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Christ the King is a title of Jesus based on several passages of Scripture. It is used by most Christians. The Catholic Church and many Protestant denominations, including Anglicans, Presbyterians, Lutherans, and Methodists, celebrate the Feast of Christ the King on the Sunday before the first Sunday of Advent.


Some Traditionalist Catholics who use pre-1970 versions of the General Roman Calendar and the Anglican Catholic Church celebrate it instead on the last Sunday of October. This is the day that was assigned to the feast when first established in 1925. The title "Christ the King" is also frequently used as a name for churches, schools, seminaries, hospitals, and religious institutes.


Responding to the growing number of Polish-Catholics in the St. Clair-Superior area, Diocesan Administrator, Monsignor Felix Boff, appointed Father Albert Migdalski to serve the newly established Catholic community -- St. Hedwig Parish. The parish celebrated its first Mass on November 9, 1908 in the chapel of St. John the Evangelist Cathedral. Father Migdalski soon established a priest's residence at the corner of Payne Avenue and East 21st Street. A dispute soon developed between Cleveland's St. Hedwig Parish and a second Polish-Catholic community by the same name established the year before in Lakewood, Ohio. In November 1910, Bishop John P. Farrelly changed the name of the Cleveland community to St. Josaphat Parish.


Christ the King

On July 21, 1911 the renamed parish purchased three lots and converted two of the property's existing buildings into a pastoral residence and school. The Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis soon began teaching students in grades one through five. In January 1913, the parish announced plans for the construction of a church-school. Unfortunately, the feasibility of the project became questionable when it was reported that many area Polish-Catholics had returned to the "old country" or moved to the Warszawa neighborhood on the city's "South End." By the outbreak of the First World War, the St. Josaphat community had grown dramatically. This increased population, however, brought with it a series of internal conflicts which threatened to divide the parish. Complaining that the recent parish council elections had yielded undesirable members, St Josaphat Parish's pastor, Father Joseph P. Kocinski, requested that Bishop Farrelly select a second slate of parishioners.

Father Kocinski's invalidation of the council election exacerbated tension among his parishioners. The opposition leaders, referring to a previous schism which took place in another Polish-Catholic parish, soon drafted an explanation of their complaints and sent it to the bishop. "We are not making those complaints for to be against religion or our faith but for the purpose of preventing the idea of an independent church spreading as has already taken place at another Parish of our town (sic)"       

In 1915, the A.F. Wasielewski Company began construction on the long-awaited St. Josaphat Church.  This event ushered in a new wave of dissent among the parishioners. By April 1918, after two years of wrangling over funding, the church remained unfinished.


The parish suffered another blow with the Advent of the 1918-1919 Influenza Epidemic. In a 1919 letter to the Bishop, the parish's next pastor, Fr. Joseph Spanowski, expressed his concern over the number of Polish Sisters of St. Joseph who had died while caring for the area's sick. During the decades of the 1920's, St. Josaphat Parish faced a number of internal and external trials. In the summer of 1921, a conflict arose between Fr. Spanowski and four members of the parish council over control of the parish finances. On February 25, 1931, Fr. Stanislaus Rybacki succeeded Fr. Spanowski, becoming the community's third pastor, a position he held until June, 1937, when Fr. Joseph P. Kocinski returned to St. Josaphat Parish. During the pastorates of Fr. Rybacki and Fr. Kocinski, the population of St. Josaphat Parish continued to drop. After the church sustained damage in a 1938 wind storm, the parish struggled to pay for the necessary repairs. By 1946, St. Josaphat School served only 52 students.

In December 1948, Father Kocinski retired and was succeeded by Father Joseph F. Napierkowski. During the pastorates of Father Napierkowski and his successors, Father Stanislaus J. Ciolek and Thaddeus C. Michalski, St. Josaphat Parish faced the growing problems of urban sprawl and out-migration from the neighborhood. In September 1962, the parish school welcomed students from the recently closed St. Peter School. This influx of students, however, proved insufficient to stem the tide of shrinking enrollment. St. Josaphat School closed in 1966. Recognizing its deteriorating condition, Bishop Issenmann approved plans  for the renovation of St. Josaphat Church in March 1968.

In the following 20 years, St Josaphat Parish underwent even more dramatic changes. On November 10, 1978, the community welcomed Father James Gettig, a member of the Society of the Precious Blood, who was appointed to serve the growing number of Spanish-speaking Catholics on the near-East Side of Cleveland. Less than two years later, Father Gettig became Diocesan Coordinator for the Hispanic Pastoral Concerns. In February 1987, Bishop Anthony M. Pilla appointed Fr. Gettig pastor of St. Josaphat's Parish. On June 20, 1995, Fr. Gettig left the community and was succeeded by parish administrator, Father David A. Novak. As the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland celebrates its sesquicentennial anniversary, St. Josaphat Parish proudly upholds the social and religious traditions of its Polish-Catholic founders. The current administrator is the recently appointed Reverend Mr. Russell Glorioso.

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