Catholic Diocese of Youngstown celebrates 75th anniversary
By Graig Graziosi
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Youngstown will begin the celebration of its 75th anniversary today during a special Mass at St. Columba Cathedral.
In 1943, the Catholic Church designated the community of churches in the northeastern portion of the state as the Diocese of Youngstown, and named Youngstown its See city – or a city where a bishop’s ministry is based.
The diocese will host events throughout the year to celebrate the anniversary, including liturgical events, historical, theological and cultural lectures and a series of lectures focusing on the history and impact of women in the diocese.
Sister Regina Rogers from the Ohio State University will lead the lecture series focusing on women in the diocese beginning in September and Hosffman Ospino, a professor of Theology and Religion Education at Boston College, will host a pair of cultural and theological lectures in October.
Monsignor John A. Zuraw, the chairman of the anniversary, said at the time of the diocese’s formation, 17 percent of the population within the diocese’s jurisdiction identified as Catholic.
The then-newly formed Diocese of Youngstown included nearly half of the territory formerly covered by the Diocese of Cleveland. Today, the Diocese of Youngstown’s ecumenical jurisdiction includes Mahoning, Trumbull, Columbiana, Stark, Portage and Ashtabula counties.
Though the Diocese of Youngstown is the smallest in terms of population and the second smallest in terms of geographical size, it has the third-highest concentration of Catholics of the five dioceses operating in Ohio.
Marilyn Kohut, a retiree who likes to spend time helping out at Rip’s Cafe in Struthers, said she remembers her years growing up in the Diocese of Youngstown and her experience with both of the city’s cathedrals.
Kohut said she was 10 when a fire tore through the original St. Columba Cathedral in September 1954, leaving the old stonework structure ashen and gutted from the inside.
While that was a tragic loss for the diocese, Kohut also has happier memories of her youth. Less than five years after the fire, she was among the first Catholic students to receive the sacrament of Confirmation in the then newly rebuilt St. Columba Cathedral under Bishop Emmet Walsh.
“I loved growing up Catholic,” Kohut said. “When I go I attend St. Patrick’s Church, and growing up I went to school at St. Dominic’s.”
Monsignor Robert Siffrin, the Vicar General, will lead the opening Mass today.
Msgr. Siffrin has taken a more active role in managing the diocese in recent weeks following the admittance of Bishop George Murry to the Cleveland Clinic on April 30, where he is being treated for acute leukemia.
“As we gather to begin the Jubilee year of our 75th anniversary, we also gather in fervent prayer for the health and recovery of Bishop George Murry, who assures us of his prayers and desire to be with us,” Msgr. Siffrin said in a statement.