The History of Ss. Cosmas and Damian Church
Ss. Cosmas and Damian Church is located on land which was part of the old Connecticut Western Reserve. Summit County was divided from the Trumbull County in 1840 and was so named because it was the highest point on the Ohio Canal. Historical records show that the Township of Twinsburg, and eventually the Village of Twinsburg, took its name from identical twins, Moses and Aaron Wilcox. On May 2, 1957, Archbishop Edward F. Hoban purchased approximately 12 acres of the old Western Reserve for the diocese. It wasn’t until June 1963, however, that the parish was officially established. To perpetuate the tradition of twins, Archbishop Hoban named the Catholic Church in Twinsburg after twin brothers, Ss. Cosmas and Damian. The two brother physicians, in third century Syria, cured many faithful who were gravely ill, more by faith in Jesus Christ than by their natural powers. They were loved and respected by the people for their acts of charity and zeal for the Christian Faith, which they took every opportunity to propagate. Both brothers were martyred for their success in winning converts during the reign of Diocletian around the year 283. They were tortured, bound hand and foot and thrown into the sea. They are considered patrons of doctors, surgeons, pharmacists, and barbers. Their feast day is celebrated on September 26th.
The Rev. Fr. William J. Kohl was named Founding Pastor on June 13, 1963. The new parish was to encompass the entire area of Twinsburg Township, including the Village of Twinsburg, but excluding Reminderville.
The parish site consisted of about 11.75 acres with a one family brick residence, which became the present rectory. Until the church building was constructed, Mass was held in the Old Twinsburg Elementary School and later in Chamberlin High School (now R.B. Chamberlin School).
The Sister of Notre Dame came to Twinsburg weekly to teach along with lay volunteers of the parish. Currently, there are over 70 teachers involved including nursery, preschool, grade school and high school. Two more brothers were important in the history of our parish – Fr. Koehl, the first pastor, and his brother, who was the architect for the new church building. The contractor finished the basic construction of the church, and parish volunteers completed the interior. Pews came from Notre Dame Academy, St. Monica, St. Wenceslas and St. Paul. They were painted and repaired before installation. The first official Mass at Ss. Cosmas and Damian was held on May 9, 1965, in conjunction with First Communion. In September, 1967, Fr. Koehl was transferred to St. Jerome’s Parish and Fr. Joseph F. Wagner replaced him as our Pastor. Fr. Koehl passed away on October 24, 1976.
The first Confirmation at the church was held in May, 1968.
Parishioner Walter Hyclak, son of Carmen and Walter Hyclak, became the first member of the parish to be ordained. Fr. Wally was ordained on May 31, 1969. Newly ordained Fr. John Burkley was assigned Associate Pastor at Ss. Cosmas on June 17, 1970.
As the church developed, so did the area surrounding Twinsburg and residents of Aurora Shores were given the option of belonging to Ss. Cosmas and Damian.
To meet the growing and ever changing needs of the parish and community, the St. Vincent DePaul Society was founded (now called Emergency Assistance Fund) to take care of the needs of the poor and hungry of the community.
When Fr. Burkley left in 1975, Fr. William Severt was assigned in May, 1975. In spring of 1978 Fr. Wagner was transferred and Fr. Severt was appointed as administration pro-tem until a new pastor was named. Fr. Robert Friedel was named and appointed pastor effective May 15, 1978. Ordained in 1957, Ss. Cosmas and Damian was his first pastoral assignment.
In 1978, parishioner Vincent Belsito was admitted to candidacy for Permanent Deaconate and was ordained Permanent Deacon on June 17, 1979.
In June, 1980 Fr. William Severt was assigned to St. Joseph’s parish in Cuyahoga Falls. Fr. John Chlebo, newly ordained on June 7, reported for duties on June 24.
The parish renovation, which started six years previously, continued. Doors were refinished and stained glass representing the four evangelists, Mary and Joseph and Ss. Cosmas and Damian were added to the entrance of the church. To promote devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, the tabernacle was moved away from the Altar of Sacrifice, creating a new Eucharist Throne located next to the Chapel.
Fr. Friedel celebrated the 25th anniversary of his ordination on May 18, 1982.
In June 1986, Fr. John Chlebo was transferred to St. Wenceslas Parish in Maple Heights, Ohio. At present, Fr. John is the pastor of St. Christopher Parish in Rocky River. Fr. Dave Trask, new ordained on June 7, 1986 replaced him. Our parish was his first assignment. Fr. Dave became the pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Macedonia until March, 2016.
Groundbreaking ceremonies for the new parish social hall took place on Sunday, June 21, 1987. In order to find an appropriate name for the new hall, a contest was held and the name Twinhaven was chosen. This name aptly describes the purpose of the hall and gives honor to both the founders of our city and the patron saints of our parish. The first official function of the social hall was a dance held in April, 1988.
Fr. Jim Beatty came to Ss. Cosmas and Damian on June 18, 1991. Fr. Beatty had the distinction of being our last associate pastor. When Fr. Jim left in 1994, he was not replaced. Fr. Beatty is now the pastor of Holy Spirit Church in Avon, Ohio.
In early 1991, plans for establishing a parish day school at Ss. Cosmas and Damian were initiated by a group of parishioners. Meetings, plans, and fundraising began and continued until August, 1993 when the parish day school opened its doors to ten kindergarten children. Ss. Cosmas and Damian School became the first Catholic School to open in the Cleveland Diocese in 25 years. Rev. Mr. Vincent Belsito was the first principal. Sadly, the parish day school closed its doors in 2005.
In 1996, Fr. Joseph Goebel came and was in residence for 2 years. Fr. Goebel is now retired.
Groundbreaking for the new church began in 2001 and the parishioners of Ss. Cosmas and Damian celebrated their first Mass in the new church in April of 2002.
Fr. Friedel began his retirement on his birthday, June 30, 2002 and Fr. John Singler was installed as pastor of Ss. Cosmas and Damian Parish on September 1, 2002.
In 2005, Ed Chernick, Jr. was ordained Permanent Deacon. He is at present the Deacon and Business Administer for the parish.
The year 2007 was a memorable one in the history of Ss. Cosmas and Damian. Pastor Emeritus, Fr. Robert Friedel celebrated his 50th anniversary as a priest and Fr. John Singler, our pastor celebrated his 25th anniversary as a priest and the second young man from the parish, John Pfeifer, was ordained a priest on May 12, 2007.
Father John Singler remained pastor until July, 2012. Fr. John is now the pastor of St. Mary Parish in Berea. Fr. Clyde Foster then became our pastor. Fr. Clyde left Ss. Cosmas and Damian in March of 2015 and Father Bill Padavick was appointed Administrator until a new pastor was assigned. Father Michael Stalla, who spent the past 6 years in El Salvador, was appointed the new pastor. Fr. Michael was installed as pastor in summer, 2015. Father Stalla will be the fifth pastor of Ss. Cosmas and Damian Church.