VIENNA, Ohio (WKBN) – At a time when many older churches in the Mahoning Valley are closing down, Monday brought something new.
It was a groundbreaking on a church to unify two faith communities in Trumbull County.
St. Thomas the Apostle Parish will be replacing its aging home.
“We didn’t want to fade into history. And we wanted a Catholic presence in this part of Trumbull County for the future,” Rev. Frank Zanni, pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle, said.
On Monday morning, Zanni and local leaders broke ground on a new church, right behind the current one.
Five years ago, the parish was formed by the merger of St. Vincent de Paul Church in Vienna and St. Bernadette Church in Masury. The parish is looking to sell or lease the current churches.
“We wanted a sense of unification. If we are working together, these two faith communities working together, what more symbolic image would that be than to have one worship space,” Fr. Zanni said.
So why build something new instead of putting everyone into one of the current churches?
“Well, we couldn’t get everyone into one. That was the problem. Both churches are very small. And we had two worship spaces that we were constantly going back to,” Zanni said.
“They are very excited about this. It is a beautiful church, which you can see from the drawings. And I think it will make a real contribution to the area and to the faith life of the people here,” Youngstown Bishop George Murry said.
Construction will begin next month, with the new church opening in 2016. The parish has raised more than $1 million, but will continue fundraising efforts.
“It is very exciting for all of us. It is a new beginning. And we hope God continues to bless us,” St. Thomas parishioner Virginia Crumb said.
The new church will feature stained glass windows and fixtures from both St. Vincent de Paul and St. Bernadette.