History of Holy Family Parish of Minersville

With the Decrees effective July 1, 2020, Most Rev. Alfred A. Schlert, 5th Bishop of Allentown, merged St. Matthew the Evangelist Parish and St. Michael the Archangel Parishes and formed Holy Family Parish of Minersville. The single parish will be served by TWO co-equal churches: St. Matthew the Evangelist Church of Holy Family Parish and St. Michael the Archangel Church of Holy Family Parish. Bishop Schlert assigned Rev. Jason F. Stokes as First Pastor of Holy Family Parish of Minersville. 

 

St. Matthew the Evangelist Parish in Minersville, PA was establised on July 15, 2008 from the consolidationof four older neighboring parishes that included: St. Barbara Parish, Minersville, St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Minersville, St. Mary Star of the Sea Parish, Branchdale, and St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish, Minersville. Father Leo Maletz was appointed as the first pastor and was succeed by Father Jason F. Stokes in June 2019. Upon his retirement, Fr. Maletz was appointed Pastor Emeritus of St. Matthew the Evangelist. 

Saint Michael the Archangel Parish in Minersville, PA was established on July 15, 2008, from the consolidation of three older neighboring parishes that included: Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish, Minersville,  Saint Kieran Parish, Heckscherville and St. Vincent dePaul Parish, Minersville. Father Adam Sedar was appointed as the first pastor. He was succeeded in October 2016 by Father Christopher M. Zelonis and by Father Jason F. Stokes in June 2019.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish, Minersville, was established in 1855 by Saint John Neumann for the German Catholics of Minersville. Prior to 1855, the local German Catholics had to walk to St. John's Church in Pottsville to attend Mass. The first pastor of the parish was Father Mathias Meurer. The cornerstone of the original church was laid on July 15, 1855. On June 29, 1856 Bishop Neumann dedicated the church. Father Joseph Nerz purchased the ground next to the church for the original parish school building in 1889. In September 1889, the Sisters of Saint Francis from Glen Riddle came to staff the school. The sisters lived in the school on the second floor until 1915. Father John Vitt became pastor in 1911 and provided the Sisters with a convent in 1915. Father Aloysius Hammeke became pastor in May 1928. The present church was erected in 1936 and the new school in 1954. Father Hammeke served as pastor until May 1972. Father Eric Gruber, M.Div. was the last pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish.

 

Saint Barbara Parish, Minersville was established on July 23, 1913 to serve over 100 Italian families. The parish was established thanks to the efforts of Father John DeStefano, pastor of St. Joseph in Pottsville. The parish was dedicated to the Virgin Martyr St. Barbara, special Patroness of Miners. On October 23, 1913, the congregation bought the old church of the Schismatic Russians and began renovations. The first Mass was celebrated on December 25, 1913. The church was dedicated in October 1914. Archbishop Dougherty of Philadelphia established the mission as a parish in July 1924. Father Joseph Landolfi was appointed the first pastor on July 13, 1924. He built the rectory in May 1925. Father Landolfi began an enlargement and renovation of the church. The rededication was held on October 18, 1953. On February 4, 1956, a fire destroyed a major portion of the church nave, sanctuary and rectory. During the reconstruction, services were held in St. Vincent’s School Hall. The First Mass in the reconstructed church was held on December 24, 1956. During the 1970s, the church was again renovated. Father David Liebner was the last pastor of St. Barbara Parish. 

 

Saint Francis of Assisi Parish, Minersville was established in 1895. The first Lithuanians came to Minersville in 1889. As their numbers increased, the St Anthony’s Society was organized. During the first few years, Father Peter Abromaitis came from Shenandoah to care for the spiritual needs of the Lithuanians in Minersville. Services were held in St. Vincent DePaul Church. As the congregation grew, they began to look for a more suitable place to conduct Mass. St. Francis of Assisi Parish was founded in 1895 and Father Matulaitis was appointed pastor. The congregation began to hold Sunday services in a classroom at Our Lady of Mount Carmel School. Since the Germans were also conducting services in the same room, difficulties developed and plans for their own church began. Father Albinas Kaminskas became pastor in 1898. In 1900, the Archbishop of Philadelphia gave permission to purchase the old English Evangelical Lutheran Church on Third Street. The church was then dedicated as a temporary place of worship. In 1909, the new church was built on land purchased in New Minersville. Father Joseph Karalius became pastor in 1923. He built the parochial school and a convent for the Sisters of St. Casimir. In 1938, a shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes was erected. The church was renovated in 1950. Two bell towers were constructed and the inside of the church was redecorated. Father John Luksys became pastor in 1973. In 1974 he remodeled both the interior and exterior of the church. The interior of the church was renovated again in 1988-1989. Father David Liebner was the last pastor of St. Barbara Parish. 

 

Saint Kieran Parish, Heckschersville was established by Bishop John Neumann in 1857. As early as 1845, the local Catholic residents had to walk to St.> Patrick's Church in Pottsville to attend Mass. In 1846, Bishop Francis P. Kenrick had erected Saint Vincent’s Church in Minersville which shortened the distance considerably for the next 11 years. Bishop Neuman began construction of the church in Heckscherville in  April 1857. He instructed Father Malone, pastor of Saint Vincent’s in Minersville to visit every Catholic family in Heckscherville and solicit aid from each Catholic family for the erection of the new church. The cornerstone was laid by Father Nicholas Cantrell on September 16, 1857. The oldest available records of the church give August 1, 1858, as the day when Sunday Mass began to be regularly celebrated. The first baptism was performed by Father John Scanlon. Subsequent years saw the construction of a rectory next to the church. The two stone buildings were situated beautifully on the hillside. In 1900, Father P.J. Tierney undertook improvements to the church interior. The walls and ceiling were refinished and repainted. Work on the church interior was continued by Father William Motley in 1904. He had the stained glass windows installed. By October 1916, the school building and auditorium were complete. The church was remolded in 1917 and included a new floor, pews and altars. The sanctuary was also enlarged  by the removal of the two sacristies. The church’s original name, Saint Kyran, was changed to Saint Kieran in 1919. In 1938, a new chapel was erected in Greenbury by Father McMahon. Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto was completed and dedicated in 1938. Bishop Thomas Welsh dedicated the new church murals in 1983 and the altar in 1988. The last pastor of Saint Kieran Parish in Heckscherville was Father William Nahn.

 

Saint Mary, Star of the Sea, Branchdale was established in 1902. It began as a mission chapel of St. Vincent Parish in Minersville and was located on State Road in Branchdale in 1886. The cornerstone for the church was laid on May 30, 1886 and the church bell arrived on January 11, 1887. The beautiful little church was dedicated by Archbishop Patrick Ryan of Philadelphia in May 1892. Prior to 1886, area Catholics had been attending Mass at the Ancient Order of Hibernians Hall in Branchdale and had originally walked a few miles to attend St. Vincent’s in Minersville. Father Philip Beresford served as pastor of St. Vincent’s and Administrator of the mission from 1886 – 1895. St. Mary, Star of the Sea became a parish in 1902. The first resident pastor was Father Vincent Corcoran. A rectory was soon built adjacent to the church. In 1925, under the direction of Father Cornelius O’Brien, an elementary school was built and a convent erected. The Sisters of St. Joseph from Chestnut Hill staffed the school. In 1936, Father A. Paul Lambert oversaw the renovation of the church. Father Leo Maletz was the last pastor of St. Mary, Star of the Sea Parish. 

 

Saint Stanislaus Kostka, Minersville was established in November 1905. In 1903, Father Vincent Dargis, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi, agreed to conduct services in the Polish language every second Sunday of the month. Archbishop Patrick Ryan established a new parish in Minersville for Polish Catholic in 1905. The church and rectory were built in 1906 and located on the old Kear Estate. Construction of a new church was begun in 1913 and completed by that Christmas. The interior of the church was completed in 1929 and 22 beautiful stained glass windows were installed. On December 3, 1936, the newly decorated church was dedicated. The church was renovated from 1961-1965. A shrine dedicated to Our Lady was dedicated on October 2, 1962. The church was rededicated by Bishop McShea on May 9, 1965. The church was again renovated in 1986. Father Leo Maletz was the last pastor of St. Mary, Star of the Sea Parish.

 

St Vincent dePaul Parish, Minersville, was established by Bishop Francis P. Kenrick in 1842. Father Nicholas Cantwell was the first priest to offer Holy Mass in the Minersville area. Father Hugh Fitzsimmons was appointed the first pastor byBishop Francis P. Kenrick of Philadelphia in 1846. The original church was dedicated by Bishop Kenrick on December 6, 1846. Father Michael Malone became pastor in 1848 and the present rectory was built in 1852. He completed work on the church interior and added the bell tower in August 1860. Father Lawrence Fahey began work on a parish school in 1919. The new parish school was dedicated by Archbishop Dougherty in 1920 and staffed by the Sisters of Saint Joseph. Saint Vincent’s School was closed in the 1970s, following a school merger that created Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton School. Father William Jones became pastor on November 7, 1978. Within a few months Father Jones decided it was necessary to build a new church. The last Mass in the original church was offered on November 2, 1980 and the building was demolished on February 2, 1981. The first Mass was offered by Father Jones in the new church on Thanksgiving Day 1981. Bishop McShea dedicated the new church on July 11, 1982. Father Eric Gruber, M.Div. was the last pastor of Saint Vincent dePaul Parish.