Since July 2007, St. Cornelius has been clustered with St. John the Evangelist, Allenton and St. Nicholas, Capac. Father Wayne was named pastor of all three sites until July 31, 2013. On August 15, 2013, we welcomed Fr. Frederik Kalaj as the new Pastor for our Clustered Parishes. On July 1st, 2015, we welcomed Fr. Michael Gawlowski and he remains our current Pastor. He is assisted by Rev. John (Doc) Ortman who became our associate Pastor on July 1st, 2011.
The St. Cornelius parish was formed in 1957. The first Masses were held in the upstairs room of the current Dryden Public Library. The original church building was constructed the following year and is now our multi-purpose room, Dunn Hall. In 1986, we completed an addition of 2400 square feet, our present church, to keep up with our growing enrollment.
After 38 years as a mission church, we were pleased to become a full-fledged parish on September 25, 1995. At that time, we happily welcomed Father Wayne G. Ureel as our pastor and constructed a modest home for him next to the church grounds. The following year we finished a large garage for additional storage. A fourth weekend Mass was added in September 1997. In 1998, Deacon Don Cox was welcomed to the parish.
Over the years, our membership has grown a lot, causing growing pains in many areas of parish life. There are activities going on each night of the week, often two or three at the same time. As a result, a 3,000-square-foot building was built in 2001. It houses Administrative and Family Faith Formation offices and two meeting rooms.
Father Dunn retired in 1995 but served the parish until May 2001. Rev. Matthew Kafka joined our parish in June, 2001 as a weekend associate. He retired completely in February 2012. Plans for a new and larger church began in 1997. Over time many adjustments had to be made, and the project, the result of tireless effort by the Building Committee, underwent several changes due to a variety of circumstances well beyond anyone’s control.
A Building Fund was formally established in the fall of 2001 and continues to this day. Everyone, including new parishioners, is encouraged to make a financial contribution to help with ongoing expenses of the new church. Bequests and year-end tax donations are additional ways to support the Building Fund.
Groundbreaking took place on July 8, 2007. Construction began in earnest, although many hurdles had to be overcome. Parishioners responded generously and finally, after many hours of work by construction crew and parishioners, Bishop Flores dedicated our new church on February 8, 2009!
- John the Evangelist Parish, was started in February of 1915, with Father Dunnigan as mission priest. Michael Zehr and a group of parishioners had written to the Bishop asking for permission to build a small church in Allenton. The Bishop granted them $800.00 for the lumber and the first small church was built. The church had a steeple, bell, white altar, and a small platform for the pump organ and choir. The church was dedicated in the fall of 1915. Father Syoen was then the mission priest. The first families were of German and Belgian descent.
- 1916 John’s was added to the St. Philip Neri Mission out of Immaculate Conception Parish in Lapeer. Father Thomas R. Carey became the priest. A priest was sent out of Lapeer once a month for Mass, confessions, marriages and baptisms. At other times, prayer services were held with lay people. The first hymns were sung in German and Latin with Julia or Anna Zehr playing the organ. Julia Zehr and Nicholaus Schneider were the first couple to be married in the church on January 23, 1916.
- 1928 John’s became a mission of Sacred Heart Parish of Imlay City, and the first rectory was built in that village. Father Ording returned as pastor.
- 1938 On Palm Sunday, it became apparent that the Church was outgrown as the floor collapsed that day. Mass was held in the Berville Town Hall until the new church was built. The next church was built at the cost of $7800.00. The men of the parish helped with the building to keep the cost down. The first Mass was Midnight Mass – the church was not yet completed. The church was dedicated by Archbishop Edward Mooney.
- 1948 On June 16, St. John was given status as a Parish and Father Richard Thomas was installed as our first pastor. Our first Summer Bible School was held.
- 1949 Work on the Allenton rectory began in January and was completed in July.
- 1963 Father William Carolin came to assist with the Spanish speaking people in the area.
- 1964 The south parking lot was built on land bought to the south and west of the church.
- 1990 On April 29, we celebrated ’75 Years of Worship, Education and Service to the community with a Mass of Thanksgiving, followed by a dinner dance.
- 2003 On September 20th 2003, Archbishop, Cardinal Maida came to Allenton to dedicate our new church. With nearly 450 families presently, our faith community continues to thrive much to the success of dedicated volunteers and a devoted pastoral staff. May we continue to grow in faith and love. Special thanks to Father Gerry Frawley for seeing our dream to completion.