Do You Remember When?
There are several members of the Society of St. Stephen who would like to capture memories of St. Stephen on video tape. If you are interested in sharing your memories, contact us and let us know.

We will be arranging video taping sessions. We hope to use the church itself as a background, but we may be able to make other arrangements if you are unable to come to the church.

Written memories are also accepted such as this one from Diane Smetanka (Sr. Mary Christopher, SND.

Last week I received a picture of “Historic St. Stephen Church” with the brochure information from Sr. Mary Francelio SND who was visiting the Provincial House in Chardon. Today is my day of prayer and I read the information from the Society of St. Stephen and I felt compelled to share my story of St. Stephen with the group.

I am a Sister of Notre Dame. My family lived about 73rd St. when I was born. My mom was not Catholic but she wanted her girls to be baptized. The priest at St. Patrick’s parish on 65th St. would not accept her since she was not Irish. She therefore went to St. Stephen’s Parish and Msgr. Gertz willingly baptized her babies. Because of this kindness my mom received instruction and was received into the Church. We moved to 28th St. and that’s where my memories began. I was born 1935 and was baptized at St. Stephen Church, June 30, 1935.

My dad insisted we were Americans and I did not attend St. Wendelin’s with all my other cousins that lived on Grandma Smitanka’s property. I attended St. Mary’s Church and made my first communion.

We moved to 57th St. off Lorain Ave. I attended St. Stephen’s School and so all my memories were of St. Stephen’s Parish. Joan & Georgia both graduated from St. Stephen’s Elementary and High School as I did. Both Joan and Georgia were married in the Church. My dad was buried there in 1951.

I received a great education from the Srs. of Notre Dame and graduated in 1949 and 1953. Their guidance and influence supported me in my decision to become a Sister. I entered Religious life September 8, 1953, was professed in 1956, Final Vows in 1961 and came to California in 1962.

Two weeks before I entered, the tornado hit the west side. It was Fr. Wolff that came to our home to check if we were all ok. It was Msgr. Gertz who signed my papers for entering and Fr. Wolff who led the Society of Mary that I was chosen to be the moderator.

Many joys and sorrows fill my memory of this parish church. I can see myself kneeling on the side of the church near the pulpit praying for my family and asking God to help Diane be a good little girl.

Congratulations and best wishes for the work you are doing to keep the history of the church alive.

By the way, my sister Joan married into the Ginley family. Francis Ginley was housekeeper for Msgr. Gertz and the priests for many years.

With gratitude, I am
Diane Smetanka
Sr. Mary Christopher, S.N.D.


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