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Monastery in Canfield marks two milestones

CANFIELD — The Society of St. Paul Monastery, 9531 Akron-Canfield Road, this month is marking its 78th anniversary in the Diocese of Youngstown and the dedication and grand opening of its bookstore.

Brother Marco Bulgarelli, SSP, said for many who travel U.S. Route 224 in Ellsworth, the presence of the Monastery of St. Paul and its shrine dedicated to St. Anthony are familiar sights.

Bulgarelli said during the 1940s, the Society of St. Paul on Staten Island had candidates who were ready for novitiate. Canon Law stated that the novitiate of a congregation had to be away from a purely apostolic community but no diocese understood the mission of communications and therefore no diocese would accept them.

Bishop James McFadden, the first bishop of Youngstown, knew and highly respected Father Borrano who had preached several missions in the Cleveland Diocese to Italian parishes. While visiting the Society of St. Paul on Staten Island, he extended the invitation to come to his new diocese that had just been formed one year earlier.

The Ursuline Sisters owned a 250-acre property in Ellsworth, and he offered to sell that to the society so that the sisters could move closer to the city. The society accepted the offer and the first Paulines arrived in Ohio on May 9, 1944.

Bulgarelli said along with the three novices, brothers and priests, three Daughters of St. Paul were sent to help establish the community and look for their own opportunity to launch their own apostolic initiatives in the Diocese of Youngstown.

He said the property consisted of 250 acres of farm land, a late 19th century mansion owned at one time by the Harding family, a barn and several other buildings. A chapel was established in the barn, and within a year a new print shop was built.

Bishop McFadden liked the term “monastery” and he named the facility accordingly. Though not monks, the location has been popularly called St. Paul Monastery ever since.

From the very beginning the community of Canfield erected outdoor statues to Queen of Apostles, Our Lady of Fatima, Christ and St. Paul.

Borrano established a shrine on the property to St. Anthony. The first shrine to St. Anthony was made of wood and had a statue of Mary Queen of Apostles and a large crucifix along with a statue of the beloved saint. In early 1948, however, this shrine caught fire and was destroyed, Bulgarelli said.

A smaller outdoor location with a statue to St. Anthony was erected and was replaced by the current shrine build in the late 1950s. The current “Wayside Shrine” to St. Anthony is open 24 hours a day and draws about 5,000 people a year. Prayer requests come to the shrine from all over the nation.

Bulgarelli said, “The Canfield community has remained a community of formation through all the years that we had novices and junior professed members.”

He said the community had apostolic initiatives from the very beginning. Catholic Home Messenger, a national magazine, began in 1946. Eventually the magazine reached a circulation of close to 200,000 copies before ceasing publication in 1968.

In 1953, Pastoral Life, a magazine for priests, began and eventually reached close to 8,000 priests before it ceased publication.

Bulgarelli said in the 1970s stores were opened in the Southern Park Mall in Boardman, in the Eastwood Mall in Niles and near Belden Village in Canton. A store also was located on the Society’s property in Canfield. All have since closed.

“For several decades these stores met the spiritual and intellectual needs of tens of thousands of people,” he said indicating a new store has been established in Boardman.

Bulgarelli said thanks to “Friends of St. Paul” and to members of the local Council of the Knights of Columbus, a bookstore will return to the area of the Monastery. Its inauguration will be Aug 20.

He said the production of audio-visual materials began in Canfield, and in 1968 Alba House Communications was launched to produce and distribute cassettes, filmstrips, records and other communication materials.

Bulgarelli said in 1980 the Society in Canfield entered a collaboration with the Diocese of Youngstown and established the Catholic Television Network of Youngstown in the basement of the main building. The station was transferred to local cable outlets at first through disk and tower transmissions and now through cable optic wire.

“Hundreds of thousands of people have been touched, informed and inspired through these programs. Today, the station does more locally produced programs than ever,” he said.

Bulgarelli said the society produces a 45-minute Sunday Mass that features both Society of St. Paul, other religious and diocesan priests. He said programs produced at the station have been used in Boston, New York and Long Island and have been shown nationally through Catholic TV Boston. The station also produces an award-winning weekly radio program “Wineskins.”

“The community continues to carry out its apostolic initiatives while

caring for its elderly members,” Bulgarelli said.

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