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Campbell church celebrates centennial

By Graig Graziosi

Thursday, August 29, 2019

By Graig Graziosi


St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Campbell will celebrate its centennial anniversary at 3 p.m. Sept. 15. at the church, 159 Reed Ave., where Mass will be given.

Dinner and a reception will follow the Mass at the Palermo Center, 394 Tenney Ave. The cost is $35 per person.

Though the church is a part of the condensed Christ the Good Shepherd parish in Campbell, many members – such as Mariann Pacak – have made it a point to retain the congregation’s ethnic heritage.

“It was important that while we participate in the parish, we also hold onto our ethnic traditions as well,” Pacak said.

That includes sales of pirogies, stuffed cabbage and haluski throughout the year, as well as a traditional Slovak Vilija Christmas Eve dinner and the use of adult altar servers, called Acolytes.

The church began in 1919 after a group of Slovak immigrants in the city raised the funds to build a church and, upon its completion and a short stint as a National Catholic Church, was named St. John the Baptist Catholic Church.

Agnes Krut, who has been a part of the church for the entirety of her 94 years, said the congregation is her second home. She recalled memories of her life as a young girl traveling with the church and, later, as a mother raising her children under the same roof.

“I used to love going on pilgrimages. We’d have picnics and dances, and we’d raise money to build the rectory and the school,” Krut said. “My daughter was even the May Queen one year.”

Krut’s daughter, Mary Galey, grew up in the church but later moved to Cleveland. She has since moved back and now serves in a historian role for the congregation.

Mary Ann Evanovich, another active church member, said the school – St. John School – was staffed by Ursuline nuns who lived on-site.

The clergy attending the Mass will be Monsignor Peter Polando, Monsignor John Zuraw, Monsignor Robert Siffrin, the Rev. John Trimbur, the Rev. John Jarek, the Rev. Joseph Ruggieri, the Rev. Shawn Conoboy and the Rev. George M. Franko.

Though the school no longer exists and the church is smaller than it once was, the members who still call it home are excited to celebrate its centennial.