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The Roman Catholic Church in Vienna

During the coal boom at the end of the Civil War (1861-1865) and subsequent mining in Vienna Township throughout the rest of the nineteenth century, a small Roman Catholic Church was erected and sat on two acres of land on the Job J. Holliday farm east of Vienna Center. Holliday sold the land to the diocese of the Catholic Church in Cleveland, Ohio. Other Catholic churches were built in other nearby townships where coal had been discovered, answering the need for churches and schools to serve the miners and their families.

Vienna’s Roman Catholic Church was organized under the direction of Reverend J.T. Schaffeld and dedicated by Bishop Richard Gilmore of the Cleveland Diocese on June 24, 1878. As the coal mines closed, however, the miners left. The mission was officially closed in 1902, and the property was sold to the Grange of Vienna. The Warren Tribune Chronicle observed on April 28, 1967, that people left Vienna like animals fleeing a forest fire. Indeed, over one hundred miners’ cabins were moved to Girard. Not until thirty years later would a sufficient number of Catholics settle in Vienna to warrant a church.

The Reestablishment of a Catholic Congregation: St. Vincent de Paul Church
A committee from Vienna, believed to include John Governor, Mrs. Eli Taiclet, Mr. J. Billock, and Mark Arnal, surveyed the township to determine the number of families who may be interested in establishing a Catholic Church. William and Eva McQuade responded to the great interest and gave a parcel of land (next to their own property) for the church building. Reverend Michael Coan of Girard, Ohio, organized the movement and the parish founded was named St. Vincent de Paul.

The mission church building was moved to what is now known as the corner of Swift Drive and Warren-Sharon Road (Old Route #82), east of Vienna Center. This building was a one-room school that was purchased in Girard and moved to Vienna. Thirty feet wide and sixty feet long, this structure was heated with two coal and wood burning stoves. Folding chairs substituted for pews. Some pews were later acquired from St. George’s Church in Lisbon, Ohio. Reverend Gaffney was appointed the first pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Parish on August 22, 1934, by Auxiliary Bishop James A. McFadden of the Diocese of Cleveland. Father Gaffney remained in Vienna for eight years, before going on to a new parish in Salem, Ohio. He died August 10, 1983.

Reverend Ferris J. Petros served from 1943 until 1944. He was followed in the pulpit by Reverend John F. Roach, who was ordained by Bishop Joseph Schrembs of the Cleveland Diocese on June 14, 1930. Under Father Roach’s pastorate, a new church building was erected. St. Vincent de Paul Church was dedicated on October 28, 1951. The old church building was torn down and the property sold to the Viets Motor Company. The old rectory, formerly the home of the Frost family, was occupied by Father Roach until 1967. A new rectory of matching yellow brick was then built on the west side of the church. A new parish hall was built in 1970.

Father Roach was retired in November 1977, but was not in favor of the change. Father Roach died on May 6, 1987, while pastor of the Queen of the Holy Rosary Chapel, a church he established on Scoville Drive.

Reverend Frank Carfagna was appointed as the new pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Church after Father Roach’s “retirement.” Father Carfagna served the congregation until 1984. He was followed by Father John F. Warner, who served from 1984 to 1992, and then by Father Thomas Murphey, who retired September 1, 1998.

Queen of Holy Rosary Chapel
After his “retirement” on November 1, 1977, Pastor Emeritus John F. Roach desired to continue the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the Latin Tridentine Rite, the traditional Mass of the Roman Catholic Church observed almost since the days of the Apostles. At the request of many friends who wished to retain the Latin Mass, Father Roach broke ground on May 30, 1979, for Queen of Holy Rosary Chapel at 291 Scoville Drive in Vienna. This was the culmination of his fondest dreams.

While the new chapel was being built, the congregation held services at the Four Seasons Clubhouse. The first Mass in the Chapel was said on Christmas Eve, 1979, with an overflowing attendance. A new rectory was soon built.

Father Roach continued to minister to a large congregation until his sudden death on May 6, 1987. In the interim period, the Chapel was served by visiting priests. On October, 1992, Father Paul Obenrader was permitted by the Diocese of Youngstown to say Mass on the weekends. He served the Chapel until December 16, 1993, when the Fraternity of St. Peter, dedicated to celebrating the Latin Tridentine Mass only, was permitted by Bishop James W. Malone to administer the Chapel.

Father James W. Jackson was the first Fraternity priest assigned, and served the Chapel until August, 1995, when Father Michael T. Irwin became administrator.

Updated 8/13/2020

This article is adapted from Fred L. Martin, "Places of Worship," in Vienna, Ohio, "Where We Live and Let Live": Town 4, Range 2 of the Connecticut Western Reserve (Apollo, PA: Closson Press, 1999), pp. 151-153. Many thanks to Pamela Clower for typing this essay.