A History of the Parish
The church of St. Mark the Evangelist is located in Lawrence Park, a separate Township adjacent to Erie, Pennsylvania. The Parish was created June 3, 1938 by the Most Reverend John Mark Gannon, D.D., D.C.L., Bishop of Erie, when Reverend Charles A. Ward was appointed, by His Excellency, to found and establish the parish in this locality. Father Ward, a native of New Haven, Connecticut, was then an assistant to Right Reverend David Hickey, Vicar General, pastor of St. Bernard Church, Bradford, Pennsylvania. He assumed duties assigned to him late in June, and the first Mass, ever celebrated in Lawrence Park, was offered on the last Sunday of that beautiful June. While at work in organizing the newly created parish, Father Ward made his residence temporarily with the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity at Gannondale.
Through the kindness and generosity of the members of St. Mary's Episcopal Mission, services were held for considerable time in their church auditorium, a short distance from the present location.
Ground was broken for the new structure at Smithson Avenue and Morse Street on the Feast of Christ the King in October, 1940. Bishop Gannon presided at the ceremony, in the presence of many clergy and laity. The cornerstone was laid, a year later in the autumn of 1941, by Monsignor Hickey of Bradford, who acted in his official capacity as Vicar General in the absence of His Excellency. Reverend Edward P. McManaman, S.T.D., Rector of St. Peter's Cathedral, delivered the sermon. In mid-summer 1942, the progress on the church construction received a disastrous set-back, when fire swept through the partially completed edifice. Services were already being held in the social section, the First High Mass having been offered on Easter Sunday, 1942. While the work of restoration was being continued, the First Solemn High Mass was celebrated at the main altar of the church proper, at Midnight of Christmas, 1942. Most of the work on the edifice, from the digging of the foundation to the finishing of the lofty ceilings, has been the voluntary manual labor of the Parish. Because of their magnificent generosity, unlimited skill, and unstinted sacrifice, the great financial burden necessarily attendant upon the erection of such a building, has been greatly lessened. Their magnanimous spirit attracted nationwide attention and brought to them creditable acclaim and deep personal satisfaction. At the same time, as if not to be outdone by the male members of the parish, the ladies, by their exquisite needle-work and sewing craft, provided all the vestments and the linens necessary for the Divine Services. Likewise, too, the children offered their innocent prayers for the successful completion of the undertaking, and, from their limited allowances, they generously provided one of the nave windows, which shall always testify to their loyalty by bearing the title of "The Children’s Window."