A Catholic Church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Youngstown, Ohio


Massillon, Ohio was just 13 years old when a group of German and Irish Catholic settlers founded a parish in 1839. Neue Katholische Mutter Gottes Kirche (translated to The Catholic Church of St. Mary, Mother of God) was chosen as the name for the new parish.  The early founders of the parish included signers of the first deed with the last names of Bamberger, Bauman, Boerner, Ertle, Frease, Hammersmith, Heiser, Hoke, Kegler, Kutscher, Miller, Paul, Ress, Runser, Seifert, Schmidt, Vogt, Witt, Yingling, and Youngbluth. Descendants of these early parishioners remain active parishioners today.

For a year following the organization, priests stationed at St. John the Baptist in Canton attended the parish.  Services were conducted in the private homes of parishioners.  In 1840, Bishop John Purcell appointed Fr. Matthias Wuerz (in residence at St. John the Baptist) to carry on the work of organization.

The first church building was erected in 1842 and the first school was started in the church basement in 1849.  In 1848, Fr. Philip Foley was appointed as the first resident pastor.  Due to the fact that he could not speak German, he was assisted by two Canton priests, Fr. John Luhr and Fr. John Jacomet.   After an arson fire in 1852, a small church was rebuilt in 1853.  In 1875, the building was razed to make way for the present church.

y0trjm5xeqjm0yrjn0frurp28yl.jpgThe cornerstone for the current church was laid on September 1876 and most of the work was completed by 1880.  The building was officially dedicated on August 21st, 1892, by the Most Reverend Ignatius F. Horstmann, Bishop of Cleveland. 

In 1902, the current rectory building was constructed. The convent (now the Parish Center) was built in 1916, and the school buildings were constructed in 1929 and 1951.

In 1926, the church building was consecrated.

In 1943, the Diocese of Youngstown was formed out of 6 counties formerly a part of the Cleveland Diocese.

In 1955, Fr. Edward Labbe became the pastor of St. Mary's.  He was an associate at the parish from 1931 to 1942.

In 1973, Father James Kolp succeeded Monsignor Edward Labbe as pastor.

In 1981, The Monsignor Labbe Center (Parish Hall) was dedicated.

In 1989, St. Mary's celebrated the sesquicentennial (175th year) of its parish.  The parish organ (originally installed in 1921) was refurbished and renovated.

In 2000, Father Edward Gretchko succeeded Monsignor Kolp as the 21st pastor of St. Mary's Parish.

In 2012, The National Shrine of St. Dymphna was moved from the Massillon State Hospital to St. Mary's Parish.

On August 4th 2015, a fire broke out in the church and gutted the baptistry and National Shrine of St. Dymphna.  There was also heavy smoke and heat damage throughout the rest of the building.  Following a 16-month renovation, the building was reopened and the first Mass was held on Christmas Eve 2016.

Following the renovations of 2016 and because of a successful Capital Campaign, (thanks to the generosity and faithfulness of so many people!) interior and exterior renovations continue.  Most recently, aging concrete has been replaced at all the entrances of the church.  More renovations are planned for the future.  The continued support of St. Mary's parishioners shows the commitment to our parish, our community, and our Catholic Faith.