Demolition begins at site of former Catholic church

Saint John the Baptist Church to come down

THROOP, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) - It is a bittersweet week for many Catholics who live in Lackawanna County's Mid Valley as demolition has started at the site of the former Saint John the Baptist Church.

A total of three properties on Sanderson Street will be torn down.

A home that was near the church for decades was the first to fall. The church rectory will begin coming down on Wednesday.

The final piece of the demolition project will be the church itself which many people are sad to see go.

After serving people in Throop for more than 100 years, the end is near for the former Saint John the Baptist Church.

As contractors ripped down properties associated with the church Tuesday former parishoners looked on.

"It was our, like our home!" former parishoner Ann Marie Czaja of Throop said.

Ann Marie Czaja received all her sacraments at Saint John's Church.

She has also attended countless weddings and funerals there and will be sad to see it demolished.

"It was a beautiful church, gorgeous alters in there and stuff and now everything is gone!" Czaja said.

The Diocese of Scranton closed the church in 2009.

Throop borough later purchased it with the hopes of renovating it or using it in some other form.

That never materialized especially after the needs of the neighboring Throop Community/Civic Center took over.

"The borough would not give up the parking lot from Saint John's because it has now become the parking lot overflow for the civic center so any developer interested had to take it without the parking lot and that just wiped out any possibility," Throop mayor Frank Shimkus said.

Mayor Frank Shimkus knows the demolition is an emotional issue for many.

"People prayed in that church through two World Wars, the Great Depression, September 11, the coal mining era, it's got a ton of memories," Shimkus said.

Chris Poplewski is one of the people with memories.

He visited the demolition site Tuesday and plans to watch over the coming days as a piece of Throop history meets the wrecking ball.

"I'm going to come up here, try to come up here whenever I'm not working," Poplewski said.

Contractors say if all goes according to plan, all three properties including the church, will be taken down by the middle or end of next week.

Borough leaders are currently looking into exactly what to do with the land once it is cleared.

 


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