Coatesville Church Tour

Hutchinson Memorial Union American Methodist Episcopal Church

It’s the year 1820.  James Monroe was re-elected as President, Spain sold part of Florida to the United States for $5 million and Maine was admitted as the 23rd state of the Union. The Missouri Compromise passes, allowing Missouri to join the United States, despite slavery still being legal there.

In Fallowfield, Pennsylvania (just outside of Coatesville) the Union Church of Africans was formed by Rev. Peter Spencer. Rev. Spencer was born in Kent County, Maryland and in 1812, along with 42 other black members of the Asbury Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilmington, Delaware, withdrew their membership from the racially mixed congregation. Rev. Spencer went on to organize 31 churches and erected schoolhouses with each church, one being the Union Church.

The name was legally changed from Union Church of Africans to the Union American Methodist Episcopal Church (UAME) in 1853, with Rev. William W. Hutchinson being the pastor.

Sunday school was started by “Mother” Rachel A. Potts and was held in her home. In 1869, Rev. Hutchinson build a red brick church on 6th Avenue and Merchant Street. In 1908, construction began at 825 East Chestnut Street and the first service was held in Hutchinson Memorial Union American Methodist Episcopal Church on March 28, 1909.

Since then, the church has grown in many ways. In 1940, the parsonage was built and in 1956, the basement was constructed under the church. In the 1970’s, additional property was purchased at 819 East Chestnut Street and in 1988 the Building Fund Committee was established. On August 5, 1989, the Ground Breaking Ceremony was held for the Robert L. Davis Fellowship Hall. The hall was dedicated and consecrated in February 1992. Around this time, the Coatesville Area Soup Kitchen began using Hutchinson’s R.L.D. Hall to feed the hungry and presently continues to do so.

Throughout the years, Hutchinson has fostered many ministries and currently have over 14 ministries in full operation. In 2014, Hutchinson celebrated its 194th Anniversary and also celebrated the burning of their mortgage.

Hutchinson U.A.M.E. is located at 815 East Chestnut Street and is led by Pastor Rev. Jeffrey A. Miller, Sr.

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Photos: Karol Collins

 

 

 

The Episcopal Church of the Trinity

It’s now the year 1859.  Big Ben could be heard ringing over Parliament in London for the first time and the ground breaking for the Suez Canal took place in Egypt.  The same year, on August 21, 1859, the Episcopal Church in Coatesville celebrated their very first service.

The first service was held in a hall (or school house) located at the corner of 3rd Avenue and Main Street. The Rev. John B. Henry of Downingtown officiated, since Coatesville was not an organized parish at the time. It wasn’t until October of 1868 that the Rev. George G. Field became the first resident pastor and the Episcopal Church of the Trinity is formally founded. Rev. Field served as rector for the next 25 years, resigning in October 1893.

It was in July of 1870, a new frame church building, seating 140 people, was built at the site of the present building. The ground was donated by Benjamin Miller, a member of the first vestry. Other members of the first vestry were: Horace A. Beale, N.P. Hobart, Charles Pennock, Dr. James Scott, John Speakman, William R. Dripps, Reece Welsh and John Stone. However, this church was quickly outgrown and was temporarily moved to 7th Avenue and Merchant Street, where it remains today as St. Paul’s A.M.E. Church.

Since Rev. Field resigned in October 1893, the Rev. Thomas J. Garland was called from Johnstown, Pennsylvania and began his work on March 11, 1894.

During his years as Rector, Mr. Garland published a Parish paper entitled, “The Coatesville Churchman.” The last page of the publication contained advertisements from local businesses, which you can almost imagine lining the streets of Coatesville.

Names such as Wm. D. Sharpe, Merchant Tailor; W.W. Mast & Co.; E.S. Landis, Furniture Dealer and Funeral Director; John Speakman Plumbing and William Sallis, Roofer, occupied storefronts in and around town.

Cook’s Pharmacy, Phillip D. Handwork, Parkesburg Flour Mills and James G. Ford & Son Grocer, J. Garman Jeweler and Optician, N.H. Stone Lumber and Coal, E.T. Harley Dry Goods, J.G. Breuninger Bakers, Charles Hewes Men’s Furnishings, Thomas E. Boyd’s Estate General Merchandise, Isaac D. Landis Watchamker, J. N. Woddward Meats, E. P Yoeman’s Coatesville Oyster House and Nathan Lukens Hardware were other businesses in Coatesville around this time.

The cornerstone of the new church was laid on August 13, 1894 and in it was placed a copper box which contained a list of the communicants, names of the subscribers, historical sketch of the parish, a picture of the old church, a picture of the new church, the first sermon preached by an Episcopal minister in Coatesville, sermons preached by the Rev. George G. Field and the Rev. Thomas J. Garland at the last service held at the old church, a copy of “The Churchman”, “The Church Standard”, “The Chester Valley Union”, “The Weekly Times”, “The Public Ledger” and a copy of the order of services used at the cornerstone laying. On June 1, 1896, the present church was consecrated.

As noted in the 75th Anniversary literature from 1944, Dr. S. Horace Scott was (at the time) the Senior Warden and was the only person active in the work of the Parish, whose life had spanned the entire history of the Parish.

The Parish continued to grow and in 1957, the Stone Hall was constructed, providing office space, meeting and fellowship space. Then in 1967, Trinity merged with St. Cyril’s Mission, an African American church founded in 1917. The Trinity commemorates this union.

The Episcopal Church of the Trinity, as you can see, is rich in history. Coatesville’s history.

The Rev. Sherry Crompton Deets serves as Rector and welcomes everyone to come and join the services each Sunday at 9:30am.

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Photos:  Karol Collins

 

 

St. Cecilia Church

The cornerstone for St. Cecilia Church was placed on December 11, 1870 and with the help of the parishioners, the church was completed in 1874.  However, this almost did not happen.  At the time, the  leaders of the town made it clear that they did not want a Catholic church in the community.  Even though the Catholic population in the area was growing steadily,   the leaders would not sell the land to the Diocese of Philadelphia, making it impossible for the Catholics to have a church of their own.   But that would soon change…

John T. Gay, an English immigrant who converted to Catholicism, purchased the land himself and then he turned it over to the hierarchy.  It was then the planning began and the church would be built.  The first paster was Rev. Charles McFadden who oversaw the building of the church while living in a small house next door that was used as the priest’s residence.  Rev. McFadden’s brother and sister lived with him and there is a story that claims his brother was killed accidentally in a cave-in while the church basement was being excavated.  The death of his brother made him so distraught that he asked to step down as Pastor of the parish.  Father Luke McCabe took his place as Pastor and along with the help of many of the parishioners, completed the work of building the church, which was built in the Gothic style of serpentine (Avondale) stone.

In 1907, the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary began teaching the children in the community.  They came from West Chester by horse and buggy (a 2-day trip) to open St. Cecilia School at the request of Father James Holahan, the pastor at the time.  The Sisters taught 200 children in what is now their convent at the corner of 6th Avenue and Lincoln Highway, before the school was built.  Prior to being the convent, it was the home to a surgeon by the name of Dr. Charles Stone.

The school was dedicated on April 26, 1908 by Bishop Prendergast.  Once going to 10th grade, the school continued as St. Cecilia’s School until 1971;  it was then consolidated with St. Stanislaus Kostka and St. Joseph schools and became Coatesville Area Consolidated Elementary School (C.A.C.E.S.).  Children in K-4th grade attended St. Cecilia, 5th and 6th grades attended St. Stanislaus, while 7th and 8th grades attended St. Joseph’s.

In 2007, Pope John Paul II Regional Elementary School was built on Route 82, bringing children from Pre-K through 8th grade together to learn in one building.

In 2012, St. Cecilia closed for regularly scheduled Masses and is now considered a Worship Site.

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Photos:  Karol Collins

 

 

Olivet United Methodist Church

Majestic and made of stone, Olivet United Methodist Church stretches down Chestnut Street and wraps around the corner of 3rd Avenue.

Though it was built here in 1885, the first Methodist Society in Coatesville was established in 1817, in a schoolhouse on the corner of 3rd Avenue and Harmony Street. It’s here that a local preacher, Alban Hook, is credited with preaching the first sermon in Coatesville. (Around 1824, Methodists were also meeting in Rock Run at the home of Mr. Obediah Robinson, although we do not have any record of when the first society was organized here.)

The Church struggled to survive and often moved its location. Soon, the schoolhouse became too small and in 1839 moved into a former blacksmith’s shop. It was transformed into a house of worship (known as The Turtle Shell) and became the first Methodist Church in the part of Coatesville. Services were held here for the next five years, until once again, was outgrown by the rapidly expanding Coatesville community.

A lot on the corner of Church and Main Streets was secured through the generosity of Mr. James Yearsley, a preacher of the Society of Friends. He donated the lot for the purpose of building a new Methodist Church. After months of careful planning and hard work, the church was built and then dedicated on May 9, 1845. The church had a cemetery and a lot with a hitching place for horses and carriages. Years later, around 1902, the congregation agreed to get a court order to remove the 82 bodies in this cemetery and move them to Fairview Cemetery on Oak Street).

As the community continued to grow, the church was again faced with the problem of not having enough space. The current church was in need of repairs as well. After a revival meeting, the overcrowded church gave way to excess weight and one side of the floor settled into the ground. Since the church was only eleven years old, the membership was divided on what to do. Some thought the church should be repaired, but the reality was that it would be very costly and the church would be outgrown within a few years anyway.

Inspired by the newly appointed minister, Rev. Thomas, in 1857 the project was approved and the new church was built on the corner of Church and Main Streets. Dedication took place on November 19, 1857. The lot for this church was given by Mr. William H. Thompson, in exchange for the old lot and $100 cash, to be paid within a year. This site is now the home of St. Stanislaus Catholic Church.

In 1879, the present lot was secured through the foresight of the church members I.D. Landis and R.E. Smith. The lot belonged to the estate of Nathan Harry, for which he had paid $6,000. The tract of ground was offered at a public sale and purchased by Mr. Landis and Mr. Smith for $1,000. They in turn offered the lot to the Church Board for $800, with one condition: it could only be accepted and used only for the building of a church and parsonage for the Olivet Methodist Church. If for any reason these buildings were not built, the lot should revert back to Mr. Landis and Mr. Smith. The offer was accepted and after the congregation was in a position to build, ground was broken on September 5, 1883 at Third Avenue and Chestnut Street. Dedication took place on May 10, 1885.

Today, the church has undergone even more changes and has three chapels, a library, classrooms and a gymnasium. On the lower floor is a newly renovated industrial kitchen and fellowship hall, which seats up to 100 people.

Olivet United Methodist Church is an important part of Coatesville’s history and now looks anxiously toward the future.   In 2017, the Church will celebrate its 200th Anniversary. Under the leadership of Pastor Davis, the church continues to grow and be a part of the Coatesville community. Bright Beginnings Pre-School and Coatesville Kids to College are both programs hosted by Olivet Methodist Church. New partnerships have been formed with many organizations, including Art Partners Studio, Chester county Food Bank, Lincoln University, Dayspring Counseling Center, The Coatesville Public Library, 4-H Club and the Blue-Jay Ministries. These organizations will be contributing to the education of these students by providing high quality supplemental educational programming.

Additionally, a Men’s Lunch & Bible Study is held each Friday from 12:00-1:00pm, as well as a Daytimer’s Bible Study for women on the third Tuesday of each month.

Olivet United Methodist Church is located at 310 East Chestnut Street, 610-384-5828. http://www.Olivetumc.org017.JPG

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Photos:  Karol Collins

Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd

By the 1880’s, Coatesville was growing at a rapid pace. Lukens Steel began operating its first open hearth steel making furnace, requiring many workers to run the mill. People from southern states as well as European countries moved into the area, calling Coatesville their new home.

Around this time, a group of Lutherans gathered in the West End and decided that they needed a church to call home. In June of 1890, Trinity Lutheran Church was officially organized.

The construction of the church began and two years later, members worshipped for the first time in their new church. The original church was located at the corner of Church Street and Lincoln Highway.

As Lukens Steel grew, so did the number of people needed to run the mill, as well as the number of Lutherans in Coatesville. So many, in fact, that a second church was needed in the East End of town. Several families from Trinity Lutheran Church decided to build another church and in 1907, the Evangelical Church of Our Savior was formed with 50 members. Construction immediately began and in December of 1909, the church at the corner of 5th Avenue and Chestnut Street was completed.

Over the years, both churches continued to grow and by the late 1960’s, both congregations began to explore the idea of how to expand once again. Since neither church could build a new facility on its own, both churches came together and built one new church building.

On January 1, 1970, the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd was officially organized with the support of both Trinity and Our Savior congregations. A new building was constructed just outside the city limits, in Caln Township at 107 S. 17th Avenue. The new church was dedicated on September 15, 1974.

In 2001, the church added 11,000 square feet, which included an industrial-sized kitchen, banquet hall, meeting rooms, classrooms as well as storage space.

Around 2010, a Columbarium was constructed on the church property, which is open to anyone that would like to buy a niche.

Today, the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd is led by Pastor Susan Lynch, who has served for the past year (since 2013). Prior to Pastor Lynch, Pastor John Carlson led the congregation for 24 years.

The Lutheran Church is involved with the Coatesville community in a number of ways. For example, the Youth Group puts together two baskets each year at Thanksgiving to be given away. The church also has an Angel Tree at Christmastime. There is also an Adult Choir, Children’s Choir and a Hand Bell Choir.

Years ago, the church sponsored a church in Liberia and as a result of this ourtreach, the Lutheran Church happily gained many Liberian members, which now call this church their home.

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Photo:  Karol Collins

 

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Photo:  Dave DeSimone

 

Blessed Virgin Mary Byzantine Catholic Church

If you have ever driven down Strode Avenue, you may have noticed a church on the corner of Gap Road, across from Harrison Senior Living. This is the Blessed Virgin Mary Byzantine Catholic Church.

Around the turn of the 20th century, a group of devout Hungarian Catholics arrived and settled in the budding community of Coatesville, Pennsylvania. Since they didn’t have a church of their own, they attended services in other Byzantine Rite churches, but felt out of place. The group resolved that they would from their own parish and be placed under the patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary and was named in her honor.

On April 20, 1918, the final plans were presented by the committee to the Very Rev. Gabriel Martyak from Lansford, Pennsylvania for ecclesiastical approval. The plan was approved and construction began later that year.

On Sunday, May 4, 1919, the Very Rev. Michael Balog, Dean of Cleveland, Ohio, officiated the blessing of the church and on May 30, 1919, the charter was formally signed by all 150 families of the parish.

The Byzantine Catholic Church is united with Catholics of the Roman (or Latin Rite) in faith and in allegiance to the Pope in Rome. At the same time, faith is practiced according to the Byzantine Rite (or tradition) shared with the Orthodox Churches.

The church building is divided into three main parts. The Nathex (vestibule), the Nave and the Sanctuary (also called the alter or Holy Place). The Narthex is where the catechumens and visitors were traditionally asked to stand during services. The Nave is the main body of the church and is the gathering place of thte assembly, the Body of Christ. The small table at the front is known as the Tetrapod and displays an Icon. The Icon is changed throughout the year to reflect the Feast or Saint of honor.

Located between the Sanctuary and the Nave is the Icon Screen (or Iconostasis). The Icon screen has four doors; the clergy pass through the screen during the Liturgy. The central doors are called “the royal doors: and the priest enters through these doors only when carrying the Eucharistic gifts, or the Holy Gospel, or when giving a blessing. The four Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are depicted on these doors.

The best-known symbol of the Byzantine Catholic faith is the “three barred cross” which rises from the dome atop the church. The cross has an extra bar at the top with the title, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” (I.N.R.I. in Latin initials). A smaller plank at the bottom may have served as a footrest for Jesus. This is the historical reason for the two ‘extra’ bars.

Many original traditions of the Christian church are followed, which date back centuries. One example, Easter is not celebrated, but Pascha is, which comes from a Hebrew word meaning ‘the passing over.’ While others celebrate Christmas, the Nativity is celebrated at the Byzantine church.

The Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church is located at 88 Gap Road.

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Photos:  Karol Collins

 

 

Tabernacle Baptist Church

Beautifully built from red brick, Tabernacle Baptist Church sprawls along Coates Street, as if it’s reaching out to greet you.

Once inside, it’s evident to see the true commitment to the community that the Tabernacle Baptist Church is proud to be a part of and in which they play a significant role.

Founded by Rev. Alexander in October of 1907, the first lot was purchased on November 30, 1908 and the first Tabernacle Baptist Church was erected. Over the next several years, the church grew rather quickly and was soon overcrowded. It was on February 19, 1917, an additional lot was purchased and the original church was dismantled. The new church was built in 1918, continuing to grow under Rev. Alexander until he resigned in 1940.

Pastor Rev. Arthur L. Younger served as Pastor from 1941-1954; Pastor Rev. Charles V. Wilis served from 1955-1991. Pastor Rev. Joseph B. Crosby served from 1992-2005, followed by Rev. Malcom Finkley who served from 2006-2007.

Today, Tabernacle Baptist Curch is led by Pastor Rev. Randall M. Harris. Pastor Harris is a Coatesville native and is dedicated to his city and its residents. With the help of Pam Depte, Church Secretary and Sally Holmes, R.N., good things are happening here. On Fridays, Sally oversees a weekly program in which bags of fresh, seasonal food is given out to anyone that stops by. The church works closely with the Food Bank to obtain the food that is given away. On Tuesdays, the church prepares a meal for the men that reside at Atkinson’s Men’s Shelter on Chestnut Street. Each Spring and Fall, the Mother’s Board and Pastor’s Aid Ministry hold a women’s clothing giveaway. In August, 100 back packs filled with school supplies are given to the school-aged children in the neighborhood.

Tabernacle Baptist Church is located at 819 Coates Street.

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Photos:  Karol Collins

 

 

 

Holy Ghost Ukrainian Orthodox Church

As you travel east along U.S. Route 30, as you leave Valley Township and enter the West End of Coatesville, you can’t help but notice certain things that stand out in the landscape.   The steel mill (where it has stood since the 1800’s), Harrison House (the former Coatesville Hospital) up on the hill, and the shiny silver domes and crosses atop the Holy Ghost Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

But how did the Holy Ghost Church come to be a part of Coatesville’s unique scenery?

Young people of Ukrainian decent arrived in Coatesville to find a better way of life in a new land. So many of them came here alone, leaving everything they knew behind. Very little was brought with them, but what they did bring was something that money could not buy – their heritage, customs, traditions and a desire to work hard.

Most importantly, they brought with them their faith in God. This is how the Holy Ghost Church of Coatesville was founded.

Initially four Coatesville men – W. Wolownik, H. Mokry, W. Kozachshyn and Illa Lukasewych – organized services in private homes. Soon the number of attendees made it necessary for a structure to be erected and the church on Gibbons Avenue was built. The year was 1909.

Membership grew and the little church was soon outgrown. As a result, the current church, which stands at 392 Charles Street, was built in 1917. The cost was $28,000 and though this was a difficult financial period for parishioners, the mortgage was fulfilled and burned in 1935.

The Eastern Orthodox Church is the expression of Christianity in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa. Worship is ancient in form and modern in application. The services and sacraments are in the form and ritual in the form in which they were first given and the text of Sunday services has its origins in the Fifth Century. This is also how Baptisms, Confirmations, Marriages, Funerals and all other Rites are celebrated.

Father Anthony Ugolnik, Pastor, welcomes everyone to join for Sunday services at 9am.

The Holy Ghost Church is also traditional when it comes to food. Each November, the church hosts a Holiday Bazaar, in which people arrive (sometimes in the freezing cold) up to two hours before the doors open to secure a spot in line. Numbers are handed out and folks line up and talk about what they will buy once inside, whether it be, pierogies, halupki (stuffed cabbage) and a variety of nut rolls. For more information, visit www.holyghostuoc.org

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Photo:  Karol Collins

 

 

 

 

St. Nicholas Orthodox Church

In the early twentieth century, Russian immigrants settled in Coatesville seeking work at the steel mill. At the time, the nearest Russian Orthodox Church was in Philadelphia. Desirous of a place to worship close to home, The Russian Orthodox Parish of Saint Nicholas, with 119 founding members, was organized ini 1915-1916 with the blessing of Archbishop Evdokim. Founding priest, Fr. Vasily Kurdiumoff, held services first in parishioners’ homes, and later in a rented building on Third Avenue next to the railroad station. In 1917 land was purchased at First Avenue and Oak Street, where the cornerstone of Saint Nicholas Orthodox Church was blessed by Archbishop Alexander; the church was completed the same year.

St. Nicholas Orthodox Church is located at 11 Oak Street facing 1st Avenue.

 

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Photos:  Karol Collins

 

 

 

 

St. Joseph’s Parish

In 1924, Coatesville was only 9 years old. Although Lukens Steel had been in existence for over 100 years, Coatesville operated as a borough until 1915, when by a majority vote of its citizens, became the one and only city in Chester County.

It was around this time that Rev. Francis J. Dutko, who was the assistant rector of St. Michaels’ Church in Lansford, was appointed to the rectorship of a newly formed parish in Coatesville: St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church.

This congregation was formed by the division of St. Stanislaus parish, which consisted of both Polish and Slovak citizens, creating quite a large congregation. Only 17 years later, it was then decided by the Cardinal that each group could have a church of their own. Prior to St. Stanislaus, there was only one Catholic Church in Coatesville, St. Cecilia Church on 6th Avenue, which was built in 1874.

Initially, church services were held in the Smith Garage building, now the Polish-American Club. In 1926, construction began at the corner of Hope Avenue and Charles Street for St. Joseph (Slovaka) Catholic Church. Co-founders of the church were Rev. Francis Dutko, John Toloravich and George Hudock.

In the early years of the church, most of the parish families lived near the church and had at least on family member that worked at Lukens Steel. At the time, almost 95% of the working members of the church were employed by Lukens.

The first services were held on Sunday May 29, 1927 with Rev. Andrew Pavlis as Rector. Rev. Pavlis served until 1929, followed by Rev. Michael P. Metro who served for more then 25 years. Father Andrew Birosh served from 1970-1985, followed by Father Cyril S. Ponisciak from 1985-1997. Father John Oulds followed in 1997 and continues to serve as Pastor, along with Father John Hagen, O.S.A. and Father Peter Welsh.

Many changes have taken place in our local Catholic Church community in recent years. Both St. Stanislaus and St. Cecilia have had to close for regular scheduled Masses and have become Worship Sites, making it necessary for the Parishioners to attend other area churches. Instead of the churches being based on ethnicity as they were at the time when they were built, they are now territorial churches, based on where the Parishioners reside.

Father Oulds describes July 1, 2012 as the new birthdate of the church and that in a sense, St. Joseph is a brand-new parish with new opportunities for growth. Among the many ministries included at St. Joseph are the Parish/Pastoral Council, Parish Finance Council, Ministers of Holy Communion, Lectors, Alter Servers, Alter Society, Ushers, Knights of Columbus, Parish Social Club, Adult Choir, Spanish Choir, St. Vincent DePaul and P.R.E.P. (Parish Religious Education Program).

One of the highly attended services at St. Cecilia was the mass in Spanish. St. Joseph has happily welcomed these Parishioners to the church and there is a Spanish-spoken Mass every Sunday at noon, led by Father Peter Welsh.

At Christmas, the church has an Advent Giving Tree to help provide gifts for those who are less fortunate. Also at Christmas, the Knights of Columbus sponsor Pictures with Santa for the children of the Parish.

St. Joseph is located at 404 Charles Street .

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St. Joseph’s

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St. Stanislaus

Photos:  Karol Collins