A BRIEF HISTORY OF SAINT MICHAEL PARISH
Until 1960 the Catholic residents of Canfield attended Mass at Saint Charles Parish in Boardman. In 1960 Bishop Emmet Walsh established Saint Michael Mission to serve the area Catholics. The mission was under the direction of Msgr. John Bardon, pastor of Saint Charles. Masses were held on Sundays at the American Legion Hall on S. Broad St.
After Saint Michael was given parish status in 1962, Father Hugh Gallagher was named the first pastor. Immediately, Father Gallagher began to plan for the new church building, while Mass was being celebrated at Canfield Elementary School. The cornerstone was laid by Msgr. Owen Gallagher, vicar general and brother of the pastor, in November 1963. The new Saint Michael Church was the first Catholic Church in the village's 166-year history. Three bells were installed in the bell tower and were named Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael.
Mass and programs were held in the new building as early as March 1964, including CCD classes for approximately 230 students. Bishop Walsh dedicated the new church on October 4, 1964.
Father Gallagher's tenure ended in 1968, and a new pastor, Father Orlando Rich, succeeded on June 14 of that year. Father Rich, realizing the parish's financial challenges, organized a parish Finance Committee, the first of its kind in the Youngstown Diocese. Through sound investments and generous donations, the half million dollar parish debt was eliminated in twelve years. Father Rich presided over a "burning of the mortgage" ceremony in April 1976, under the watchful eyes of Father Gallagher and Auxiliary Bishop William Hughes. The parish had grown from 150 families to 700.
On June 26,1977, Father Rich retired as pastor of Saint Michael. Succeeding Father Rich was Father Thomas McCarthy, formerly of Saint William parish in Champion, Ohio. Under Father McCarthy's leadership, greater emphasis was placed upon participation of the laity. Father McCarthy expanded the staff and enhanced religious education and other parish programs. He oversaw ecumenical efforts to offer a Vacation Bible School with four other Catholic churches. Christ Renews His Parish weekend retreats were introduced.
Because Parish membership and activities were growing rapidly, it became evident that the current facilities were inadequate. To meet the needs of the church community, Father McCarthy initiated plans for expansion of parish buildings. Ground breaking for a new Parish Center was held on March 2, 1980. The facility included office space and room on the upper level for adult activity, with the kitchen and the lower space for youth. Portable dividers made it possible to house students in nine classrooms for faith formation and for CCD classes. The Center was blessed by Bishop James W. Malone, assisted by Father McCarthy and Father Gallagher in November 1980.
In June of 1983 it was announced that Father McCarthy would be leaving Saint Michael to accept a position of pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Warren, Ohio, and Father James E. O'Brien was named pastor. Under Father O'Brien's leadership, the parish continued to prosper and grow. Like Father McCarthy, Father O'Brien encouraged a strong sense of social justice in parish life, through many outreach efforts to the needy and the poor. The Tithe program was established in which 10 percent of Sunday collections would be donated to area charities.
Father O'Brien served as pastor until January 1997, when Father Terrence J. Hazel was appointed. Under Father Hazel's direction and through the generosity of many parishioners, the clear glass windows in the church were replaced with stained glass windows in 1999 and Italian mosaic Stations of the Cross replaced small wooden versions the following year. To accommodate the growing membership, pews were added on the north and south aisles of the church. Air conditioning, a new altar and ambo, digital organ, and baby grand piano were also added. A new Family Life Center was built. Father Terry retired at the end of June 2021 and Father John-Michael Lavelle was appointed pastor effective July 1, 2021.
The Generations of Faith program was instituted in place of CCD classes. The parish provides financial support for the Little Children of Jesus Orphanage for disabled children in Lizon, Haiti, and has funded the building of houses for residents of that country. The parish Tithe program contributes to a number of local charities.
Numerous ministries and organizations providing opportunities for service, spiritual growth, and personal enrichment continue to be part of parish life.
THE BELLS OF ST. MICHAEL
The three bells in our bell tower were installed in 1963
and were Named, Baptized, and Confirmed.
Musical note: F
Donated by Mr. and Mrs. Charles Victor Deibel
In memory of the Deibel Family
(Michael is the bell tolled at funerals.)
Musical note: A
Donated by Dr. and Mrs. John R. La Manna
Musical note: C
Donated by Mr. and Mrs. Claude I. Uckner
In honor of Mary the Mother of God