Parish celebrates 40 years in ministry

NILES — On June 23, 1979, the Rev. J. James Korda was ordained into the priesthood.

Members of St. Stephen Parish in Niles gathered recently to recognize the 40th anniversary of that milestone and to thank Korda for his service as parish administrator for the past five years during a Mass of Thanksgiving at the church and then at Ciminero’s Banquet Center.

Frank Dillon, parish council chairman, said Korda has done much for the parish, helping with many programs and events, including the recent anniversary celebration of the church.

“We have been blessed by your service to the parish. You have accomplished much and we wish you many more years ahead,” Dillon said.

Area pastors, priests and sisters with the Diocese attended the celebration to share memories of Korda.

Korda performed his first Mass on June 24, 1979, at Immaculate Conception Parish.

For more than 25 years, Korda has been affiliated with the Catholic Television Network of Youngstown. He is the president of CTNY and the host of Wineskins, a radio program.

Korda serves as the chair of the Diocesan Presbyteral Council and a member of the Priest Retirement Board.

Lisa Abraham, chairwoman of the anniversary committee, said, “He is an important part of the St. Stephen family. We are so blessed to be able to celebrate this special time with him.”

Abraham said Korda was presented a papal blessing from the pope.

The Mass held at the parish that day is scheduled to be aired in the near future on CTNY.

Jean Corliss, a fourth-generation member of the parish, said the church was packed June 30 for Korda’s ordination anniversary.

“It was an honor to be part of the celebration of Father Korda’s 40th anniversary ordination to the priesthood. He is an extraordinary individual in his service of the Lord. Since he has been at St. Stephen, he has renewed the parish in our commitment to our faith,” she said.

Anthony Ciminero of Niles, who hosts many of the St. Stephen events at the banquet center, said Korda has done a lot through his participation in the community. “People appreciate what you have done,” he said.

Last December, St. Stephen concluded its yearlong 165th anniversary celebration, of which Korda played an active part scheduling and being involved in various activities. The church is the second-oldest Catholic parish in the county behind St. Mary in Warren.

Korda then had said, “It is amazing that a parish like this has been around this long and is still active.” He said many parishes have died out after facing many ups and downs and declining membership.

Korda said during the anniversary the parish did something unique each month to highlight the anniversary, with special Masses and special guests or groups.

“There is the warmthness of the people. There are quite a few people here who are very active in the parish and always willing to get involved,” Korda said.