From the Archives: Youngstown’s First Ordinations

Black and white photo of Father Friedrich being received by a crowd.
Father Friedrich, right, received a warm greeting from friends, including Mrs. Ernest Lokey and Mrs. Paul Clark (center) of the Youngstown Catholic Interracial Council, when he arrived at the Youngstown Municipal Airport from Selma. Photo from the Catholic Exponent archives, 1965.

Bishop James A. McFadden ordained Ralph Friedrich and John Vasko to the priesthood on December 18, 1943, at the first priesthood ordination in the newly created diocese. 

Father Friedrich served at St. Columba in Youngstown, Mercy Hospital in Canton, St. Patrick in Hubbard, St. Joseph in Maximo, Immaculate Conception in Youngstown, St. Joseph in Ashtabula and St. Mary in Orwell. In March 1965, Father Friedrich and four other Diocese of Youngstown priests—along with thousands of laity and other clergy—walked in a non-violent protest from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, under the leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in support of voting rights. In the 1970s and ’80s Father Friedrich was a Maryknoll Associate in Central America, and he served with Hartville Migrant Ministries, even into his 90s. He died in 2011 at age 94.

Father Vasko served at St. Rose in Girard, St. Stephen of Hungary in Youngstown, St. Ann in Sebring and St. Joseph in Mantua. He helped resettle about 100 displaced persons from Hungary after World War II. He died at age 50 in 1968.

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Joan Lawson

Joan Lawson

Joan is the Chancellor and Diocesan Archivist for the Catholic Diocese of Youngstown.
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