PHOTO INDEX: THIS BLOG EDITOR WITH THE WORLD FAMOUS WASKO BROTHERS OF DUPONT, BOB AND DREW. WE WEREN'T SURE OF MUCH BACK IN THE LATE 60s WHEN THIS PHOTO WAS TAKEN BUT WE WERE CERTAIN THE CHURCH WE ATTENDED WOULD STILL BE AROUND WHEN WE WERE ADULTS. WRONG! A PHOTO OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST SLOVAK CHURCH IN PITTSTON A FEW YEARS AGO AND THE REMNANTS OF THE 116 YEAR OLD CHURCH FOUNDED BY SLOVAK IMMIGRANTS REDUCED TO A PILE OF RUBBLE.
A STAB THROUGH THE HEART
St. John the Baptist Slovak Roman Catholic Church is now gone. . Leveled. Decimated. Among the many church steeples in the Pittston City Skyline, the Baptist's is in a heap on a cold winter street. A few questions about this rush to judgement for a facility that nourished a Catholic immigrant faith for generations.
Where did the money come from to tear it down?
Why the rush?
Who gave the order?
Is there a buyer in a rush to develop that property?
In my lifetime I've seen many houses and edifices that were populated by teenagers, criminals and homeless people because they were abandoned and condemned. Was this church broken into by drinkers or people trying to stay warm? To my knowledge there have been no police reports on this.
And here's a question I'd like an answer to, how can a former parishioner of the Baptist now having joined St. John the Evangelist in good faith walk to Mass on Christmas Day, carefully stepping around the refuse and the rubble without feeling like they've been stabbed in the heart?
A good childhood friend of mine Drew Wasko sent me this communication on the Church developments recently. Here's his thoughts:
It is very heartbreaking to see the dismantling of St John the Baptist church. Now living in Binghamton NY, moving from Dupont in the late 60s, I only make a yearly visit to the Slovak cemetery to pay my respect to our families. For this year’s trip when I head on down William St. there be an empty lot to look at. It will not however, eradicate the trunk load of memories we have of this "Little Corner of Heaven". Our Family knew Monsignor Super, Father Matty, Father Krupar and Father Bednarcik from St John the Baptist Church in Pittston. My Grandparents, parents, my brother and sisters were all part of the SJB fabric. It truly was a family experience to be part of SJB. With my cousins, Aunts, Uncles our social activities all revolved around the Church. I still recall the fun at Fathers Farm, and those potato pancakes from any number of “Outings” we had. Of course we were all students of the adjoining school. Not only did it teach us academia but the student became part of SJB Church. Each day started with 7:30 mass, where everyone was in chorus and as an altar boy, you served when asked. I have a very fond memory of serving mass one Christmas morning. There was a surprise snowfall on Christmas Eve which made everything look like a Norman Rockwell painting. I recall walking up the back steps leading to the rear entrance of the church, stopping at the landing to take it all in. Being all of 13 at the time, I thought to myself it doesn’t get any better than this. And the mischievous side of me asked who would be the recipient of that 1st snowball. Today I have a very good idea who that would be…
Class of ’67 and SJB Proud,
Drew is way too kind in what he'd do with that snowball. The church is gone. Crushed into rocks. Apparently when the Wasko Brothers and my ancestors gave money to put up the church, to build a church from the rock that Peter built, they should've got a guarantee in writing. But those people had faith, the parishioners of St. John the Baptist, through many generations had faith. Tey backed that up with tangible donations to a church community. It was the right thing to do. The faithful thing to do. After all my questions about this church demolition, here's my final one. In the end what good did faith do them?