*** ONLINE AS OF AUGUST 5, 2011 ***
    



S.S. Philip & James Cemetery - Slippery Rock Twnp (New Castle) PA

In August 1922 the Rev. Vincent V. Stancelewski arrived from Pittsburgh to set up the new S.S. Philip & James Catholic Parish in New Castle, Lawrence County, Pennsylvania. The parish was formed around a small contingent from the growing polish congregation of the Madonna of Czestochowa Parish formed back in 1902. Land was soon purchased for a new church in the sparsely populated section of the city known as Sheep Hill, where Welsh immigrants had held sway for many years. The new S.S. Philip & James Church, facing various construction delays, was opened for services in December 1924 but not fully completed for another four years.

Without a cemetery of their own the deceased parishioners were buried in other Catholic cemeteries to included Madonna Cemetery in Union Township and St. Joseph Cemetery in Neshannock Township. It seems hard to pin down when it exactly happened, but at some point in the mid-1930’s the church purchased a ten-acre plot of property to start its own cemetery. The property was located along Route 388, just north of Old Route 422 (Old Butler Road), in nearby Slippery Rock Township. The earliest burials I can find took place in the fall of 1937. One of those initial interments was that of twenty-one-year-old Alex Sroczynski, a local aviation enthusiast killed in a horrible plane crash in nearby Castlewood on November 7, 1937. (See page of CASTLEWOOD – Burick/Sroczynski Plane Crash of 1937 for more information.)

Among those buried there in later years was the distinguished Rev. Stancelewski, who died in November 1964 at the age of seventy after having been elevated to the rank of Monsignor early that year. He had not only founded the S.S. Philip & James Church, parochial school, and cemetery, but had guided the ethnic Polish congregation as its pastor for the preceding forty-two years. Stancelewski, who had presided over many burial services at the cemetery, was laid to rest there during a solemn service on Monday, November 9, 1964. The Rev. Francis A. Majda, his successor who served as pastor until he retired in 1989, was also buried there when he died at the age of ninety-five in July 2007.

The small cemetery, located along a relatively quiet stretch of country road, is located up on a hill and easily missed if you are not paying attention. The S.S. Philip and James Church merged into the new St. Vincent de Paul Parish in 1993 and closed over a decade later due to declining attendance, but the outlying cemetery is still well maintained by the Mahoningtown-based parish.

For burial records and general cemetery info contact the St. Vincent de Paul Parish at (724) 652-5829 ext. #5


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This 13-foot high memorial, which cost $15,000, was dedicated in honor of Reverend Stancelewski during a ceremony attended by 400 people in November 1966. (Jul 2010)


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Comment

  1. I see you have a photo of my great-aunt, Zofia (Gajda) Bukowski’s headstone. Nearly all of my paternal family who have died in the last 80 years are interred here. It is a beautiful cemetery and well-maintained.

    Michelle (Gajda) Butler · 08/09/2013 06:15 PM · #

  2. (EDITOR’S NOTE) Michelle, Thanks for the post. Yes, this cemetery always seems to be so well maintained and that’s a great thing to see. Jeff

    Jeff Bales Jr · 08/09/2013 07:57 PM · #