JESUS WITH CHILDREN
“Let the little children come to me,” Jesus tells people, even when his disciples don’t want him to be bothered. A little girl is giving Jesus flowers while he puts his hand gently on her head and holds a baby in his lap. A mother watches, and a toddler crawls on the ground. At the lower right we see a green children’s toy, a ball, that they have stopped playing with in order to come closer to Jesus.
Luke 18: 15 – 17
STS. CYRIL AND METHODIUS PARISH
Sts. Cyril and Methodius Parish was founded in 1905 at the request of Slovak immigrants who came from Cleveland to Barberton seeking employment in the expanding industries of the Barberton area. At that time there was no Catholic Church in the area which served those of a Slovak heritage. Bishop Ignatius Horstmann honored the request of these poor immigrants, and the Reverend Augustine Tomasek became the first pastor. The first Mass of the Parish was held in 1905 in a dwelling on Melvin Street, now known as 16th St NW. Despite their small numbers and relative poverty, the people made tremendous sacrifices to maintain their parish. Later, three new parishes grew from this nucleus of Slovaks: St. Nicholas Greek Catholic Church, St. Mary Church, and Sacred Heart Church, all in Barberton. In 1924, under the pastorate of the Reverend Edward Stanko, a parish school was built and staffed by the Ursuline Sisters of Cleveland until 1938.
Stained Glass window commemorating Jesus with children.
Manufactured in 1944 by The Hiemer Company
in Paterson, New Jersey
The Vincentian Sisters of Charity, of Bedford, Ohio, assumed the responsibility for the school until 1976, when it closed due to dwindling enrollment. Even though industrial communities were hit especially hard during the Depression, the parishioners saved and sacrificed much. In 1931, despite the fact that it was the height of the Depression, the present church building was erected. Subsequently, in 1955, a new school and rectory were built under Father Stanko's leadership. The Reverend James Yavorsky was pastor from 1957 until 1972. It was under his pastorate that a convent was built for the Sisters, and it is presently serving as the parish rectory.
The parish enjoyed a rich devotional life with the celebration of daily rosary recitation, monthly litanies in honor of St. Anne, days of Marian devotion in May and October, weekly Stations of the Cross during Lent, annual Eucharistic Devotions, and annual Ladies'/Men's Retreats. Devotional societies included the Rosary Society, St. Anne's Society, and the Holy Name Society. Furthermore, four men of the Parish entered the priesthood, and six women entered religious life from the parish . Along with the previously named societies, the parish continued to provide the following organizations and lay ministries: Eucharistic Ministers, Altar Servers, Lectors, the Church Choir, Eldercare Ministry, Social Club, Ushers, Slovak Catholic Sokols, First Catholic Slovak Ladies Association, Barberton Slovak Chorus, and the first Catholic Slovak Union Branch 425. In 1979, a major flood devastated the parish property which was already deteriorating from years of service. As part of the rebuilding process, the Reverend Edward Lajack and the workers of the parish Social Club from 1980-1996 raised funds to completely renovate the church as well. Major renovations were also made to the school, boiler systems, parking lot, and air-conditioning.
The parish experienced a rebirth during this time while also celebrating its 75th Anniversary in 1981. In 1986, the church was consecrated by the Most Reverend Anthony Pilla, and the 90th Anniversary of the Parish was celebrated on October 27, 1996. The parish continues to serve a growing elderly population in neighborhoods that are increasingly characterized by low-income housing. The family spirit which has characterized this small parish community has allowed it to accomplish more than its material resources would warrant.