Father Anthony Petillo was appointed the first resident pastor of Saint Anthony Parish in Youngstown in May of 1898, a parish established to serve the Italian speaking members of St. Columba and St. Ann parishes in the Mahoning Valley, then with a population of 30,000+. The parish was established under the direction of Bishop Ignatius Horstman of the Cleveland Diocese. The former Saint Ann’s was purchased for the sum of $2,500 and served about 100 families. That number rapidly increased to 150 families under the care of Fr. Petillo.

Fr. Carlo Doria was a popular pastor among his flock, wearing many hats including that of advocate, banker, broker, translator, teacher and protector, as waves of immigrants flooded into the Mahoning Valley from 1901 – 1907. In 1907, as Fr. Doria’s health failed, a young priest named Luigi Lops was assigned to assist Fr. Doria. Many parishioners believed Fr. Lops would assume the pastorate but this was not the case, and it led to a division in the parish. Fr. Lops vacated the rectory and moved to Calvin St. and established St. Rocco’s church.

Later in 1907, during the pontificate of Pius X, before unions, when the average wage was fifty to seventy-five cents a day, Fr. Stabile arrived at St. Anthony’s and was tasked with healing the deep wounds of division within the now two churches. Trusteeism would eventually give way under the watch of a young and energetic Fr. Vito Franco. Saint Anthony continued to grow, and now had a school as well, staffed by the Sisters of the Humility of Mary. Besides the many duties of running the school and the church, St. Anthony’s had the chaplaincy of St. Elizabeth’s Hospital as well.

Fr. Franco witnessed the growth of the Italian population, particularly on the East Side. During the last two years of his pastorate at St. Anthony’s, he explored the possibility of another Italian Parish in Youngstown. An industrious worker, Fr. Franco brought to reality a mission church dedicated to Our Blessed Mother under the title of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. From the mission church in 1912, Mt. Carmel came to be of parochial status under Fr. Franco’s leadership. Fr. Franco, in early 1913, became the first pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Youngstown, Ohio.

Fr. Spitzig, a handsome priest with a magnetic personality, was pastor during the First World War and a massive Flu epidemic that swept across the Valley. Despite the international challenges of the day, Fr. Spitzig was a fantastic organizer of clubs, and those who recalled his pastorate often said St. Anthony had reached its peak under his administration.

Bishop Schrembs appointed two co-pastors from the Order of Divine Mercy to St. Anthony’s, Fr. Campagno and Fr. Gattuso but quickly moved them to St. Rocco’s in Cleveland to combat the scourge of Trusteeism in the Cleveland diocese. Fr. Alberto Spina was then sent to St. Anthony’s. A loving and holy man, he saw to the growth of the parish, particularly through the encouragement of family attendance of Sunday Mass.

Fr. Spina’s assistant pastor, Fr. Americo Ciampichinni, took on the responsibility of guiding St. Anthony’s through the Great Depression. The closely-knit Italian community fed each other through these tough times by sharing what little they had, particularly food. Homemade wine, pasta fagiole, greens and beans, fried peppers and eggs-pane-cotta were among the dishes shared among the Brier Hill community. Fr. Ciampichinni fed his flock with Mass, benediction, novenas and especially the missions. Together, the Brier Hill community grew during these lean years.

From March 16, 1933 to March 22, 1935, in the midst of serious economic depression, St. Anthony’s ceased to be. The church was closed and its parishioners combined with the Irish St. Ann’s parish but the Bishop’s mind was swayed by a group of former St. Anthony’s parishioners who petitioned for the church to be reopened. Fr. Humberto Crescentini was named pastor by Bishop Schrembs. Fr. Crescentini was tasked with reorganizing the parish. He began a fund drive, and in two-and-a-half years and after raising $800,000 and with the help of two young priests – Frs. Fred Anzivino and Peter Faini, delivered a new church, new school, new rectory and a new location. In 1959, Fr. Humberto Crescentini went to his eternal reward; he had been pastor for 24 years!

From 1960 to 1973, Fr. Peter Faini took pastoral care of St. Anthony Church. Though some considered him strict, his wisdom was often sought as spiritual director or confessor to many diocesan priests, and if he was strict, he was never more strict with anyone other than himself. This beloved priest died at the age of 54 on Oct. 18, 1973.

A familiar name amongst parishioners today, Monsignor John H. DeMarinis, was assigned to St. Anthony’s by Bishop Malone. He oversaw changes to the confessionals, altar and sanctuary through Vatican II. He oversaw many repairs to the grounds, and, sadly, also bore witness to the closing of the school. But new (and lasting) traditions like our Brier Hill Pizza and our Easter Bread began! Monsignor DeMarinis remains a deeply loved pastor to the flock at St. Anthony church. He went on to his eternal reward in 2011.

Fr. Franco must have had quite the smile on his face, looking down from Heaven, when the pastor of the mission church he established so long ago was again assigned to both parishes! Monsignor Michael Cariglio is the current pastor of the newly created Our Lady of Mount Carmel & Saint Anthony Parish. The sounds of school children once again grace the halls of the former St. Anthony school, now the home to Saint Joseph The Provider school, as well. Fr. Michael Swierz, president of St. Joe’s and pastor in residence at St. Anthony assists Monsignor Cariglio with the care of the flock at St. Anthony’s as we look bravely to the future.

It is a comfort to look at our past because God’s grace is so evident throughout our history. It is this divine grace that will guide us going forward as well. Much of the history you read here was recorded in the program book commemorating St. Anthony’s first 100 years in 1998. Altri cento anni!

The Faith-filled Pastors of Saint Anthony Parish

Rev. Antonio Petillo June 1898 – August 1901
Rev. Carlo Doria September 1901 – January 1907
Rev. Emmanuel Stabile July 1907 – May 1911
Rev. Msgr. Vito Franco May 1911 – March 1913
Rev. Nicholas Giannantonio April 1913 – December 1914
Rev. Edward Spitzig January 1915 – October 1921
Rev. Martin Campagno October 1921 – January 1924
Rev. P. Sante Gattuso October 1921 – January 1924
Rev. Alberto Spina February 1924 – February 1927
Rev. Americo Ciampichinni February 1927 – March 1933
Rev. Humberto Crescentini March 1935 – November 1959
Rev. Peter Faini March 1960 – October 1973
Rev. Msgr. John H. DeMarinis December 1973 – June 2011
Rev. Msgr. Michael Cariglio July 2011 – Present

Pray for our priests!