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Toledo Polish Churches > St. John the Baptist Church

 

St. John the Baptist Parish: “The Best Place Any Place – Point Place”

St. Michael the Archangel Parish was formed in 1900 to serve Catholics in the rapidly expanding area northeast of downtown Toledo. The church was located on Sandusky Street near Summit Street, and also served the entire Point Place neighborhood. In 1914, Pastor William Harks asked Bishop Schrembs to establish a separate parish in the Point. On June 21, 1914, the bishop directed Father Nicholas Traunero, the assistant at St. Michael’s, to build a church in Point Place as a mission of St. Michael’s. Most of the people in the area were farmers and cottage dwellers.

The mission chapel was built on Peach Street, now 136th Street, because of its proximity to a large peach orchard. Bishop Schrembs came on September 20, 1914, to bless the new chapel which was dedicated to St. John the Baptist. Father Harks offered the first Mass. The altar was donated by St. Stephen’s Parish, Toledo.

In December 1917, St. John’s purchased the property at the present location on Summit Street for $ 14,500. At the corner of Summit and 124th Street stood the former “Mrs. Herbert’s Roadhouse,” which was remodeled to serve as a temporary church. The mission attained parish status on February 8, 1918 with Father Francis Bruksieker named as pastor. The last Mass offered at the Peach Street chapel was on September 8, 1918. The next Sunday, Bishop Schrembs blessed the roadhouse before Mass.

In March 1919, the bishop approved plans for the erection of a permanent church and school, for a cost of $ 12,000. The Peach Street chapel was dismantled and the property was sold. The new church entrance faced 124th Street, while the two classrooms at the rear of the church building faced 122nd Street. Bishop Schrembs blessed the new church and school on November 9, 1919. There were 125 families in the parish.

The first parish school opened in September 1919 with Sister M. Victoria as principal and teacher, and Sister M. Cammillus taught the lower grades; both were from the Ursuline Academy in Toledo. Fifty-three students were registered in grades 1 to 8. A portable classroom was added in 1923, and a double portable in 1928, when enrollment grew to 153.

Father Bruksieker orgainzed numerous organizations for parishioners in the early years: Apostlate of Prayer, St. Michael’s Society for Men, St. Rita’s Society for Women, St. Agnes Society for Young Women, St. Aloysius Society for Young Men, and Holy Angels Society for children; a Boy Scout troop was added in 1920.

The first parish mission was conducted in 1920. Sixty-seven men and two women served in the armed forces during World War II, and Father Bruksieker volunteered as chaplain of the neaby Bay View Naval Training Station. After the war, parish membership grew rapidly, and by 1952 there were 875 families.

On March 7, 1951, Father Bruksieker said farewell to his parishioners, and died in 1953. He was replaced by Father Milo Morrin. A new school on three acres was completed in 1953 at a cost of $ 260,000, at this time parish enrollment was 900 families and growing by about 100 families each year. Twelve additional classrooms were added, and then a twenty room school was built.

The old frame house built in 1905 was used as the parish residence and office from 1917 to 1961, at which time the new residence was built at a cost of $ 80,000. Additions were built to the church in 1955, doubling its capacity. The present church was constructed for $ 425,000 and Bishop Rehring blessed it in September 1966.

Father Morrin submitted his resignation as pastor in June 1968, due to failing eyesight and died in 1994. Bishop Donovan appointed Monsignor John Harrigton, principal of Central Catholic High School, as pastor. Monsignor Harrington purchased a residence for the teaching sisters, at 2726 127th Street. The church dome was repaired and air conditioning was installed. Monsignor Harrington resigned in 1975, due to the new retirement age requirements; he died in 1978. Father Raymond Etzel succeeded to the pastorate on June 24, 1976.

By this time, there were more than 600 pupils in 17 classrooms. The principal was Mrs. Marilyn Burley, with three Ursuline Sisters and 16 lay teachers. In 1976, the faltering church bell was replaced by electric chimes, which brought Christmas carols over Point Place. A multi-purpose building adjaent to the school was completed in 1981 at a cost of $ 352,000. During the 1980s and 1990s, many physical improvements were made to the church and grounds, which were continued into the new millenium.

In 2005, Bishop Blair twinned St. John the Baptist and St. Michael the Archangel, so both are back to where they started one hundred years ago. Many people of Polish descent still live in the Point Place area.

 

Pastors of St. John the Baptist Parish:

Fr. Francis B. Bruksieker 1918 – 1951

Fr. Milo Morrin 1951 – 1968

Monsignor John L .Harrington 1968 – 1975

Fr. Raymond Etzel 1975 – 1986

Fr. Robert J. Wilhelm 1986 – 1996

Fr. Francis J. Speier 1996 – 2003

Fr. Gerald J. Chmiel 2004 -

 

First Baptisms:

Frank Herbert baptized September 20, 1914

Myrtle Mayo baptized September 20, 1914

 

First Marriage:

Fred Renz and Louise Mallo

 

Patron Saint:

St. John the Baptist, Patron of Jordan, about 3 B.C. to about 30 A.D., feast days June 24 and August 29

John was the son of Zachary, a priest of the Temple in Jerusalem, and Elizabeth. He was probably born at Ain-Karim, southwest of Jerusalem, after the Angel Gabriel told Zachary that his wife would bear a child even though she was an old woman. He lived in the desert of Judea until about 27 A.D., and began to preach on the banks of the Jordan River and drew great crowds. John called people to be baptized because “the Kingdom of Heaven is close at hand.” When Christ came to John, he recognized Christ as the Messiah and baptized him. Fearful of John’s great power to preach to great numbers of people, Herod Antipas had John arrested and imprisoned at a fortress on the Dead Sea. John denounced Herod’s aduletrous and incestuous marriage with Herodias, the wife of his half-brother Philip. Herodias goaded her daughter Salome to ask Herod for John’s head. John was beheaded, hence the August 29 feast day. John inspired many of his followers, including Andrew and John, and designated Christ as the “Lamb of God.” His burial place was at Sebaste in Samaria.

 

Prayer:

O God, who hast made this day to be honorable in our eyes by the commemoration of blessed John the Baptist, grant unto Thy people the grace of spiritual joy, and direct the minds of all Thy faithful into the way of everlasting salvation. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Address:

5153 Summit Street.

Toledo, Ohio 43611

 

Bibliography:

Dictionary of Saints by John J. Delaney, Doubleday & Co., Inc., Garden City, NY, 1980.

St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, History, typed manuscript by the parish, 26 pages, undated (circa 2003-2012).

 

 

St. John Baptist 1914
The ealier church building, built in 1914 on Peach Street, now 136th Street in Point Place neighborhood.

 

St. John Baptist 124th street
This building was built in 1917 on 124th Street.

 

Interior of older St. John the Baptist church