When St. Jude Parish celebrated its 50th Anniversary it published a commemorative book entitled, The Seed. The scriptural image of a mustard seed that grew into a huge tree where birds could nest was used as a symbol of the parish’s history; a history that continues to unfold today. St. Jude Parish was founded on October 14, 1943 in the northeast corner of Elyria with Fr. John A. Carrabine as its first Pastor. It was said that there was a pastor and 120 families as parishioners but no physical plant. The physical plant would come, but the essence and heart of any parish is its parishioners gathered around the Eucharist with its pastor. And so, within days of its founding, Sunday Mass began in the auditorium of Ely School.
Catechism classes were held on Sundays by Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine. Within weeks Fr. Carabine had formed an Advisory Council of men, an Altar and Rosary Society of 45 women, and a Holy Name Society. In January, 1944 he started the Mar-Jude Club for young people, and in March the St. Vincent de Paul Society to aid the poor. But a physical home was needed and the old Abbe homestead was chosen to be a chapel, meeting space, and quarters for the pastor.
By 1947 the families numbered 300 and a 21 acre site on Poplar Street was chosen as the parish center. Here would grow a rectory in 1949 and a combination of church and school in 1951. By the time of his death on November 18, 1957 the school had 540 students, 11 classrooms and teachers, and a convent for the Sisters of Notre Dame who taught in the school.
Fr. Martin T. Engelhardt became the second Pastor on December 26, 1957 and would continue to accommodate the growing school population and begin implementing the changes in the Church called for by the Second Vatican Council. One change from the Council was the opening of retirement for priests. Upon reaching the mandatory age in January of 1973, Fr. Engelhardt retired and was succeeded by Fr. John Buza.
The new pastor embraced his role maintaining the physical structures but also caring for the spiritual needs of the parishioners. His was a special love for the children and the elderly. He introduced a Parish Renewal Program, provided for the use of laity as liturgical ministers for reading scripture and for the distribution of Holy Communion. In 1984 the RCIA was introduced to bring people into the Catholic Faith. Ill health required Fr. Buza to resign the pastorate in 1985.
Fr. Frank Kosem became the fourth pastor on June 27, 1985 and his youthfulness, energy, and cheerfulness immediately flowed through the parish’s life. The annual Festival and Bar-b-que on Labor Day Sunday was started, a Finance Council and Parish Council were formed, an army of volunteer gardeners continues to beautify the property, bereavement meals were offered at funerals, women as Pastoral Ministers were brought on Staff, the St. Vincent de Paul Society evolved into today’s Helping Hands Ministry, the Christmas Giving-Tree project was begun, a new church was dedicated in 1991, the school was again expanded, the gym and Family Center were added, and the athletic field was improved. Over the years the parish has been used by Saint Mary Seminary as locus for training seminarians in parish life.
Yes, there is a parish plant. A very large plant! But still, the essence of a parish is its parishioners gathered at the Eucharist with their Pastor. Such is the history of St. Jude Parish.