The Spirit of Renewal Lives in the Campus District

Chairs facing each other on each side of the church allow the congregation to see and hear one another during the liturgy. Photo by Dan Morgan.

Last month, I wrote about the tremendous renovation of the old M.T. Silver Building into the new 2320 Lofts residential apartments. This month I focus on a more ethereal renewal: St. Peter Church at East 17th and Superior Avenue. 

When St. Peter Church was closed in April of 2010 by Bishop Richard Lennon, a dual effort to continue the work of the church took place, resulting in a splintering of the church community.

In September of last year, after an emphatic appeal, the pope ordered the church to reopen. Meanwhile a large stable of parishioners moved to a new location, against the wishes of Bishop Lennon. The resulting challenge: a great church with a tremendous history and a LOT of room to grow in numbers! Many “opportunities exist for people to really get involved,” said parishioner Tom Wiencek. Wiencek is one of 40 or so original parishioners leading the effort.

St. Peter Church was constructed between 1857 and 1859. It was patterned after the German Hallenkirche, or hall church, by many devoted German immigrants. The church has been renovated at least four times in its history. This is a lovely church, most recently modernized in the early 1990s.

All of the artwork and furnishings utilized for this renovation were the contributions of local artisans, including the mammoth square altar. The altar was crafted by local artist Norbert Koehn. Images of David, Moses, Abraham, Isaac, and Mary Magdalene carved in limestone at the corners link the covenants, old and new.

The church tower was fully restored in 2004. Using the original plans, the belfry was rebuilt and the original historic bells were carefully reinstalled. The new stained-glass window was designed by Poremba Studios and the new front doors were made from white oak by Charles Gliha, replicating the original doors from the 1800s.

New pastor Rev. Robert J. Kropac feels strongly regarding another art form: music. Kropac explains, “We will have to build a choir as we grow the assembly; the role of cantor is very important in the church today, as a psalm-singer and one who can ‘animate’ the assembly to take up its musical part.” The church's new cantor, Chris Babb, plans to take on this challenge.  

The Kinkoph-Becker Memorial Organ, installed in 2004, was a gift from the estates of Pauline Kinkoph and Mary Becker. The organ was modified by the Holtkamp Organ Company of Cleveland. The case was enlarged and ranks were added.

A unique aspect of this church, to me, is the absence of kneelers and the arrangement of chairs facing each other on each side of the church. This allows the congregation to see and hear one another during the liturgy. The seating area has a wonderfully simplistic feel, bringing all the attention to the congregation itself.

St. Peter is reaching out to Cleveland State University by encouraging student participation. CSU’s Newman Catholic Campus Ministry has its office at St. Peter. Carol Wallington serves as Campus Minister. Students will be hosting various activities at the parish throughout the academic year. For more information about the ministry, contact Carol at or call 216-509-8860. You can also "Like" the page on Facebook.

For more information about St. Peter, call 216-344-2759, e-mail, or visit the web site:

Dan Morgan

Dan Morgan is a photographer with Straight Shooter Photography. Visit to learn more.

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Volume 3, Issue 12, Posted 2:04 PM, 12.05.2013