About SJN History

A History of our Parish Community

St. John Neumann Parish was established on July 1, 1977 by its founding pastor, Father Frank LaRocca who served as pastor until November 1989. Previous to our present pastor, Father Bob Kraig, Father John Vrana served as administrator pro-temp from November of 1989 until January 16 of 1990 when Father Bob was appointed pastor. The first mass of the parish was held on Saturday, July 2, 1977 at 5:00 p.m. in the Strongsville Senior High School Auditorium for approximately 50 parishioners.

On November 1, 1977, ground was broken for the rectory/administration building. Robert Zarzycki, the architect who did our present addition, was also the architect of the rectory/administration center and eventually the church that had its first mass on Easter Sunday in April of 1982. During the first five years from 1977 to 1982 Saturday vigil and Sunday masses were held in tile Strongsville Senior High School Auditorium. Father John Vrana, presently pastor of St. Martin of tours in Maple Hts., Ohio assisted Father LaRocca with these weekend masses. As the new parish was formed, then Bishop Hickey, presently Cardinal Hickey, and the Diocesan Catholic School Building Committee decided that St. Joseph Catholic Elementary School would accept students from both parishes and be called Saints Joseph and John Inter-parochial School. Groundbreaking ceremonies for the new Saint John Neumann Church were in July of 1981 and on July 4, 1982, exactly five years after the first mass in the high school, the church was blest.

Father Bill McCool was appointed as associate pastor in June of 1982 followed by Father Paul Krawczyk who served as associate pastor until June of 1990. With the completion of the new church building and the Christ Renews His Parish weekend retreat program many more people became involved in the life of St. John Neumann Parish. The first parish mission and Father Bill's working with the youth brought many people together of all ages. This, coupled with the vibrant, enthusiastic spirit of Father Frank brought much life to the parish community. Father Paul continued the work of Fr. Bill and in doing so brought St. John's into the decade of the 1990's.

During an interim transition time of the parish both Fr. Joe Hilinski, who became pastor of Our Lady of Mercy and Diocesan Ecumenical Director, and Fr. Mike Ausperk served as associate pastors from June of 1990 until June of 1991. Sr. Jean Koma, H.M., served as pastoral associate from June of 1990 until June of 1992 and helped develop some of our present adult education programs.

Father Dave Woost, currently pastor of Divine Word parish in Kirkland, served as associate pastor from June of 1991 until June 1996; Father Bob Franco, pastor of St. Peter in North Ridgefield, served from June of 1992 until June 1996. Fr. David Trask became associate pastor on September 15, 1997. He served as associate until May 1, 2000 when he was appointed pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Macedonia. One month later Fr. Steve Breck, newly ordained replaced Fr. Trask.

Fr. Ed Schwet joined Fr. Trask as associate pastor until June 12, 2001 when Fr. Ed was transferred to Holy Family Parish in Parma. Fr. Edwin Leonard replaced Fr. Schwet on June 12, 2001, but soon left and became pastor of Annunciation in Akron in June 2003.

Fr. Neil Walters then replaced Fr. Leonard on June 10, 2003. In June 2005, Fr. Steve was transferred to St. Charles Borromeo in Parma, and he was replaced by Fr. Tony Sejba. June 5, 2007 witnessed departure of Fr. Neil Walters who was transferred to St. Theresa in Garfield, Ohio and he was replaced by Fr. Russell Rauscher who came from St. Francis Xavier in Medina. Fr. Tony then in 2009 became a pastor, and we remained with only two priets until 2010. Fr. Andrew ("Andy") became an associate at St. John in June 2010.  After a short assignment with St. John, Fr. Andy was appointed by Bishop Lennon as Director of Field Education at Borromeo and St. Mary Seminary effective July 1st 2013.  Not until June 10, 2014 was Fr. Andy replaced, when we welcomed Fr. Edward Holland from Holy Family Parish in Stow, Ohio.

In June 2011 Fr. Russ was transferred to St. John Vienney of Mentor, and his replacement is Fr. Dennis Kristancic who had previously served with Fr. Tony, but more recently was at St. Monica's in Garfield Heights.

Sr. Pat Sylvester, S.N.D., also joined the staff when Fr. Bob Franco came and coordinates many of the adult education programs, along with many other ministerial services to our community. 1997 also saw the introduction to Sr. Mary Popoczy, S.N.D. who instituted many new programs, and reached out to the homebound, until her transfer to the Leadership Team of Regional Superiors at the Notre Dame Motherhouse in Chardon in July 2005.

At present, our parish is approximately 3,700 families and continues to grow. The present population of Strongsville is roughly 43,000 and over the next 10-15 years is projected to go to 45,000. Our parish will grow proportionately.

The parish is currently served by Fr. Robert Kraig (pastor), Rev. Mr. Ken Piechowski (permanent deacon),  Fr. Dennis Kristancic effective August 15, 2011, Fr. Edward Holland (associate pastor) as of June 10, 2014, Sr. Pat Sylvester, SND (pastoral associate), Mrs. Sandy Zorn (pastoral associate).

St. John's continues to grow as a parish centered around the Eucharist and Prayer; the ministries of so many people in our community is something that is a blessing from God. May God bless all members of our community, both past and present, and may God grant eternal peace not only to our founding pastor, Fr. Frank LaRocca, but to all past deceased members or our prayaing community.