The President's Corner
This month I return to my series spotlighting Parma’s plethora of places of worship. Recently, I had the honor of sitting down with Fr. Mark Peyton, Pastor of St. Francis de Sales Roman Catholic Church at the corner of State and Snow Roads. Below is a summary of what I learned.
Fr. Peyton is a true Parma boy. He grew up next to Holy Family Parish and attended church and school there. “I have 20 years of Catholic education, including Holy Family, St. Ignatius High School, Borromeo College and St. Mary’s Seminary,” he proudly pointed out. Ordained in 1977, Fr. Peyton has served many parishes in northeast Ohio as associate pastor and over 31 years as pastor. Some of these include Immaculate Heart of Mary (Cuyahoga Falls), Lake Catholic High School, St. Jude (Elyria), St. Vitas (Cleveland) and St. Prokop (Cleveland). He has served as Pastor of St. Francis for about nine years. He is also a member of the City of Parma’s Fair Housing Review Board.
In 1931, Monsignor Francis McGlynn served as the first Pastor of the new parish, whose name was derived from the Monsignor’s patron saint per permission from the Bishop. Unlike many of Parma’s churches that were opened following World War II in the 1950’s when the population was ballooning, St. Francis’ origins are from the midst of the Great Depression. In fact, it was affectionately known as “the Depression parish.” “Our parish clearly has a history of great generosity. Can you imagine the many scarce nickels and dimes the parishioners donated to literally get the church off the ground,” Fr. Peyton mentioned.
The original church is now the parish office building, as the current church replaced it in 1954. The rectory was donated by the George family, who serve as the namesake for George Avenue on the south side of the parish campus. Further, “Originally, the convent was on the corner of Snow and State, but it was sold to St. Josaphat’s and serves as their current rectory,” Fr. Peyton explained. This was to make way for the new church. As an aside, Minor George once served on City Council and he and his brother played a large role in developing this area of Parma.
The parish had a school from the beginning, with the first being built along State Road. It is currently used as office and meeting space. The new school on Snow Road was built in the 1950s, but, sadly, was sold a few years back to a charter school operator. The proceeds of the sale have been used to further modernize the parish campus.
St. Francis is a very vibrant parish with activities for all, including a social justice group, Holy Name Society, men’s, women’s, youth and children’s choirs, religious education for children, adult Bible study, vacation Bible school, Boy Scout Troop 192, among several others. The parish is also well known for its annual Lenten fish fry, which is the only one in the area that I am aware of to offer an all you can eat option. They also hold a summer picnic for parishioners each year. Further, the parish hosts a weekend Winterfest toward the end of January each year with great food and games for the entire family.
St. Francis holds weekend Masses on Saturday at 4:00 pm and Sunday at 8:30 and 11:00 am. Weekday Masses take place Monday through Thursday at 8:30 am and 8:00 pm and on Friday at 8:30 am and 12:00 pm. All are welcome.
I want to thank Fr. Peyton for taking the time to meet and share about his fine Parish for this article. For more information about St. Francis de Sales call the parish office at 440-884-2319 or e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit their website at stfrancisdesales-church.org.
In closing, I often use The History of Parma by Ernest R. Kubasek as a reference for my articles, including this one. I am currently trying to hunt down another copy of this title and other Parma memorabilia. If you happen to have anything that might be of interest, please email me at email@example.com. Have a great August.
Parma City Council President Sean Brennan