In June of 1817, Fr. Ed Fenwick of St. Rose Church in KY said Mass in the home of Matthew Patton of Lawrence Township. Since 1812 a small number of Catholic families including the McFadden, Patton, and O’Boyle families had lived in the area. The same year that Fr. Fenwick was consecrated Bishop of Cincinnati, he again visited this locality and confirmed 14 persons, five of whom were converts. Priests from St. John’s suggested the building of a log church on an acre of land donated by Philip McGuire on the Lawrence and Canal Fulton Road.
A church 30 x 40 feet was built of logs and served the people until 1845. They were attended by priests from Chippewa.
In 1844 three lots were donated by Mary Fassett and a frame church 37 x 64 was erected in Canal Fulton in 1845. The three lots are part of the ground where SS. Philip & James stands today. The church was dedicated in 1847 by Rt. Rev. Bishop Purcell of the Cleveland Diocese. The people were attended by Canton and Massillon priests. From 1853 until 1862 the people were attended by Wooster and Doylestown priests.
In 1862 Fr. Lais was named first Pastor of the church and served until 1865. During his pastorate, Fr. Lais purchased twelve more lots for the priest’s home, the school, and the cemetery. Fr. Nicholas Kirch succeeded Fr. Lais and remained until 1875. During his pastorate the congregation grew and the church became too small. Fr. Kirch drew up plans, and the foundation for our present day brick church was laid, put under roof in 1868, and was dedicated to SS. Philip & James in 1869 by Bishop Toebbe. The building cost was $28,000.00.
Rev. Wimar Mueller succeeded Fr. Kirch in 1875 and was there until October 1877. The one room school was built in 1875. Fr. Mueller purchased and placed in the 150 feet high church tower, a 3,000 pound bell which at that time was the largest Church bell in Stark County. The bell, cast in Belgium of real bell silver nickel, was paid for by all the Canal Fulton residents and the musical tones were the pride of the Village. The cost of the bell was $1,200.00.
During the pastorate of Fr. Maurer (1934-1961) the church was destroyed by a fire in the early morning of June 13, 1947. To make sure the church never burned again, Fr. Maurer provided for the cross at the top of the tower to serve also as a lightning arrester. “It will ground lightning through the steel of the building protecting homes for a block around. The whole church is fireproof. It’s the only church in the state with fireproofing lumber,” he claimed. The first Mass in the renovated church was held Christmas Eve, 1948, living up to Fr. Maurer’s promise.
Today Fr. Kevin McCaffrey, pastor, just like his predecessors, provides the parishioners of SS. Philip & James Church with a faith-based environment in our growing community.
412 High Street North East
Canal Fulton, Ohio 44614
Saturday Vigil: 5:00pm
Sunday: 8:00am & 11:00am
Holy Day Vigil: 6:30pm
Holy Days: 9:00am & 6:30pm
Sacrament of Reconciliation: Wednesday 5:30pm-6:30pm,
Saturday 10:00am – 12:00pm
Rev. Kevin McCaffrey, Pastor