By Tony DeGol
A Somerset County faith community is getting ready to celebrate a huge milestone.
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Windber will begin commemorating its 125th anniversary with a special Mass of Thanksgiving with Bishop Mark presiding on July 30, 2023, at 3:00 p.m.
“The history of our parish these 125 years is about relationships between God, its priests, and people,” noted Father Roderick Soha, TOR, Pastor. “It is a story filled with hopes and disappointments, success and failure, joy and sorrows in building the Kingdom of God here in Windber.”
The parish’s roots date back to 1897 when Father John Boyle of Saint John Parish in Johnstown served the spiritual needs of many newly arrived immigrants to the Windber area.
The parish was officially established in 1898 as Immaculate Conception Parish, under the direction of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. In late 1898 or early 1899, the patronage changed to Saint John Cantius. The parish came under the direction of the newly formed Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown in 1901.
Construction of the current church building began in 1912, and the finished structure was dedicated in 1913.
Over the years, Saint John Cantius Parish became more immersed in the community of Windber, and significant renovations occurred to the church building.
In 2002, Saint John Cantius Parish and Saint Mary Parish (also in Windber) merged, creating Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish.
Today, Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton is one of three Catholic parishes in Windber, along with Saint Anthony of Padua and Saints Cyril and Methodius, all under the pastorate of Father Soha. Father Lawrence Lacovic assists Father Soha in ministry as a Senior Priest of the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown in residence in the Catholic Community of Windber.
Among the living priests who have served the parish over the years are Monsignor Bernard Przybocki and Father Ronald Osinski, both senior priests of the diocese; Father Leonard Voytek, Pastor of Saint Mary Parish in Nanty Glo; and Father George Gulash, Pastor of Resurrection Parish in Johnstown and Administrator of Saint Clare of Assisi Parish in Johnstown.
According to Father Soha, the anniversary observance is an opportunity to celebrate the past and look to the future, while thanking God for the abundant graces bestowed on the parish faith community over the past century and a quarter.
“God has blessed us in our faith journey, and what a great journey we have had,” Father stated. “Congratulations to all who have labored to make Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton the faith community it is today, a welcoming place for all to come and worship. Now, we continue our second hundred years asking God to bless us through the intercession of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton.”