The Youngstown Diocese encompasses six counties: Stark, Portage, Columbiana, Mahoning, Trumbull and Ashtabula.
As it celebrates its 75th anniversary, the ebb and flow of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Youngstown is a perfect reflection of the community it encompasses.
The diocese was formed on May 15, 1943, to accommodate the growing population in Northeast Ohio in areas outside of Cleveland.
The Youngstown Diocese encompasses six counties: Stark, Portage, Columbiana, Mahoning, Trumbull and Ashtabula, serving approximately 199,000 Catholics.
Stark County is home to the diocese's only college, Walsh University in North Canton, named after the late Bishop Emmet Walsh.
The Rev. James McFadden, an auxiliary bishop from the Cleveland Diocese, served as the Youngstown Diocese's first bishop. McFadden served until his death in 1952.
The Stark County's oldest Catholic church is the Basilica of St. John the Baptist in Canton, where the community's first Catholic Mass was celebrated in 1817 on land donated by John Shorb. The German-immigrant merchant moved to Steubenville from Baltimore in 1806 and then to Canton in 1807.
A sanctuary was built in 1823, making St. John's the second-oldest Catholic church in Northeast Ohio. St. John's was elevated to basilica status in 2012 under its longtime pastor, the Very Rev. Ronald Klingler, who retired in 2017.
In 2010, in response to a shrinking population and a dwindling number of available priests, the diocese launched a reconfiguration process to reduce the number of parishes and schools through mergers and closings by 25 percent. The number dropped from 112 to 87.
The diocese lost 44,000 members between 2000 and 2010, due in large part to the economy.
In 2013, the diocese introduced a "Transitioning For Growth" plan for its schools. Locally, it included the closing of St. Joseph School in Canton in 2014, and opening a new middle school on the campus of St. Thomas Aquinas High School. Nine schools operate as campuses under Holy Cross Academy Catholic Schools. Our Lady of Peace School in Canton, operates independently.
The diocese also produced one of the world's most famous Catholics. The former Rita Rizzo, who grew up attending St. Anthony's Catholic Church in southeast Canton, became "Mother Angelica," a Poor Clare nun and founder of the Eternal Word Television Network, now the world's largest Catholic media outlet.