ANGELS WITH LIGHTS
SAINT WENDELIN CHURCH
1903 ST. WENDELIN PARISH, CLEVELAND
AFTER SETTLING IN Ohio City during the last decades of the nineteenth century, Slovak-Catholics celebrated Mass with a variety of area parishes. Recognizing their language difficulties and their ethnic traditions, Bishop Ignatius F. Horstmann established St. Wendelin Parish on May 3, 1903. Under the direction of Father Joseph M. Koudelka, pastor of St. Michael Parish, the Slovak community purchased property at the corner of West 25th Street and Columbus Road, on which its erected a wood-frame church. On December 6, Father Koudelka joined the community in celebrating its first Mass. The following March, the community welcomed its first pastor, Father J. P. Kunes, who served for only a month before turning over the , parish's administration to Father Thomas Wilk. By October, the community had converted two rooms in the parish house into classrooms, in which Sisters of Notre Dame began instructing the parish's children. Seven months after his arrival, Father Wilk left St. Wendelin Parish, being succeeded by Father Oldrich Zlamal. Four years later, upon his assumption of pastoral duties at Ss. Cyril & Methodius Parish in Youngstown, Ohio, Father Zlamal left the St. Wendelin community in the competent hands of Father Augustin Tomasek.
For the next five decades, Father Tomasek led the parish through successive periods of prosperity and crisis. By the 1920s, growing membership led the community to erect a new church-school. During the next two decades, as they struggled with mounting unemployment during the Great Depression and the long absences of the the Second World War, the parishioners of St. Wendelin Parish generously contributed to their church. In 1943, the community celebrated the retirement of its debts. Father Tomasek continued to administer to the parish until an illness and stroke forced him to retire in 1957. For the next six years, Father Edward Stanko served as pastor, concentrating particularly on the spiritual and corporal needs of the community's youth and senior citizens. His successor, Father John Kraynik, administered to the parish's needs for the next ten years.
The 1970s were difficult years for the residents of Ohio City and the parishioners of St. Wendelin Parish. With its enrollment declining, Father Richard Ondreyka and teachers from the Ursuline Sisters supervised the merger of St. Wendelin School into the Urban Community School. This mission of adjusting to changing economic and societal conditions was showed in 1977 by St. Wendelin Parish's current pastor, Father Jerome. while many of its members have moved to other parts of the city or tosuburbs, St. wendelin Parish has maintained its church, making needed repairs to the building and installing a ramp for easier access for its elderly and physically challenged members. As it celebrates the sesquicentennial anniversary of the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland, St. Wendelin Parish prepares for its ninety-fifth anniversary in 1998.