St. Cyril : Our History

The Firsts of St. Cyril

Private homes hosting the early masses of St. Cyril

Charles Wolff, Goe Avenue
John J. Johnson, Cooper Avenue
John Colfer, Brighton Road
William Lamb, Brighton Road
Charles Owens, Benton Avenue
Thomas Maloney, Goe Avenue
Patrick Corr, Atkins Street
Mrs. Annie Tobin, Northminster Street
Joseph Comella, Brighton Road
Joseph Collins, Brighton Road
Miss Catherine Tracy, Morrell Street
Oliver J. Mertz, McClure Avenue
Thomas Foley, Brighton Road
Mrs. Anna Hosenfeld, Marmaduke Street
Charles Stephen, Termon Avenue
Henry J. C. Breker, Oswego Street
Wilbert Fitzgerald, Parviss Street
Mrs. Elizabeth Luther, Kleber Street
Edward C. McHugh, Kleber Street
Theodore Weixel, McClure Avenue

First Baptized Baby

Thomas B. Fitzpatrick
July 27, 1924

First Marriage

Margaret Jackson to Richard Partridge
Sept. 17, 1924

 

Vocations

Ordained Men:

Vincent De Paul Deer, ordained 1931
Regis O'Brien, ordained 1932
Paul J. Rock, ordained 1937
Vincent Halistein, ordained 1945
William G. Rutledge, ordained 1953
James Maier, ordained 1972
James McDonough, ordained 1984
Dan Toomey, ordained 2003


Women who Entered Convent:

Gloria H. Connelly (Mother Mary Gabriel CP), entered 1944
Mary E. Lang (Sister Maryann OSB), entered 1940
Mary Kathryn Weixel (Sister M. Kathleen SSJ),entered 1944
Mary Margaret Hoelzer (Sister M. Margaret RSM), entered 1947
Patricia A. Hodge (Sister M. Patricia RSM), entered 1948
Patricia Hespelein (Sister Patricia RSM)
Marlene Froehlich (Sister Marilyn RSM)
Paula Kiernan (Sister Paula RSM)

 

Have info? If you have information on other parishioners with vocations, please contact us with the information.

Our History

In over 85 years of service to God and man, Saint Cyril of Alexandria Parish has worked to fill the spiritual and educational needs of the community. 

It became a new parish, comprising one hundred and thirty-one families, on June 4, 1924.  Father Benjamin Axmacher, the first of only six pastors, ministered to the needs of the parish, saying Mass in private homes and then in the first church, dedicated on January 18, 1925. 

Father Benjamin N. Axmacher celebrated the first Mass of St. Cyril of Alexandria Parish in this home belonging to Mr. Charles Wolff, located at Parviss Street and Goe Avenue.     (St. Cyril Archives) Before the first St. Cyril of Alexandria Church was built in 1924, Mass was said in private residences in the neighborhood.  The first Mass was in the home of Charles Wolff on Goe Avenue (see the image on the left). Listed on the side are the other privates homes to host early St. Cyril Masses, along with St. Cyril's first vocations, marriage, and baby!

When the church mortgage was paid off by 1928, a zealous crew of fundraisers from Saint Cyril’s focused efforts on a school.  Construction began in the spring of 1929, and on January 6, 1930, one hundred and two eager children began their Catholic education within its doors.  Sister M. Matthias of the Religious Sisters of Mercy became the first of thirteen principals from that order for this new Saint Cyril of Alexandria School.  Those dedicated religious included Sisters M. Matthias (1931), Mary Louis (1931-36), M. Wilfrid (1936-46), M. Stanislaus (1946-47), M. Miriam (1947-48), M. Clemenza (1948-49), M. Corona (1949-55), Mary Peter (1955-61), M. Colman (1961-62), M. Wilfrid (returning for 1962-68), M. Roberta (1968-72), M. Norah (1972-81), Patricia (1981-87), and Janet (1987-2001).

Despite the financial difficulties of the Depression years and the death of Father Axmacher in 1939, the parish and school survived.  In November of 1940, the second pastor took over from Father Michael Costello, who had been in charge temporarily.  The Very Reverend Anthony Benedik had arrived.  With the parish and spiritual services growing again, the parish purchased two properties adjoining the church, instituted a kindergarten class (1948), and purchased a house on Parviss Street for the Sisters of Mercy who staffed the school (1949).

In 1953, two fires in the frame church and the size of the congregation (eleven hundred families) made it necessary to plan for a new church.  Ground-breaking was in February of 1954, and by December of that year, the dedication took place.

The new St. Cyril of Alexandria Church was dedicated in December of 1954, when this photo was taken.      (St. Cyril Archives)The school’s enrollment also grew, and, though its auditorium, kitchen, and library had been converted into four classrooms and an office, space was at a premium.  Father Bernard Hrico, who served as parish administrator because of Monsignor Benedik’s declining health (1962), made plans for a new school building.  Monsignor Benedik passed away on November 12, 1964, having served as pastor for almost twenty-five years.  He was replaced by Reverend Monsignor Daniel Gearing who pressed forward with work on the new school.  As the school was erected, classes moved, one by one, from the old school to the new, starting with first grade (September 23, 1966).  By November 17, 1966, the entire transition was accomplished, and by October of 1967, the second wing of the school was completed to include the library, health room, teachers’ lounge, and offices.  This, the current school building, was dedicated on December 3, 1967.

Saint Cyril of Alexandria Church and School had met the needs of the “Baby Boomers” who affected the growth of the community.  By the time Monsignor Gearing retired in 1989, Saint Cyril of Alexandria Parish had to adapt to changes in the community and in the Church.  Families moved to the suburbs, and some of those who remained turned to public education because of tuition costs.  Fewer nuns necessitated hiring more lay teachers, and the parish had the upkeep of the large convent that was no longer needed.  The last three pastors had to deal with these realities:  Father Robert M. Franco (1989 to 1993), Father Thomas Ferris (1993 to 2005), and Father James L. Bruney (2005 to the present).

Father Ferris needed to handle downsizing and refurbishing.  By his direction, a capital improvement plan provided the funds to redo Axmacher Hall (named after the first pastor), complete with a new kitchen.  The money raised enabled repairs to be made to the church and for air-conditioning to be installed.  Under Father Ferris’s care, the school continued despite the declining enrollment (fewer than 200 students), and a pre-school and an after-school program were put in place.  In 2001, Margaret Manley Bookser became the first lay principal of the school.  She was a graduate of St. Cyril’s herself, and was a teacher there from 1987. Father Ferris ministered to the parish until he retired in 2005, handing over its care to the current pastor Father James L. Bruney.

St. Cyril of Alexandria School as it looked on its official last day, June 8, 2011.  The building soon would bear a new name and house students from the parishes of Most Holy Name of Jesus, Saint Aloysius, Saint Cyril of Alexandria, and Saint Peter, becoming Northside Catholic School.     (Photo submitted by Karyn Wentland Pappert)Father Bruney started The Campaign for Progress to provide repairs and improvements to the church and has encouraged the parish to continue to support the Catholic school.  Father wants to implement changes to make attending Mass and church functions easier and safer for all parishioners.  Also, when it became evident that the school enrollment needed to increase to keep a Catholic school at Saint Cyril’s, Father met with Fathers Lawrence R. Smith and Ralph M. Tajak to form a coalition of parishes who believe in the value of offering a Catholic education in the area.  Because of his commitment and that of the other local pastors, the Saint Cyril School facility is used to house students from this parish and from the former Cardinal Wright Regional School (formed from the schools of Saint Aloysius, Most Holy Name of Jesus, and Saint Peter).  The name on the building changed to Northside Catholic School, but the children from the combined parishes still come together to learn, to grow, and to succeed.  They “enter to learn and leave to serve” just as thousands of children have been doing at Saint Cyril’s since 1930.

Saint Cyril of Alexandria Parish, in the twenty-first century, continues to persevere in providing a safe, comfortable place to practice the Catholic faith.  With its fellow parishes, it continues to offer a school dedicated to developing children of knowledge and spiritual strength. The objectives set forth back in 1924 persist:  serve God and man the best way possible.