THE CATHOLIC community of St Anthony of Padua, Bridgeport, honored their retiring pastor, Monsignor Thomas C. Petronek, at a gala dedication ceremony and dinner on Sunday, Nov 8. It also marked his 70th birthday.
Following the 10 a.m. Mass, parishioners processed from the church to the site of a recently erected grotto of St. Anthony of Padua, which stands on the hill west of the St. Anthony School. The grotto was blessed by Monsignor Petronek. Following the blessing ceremony, he was surprised to learn that the grotto was dedicated in his honor, and a plaque, donated by Randall L. Gallagher Memorials, bears his name and years of service to the parish.
Parishioners then gathered in the school hall for a farewell dinner attended by members of the parish, Monsignor Petronek’s family and many friends.
Richard A. Riley, member of St. Anthony, worked for nearly two years getting the grotto ready. He was assisted by Chris Schnelle and David Molter. Contributions from the parishioners and an anonymous donation of $400 helped pay for the statue and grotto. Angelina Stone & Marble donated the marble base for the statue and anchored it to the foundation.
“We wanted to give a special “thank you” and show our love and appreciation to Monsignor Petronek who spent nine years in our midst,” Riley said. “We are grateful to everyone who contributed to the drive and especially to Randall L. Gallagher Memorials and to Angelina Stone & Marble for their generous donations.
Monsignor Petronek spent 40 years ministering to parishes in the Diocese of Steubenville. He served as a missionary with the Maryknoll Fathers in Africa. He taught in parochial high schools and seminaries and was director of the Office of Worship for the Diocese of Steubenville.
A native of Bellaire, Monsignor Petronek was born on Nov. 8, 1939, on of two sons of John P, and Rose Zavislak Petronek. He attended St. John Grade School. He entered St. john Vianney seminary Bloomingdale for high school, college and theology studies. He also studied at The Catholic University of America, Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, Notre Dame University, and holds licenses in sacred theology and sacred Scripture and Masters in Semitic languages and liturgical studies.
Monsignor Petronek was ordained a priest on May 22, 1965 at St. John Church, Bellaire. During his years of service in the diocese, he served as administrator of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Jewett, and as pastor of St. Joseph Church, Tiltonsville, St. Sylvester Church, Woodsfield, and in the Monroe County Catholic community as well as at St. Anthony.
Monsignor Petronek has taken up residence in Wheeling, and has offered to continue to help priests in Belmont and Ohio counties. He also plans to spend two days each week serving meals at the Catholic Neighborhood Center in Wheeling. His brother, John and sister-in-law, Audrey, reside in St. Clairsville.
The dinner honoring Monsignor Petronek was catered by the ladies of St. Joseph Parish, Wolfhurst. Father John Mucha, already the pastor of St. Joseph, became the pastor of both parishes on Nov. 9.
Richard A. Riley, member of St. Anthony Parish, Bridgeport, unveils the stone denoting that the grotto of St. Anthony of Padua located just west of St. Anthony School in Bridgeport, is dedicated to Monsignor Thomas C. Petronek, who retired as pastor of the parish. Dedication ceremonies were held on Sunday, Nov. 8.