Church preservation award

Pictured, from left, are Father John Harrold, Florence and Thomas Marafka, Jack Maguire and Chuck Colton. (Submitted photo)

The Saltsburg Historical Society recently recognized the old Saint Matthew’s Catholic Church building in Saltsburg by awarding the building with the 2019 Historic Preservation Award.

Jack Maguire, historical society member, presented the bronze plaque to Chuck Colton, church member, and Father John Harrold, who accepted the award on behalf of St. Matthew’s Parish. The plaque was affixed to the front of the old church building along with information that tells of its early history. The last couple to be married in the old church was Thomas and Florence Marafka, of Saltsburg, on July 9, 1960.

The church building in Saltsburg still stands after 172 years. It was founded by Father Boniface Wimmer, O.S.B., and was built in 1847 by local stone mason John Martin as a thank-you offering to the Sisters of Charity of Quebec, Canada, for saving the life of his father, Peter Martin. It is one of the first and oldest Catholic churches built in the area.

In the 114 years that the building was used, more than 75 priests have served the parishioners of St. Matthew’s. During this period of time, 1,146 baptisms have been recorded, 290 marriages have been blessed and 782 parishioners have been laid to rest by the shadows of the century-old church.