ST. LADISLAUS PARISH, LORAIN, 1890

The Hungarian-Catholic presence in Lorain, Ohio began with the 1890 establishment of the King St. Stephen of Hungary Society. Relying on visiting priests to celebrate Mass, the community received official recognition on June 20, 1905, and
was called St. Ladislaus Parish. Father Joseph N. Szabo was appointed its first pastor. The following year, the community purchased a one-and-a-half-acre plot of land, on which it constructed a basement church. The Sisters from the Daughters of the Divine Redeemer began administering to the educational needs of the community's 230 students that fall - a ministry, which would last until June 1986. In 1907, the parish completed work on its permanent church—a poured-concrete Romanesque structure, reminiscent of the churches found in the Batyan and Lilesz regions of Hungary. Through the financial contributions of its working class parishioners, work proceeded on the church's interior, allowing the building to be dedicated on July 4, 1910. The following year, the parishioners of St. Ladislaus Church split over their support for Father Szabo or his assistant, Father Emil Egner. Members of the opposition later blocked parishioners from attending Mass. The conflict continued until November 17, 1911, when Bishop Farrelly installed Father Stephen Soltesz as new pastor of St. Ladislaus Parish. For the remainder of the decade, the community continued to sway under the constant pressure of dissent. By October 1920, however, the parish had succeeded in paying off its construction debts. The community then turned its attention to erecting a parish school. In January 1927, St. Ladislaus School opened under the supervision of the Daughters of the Divine Redeemer. Two years after the school's opening, the parish faced an even larger threat—the Great Depression.

Throughout the following decades, the parish watched Hungary struggle to survive the Second World War and the advent of the Cold War. By the early years of the 1950s, St. Ladislaus Parish had welcomed a growing number of Spanish-speaking members. In 1953, the parish welcomed Father Gerald Fredericks, the administrator of Sacred Heart Mission Chapel.

The 1960s and 1970s were years of new challenges and renewed efforts at St. Ladislaus Parish. In 1965, SS. Cyril and Methodius Parish in Lorain, Ohio closed its school, transferring its students to St. Ladislaus School. Three years later, Father Zoltan Demko, who had served as the community's pastor for 21 years, retired and was succeeded by Father Alex Demetzky. A collector of Hungarian folk art, Father Demetzky established a small museum at the parish, in which he displayed linen, embroideries, and decorative arts. Along with his vast collection, Father Demetzky constructed a rural kitchen installation similar to those found in the villages of Hungry. By September 1980, the future of the parish had come into question. After a visit to the church, the Vicar of the Western Region, Auxiliary Bishop James A. Griffin, suggested that the parish lobby for the erection of a senior citizens' subsidized housing complex, or consider changing it status to a territorial parish. While both proposals were rejected, the parish continued to fill the spiritual and educational needs of the Hungarian-Catholics of South Lorain.


With its financial condition deteriorating, however, the parish closed its school in June 1986. Under its current pastor, Father Patrick J. Shields, and pastor emeritus, Father Alex Demetzky, St. Ladislaus community strives to maintain its role in its neighborhood and uphold the rich spiritual and ethnic traditions of its Hungarian pioneers.