The Story of Two Parishes  Merged into a Common History.

The Catholic Church presence in Conneaut began in 1847 with a visiting priest from Painesville, Ohio providing sacraments and regular services to Catholics in Conneaut.  By 1884 a parish under the guidance of Father Jennings was formed and placed under the patronage of St. Mary the Immaculate Conception.  A Church was constructed and completed by 1888 which is the current St. Mary’s on the corner of Main Street and Chestnut Street.  By 1901, a school was opened on the grounds of the church with an enrollment of 153 students.  The school was staffed by the Sisters of The Holy Humility of Mary.  The summer of that same year five acres on West Main Road were purchased for a cemetery and dedicated to the patronage of St. Joseph

In 1927, the St. Mary’s Church was enlarged to accommodate a new and spacious sanctuary.  In 1938, under the pastorate of Father Gribbon, the church underwent improvements to its interior which featured a new sanctuary and tabernacle.

The Catholic Community continued to grow rapidly between 1920-50s with an influx of an immigrant population in the Conneaut area.  With a majority of the new immigrants coming from Italy….many coming from the same village called Santa Maria Del Molise or the same region of Molise/Campobasso Italy.

In 1955, Father Orlando Rich (associate pastor at St. Mary’s) organized a mission Church in the harbor area mainly to accommodate the immigrant community.  On January 10, 1955, the mission was formally declared a Parish and was placed under the Patronage of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini who was herself an Italian Immigrant who became a Citizen in the USA. Father Orlando Rich was named the first resident Pastor.

In 1959 a school was established at St. Frances Cabrini.  The school was first staffed by the Dominican Sisters and then in 1970, the Oblate Sisters of the Sacred Heart took over. In 1972 St. Mary School was closed and merged with St. Frances Cabrini School   St. Frances Cabrini School was closed in 2002.

In 1998, St. Mary and St, Frances Cabrini began collaboration efforts when Father Thomas was named pastor of both parishes.

In 2008 – Both parishes merged into one and was called St. Mary/St. Frances Cabrini Parish.

2013 the Parish was renamed Corpus Christi Parish under the Pastorate of Father Philip Miller.  Currently Corpus Christi has 747 households registered, with 1,504 estimated individual Catholics.

1 Comment

  1. My Murphy great-grandparents, Martin and Kate, were natives of Ireland and immigrant farmers who settled in Conneaut way back in the 1850s. They married there under Charles Coquerells, a French immigrant and a presiding priest from Painesville. My Murphys donated land with their Quinn neighbors and friends for the establishment of the first mission chapel in Conneaut. That chapel, an old town house, was moved to the land that is now the Conneaut High School athletic–or practice–field. The house at 394 Chestnut St, just next to that athletic field, was built and originally owned by my Murphy great-grandparents. It now stands diagonally across from the former empty lot of the main house and a smaller home owned by those Murphys.

    Mary Cabrini Parish wasn’t even organized when I first began visiting Conneaut for research. Then Mary and Cabrini both existed. Some of the photos appear to have been taken in old St Mary. Does the geography and population really require two churches now under one name? Old people resist giving up life, I guess it’s the same for parishes and churches.

    My Muephy great-grandparents daughter, Catherine Winifred Murphy, was my paternal grandmother. My paternal grandfather, Thomas John [Cantilon] Cantlin, lived in the 394 Chestnut St house from the time it was built, about 1900, until 1916 when my grandfather was transferred to Cleveland to work in the Nickel Plate Railroad’s large freight office after losing his right leg in a train yard accident in Conneaut in 1915.

    My grandfather’s brother, William Lincoln Cantillon, preceded my grandfather by a few years from Perrysburg, Cattaraugus, NY, to Conneaut for railroad work. William married Mary Quinn, also native of Conneaut. He lived the remainder of his life in Conneaut, dying there in 1947.
    He, his wife, and a couple of their daughters are buried in City Cemetery.

    My father, John James Cantlin (Surname change in 1883 to match a family of first cousins who used the Cantlin spelling.) and his four siblings were all born in Conneaut, the last two, LaVerne Mary and my father were born in the 394 Chestnut St house.

    The eldest of those five Cantlin children, Robert W, died within a month of his birth and baptism in January of 1883. That was before St Joseph Cemetery was organized. I still do not know where Robert W Cantlin was buried. Perhaps in an unmarked grave in City Cemetery. That cemetery is much older than St Joseph..

    So I have a long background in Connneaut, My Murphy great-grandparents and one uncle, Daniel, so severely retarded he couldn’t learn to speak, died there. They are are buried at St Joseph. Four others of Martin’s and Kate’s ten children who had moved to Cleveland for work were returned to Conneaut for burial at St Joseph, Martin, Margaret, and Thomas, and Mary. Great Depression poverty caused Anna Murphy Sheehan’s son Bernard to also be buried in the family plot at St Joseph.

    The Murphys who had moved to Cleveland for employment never lost their attachment to Conneaut or their love of their original parish church, St Mary. I knew most of those Muphy great-aunts and great-uncles as a child, mostly by name only. I knew fewer as an adult. Mary, “Mayme,” and I, who was the last of the ten to died, in 1959, had become quite close. We spent long times talking. I wish I had asked her more questions about St Mary and Conneaut.

    My father, John James Cantlin, and his three surviving siblings, Helen, Harold, and LaVerne all attended St Mary School. Helen, the only one to graduate from the high school, even taught a lower grade of kids, along with another of her St Mary High School classmates, at an extension by the lake, on the second floor above the old firehouse, for one year. After that year, 1912-13, Helen and her brother Harold both moved to Cleveland for employment. In Cleveland, they lived with their Murphy relatives who had preceded them, until the rest of their family had followed them to Cleveland in 1916.

    I have visited old St Mary many times during my numerous trips to Conneaut. I used to sit there and imagine my grandparents walking the long aisle at their wedding in November of 1882, until I later learned that the length of the church had been almost doubled after their marriage.

    Paul McNally, an assistant at my childhood parish of St Rose in Cleveland, was transferred to St Mary in Conneaut in 1943, the same time that Youngstown was set up as a separate diocese from Cleveland. One of the auxiliaries bishops of Cleveland, James McFadden–my Confirmation bishop on June 8, 1936–was assigned as the first bishop of Youngstown.

    So the Murphys, the Cantlins, and the Diocese of Cleveland–very changed and with a new bishop–have a long and binding history. That is vey connected and intriguing. That has a lot of goodness in it.

    I wish you well as the “Body of Christ”! Maybe, with other vernacular changes after Vatican II, we should translate all Latin forms to English. For a while, Body of Christ might seem awkward.

    Gil Cantlin

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