Sacred Heart - St. Joseph's Parish History
Page One of History

          The history of the founding of the Sacred Heart Parish of Weston - Nuremberg dates back to the arrival in Hazleton, Pa., of Rev. Nicholas Forve as pastor of the Holy Trinity German Church in June of 1887. This priest had been instructed by his superior, Bishop O'Hara of Scranton, to go to Hazleton and establish there a parish for the German-speaking people of that city, who were without a church of their own for services in that language. Shortly after establishing his parish, and in the course of his priestly work, Father Forve learned that a few miles to the southwest of Hazleton, in the villages of Derringer and Fern Glen, there lived many Catholic families---some of whom spoke the German language---but had no opportunity to hear Holy Mass or receive the Sacraments, since they were so far removed from Hazleton. With genuine priestly fervor and zeal, in horse and buggy, Father Forve began to make occasional visits to these people, and offered up for them the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, first in a private home, and later in a little red school-house at Derringer.

          Soon the school-house proved inadequate, for now there came from the easterly side of Derringer Mountain, from a village called Hopeville (Weston), still more people to worship, when they learned of the visiting priest. As a result, Father Forve and his little newly founded flock decided to build a church for the convenience of all the Catholic people in the neighborhood. The village of Hopeville was chosen for the sight of the same, when one Mr. George Seiwell, a pioneer resident of the place, donated a large plot of his land to the Catholic people for their church.

          During the course of construction of this building, Father Forve frequently read Mass for the people under a large apple tree on Mr. Seiwell's farm. Under the able guidance of Father Forve, and his committee, the foundation was laid by men of the parish who brought stones for the same from the neighboring mountainside. It is said that some of the committeemen of that time were: Erasmus Dashl, Peter Fedrigon, Barth Konschnik, Val Kollenz, Fred Logar, Stephen Margle and Batista Ponchary.

          In late summer of 1888 the building was completed, and Father Forve, in the presence of other priests, and people from the surrounding villages, blessed and dedicated the new church to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. For several years thereafter this church served as the mission of Father Forve's church in Hazleton. On many occasions, especially on First Holy Communion days, Father Forve brought his own choir members with him to Hopeville, to sing during the Mass. While there is no record of the exact time that Father Forve ceased to minister personally to these people, it is believed that it was about the year 1898, for in that year was established the first resident pastor of Weston, in the person of Rev. Anthony Lipinski (deceased).

          Before this appointment, however, and as early as 1888, a group of Catholic Tyrolean people, from the neighboring village of New London (Nuremberg), desired a place of worship for themselves, and a priest who could speak their language made plans for the erection of a church in their own neighborhood. Prior to this, services had been held for them in Wharmby's Hall at New London, whenever a priest from Hazleton was available. For the site of this building, a plot of land was likewise donated by a Mr. Fred Delzeit, Jr., said land within the boundaries of Luzerne, but bordering on Schuylkill County. Through voluntary contributions from members and personal loans Peter and Camillo Yannes, John and Joseph Marchetti, a simple structure was built and used by them for ten years. In 1898 additions were wade to this building of a steeple, choir loft and pews. The bell for the steeple was donated by Charles D. Kaier and Sons of Mahonoy City. In that same year, records reveal that, while Father Lipinski was pastor, Father Forve was delegated by Bishop O'Hara to bless and dedicate this building to the honor of St. Joseph. From this time on, services were held in this building, occasionally by the resident priest of Weston, but more often by visiting priests from Hazleton.

          Quite naturally, during the early years of this parish, since there was no resident pastor in either place, records of baptisms, marriages, funerals, etc., were not registered here. From 1887 to 1896 no records are available, except perhaps at the churches in Hazleton from which place priests frequently came to serve these people. However, the very first records in our parish are these of 1896: First Baptism, that of Charles Walter Logar (died 1934), born November 3, 1896, of Frederick Logar and Mary (Baumann) Logar in Hopeville; sponsors were Peter and Marie Culk; baptism by the Rev. F. J. Pribyl. First Marriage recorded, that of: Joseph Bauer and Wilhelmina Lenhard of Hopeville; witnesses, Francis Baumann and Elizabeth Lenhard; officiating priest Rev. F. J. Pribyl. First recorded Death and Burial, that of: John Lorinz, age 14 years of Tomhicken, accidental death on November 26, and burial on November 28, 1896; this record is signed also by Rev. F. J. Pribyl. Unfortunately, the records do not reveal distinctly the first Baptism, Marriage or Funeral in the Nuremberg Church. However, it is reliably reported that the first marriage ceremony performed therein was that of Joseph Marchetti and Angela Marchetti, in 1890; witnesses Henry Marchetti and Barbara Libener, officiating priest Father Jeremundo.

           About 1900, the names of both villages were changed, that of Hopeville to Weston, that of New London to Nuremberg, when it was learned that other post offices by those names existed in this state.

          It is impossible to give an accurate list of the priests, and of the time they served these people, after the transfer of Father Lipinski from Weston in 1901. There were many, for the reason that the people preferred priests who spoke their own language, who, however, were not always available. There were times when there was a resident priest in each place; times when there was none in either. Under such conditions, a priest would come from Hazleton on Saturday and remain overnight in a private home. At Weston, Logar's home, and at Nuremberg, Marchetti's home, provided shelter for the priest. Following is a list of the priests and the approximate dates of the services here: Rev. C. VanWelden, 1901-1903. Rev. Joseph Kloss, 1903-1904. Rev. Fr. Wiesock, 1904-1905.

          From 1905-1906 are found the names of Revs. J. J. Heffernan, Stephen H. O'Boyle, (who were then assistants at St. Gabriel's in Hazleton), F. Kabelka, Joseph W. Treitz. Rev. F. P. McNally, 1906-1909. The earliest financial statement available is that of 1906, and is under the signatures of Rev. F. J. McNally, Rector, Erasmus Dashl, Vice-President, Barth Konschnik, Secretary and Peter Fedrigon, Treasurer. During these years are found also the names of a few Stigmatini Fathers, among them Revs. Joseph Nardone, Tomerki and Lewis Luchi, and the name of Rev. D. J. Farrell, 1912-1914. Rev. Fr. Grywacz, 1914-1916, Rev. P. Vioszyk, 1916-1917.

          In 1917 Bishop Hoban of Scranton appointed the Rev. Cyriac A, Staib, pastor of Weston. Father Staib seemed to understand his people very well and, from the very start, endeavored to remove their conflicting desires by urging very strongly a union of both churches under the one and same English-speaking pastor. Weston was chosen as the residence for him, since a house there had previously been bought, and Nuremberg was designated as the Mission Church. Much success and progress was then made in re-organizing both churches into one unit, having a common treasurer, and a standing committee of four (4) men selected from both churches. Father Staib, encouraged by the enthusiasm and wholehearted cooperation on the part of the people, labored here faithfully for the next three years, when he was transferred to Duryea in 1920, leaving behind him a well united and growing parish. Records reveal that in 1919, Bishop Hoban administered the Sacrament of Confirmation to a large class.

          In August 1920, the Rev. Henry Diehl was appointed pastor of Weston-Nuremberg. The effective organization was strengthened even more by Father Diehl's untiring efforts during his long stay here from 1920 to June 1928. During this time, beautiful stations of the cross and other statues were erected in the churches, largely the donations of individual members. With all his priestly care of the ever-growing parish, Father Diehl found time to improve, materially and substantially, the church properties, by personally installing electric fixtures in both churches, and in the parish house in Weston. Much work was also done under his direction, with men of the parish, to provide an attractive and beautiful cemetery on the mountainside of Weston. During his time also was organized the Knights of St. George cadets.

Go to Page Two of History