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Corpus Christi Parish

Corpus Christi Parish, located on 1508 Warwood Avenue in Wheeling, was established in 1916. The following history was taken from a pamphet released to celebrate the parish's Golden Jubilee.

Corpus Christi Parish, Wheeling, W. Va., 1916-1966
June 19, 1966

Cover of Wheeling Corpus Christi Parish Golden Jubilee 1916-1966 pamphlet


1. Rev. P. H. Gilsenan - the first pastor - appointed by Bishop P. J. Donahue on June 16, 1916. He was pastor from 1916 to 1921 when he was transferred to St. Peter's in Fairmont, W. Va. Father Gilsenan died November 12, 1935.

2. Rev. Edward Galway - 1921-1928. Father Galway died October 7, 1928 and was buried from Corpus Christi Church, October 10, 1928.

3. Rev. Arthur D. McSwiggan, 1928-34. Died in a Baltimore Hospital on January 27, 1934 and was buried from Corpus Christi on January 30, 1934.

Rev. John S. Kelly served as administrator of the parish from February to May, 1934.

4. Rev. William J. Lee - 1934-1955. He was also appointed Vicar General of the Diocese in 1941, and in 1943 was named a Domestic Prelate with the title of Right Reverend Monsignor. Monsignor Lee was made Pastor of St. Paul's Church in Weirton in October, 1955.

5. Rt. Rev. Edmund J. Yahn, the present Pastor of Corpus Christi was appointed by archbishop Swint in October, 1955. He was ordained on May 30, 1928, and was appointed assistant at St. Joseph's Cathedral and became Pastor of the Cathedral in 1942.


Rev. John Reardon 1949
Rev. Cesidio J. Federico 1962-1964
Rev. Edward M. Bell 1964-1966

Through the years the parish was and is most grateful to the priests who helped the Pastors on Sundays as the parish developed and more Masses had to be scheduled. Especially does the parish acknowledge its gratitude to the Capuchin Fathers of Wheeling, the Franciscan Fathers of Steubenville and the Jesuit Fathers of Wheeling College.


To our own Diocesan Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph, the parish owes a debt of gratitude too important to be fully acknowledged at this time. From the very beginning of the parish and even before -- the Catholic children of this section of Wheeling were educated by the Sisters of St. Joseph.


The parish is very proud of the families whose sons and daughters have given their lives to the service of the Church. During the past fifty years the parish claims as her sons and daughters:5 Priests 4 Brothers 15 Sisters


The parish was established with the appointment of the first Pastor on June 16, 1916. A home was rented which is located immediately in the rear of the present rectory, and it was here for a while that Church Services were conducted for the new parish, while the combination Church-School building was erected where the completed school now stands.

Prior to this time, the Catholics of Warwood attended Mass at Sacred Heart Church in North Wheeling. Street Car service every hour on Sunday provided the chief means of transportation.


The original parish bounderies determined by the Bishop are about the same to this day --"North from Richland Coal to the Brooke County line at Short Creek; then six miles East along the Ohio and Brooke County lines to a point one mile East of West Liberty; from that point, South two miles to the crossing of the West Liberty and Clinton Roads: then over the hilltop one mile southwest: from there three miles West - keeping one mile North of Clinton and four miles southwest to Richland Coal."


The cornerstone for the new structure was laid on September 24, 1916. The original part of the present school consisted of four classrooms and a basement. Folding doors on the first floor when opened provided space for Church services.

A newspaper report of this cornerstone laying stated that fully 5,000 people attended the ceremony presided over by Bishop Donahue who also delivered the address. The account also stated that a great Parade marched from 3rd to 26th Street, and then back to the school, and about 1,500 took part in this parade. The school building served the parish also as a Church until 1924.


On August 19, 1923, Bishop John J. Swint laid the cornerstone of the present Church. The Church was dedicated formally with a Solemn High Mass on May 11, 1924.

An interesting account and description of the new Church is found in the "Wheeling Register"- May 11, 1924.

"The simple beauty of the Church exterior is achieved by strict adherence to the old Lombardic type of architecture. It is constructed of cream grey rough texture brick. There is a great arch over the opening of the porch and the tympanum is filled with brick and stucco ornaments. Over the porch, the gable wall of the structure is occupied by a coupled arched window seen from the interior above the organ. A fine bell cote rises 75 feet from the sidewalk.

"This beautiful structure is formed on Basilica type, with clear-story and four stone pillars on each side of the nave carrying round arches. The nave ceiling is barrel-vaulted, the windows of the clear-story penetrating it. The side aisles have lean-to roofs plastered on the underside of the rafters.

"On the front-the narthex runs across it entirely with stairs to the organ tribune on the epistle side. The main entrance on Warwood Avenue is in the center of the narthex, and at the gospel side is a door leading to the side street. The sanctuary has a square end: the priests' sacristy is on the epistle side due to the proximity of this side to the rectory. The boys' sacristy is on the opposite side with boiler room below and storage room above, the boiler room has a separate outside entrance.

"The sanctuary floor is composed of grey Tennessee marble borders, steps and inserts: there is Westfield green risers with vari-colored tiles for the field. In the aisles and narthex the floor covering is of red quarry tile with cement borders and base.

"Artistic features of the interior are found in the painted glass windows - the work of George W. Sotter of Philadelphia - in the hand-wrought chandeliers by Cox, Nostrand and Gunnison of Brooklyn: in the woodwork which is white oak stained in mission color and which predominates in the altars, Communion rail, Baptismal font, sedelia, pews and other woodwork throughout, being the handicraft of the American Seating Company. All these features were designed by the Architect. Over the sanctuary is a huge crucifix which is truly a magnificent piece of work. The pipe organ installed by the Estey Company, is an instrument of the highest order of excellence. The paintings on the side altars were done in oil by Mr. McQuaide. The Stations are in the usual French and Munich finish. The seating capacity, without the organ tribune is 550. The Architect was Edward Weber of Pittsburgh, the same architect who designed the magnificent Wheeling Cathedral.

"In the hands of a properly trained and artistic mural decorator, this beautiful Church could have its interior with its beautiful lines and harmonious proportions made a marvel of devotional beauty to vie with any similar church of the eleventh and twelfth centuries."


680 Practical Catholic Families
643 Men
787 Women
385 pre-School children
740 School children
...Total of 2,555 souls


Additions to the School - 1939-1952-1959
Addition to the Rectory 1962
Purchase of Convent 1942
Addition to Convent 1952

Congratulations to the 49 Parishioners who have lived in the Parish since 1916.

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