St. Robert Bellarmine Church
Gracing and graced by the Bazetta/Cortland communities and surrounding area is St. Robert Bellarmine Church. Established in 1952 by the Diocese of Youngstown as a mission on 30 acres of land the Diocese purchased, this parish has grown from a beginning of around 30 families to 500 families today. Just as our church has grown, so have these communities.
When the area was first settled, there were very few Catholics in this locale. It was around 1910 when more Catholics began to settle here with the nearest Catholic Church being in Warren, making it difficult for Catholics to get to Mass. Even after the coming of cars and better roads, travel was not always easy.
Isobel Teachout Williams wrote to Bishop Walsh, Bishop of Youngstown, asking for a priest to serve the 30 Catholic families in and around Cortland. Bishop Walsh responded. Rev. Robert O’Dea, who was serving as Vice Officialis of the Diocesan Tribunal of Youngstown, agreed to say Mass for the families in Cortland. On May 4, 1952, the first meeting with Fr. O’Dea was held at the Williams home. Some of the charter members of this meeting were the Teachouts, Kachurs, Urcheks, Cullivans, Thampsons, Mobleys, Lances, Pruceys, and Kanes. On May 18, 1952, the first Mass was held in the Cortland Theatre (now the Sparkle Market). There were 88 adults and 22 children. Through the generosity of Mr. Ramsey, manager of the theater, St. Roberts was to have use of that building until the church was built.
Ground was broken for the new church on May 13, 1954, and the first Mass in the new church was celebrated on Christmas Eve, 1954. Bringing the church building into being was a true DIY project. Many materials in the form of lumber, steel, and heavy equipment were donated. Many hours of volunteer labor made possible the construction of the building.
Early in 1955, Fr. O’Dea was appointed pastor of St. Stephen in Niles. At that time, the other priests serving at St. Stephen began a rotation schedule with him to come to say Mass here each weekend. On June 12, 1966, Fr. O’Dea read a letter at Mass from the Bishop which declared this mission to now be a parish and named Fr. O’Dea as the first pastor. At this time, there were 382 parishioners attending series. They were a very dedicated, hard-working group of people, committed to the growth and wellbeing of St. Robert Bellarmine parish. They oversaw additions, renovations, changes and supported the continuing blossoming of the welcoming parish into a vibrant, life-giving community of faith that reaches out to near and far with the compassion of Christ.
“The light of God surrounds us. The love of God enfolds us. The power of God watches over us. And wherever we are, God is.”
We have been led through the years by wise and caring pastors. Fr.O’Dea served as pastor until 1977, when Fr. Ed Kowaleski came. Fr. Kowaleski served as pastor until 1985, when Fr. Nick Shori joined us. Fr. Shori was with us until 1988 and in 1988, Fr. Carl Kish was appointed to shepherd our parish as pastor until his retirement June 30, 2023. On July 1, 2023 Fr. Ryan Furlong was appointed as pastor.
We have been and are so very blessed as a parish, as a community, as a family. We give thanks to God for those whose love of God and hunger for the sacraments brought this parish into being, and for the priests who have guided us. We give thanks for all the people of God with whom we journey today, all struggling saints, trying to better understand who we are in God and trying to impact the world with the loving, compassionate, forgiving presence of Christains.
St. Robert Catholic Church
4659 Niles-Cortland Rd.
Cortland, OH 44410
Parish Office Hours:
Monday – Thursday 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Saturday: 6:00 p.m.
Sunday: 8:30 a.m.
Daily Mass: 8:30 a.m.~ Monday & Wednesday
Holy Days: see bulletin