History and About Us
In the early 1920s, the Catholics in the southeast corner of Geauga County, the northern part of Portage County and the western section of Trumbull County, had to travel to Warren or to Cleveland to fulfill their religious obligations. With a lack of suitable roads, this was quite a task so they decided to have the Masses in their homes. The first Mass was held in the home of Mrs. Mary Tully of Garrettsville. Later Masses were moved to Nelson Township. By 1928, these early Catholic Parishioners, led by Frank Soltis Sr., were able to purchase a small piece of land and the old Methodist church that was built in 1841. They moved the church from its original location to the site of the new land on Center Street in Parkman. The cost for the land and the church was $1075. With great excitement, a census of Catholic families began. There were a total of 93 families in Parkman, Garrettsville, Middlefield, West Farmington and Welshfield. The families pledged $5000 to remodel the church. A committee was formed to present to Msgr. Edward Fasnacht, pastor of St. Mary’s in Warren the information regarding the total of 93 families and their plans to build a church. He used his good standing to persuade Bishop Shrembs to send Parkman a priest.
In 1929, the first Catholic mission was established in Parkman. In honor of Father Edward Fasnacht, the mission was named after St. Edward the Confessor, who built Westminster Abby. The old church was repaired and made suitable for services. The initial Mass was celebrated by Bishop Schrembs of Cleveland and dedicated by Father Edward Fasnacht. The Parish continued as a mission until February 1929, when the first pastor, Father Joseph Walsh of St. Mary’s Seminary was appointed. In October of that same year, Father Stephen Valko was named the first resident Pastor of this growing community. Since there was no rectory, Father Valko resided at a home on Payne Road, south of Rt. 88. In 1932, St. Edward’s hosted their first fund raising chicken dinner. The proceeds from these famous chicken dinners were used to help further in the remodeling of the old church by enlarging the building with an addition of a sacristy at the rear of the building. These dinners lasted well into the 90s when growing crowds and lack of help brought them to a close. Father George Bobal was appointed pastor of St. Edwards in 1935. Father Bobal was responsible for the organization of the first catechetical classes throughout the various adjoining communities. He continued to serve this community until 1938 when he was replaced by Father John Hreha. At that time, an enthusiastic group of volunteers built a rectory next to the church. During Father Hreha’s appointment at St. Edward’s, he managed to improve the church and liquidate the debt. In 1943, when the Diocese of Youngstown was formed, those parishioners living in Portage County formed their own parish of St. Ambrose in Garrettsville.
Later in 1949, another part of the territory was taken to form St. Helen’s parish in Newbury. In 1947, Father James Yavorsky was appointed as pastor of St. Edwards. Since the church debt had been liquidated, Father Yavorsky once again began the task of remodeling the church and grounds to meet the needs of the growing parish. Through the years had ensued, the Church had to be kept in constant repair. It was now approximately 115 years old. With the influx of new people into the area, it was too small in spite of the fact that the original area served by the parish had been divided several times. Father Yavorsky began looking for land to establish a mission church for the growing community of Middlefield.
Father Stephen Marjenin became pastor of St. Edward’s in 1957 and it was during his pastorate that St. Lucy’s Mission in Middlefield was formed from the northern part of the parish territory. It was decreed a Mission on the Feast Day of St. Lucy, December 13, 1958. Both St. Lucy’s and St. Helen’s had new churches, but the mother parish of St. Edward’s had to contend with an old church that was now becoming too small. There were 230 families registered in the parish at this time.
Plans for the new church took a great step forward in 1960, when Mr. and Mrs. Frank Soltis, Sr. donated a tract of land adjoining St. Edward’s 120 year old building setting the Plans for the new church took a great step forward in 1960, when Mr. and Mrs. Frank Soltis, Sr. donated a tract of land adjoining St. Edward’s 120 year old building setting the stage for a future new and larger church. Plans for the new church were on hold until the Mission church of St. Lucy’s was complete. Finally in 1962, the architectural firm of Huston and Associates of Wickliffe were contacted to draw up plans for a new church to be built on the donated land.. With the aid of L.G. Wright of Chardon, a professional fund raising firm, the building committee was able to canvass the 230 families of the congregation for pledges totaling $40,000. These pledges, paid monthly over a two year period and past parish savings enabled construction to begin. Ground breaking ceremonies took place on June 23, 1963. The cornerstone was placed on St. Edward’s Feast Day, October 13th. With the onset of winter and a strike by construction workers, progress slowed. Finally on July 12, 1964, the old St. Edward’s Church’s 123th birthday, Archbishop Hoban celebrated the first Mass in the new Church.
Father Harry Winca became the pastor on March 4, 1968. Guidelines dictated by the church prompted the modernization of the sanctuary and baptistery in the new church and remodeling of classrooms under the old church. Father took on the financial debt of St. Edward’s Church of $51,000 and St. Lucy’s Mission of $45,000. Despite this combined debt of $96,000, Father Winca dreamed of building a social hall at St. Edward’s someday. The vacated Church, with was now 127 years old, was being used for this purpose. Soon it became evident that once all debts for the new Church were dealt with, we would need to start planning for a hall that would serve our growing parish. Father Winca worked diligently to pay off the debt. He had been saving for many years and the time had come to start planning the new addition. A Building Committee was formed. They reviewed and discussed many different building plans and options. The parishioners were polled and the plan to connect the social hall directly to the Church was the favored plan although it was more expensive.
The parishioners wanted the hall easily accessible to the Church itself. There were four bidders for the new addition. The bid for $850,000 from Troy Construction of Mantua was accepted. David A. Sommers, who designed St. Lucy’s Winca Hall, was selected as the Architect. Unforeseen problems developed right from the start. Boulders, an old well and a buried septic system had to be removed in the project area. Drainage problems from a neighboring septic system also had to be addressed. On the east side of the church, a leaking oil tank had contaminated soil. The EPA oversaw the disposal of the tank. Detailed plans for a public water system were necessary and monthly water testing is still needed to date. Two old buildings were demolished at the site. It looked like the social hall was ready to be constructed. However, due to additional problems and changes in the original plans, construction for the hall slowed. The cost estimate now neared $950,000 in spite of the vast amount of pledged donated materials and labor.
In October of 1996, there was a total of $576,000 in the building fund. The Building Committee, prompted by Father Winca’s suggestion, voted to delay the start of construction until spring due to the harsh Ohio winters. This delay saved on additional heating costs that added $25,650 to the Building Fund, which now accumulated to $601,650. The construction was started in the spring of 1997. There was no possible way to list all the unforeseen problems that were dealt with, but in the end our prayers were answered. By February 2000, the Social Hall was 90% completed. The Parish Council felt is appropriate to name the hall after Father Winca’s mother, Rose. Father Winca had faithfully sacrificed and served the people of St. Edward’s and St. Lucy’s Parish for 32 years at that time. An official vote was taken and unanimously the name was chosen - St. Edward’s Rose Hall. An occupancy permit for 256 people was issued and the first function was held in June 2000.