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

          Upon transfer of Father Diehl to Pittston in June 1928, The Rev. Joseph G. Oberholzer was given charge of Weston-Nuremberg parish. He, too, found this an ever-growing parish, and though his stay here was a short one, he, nevertheless, endeared himself to these people by the sincerity of his efforts in their behalf, especially in the care of the sick, and his concern for the wayward ones of his flock.
          In June 1930, the late Bishop O'Reilly of Scranton transferred Father Oberholzer to Duryea and appointed the Rev. Joseph C. Ward pastor of Weston-Nuremberg. Several years had elapsed since Confirmation was administered, so on November 2, 1930, Bishop O'Reilly visited here and confirmed a class of 445 candidates. Again in 1933 he came and confirmed 125 children.
          By 1933 the church buildings were badly in need of repairs, particularly the church of the town of Nuremberg, which could no longer accommodate the big crowd of people at Mass on Sundays. After much deliberation and planning, and with permission of Bishop O'Reilly, improvements to both churches were begun in September of 1935. John J. Hawley of Scranton was the architect, and Anthony V. Raymond, also of Scranton, was the contractor. Major improvements on the inside of the Weston church were: a niche for the altar, new electrical fixtures, texture walls, art-glass windows, and painting of the pews. Besides repainting the whole building, the entrance to the same was improved by a cement approach and a vestibule with swinging doors. The church at Nuremberg took on an entirely new aspect. After raising the small original building, 5 ft. 3 in., to the level of the road, additions on all sides of the building gave to the new church resulting lines in the form of a cross. Cloister aisle effect within enhances the beauty of this church. After the improvements had been made, the women's Altar Societies of both churches, from their own treasury, paid for the redecoration of all altars, statues and new furnishings for the sanctuaries of their churches. Several individual members and friends of the parish contributed to the cost of the art-glass windows and other beautiful furnishings of the altars. Then on Sunday, July 16th, 1936, with impressive ceremonies, both churches were rededicated by the Rev Msgr. C. A. McHugh, V. G., in the absence of Bishop O'Reilly. In 1933 improvements were likewise made to the cemetery, after a donation of land was made to the parish by the Coxe Bros. Estate. This same addition was blessed and dedicated by Msgr. Kane of Hazleton on August 15, 1922.
          In June of 1943 Father Ward was transferred to St. Boniface Church, Wilkes-Barre, Pa. And was succeeded here by the Rev. G. Eugene Frank. Coming to the parish at the conclusion of World War Two, he found the parishioners to be in a state of uncertainty. The return of the young men from service found a surplus of labor and the exodus of many of them to the cities, adding to the difficulties of the local situation. However, the parish carried on under his able guidance as the problems of relocation after the war began to resolve themselves. It was shortly after the arrival of Father Frank that the Bishop's House of Charity began, a drive to supply the many needs of charity throughout the Diocese, and under his leadership the parish attained and oversubscribed the goals that had been set for it. Shortly after this, the parish was once again called upon to share in the obligations of a new home for the Catholic Charities of the Hazleton area. Again under his guidance, the parish contributed the share asked of it to assist in the construction of St. Joseph's Hospital in Hazleton.
          After fulfilling his obligations to the extra-parochial affairs that had been placed upon him and the parish, Father Frank now turned his attention to the local problems. The Rectory, badly in need of renovation, was remodeled to some extent. Under his planning, the Sacred Heart Church had new flooring installed, and, through the generosity of the Altar & Rosary Society, new pews were placed in the church. The need for a place to hold parochial meetings was met by the excavation of the Weston Church, and finishing it so that adequate space was provided. At St. Joseph's Church the sanctuary and the altars were modified to present a liturgical aspect. The altar fittings, candlesticks, tabernacle and sanctuary lamp were donated through the kindness of societies and individuals, and the beauty of these have added to the dignity of St. Joseph's Church.
          In 1952 the mines, the mainstay of the community for so many years, were closed completely. Many of the parishioners found themselves without jobs, and no prospects on the local scene of finding work to support their families. As a result, for the second time in a few years, there was a surge of parishioners out of the area to communities where work was available, particularly in the New Jersey and New York areas. However, with the strength and courage derived from ancestors who had traveled thousands of miles to obtain a decent livelihood, the parish began to become stable as employment was found to take up the slack caused by the closing of the mines.
          The year 1954 saw another change in the pastorate of the Weston-Nuremberg parish when on November 12th Father Frank was transferred to Sacred Heart Church in Duryea. The years assigned to this man of God were rapidly drawing to a close, although apparently in good health, Father Frank died suddenly on April 2, 1959.
          The Reverend Joseph F. Meier was appointed by Bishop Hannan to succeed Father Frank and was installed as pastor of Sacred Heart and St. Joseph Parish on November 13, 1954 by the Right Reverend Msgr. Dennis J. Kane. On February 25, 1955 was begun what has been the source of many of our graces, the Perpetual Novena to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. Since its inception, the novena was conducted each Friday night.
          One need that was outstanding in the parish was for a new rectory. The rectory had proved to be inadequate for the needs of the parish. And at a meeting of the parishioners, a new home for the priests was planned. With this in mind, the Skoff property adjacent to the church in Weston was purchased on June 23, 1955. The existing home on the property was razed in the summer of 1957 and a new rectory was begun on September 9, 1957. The contract for the new rectory amounted to $42,600.00 and it was signed by Vincent Raggi, AIA, of Dunmore, Pa. This major undertaking of the parish was looked upon by some as being too much of a burden for the size of the parish, but the cooperation shown by all resulted in the retirement of the debt incurred three years after the construction had begun. This is a remarkable tribute to the faith and generosity of the parishioners of St. Joseph's and Sacred Heart. The rectory was completed and occupied May 27, 1958. The furnishings of the rectory were provided for by the members of the Holy Name Society, the Sacred Heart Altar & Rosary Society, St. Joseph's Altar & Rosary Society and St. Joseph's Sodality.
          Another problem that faced the parish was the care of the cemetery. With so many individuals and families having left the area, and unable to arrange for the care of their plots, the cemetery began to show the lack of attention that should have been lavished on the last resting place of the loved ones who had founded the parish. A survey was taken among the parishioners as to the feasibility of the establishment of a Perpetual Care Fund to maintain the cemetery in a proper manner. The result of the survey was overwhelmingly in favor of such a plan, and as a result the Perpetual Care Fund was instituted on May 30, 1958.
          The slow reversal of the economic scene began to have its effect on the parish as once more it began to forge ahead. The increase of parishioners began to make itself felt in the need for more parking facilities, especially at St. Joseph's, where the situation was desperately in need of a solution. To relieve this situation, a plot of land 525' X 50' was purchased opposite St. Joseph's Church. This was rough mountainside and it was necessary to remove a great deal of rock and earth to provide the necessary space for parking. This project was completed April 20, 1958.
          Two years later it became evident that the two regular Masses on Sunday were no longer adequate to care for the parishioners. Each of these Masses was filled to capacity and beyond. To accommodate all, a third Mass was added on October 9, 1960, with the 8:45 Mass being reserved for the school children and their parents. This extra Mass enabled the children to have full time instruction each week.

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