Today will be a sad day for the people who attend St. Paul Church, Flushing.
The final Mass will be celebrated today at 10 a.m. It is ironic that on that day the Catholic Church observes the Feast of Apostles Peter and Paul. The church will be officially closed on June 30, according to a decree issued by the Most Rev. Jeffrey M. Monforton, Bishop of the Diocese of Steubenville.
For Geraldine Szymialis, the closing of St. Paul really hurts. "I am 84 years old, and the church was my life," she said. She and her late husband, Victor, were active members of the parish. Thank God, we have a lot of beautiful memories. My heart goes out to those people who don't drive. How are they going to get to St. Clairsville, Maynard or Barnesville to attend Mass?" Mrs. Szymialis recalled all the devotions held at the church throughout the years. "We had daily Mass, Rosary devotions and other services. We certainly are going to miss all that. St. Paul's was a very important part of the Flushing community,"she said. "Our church was built on love. When something needed to be repaired, there was always someone ready to fix it. We are a close-knit parish."
Sara Odorizzi and her late husband were members of St. Paul's for more than 60 years. "I am not happy about the closing" she said. "Our two children were baptized, made their First Communion and were Confirmed at St. Paul's," she said. "We will just have to hold on to the many memories we have of our beloved parish."
Rudy Chini said he was upset and disappointed about the closing of St. Paul. He said he and his late wife were married there and his children were Baptized and made their First Communion there.
Shirley Bober said when you close a church or school it has a negative effect on the community. "I am very upset about the closing of St. Paul's." She said she and her late husband, Carl were long time members of the parish. "It is going to be a big adjustment for me," she said.
According to a history of St. Paul's, Mass was celebrated in th e late 1890's in the Flushing area by Father Joseph A. Weigand, pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Bridgeport. In 1906, a mission church was constructed by men in Flushing and it was located two miles from the village limits..
In June 1957, St. Paul Parish was established by the late Bishop John King Mussio of he Diocese of Steubenville. A year later, a rectory was under construction for the first resident pastor.
In 1951, ground was broken on land in the center of town, adjacent to the rectory, for a new church to replace the wooden one. The first Mass was celebrated in the new St Paul Church on Dec. 23, 1951. According to information from the diocese, 55 families made up the parish.
The late Father Charles J. Sargus was pastor of St. Paul until 1959. He was succeeded by the late Monsignor William C. Yontz, and five years later, Monsignor James A. Boehm became pastor.
In 1971, the late Father Richard L. Battocletti, became pastor and served until 1973.He was followed by the late Father Louis F. Marracino who was pastor until 1985 when he retired from active ministry.
Monsignor John A. Cymbor served as pastor of St. Paul Paish for 19 years, He retired in 2004.
The current pastor is Father Frederick C. Kihm. He has been named pastor of St. Teresa Church, Cadiz and Sacred Heart, Hopedale, and administrator of St. Matthias Mission, Freeport, effective July 1.
In a letter to the people of St. Paul's, Bishop Monforton wrote that the Presentation Deanery Pastor Plan was put into effect in the closing. "The pastoral plan states that St. Paul, Flushing, and St. Mary, Lafferty, (closed because of a fire in May 2012), will close and join with St. Mary, St. Clairsville, when their current pastor leaves. We have been fortunate not to have had to implement the plans until now."
Bishop Monforton told the St. Paul congregation that the "transition will be somewhat challenging to you. However, I assure you that Father Thomas A. Chillog and parishioners of St. Mary, St. Clairsville, are ready to welcome you to become part of the parish, to bring your gifts and talents and use them to continue to grow in our Catholic faith, albeit in a different church building, but nonetheless, the same treasured Catholic faith."