Saint John Cantius, Sharpsburg

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Parish History

St. John Cantius was established in 1906 as a Polish parish.  The origin of the parish can be traced to the immigration of Poles to Sharpsburg in the late nineteenth century.  At first local Poles traveled to Pittsburgh to attend Mass at St. Stanislaus Kostka.  When Holy Family parish was founded in 1902 in Lawrenceville, Sharpsburg Poles attended that church.  However, they wanted their own congregation and on October 14, 1906, the parish was established by the appointment of a resident pastor. 

The new parish made arrangements with Madonna of Jerusalem parish to use their church until St. John Church was built.  Work on a combined church and school began in June of 1907.  The basement and the first floor were intended to hold the school and the second floor the church.  The cornerstone was laid on August 18, 1907, and the completed building was dedicated on January 26, 1908.  

On June 15, 1965, a fire broke out in the building which completely destroyed the church and badly damaged the school.  The parish razed the second floor church and repaired the school in the lower floors.  During this time, the parish celebrated Mass in the parish recreational hall.  The school reopened in March of 1966.  However, it took five years before work began on the new church.  Construction began in April of 1970 and the first Mass in the new church was celebrated on Christmas Day, 1970.  The church was dedicated on February 28, 1971.

As the twenty-first century began, it became obvious that Sharpsburg could no longer support three independent parishes.  On March 1, 2009, St. John Cantius merged with St. Mary and Madonna of Jerusalem parishes to form the new St. Juan Diego Parish.  St. John Cantius Church remains open and continues to serve the new parish.

Photos From the Diocesan Archive:

St. John Cantius Church/School, 1932
Second St. John Cantius Church, 2002
Interior of second church, 2002

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