In 1864, Bishop Rappe established a mission in Mantua, with priests from Cleveland’s Holy Name Church traveling to Portage County for Mass. St. Joseph Mission was then attached to St. Stephen’s Church, Niles and later to Warren. A frame church was built on Prospect St. in Mantua Village and blessed Christmas, 1871 (until then Mass was said in private homes). Jesuits from St. Ignatius College, Cleveland (forerunner of John Carroll University) attended the mission twice a month 1903-1910. In 1911 Father Shannon received charge of Mantua while pastor of Assumption in Royalton (now Broadview Heights) being administered from St. Mary Seminary.
In 1923, with Rev. Gracey as the first resident pastor, the parish was established, serving forty families. The first St. Joseph Church was dedicated May, 1924. He also opened a mission in Geauga Lake.
Msgr. Lavelle (1951-1960), renovated the church and served the Aurora mission. He planned well for future development by purchasing ninety-six acres on Pioneer Trail. In 1957 he led the fund drive for the first parochial school in northern Portage County.
Father Hughes (1960-1966), opened St. Joseph’s first “school” in the basement of the old church, using also the facilities across the street loaned by Hilltop Christian Church. He continued plans of his predecessor and brought about the building of the first portion of a $1.5 million dream of a parish complex on the new property – church, school and auditorium. The new church and school was dedicated July 28, 1963. The plan was to eventually build a permanent church and use the “temporary church” space as a gymnasium and convert part of the hall into classroom space. The Ox Roast Fair was started in 1964 by Father Hughes to help pay for the new school and continues as one of the area’s most anticipated activities.
In May, 1983, under Rev. Fata’s direction, a church renovation was completed including buttress-like beams, vinyl wall covering, sanctuary canopy, altar wall travertine marble, antique and cathedral window glass, holy family statues, Risen Christ carving, sanctuary furniture, Stations of the Cross, and property landscaping.
Under Rev. McCarthy’s pastorate the parish hall was dedicated Rev. Francis Hughes Hall in 1995. For the parish’s 75th anniversary, a time capsule was buried, carillon purchased, and church interior cleaned and painted. In 1999, the new entrance portico was added and the “Joseph & the Children” artwork installed in the entrance’s alcove in 2001.
During Fr. Garvey’s pastorate (2008-2015), new etched glass and entrance doors were installed as well as upgrades to the baptismal font. Sadly, St. Joseph School closed at the 2009-2010 school year’s end due to declining enrollment. The space is still used for religious education and parish and community groups and events. In 2017, under Fr. Stafford’s and Deacon Gerry Scopilliti’s leadership, a new crucifix and Blessed Mother and St. Joseph statues were added and interior church improvements are taking place.
The parish has undergone tremendous growth, from the small group who founded the mission to the nearly 900 presently registered families.
11045 Saint Joseph Boulevard
Mantua, Ohio 44255
Saturday Vigil: 5:00pm
(10:30am Memorial Day – Labor Day)
Holy Days: 8:00am, 7:00pm
Weekdays: Tuesday 8:00am
Sacrament of Reconciliation: by appointment
Rev. Edward Stafford, Pastor