met for weekly sessions, and Sister Jane was contracted to aid with religious Annual Toyland Bingo by alter servers and Annual Spaghetti Dinner by Mens Association were initiated; July 2, 1995, effected another change, Father Blake and Matz were reassigned and following active military duty in the Gulf, Father Tom Hudak became our pastor. After familiarizing himself by attending all meeting of various clubs, groups and programs, apparently content with their activities, he encouraged all to proceed as in the past. A new mass schedule was adapted to accommodate both parishes with only one priest.
In June 1997, Grace Knapich retired after serving many years as director of Religious Education. Also in June, the parking lot was expanded and landscaped to better serve our growing congregation.
In June 1998, our parish endured a great loss with the passing of Josephine Wasechok who served St. Martha's as caretaker for many years.
The first joint venture of both parishes was the successful celebration of Father Tom Hudak's 25th year of ordination with a mass celebrated at St. Martha's and dinner with a short program held Our Lady of Mount Carmel hall. Another activity involving both parishes working together is the men's "Nite at the Races",
Amidst all his regular functions, Father Tom began preparations for our sister parish, Our lady of Mount Carmel's 75th Anniversary in 1998. Immediately following their celebration, meetings began to celebrate St. Martha's 75th Anniversary in 1999. In addition to the regular financial obligation, the parishioners and clubs have successfully been summoned numerous times for special projects. Response to these occasions can be likened to our founders who sacrificed and mortgaged their properties to fulfill their dream of a country church. Today at our 75th Anniversary celebration we proudly present our members, our newly renovated church and hall, asking our Dear Lord to continue to bless us with generous parishioners and priests willing to work together for the fulfillment of dreams to come.