After serving a year as administrator of St. Barnabas Parish in Northfield, Father James Kulway was installed as the sixth pastor during a Mass celebrated by Bishop Edward Malesic on June 4. The celebration included members of the parish community, including the school.
Prior to his appointment as administrator, Father Kulway served the parish as parochial vicar beginning in 2020 under the former pastor, Father Ralph Wiatrowski, who retired in January.
(See photo gallery above.)
The parish welcomed Bishop Malesic for his first official visit to St. Barnabas. He also blessed the new parish office and presided at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. The offices underwent some renovation and modifications recently.
Also prior to the Mass, Father Kulway took the oath and promised to lead the parishioners as their pastor being faithful to the Church and its teachings.
As Mass began, the bishop introduced him as the new pastor and asked the congregation if they accepted him. They responded with applause. The bishop encouraged him to seek the support and counsel of parish leaders, including the parish council, finance council, Deacon Michael Constatini, Erin Faetanini, St. Barnabas School principal, Michael Arko, business manager, and others. Matt Kerns chairs the parish council and Matt Griswold is finance council chair.
In his homily, the new pastor focused on two qualities of the Trinity, mission and delight. He encouraged the parishioners to delight in bringing the mission – the good news of Jesus – to each other and to the Nordonia Hills community.
“I am very excited to be formally installed as pastor of St. Barnabas. It is an incredible parish and I am so blessed to be called to serve her as your pastor and spiritual father. If it were up to me, I would not have chosen to go anywhere else. I am so grateful for the constant support and encouragement from so many of you,” Father Kulway said.
During the blessing of the parish office, which was completed in December, the bishop noted it wasn’t just a blessing of the bricks and mortar that make up the building. “It’s the people inside who will carry out the mission and will help the parish continue to grow and thrive,” he added.
Father Kulway said he wanted parishioners and others who visit the office to feel welcome and to have a positive experience. “I believe investing in beauty set the tone that we are a great parish that cares not just about a refreshed exterior look, but about each person who walks through the door or enters the church building. May each of us always be intentional about trying to give people the best experience possible on this campus with the hope that they will see the Lord at work in their life through us,” he said.
The two main meeting rooms were named the Annunciation Room and the St. John Paul II Room. Father Kulway said he chose the names because he has a strong devotion to Mary and considers St. John Paul II as one of his heroes.
A parish timeline was installed in the parish office to give a detailed overview of St. Barnabas’ history. The office space previously served as a convent that housed the Vincentian Sisters who taught at St. Barnabas School from 1956 to 1985 and then transformed into an independent living facility for the elderly and continued to serve the community as a assisted living facility until it closed in the spring of 2021.
St. Barnabas Parish was established in 1956 on about 18 acres of undeveloped diocesan property in Northfield. Father Bernard DeCrane was named the first pastor. A temporary church with a seating capacity of about 600 was built. The plan was to convert this building to classrooms for a school when a larger church was needed.
The original church is now home to the Parish School of Religion office, school library, computer and art rooms and Life Teen lounge.
The community supported the challenge of developing the new parish. The Northfield school board agreed to allow the parish to use its school facilities until the church was built. Mass was celebrated at Northfield High School (now Nordonia Hills Middle School). The first Mass was June 24, 1956.
Father DeCrane entrusted the fledgling parish to the patronage of the Blessed Mother and one of his first acts was to find a suitable place for her on the grounds. A stone chimney, the only visible remains of an early 19th century log cabin that had been built on the property, was chosen as the site for the statue. In early July 1956, the chimney was converted into the Our Lady of Fatima Shrine.
The parish had its first outdoor bazar in August 1956 in order to raise money for construction, which began that October. The first Mass in the still-unfinished church was on Christmas Eve 1956. The church was completed in May 1957.
Construction of the school was completed by September 1957, when the first students began classes. Eight more classrooms were added in 1960 and there was another school expansion six years later.
The diocese established SS. Cosmas and Damian Parish in Twinsburg to help with the growing Catholic population in the area. In 1967, Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish was established in Macedonia as that community developed.
By 1976 – despite the establishment of two new, nearby parishes – St. Barnabas had more than 2,000 families and needed a larger church. Ground was broken for the new building on Aug. 17, 1980. The building, which seats more than 1,000 people, was completed in 1981.
St. Barnabas celebrated its 50-year anniversary in 2006 with Mass celebrated by Bishop Martin Amos, then a Cleveland auxiliary bishop. They congregation then processed to the Our Lady of Fatima Shrine with gratitude at the site where the first pastor placed the Blessed Mother’s statue to oversee the new parish.
Father Wiatrowski, who served as pastor from 2007 until his retirement in January, oversaw the return of Christ Renews His Parish and many other programs. The school was named a National Blue Ribbon School of excellence in 2011 and the parish debt was retired that year.
For more information on St. Barnabas Parish and School, click here.