The hymn “All Are Welcome” aptly describes the past, present and future of St. Luke Church in Boardman. All were welcome when the parish was formed in 1962 as a solution to overflowing nearby parishes and schools. People from surrounding neighborhoods in Youngstown, Boardman and Struthers flocked to the new parish and quickly formed a strong community. The Holy Name Society and Altar Rosary Society – still active today – organized within weeks, and parishioners joyfully celebrated Masses in the humble gym of a local elementary school.
All were welcome as the parish grew.
Construction costs had soared too high for a new sanctuary, but parishioners eagerly gathered for Mass in temporary pews in the multi-purpose room of the new St. Luke School and staged parish dances in the school hallways. In response to the rapid growth of St. Luke School, the temporary pews were removed in 1972 so the school could have more room. Parishioners started celebrating Mass on folding chairs in the school gym.
Under the leadership of pastors Father Edward Dierker, the founding pastor, Father John Ashton and Father Ronald Klinger, the parish overcame a lack of aesthetics and attracted a growing number of people to its welcoming community. St. Luke School also thrived, serving many area residents with outstanding education and faith formation for nearly 50 years.
When a new sanctuary was built in 1996, it was fitting that the dedication Mass began with the singing of “All Are Welcome.” The design highlights this sense of community as parishioners sit facing one another, gathering around the table of the Lord. Father Joseph Fata, who was named pastor in 1988, dreamed of using this open environment to create joyful liturgical celebrations that highlighted God’s desire to welcome all. Following Fr. Fata’s death in 2016, Fr. Gerald DeLucia was named pastor.
Today, the parish continues in a spirit of hospitality and outreach with a new form of leadership. In 2017, St. Luke became one of the first parishes in the diocese to be assigned a parish leader who is not a resident priest. Sister Mary Alyce Koval, OSU, was appointed by Bishop George Murry to nurture the parish’s continued growth by working closely with staff and parishioners. In 2019 Fr. Leo Wehrlin, pastor of St. Christine Church in Youngstown, was named canonical pastor of St. Luke and presides at regular celebrations of Mass and the sacraments. He is assisted by other priests and the parish’s deacons, Richard Milanek and Bob Redig. The parish has generously responded to needs in the community through the ministries of the Knights of Columbus, Social Concerns Committee, St. Vincent DePaul Society, Hospital Visitation Team, Bereavement Committee, Evangelization Committee and an active Pastoral Council. A renewed children’s religious education program is growing. In addition, for the past 20 years, the parish has hosted very well attended weekly Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
Looking to the future, St. Luke parishioners are continuing to create a place where all truly are welcome. Through God’s grace, they extend their arms in welcome as they live out the St. Luke Stewardship Prayer: “Give us the courage to do whatever we can, with whatever we have, to bring your love to our community and the world.”
5235 South Avenue
Youngstown, Ohio 44512
Saturday Vigil: 4:30pm
Weekdays: Tuesday & Friday – 8:00am
Liturgy of the Word with Communion: Monday & Thursday – 8:00am
Morning Prayer: Monday – Friday – 7:30am
Rev. Leo Wehrlin, Canonical Pastor
Sr. Mary Alyce Koval, OSU, Parish Leader