Tremont – A Brief History The South Side

History of Our Lady of Mercy Church

March 27th, 2007

church1922.jpg2425 W. 11th St.  What you see is the original church.  For several years previous to the year 1917, Slovak Catholics residing on the South Side, or “Heights”, as it was called, clamored for a parish independent of the Mother Parish, St. Wendelin, located on Columbus Road.  The reasons alleged were, that it was too distant to send children to St. Wendelin School, also too dangerous, since the children had to cross three street car lines and one railroad track.  To avoid crossing the railroad track, the children would have to cross over the Abbey Street Bridge, which worked quite a hardship on the children, especially in winter.  Therefore, the Slovak residents of the South Side petitioned Rt. Rev. John P. Farrelly, then Bishop of Cleveland, to grant them a new parish on the South Side.  This parish was to be a division of the parish on Columbus Rd., St. Wendelin.

 When the petition was brought to the attention of Bishop Farrelly, he judged that distance played no important part in the reason advanced for the division of St. Wendelin Parish.  Rev. August Tomasek, the Pastor was also of the opinion that the reason given, namely distance, was no just reason, and hence recommended to the Bishop that he should not consider that as a valid cause for dividing St. Wendelin Parish.  The Bishop harkened to the said recommendation of the Rev. Tomasek, and refused the petition.

The wish of the people of the South Side was not to be easily cast aside.  As they had already purchased the necessary property, for approximately $13,000, the residents continued to importune the Rt. Rev. John P. Farrelly, Bishop, to grant them their request, and send them a priest.  The Bishop continued persistently to resist their importunities, claiming the distance was not too great, that the majority of the people were not in favor of such a division, that only a few busybodies were interested, and that furthermore, he had no Slovak priests to give them.

This conflict continued to exist from 1915 to 1917, when the people were disgusted and worn out, but not ready to give up their pet idea.  So they resorted to imprudent means to force the Bishop to grant them a Parish of their own.  Prudence was cast aside, and upon the advice of some foolhardy men, they consulted with the “Independent” Pastor of the “Independent” Polish Church on West 14th Street.  This man,under the jurisdiction of a “Bishop” Hodur of Scranton, Pa., advised them to cast off the rightful jurisdiction of their rightful Bishop and accept the jurisdiction of his “Bishop”, who would immediately grant them their request.  Deceived into believing it was the same Church, but only with a different Bishop, these people made application to “Bishop” Hodur, who, without much delay, sent them a man, about 22 years of age, as their first “pastor”.  He remained for several years, at the end of which time he was forced to leave.  An independant successor came who remained until the advent of the Rt. Rev. Joseph Schrembs, the successor of Bishhop Farrelly.

Soon after Bishop Schremb was named as the new Bishop of Cleveland, the people of the South Side again presented their petition to the Bishop.  And His Excellence, moved by the story of their struggle for their own parish, accepted their petition and promised to receive them back into the fold, if they would dismiss their illegal pastor and sign over the property to him.  This they most willingly consented to do, especially since they were in financial difficulties.  The number of families that belonged to the “independent” Church in time dwindled as the people began to realize that accepting a pastor from “Bishop” Hodur meant they were not practical Catholics.  This defection from the “independent” parish of St. John The Baptist, as it was then called, left but 60 families, who tried to keep up their “parish” and their work and their investment.  The task was too difficult.  When they were about to be forced to surrender providence seemed to come to their assistance in the person of Bishop Schrembs.

This Bishop, as mentioned above, granted them a Parish of their own and sent them their first Pastor on February 1, 1922.  The new Pastor, Rev. Francis J. Dubosh, came to this newly organized parish from Youngstown, Ohio.  The Bishop asked him to leave an organized and flourishing parish to care for the spiritual needs of the new South Side parish.  The new pastor was well acquainted with conditions in the new parish (formerly St. John Baptist, “independent”) because he had been an assistant at St. Wendelin from the years 1916 to 1917.  He had been assistant there during the time of the agitation for the new parish, and also when the people had broken off from Bishop Farrelly.

Many good things began to happen such as the paying off of the church debt, the enlargement of the sisters house, and the building of a new school.  By 1945, with the new pastor, Father John Krispinsky at the parish since 1927, the entire debt was paid off with much money to spare to envision his dream of a new parish.  In 1948 he broke ground for a new church, and on Sunday, October 23, 1949, the new church was blessed and dedicated.

Information from the parish archives and used with permission from Our Lady of Mercy

Entry Filed under: Churches

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