St. John the Baptist Church

Saint John the Baptist Parish was founded October 22, 1958, with one thought in mind – the need for a fourth parish and eventually a school in the city of Alpena.  Because of the rapid increase in population in this part of the city and county, there was an urgency for the parish.  When Father Edward Szturmowski arrived in Alpena, he was not only homeless, he was penniless.  For lack of a building for Masses, Mass was offered at Ella White School only seven blocks from the property where the church building was to be erected.  The first Mass was celebrated on November 10, 1957 with over 500 people in attendance.

Father “Storm” Szturmowski, with the aid of the church committee, purchased the proeprty at the end of First Avenue bounded by Frederick, Franklin and North Streets.  The winter of 1958 was utilized clearing the site for the church building.  In March of 1958, the office buildings from the Abitibi site were moved to the parish grounds to be used as the pastor’s residence as well as for meetings.  A portion of the building was used as a chapel for daily Masses. Soon after acquiring the property, Father Storm organized a men’s club to implement fund raising projects that would help the new parish realize their dream of their own “church.”

Father Szturmowski was transferred in June 1960 and succeeded by Fr. John J. Kucinski.  Under Father Kucinski more fund raising activities were encouraged and implemented.  There were fish fries, dinners, bake sales, paczki parties, rummage sales.  What was also developing was a parish family.  No longer was hear the familiar phrase “my former parish.”  New bonds were forming.

The present building was building was built as a school in 1964 with an enrollment of 84 students in grades 4 through 6.  The school staff consisted of principal, Sister Danielita, with teachers Sisters Melitone and Redempta.  Tragedy fell upon the community when two of the sisters were killed in an automobile accident in January 1965.  The school carried on and in 1967, the first eighth grade class graduated from Saint John the Baptist School.  There were 25 graduates.  In 1971, the members of the school board petitions Bishop Szoka to close the school because of declining enrollment and insufficient faculty.  Bishop Szoka so ordered in August.

Text taken from:
These Very Stones Cry Out:  Stories on the history of the Diocese of Gaylord
1999

Building of the New Church

“This day of dedication, August 29, 1999, will be remembered by the people of St. John the Baptist as a great day of rejoicing and celebration . . .”

“When the parish of St. John the Baptist was established October 22, 1957, from the existing parishes in Alpena — St. Anne’s, St. Mary’s, and St. Bernard’s –the dream existed that one day a church would be built on this location.  However, the school was the first priority.  Forty-one years later, the dream has come to fruition . . . “

“This new church, along with new offices a renovation of the entire old facility, and the new rectory has been a miracle of what hands and hearts together can do when we are about Building of the Kingdom of God . .  . “

Text taken from:
St. John the Baptist Catholic Church Dedication
August 29, 1999
Letter from Rev. Kenneth R. Stachnik
(Pastor of St. John the Baptist: January 6, 1993-July 13, 2004)