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St. Ignatius Church to Celebrate Centennial

St. Ignatius Catholic Church in Scranton will celebrate its 100th anniversary on Sunday, May 5.

The 10:30 a.m. Mass will be celebrated by Bishop Anthony B. Taylor of the Diocese of Little Rock, Fr. Josely Kalathil, pastor, and other clergy. Parishioners and guests will then gather in the parish hall to celebrate and share their memories. Lunch will be served, followed by a short program, entertainment and outdoor games for the younger attendees.

Dedicated on Jan. 12, 1913, St. Ignatius Church was named in honor of Rt. Reverend Ignatius Conrad, OSB, who was Abbot of Subiaco Abbey at that time. Prior to the construction of the church, a house to lodge the Benedictine nuns and a parochial school were built with the first term beginning in the winter of 1911. An annex to the building housed the first church.

In 1920 a larger church was built at a cost of $7,000. The parish then numbered 50 families with 70 children in the school. In 1953, the interior of the church was renovated. In 1959, the exterior was covered with rock veneer. In the early 1970’s, the interior of the church underwent changes mainly in keeping with Vatican II renewal. A major updating of the interior occurred in 1988 for the 75th Diamond Jubilee. The upstairs organ (built prior to 1940) was restored in 2000 by friends of Fr. Raphael DeSalvo. The main interior of the church was recently completely refinished,and the sound system was improved in preparation for the Centennial Celebration.

On the southeast corner of the church, a black marble Pro Life Monument to the Unborn was erected in 2011 by the Abbot Raphael DeSalvo Knights of Columbus Chapter. On the northeast corner, a second monument was added in 2012 to honor St. Ignatius and the founding of St. Ignatius Church. This monument will be dedicated on May 5.

In 1940, a hall was built and then rock veneered in 1951. Through the years and with further renovations, the parish hall was used as the school cafeteria, for parish functions,and finally as a catechetical center. A new parish hall was constructed in 1990, and in 1997 a pavilion was built.

One morning in 1954 while students were attending Mass, the building that was being used as a school burned. The parish immediately began to construct a better school building. Bishop Albert Fletcher of Little Rock dedicated a new rock-veneered school the following year. This school, which closed in 1974, is today used as religious education classrooms. From 1911 until 1974, Benedictine Sisters from St. Scholastica Monastery in Fort Smith staffed the school.

On May 1, 1988, St. Ignatius Catholic Church celebrated its 75th Diamond Jubilee.

The current pastor is Fr. Josely Kalathil of the Indian Missionary Society. He has been pastor since 2011. There are 80 families in the parish, with a total of approximately 150 members.

All neighboring parishes, friends of St. Ignatius, and former parishioners are invited to attend the Centennial Celebration. The festivities will begin at 10:30 a.m. and end at 4 p.m.

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