Parish History

Christ Our Hope Parish 

On May 14, 2008 a new parish was formed by combining St. Matthias in French Creek with St. Isaac Jogues in Sherman, NY. Both locations hold masses and sacraments but they  operate as one parish under the name of Christ Our Hope. The church office is located at St. Matthias in French Creek and the priest resides at St. Isaac Jogues in Sherman.

 
St Isaac Jogues Church
In 1866-67, Irish Catholics, who were working on the railroad, came into the area. They purchased the old Universalist Church and moved it to Park Street. When the railroad workers left, the Catholics also left and the number of Catholics decreased. Then in 1941, a parish was set up in a room over what is now the Corral Restaurant (The original two story building burned, and was rebuilt as a one story building).
 
Being upstairs, it was inconvenient, so the place of worship was moved to what was the former Philip Pratt Insurance office. Msgr. F. Kasprzuk, acting as a representative of Bishop Duffy, dedicated this worship spot. This remained the Catholic Chapel until October, 1946, when Bishop O'Hara dedicated the present church. Originally called Our Lady of Peace Chapel, its title was changed to St. Isaac Jogues Chapel to honor one of the North American martyrs who had been a missionary in our own state of New York. Continuous growth of the parish warranted its promotion to regular parish status and in June, 1948, Bishop O'Hara appointed Father Francis Kopec as the first priest.
 
The early priests included: Carl Drews, Francis McCormick, Bernard Sexton, Clair Hodnett, Edwin Fagowski, Chester Malikowski, Stanley Krzyzanowski and Henry Laskawski. We find no record of the dates these priests served. 1948-1952 Francis Kopec; 1952-1954 Thaddeus Zablotny; 1954-1959 Stanley Sypnierski; 1959-1964 James Dyree; 1964-1967 Casimir Zak; 1967-1970 Joseph Skupien; 1970-1974 Medard Pluta;, 1974-1979 Matt Wendzikowski; 1979-1984 John Mitka; 1984-1989 Charles Zadora; 1989-1995 Gary Szczepankiewicz; 1995-2004 Raymond A.J. Donohue; 2005-2009 Bernard Nowiak; 2009-2013 Jozef Dudzik; 2013-2016 John Trela; 2016-present Mark Itua.
 
St. Matthias Church History
The original church was founded by Irish immigrants in the late 1840's. Nora Clinton Harrington in a handwritten "Sketch of the Parish" writes that Bishop John Timon, CM of Buffalo celebrated the first Mass in the French Creek area in 1859 at the Clinton home on Harrington Hill Road. From 1865 to 1900 other Irish families settled the area. An influx of families from Germany and Poland added to the growing parish. Visiting priests continued to serve the area until 1913. Rev. M.J. Corbett was pastor for 15 years from 1897 to 1912.
 
A deed for a Catholic Church in French Creek was recorded on May 30th, 1873. On September 15th, 1873, the church was dedicated by Bishop Ryan. The parishioners contributed the labor, lumber, masonry and pine shingles for the construction of the church that is still in use today. On October 25, 1882, land was donated by the William Gilmore family for use as a Catholic Cemetery.
 
On July 5th, 1914 Bishop Charles Colton celebrated Confirmation at the parish and soon after, Father John Marencovick was assigned as the first resident pastor. While has was pastor, the parish house was built. In 1923 a garage and belfry were added. In 1924 an electrical system was installed.
 
Each pastor that followed used his talents to add different things to the church and parish house. In 1980, the front porch was enclosed to make an office. The Summer of 1983 brought a gift of land from Joel and Dorothy [Rowan] Babcock in memory of Raymond and Timothy Rowan for a parking lot for the church. In 1984 the parishioners gathered to reinforce the foundation of the church where some of the wood had rotted and covered the exterior of the church with vinyl siding making sure to preserve the original look of the church.
 
The Summer and Fall of 1989 saw the rebuilding and rededication of the bell tower. During the Spring of 1995, the interior of the church was redone. In the Summer of 1997 natural gas came to the area and new furnaces were installed in the church and parish house along with air conditioning in the church. On July 26th, 1998, Bishop Henry Mansell joined parishioners as celebrant of the 125th anniversary Mass. The Fall of 1998 saw a very successful Stewardship in Faith increased giving program in the parish.
 

Rev. Bernard C. Staszak was pastor for 27 years. After the sudden death of our beloved pastor, Father Staszak, on April 13, 2006, St. Matthias came under the wing of Father Bernard Nowak. Under his leadership, the parish moved forward with plans for renovation of the church proper and the addition of a hall, kitchen and office space.


Christ Our Hope Parish

On May 14, 2008, a new Parish, Christ Our Hope, was created by combining St. Matthias in French Creek with St. Isaac Jogues in Sherman, NY. Father Jozef Dudzik, a Polish priest who had been working in the parishes for a couple of years, was appointed as the new pastor. He took residence at St. Isaac with St. Matthias housing his parish office.  

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