Diocese of Youngstown
St. Columba Cathedral
Coat of arms
|Territory||Counties of Mahoning, Trumbull, Columbiana, Stark, Portage, and Ashtabula, Ohio|
|Metropolitan||Dennis M. Schnurr|
|Area||3,404 sq mi (8,820 km2)|
|(as of 2010)|
|Established||May 15, 1943 (76 years ago)|
|Cathedral||St. Columba Cathedral|
|Patron saint||St. Columba|
|Bishop||George Vance Murry, S.J.|
The Diocese of Youngstown (Latin: Dioecesis Youngstonensis) is a particular church or diocese of the Roman Catholic Church, consisting of six counties in Northeast Ohio: Mahoning, Trumbull, Columbiana, Stark, Portage, and Ashtabula.
As of 2014, the Diocese of Youngstown contains 94 parishes, 1 mission, 102 Diocesan Priests, 18 Religious Priests, 67 Permanent Deacons, 11 Religious Men, and 211 Religious Women. It has a Catholic population of 198,332 in an area totaling 3,404 square miles (8,820 km2). As of 2010, the diocese had 8 seminarians studying at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus and at Mount St. Mary's Seminary of the West in Cincinnati.
One of the earliest Roman Catholic communities in this Diocese was in Ashtabula, Ohio. In 1850, a small group of Catholics living in and around Ashtabula petitioned the Diocese of Cleveland for their own parish. A shortage of clergy, however, prevented the assignment of a resident priest. Instead, a visiting priest from Painesville would intermittently undertake an entire day's journey by horse over secondary rural roads. Eventually in 1858 the St. Joseph Mission was established and Father Charles Coquelle took up permanent residence. The inaugural members of the St. Joseph Parish were primarily Irish and German, drawn to Ashtabula by the railroad industry. Initial services were in private homes but in 1860 a small wooden frame church was built. The purchase of an additional five acres in 1877 allowed construction of St. Joseph's two-story brick secondary school staffed by the Sisters of the Humility of Mary.
In 1878, the group began to celebrate worship services in a grocery store adjacent to Ashtabula Harbor. Out of this gathering a parish was established in 1890 dedicated to St. Mary as "Mother of Sorrows". A permanent church was constructed nearby in 1898 and remains today.
Towards the turn of the century, a large influx of Italian American Catholics made the formation of a third church in Ashtabula desirable. In 1897 land was purchased on the southwest corner of Columbus Avenue and Sibley Street (whose name was changed to 16th street by city government in 1930) and construction of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church began in 1902. The first mass was celebrated in 1903.
As the Catholic presence grew, the cornerstone of a larger masonry building to replace the original St. Joseph's was laid on Aug. 1, 1905. That church cost $34,000 to build and is still in use.
Pope Pius XII created the Diocese of Youngstown from territory formerly part of the Diocese of Cleveland in 1943. The new administrative construct consisted of six northeastern counties of Ohio, namely Ashtabula, Columbiana, Mahoning, Portage, Stark, and Trumbull. Bishop James A. McFadden (former auxiliary bishop of Cleveland) became the first bishop and chose St. Columba Church on Wood Street in downtown Youngstown as his Cathedral. The new diocese covered 3,404 square miles (8,820 km2) with 110 parishes, three Catholic-run hospitals, 54 elementary schools, one junior high school, and three Catholic high schools.
When Bishop McFadden died on November 16, 1952, Emmet M. Walsh succeeded him. Walsh had been named Coadjutor Bishop and was formerly the Bishop of Charleston, South Carolina. In 1954, St. Columba Cathedral was destroyed by a fire and Bishop Walsh undertook the task of building a new cathedral, which he dedicated in 1958. St. Patrick Church on the south side of Youngstown served as Pro-Cathedral until the new St. Columba's was ready.
In 1962, when Pope John XXIII convened the Vatican Council II, Bishop Walsh and Auxiliary Bishop James W. Malone attended. Upon the illness of Bishop Walsh, Bishop Malone was named Apostolic Administrator;[when?] after Bishop Walsh died on March 16, 1968, Bishop Malone became Bishop of Youngstown on May 2, 1968, a position he held for 28 years.
In 1996, Bishop Malone retired and Bishop Thomas J. Tobin was named his successor and installed as Bishop of Youngstown on February 2, 1996. On March 31, 2005, Pope John Paul II appointed Bishop Tobin as Bishop of Providence, Rhode Island. On 30 January 2007, Pope Benedict XVI named Bishop George Murry, S.J. as the fifth bishop of the Diocese of Youngstown.
On May 28, 2010, Bishop Murry announced the plan for the reconfiguration of parishes which will reduce their total number to 87 over the next two years.
The Diocese of Youngstown operates the following elementary/middle schools (Grades PreK-8 unless otherwise noted):
Most of the elementary/middle schools within Mahoning County, plus one school within Trumbull County, are part of a singular system named Lumen Christi Catholic Schools. The Academy is composed of 8 campuses:
Most of the elementary/middle schools within Stark County are part of a singular system named Holy Cross Academy. The Academy is composed of 10 campuses:
In 2013, as part of the Academy's "Transition for Growth" plan, the Diocese announced that St. Joseph Canton would close after the 2013-2014 school year, and Saint Peter and Saint Louis will be become "Family Preschool Centers" only. The three schools conducted an appeal process in order to keep them open as PreK-8 schools. On February 27, 2014, the Diocese announced the results of the appeal. Within the report, it was announced that the St. Joseph Canton campus would still close at the end of the 2013-2014 school year. For the 2014-2015 school year, the St. Peter and St. Louis campuses would remain open, but serve only grades PreK-5th. The Regina Coeli/St. Joseph and Our Lady of Peace campuses would also serve only grades PreK through 5. The 6-8th grade students within the diocese would be served by a new middle school operating on the campus of St. Thomas Aquinas High School.
The following preschools and elementary/middle schools operate independently of a regional system:
Ashtabula County (1):
Columbiana County (1):
Mahoning County (2):
Portage County (2):
Stark County (2):
Trumbull County (3):
Politically speaking the City of Youngstown and surrounding areas were traditionally strongholds for the Democratic Party. However, the northern counties comprising the Diocese of Youngstown often supported Republican politicians, especially for the U.S. Congress.
From 1950 to 1973, the stated interests of the diocese politically were often local interests and aligned somewhat with labor unions and what had been a traditional Democratic, blue-collar political base, although the rural districts of the diocese tended to support more conservative political perspectives. After 1973, U.S. Catholics began to transition from their traditional allegiances to the Democratic Party and seek out political candidates that supported Catholic perspectives on the need to protect human life; these were often Republicans.
In an interesting departure from traditional party lines, the diocese strongly supported school choice initiatives, including Ohio's Fair Bus law (passed by the Ohio House, July 30, 1965; enacted 1966)
Like other Ohio dioceses, the Diocese of Youngstown also supported other initiatives at the state and federal level to provide equity to students and families enrolled in Catholic schools, including busing, textbooks, and participation in federally subsidized school lunch and other programs.
Legal challenges to Ohio's Fair Bus Law arose but these challenges were declared unconstitutional by the Ohio Supreme Court (1968-1970), which cited Ohio's state constitution which assures the fair treatment of all students in the state.
Tuition programs that were enacted at the state level in the late 1960s and early 1970s did not survive legal challenges. However, later initiatives for students in poorly performing school districts were enacted and survived legal challenges.
In pursuit of social justice efforts, the diocese supported efforts in the 1980s to construct subsidized housing--especially in the northern counties of the diocese, where it was often unneeded to serve the needs of the existing populace--as well as to expand federally subsidized Section 8 housing programs. This efforts served to temporarily boost the economies of local builders but accelerated the urbanization of some areas without a renewal of infrastructure or a growth in economic base to support the services such a population would require.
As a result, by 2005, over 70% of the housing units in Ashtabula County were not owner-occupied.
Politically this policy ensured that Democratic candidates for federal office would have a larger voter base in areas that previously had elected Republicans to the US Congress, while also significantly changing the demographics and education levels of the electorate.
In the mid 1980s, Bishop Malone became president of the USCCB. Under his leadership, the USCCB issued a major policy statement condemning the nuclear armament stockpiles held by the United States and supporting unilateral disarmament by the United States, despite an aggressive and hostile Soviet military threat. The USCCB's position was that funds spent on defense should be invested instead in domestic programs. U.S. President Ronald Reagan ignored criticisms from the USCCB and pursued a military build-up.
Many steel mills in Youngstown, Ohio closed in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Economic pressures continued to affect Catholic institutions in the diocese, resulting in lowered school enrollments for diocesan schools. In addition, population left the region to pursue better opportunities in other areas of the United States. Demographically, the population of Ohio in general became statistically older as more young people left the state after college graduation.