Left to right:  Sue Shanks, Diane Schneider, Mary Lauritz, and Lynne Hall with SJB School Yearbooks
Left to right: Sue Shanks, Diane Schneider, Mary Lauritz, and Lynne Hall with SJB School Yearbooks

Early Years

If history is told through the voices of its people, then Mary Lauritz and her family have quite a tale to tell about St. John Bosco Church.  Mary, who is 90 years young, her beloved late husband Edward, and their three daughters were generous founding members of SJB.  When they moved from Cleveland’s West Side to a house on Holland Road in Brook Park in 1963, they learned that the Diocese authorized the building of a new Catholic Church in Parma Heights.  The first Masses were offered in the gymnasium of Greenbrier Middle School on Huffman Road.  “We used to call it St. Greenbrier,” laughs Mary.  “We had to sit on folding chairs, and the teachers there used to get upset when we’d scrape the chairs on the polished wooden floor.”

There was much excitement when construction of the new church and school was finally completed in 1965.  “My father was an electrician, and I remember walking with him through the brand-new church so he could check out the wiring,” Mary’s eldest daughter Lynne Hall recalls with a smile.  Middle daughter Sue Shanks remembers their father serving as a lector and money counter.  Youngest daughter Diane Schneider will never forget Fr. Tulley’s booming voice.  “He used to shout at people who wanted to leave before the recessional hymn was finished, ‘Don’t run down those poor people!  Wait in your pew!’”  Mary fondly remembers Fr. Tulley’s pet schnauzer.  “The dog was allowed to walk through the church, but Father had him trained so that he wouldn’t go near the altar.”

SJB Grade School

Diane was a member of the first class to attend all eight grades at Saint John Bosco School, beginning with the first grade in 1965 and graduating from eighth grade in 1972.  “We had to wear uniforms that reached our knees,” Diane remembers.  “When we knelt down, the bottoms of the skirts had to touch the kneelers.  We wore beanies or chapel veils in church.”  Diane also participated in the Bosco Bears softball team. “We lost every game, but Mom always treated us to Dairy Whip afterward.”  Although the girls attended Midpark High School, they continued their religious training through PSR classes at SJB.

Volunteer Work

Certainly, Mary Lauritz’ volunteer work contributed to the success of the parish.  She served as a patient “Room Mom” when Diane attended SJB grade school.  After the Bell Tower was built in 1985, Mary and her friends Virginia Hirsch and the late Mary Floriea worked at the Cloister Gift Shop.  “We sold religious articles such as First Communion veils and prayer books,” says Mary.  For over 20 years, Mary dedicated many hours to working the twice weekly bingo games and regularly collected money at the door of the Lenten fish fries.  Until 2020, she worked under the bingo tent at each annual SJB Festival.  “Mom even won the award for the best home-baked apple pie at the festivals,” remembers Sue.  A joyful woman of great faith, Mary was also a devoted member of SJB’s Ladies’ Guild.

Faith through the Generations

Without a doubt, Mary and Edward Lauritz passed along their deep-rooted faith and enthusiasm to their three daughters.  Diane first taught a PSR class at SJB at the age of 19, and returned to teach at the program several years later when her daughter Meaghan made her first communion here.  When Lynne moved to Toledo, she taught a first grade PSR class at her local church.  All three of Mary’s daughters now live in the west Cleveland suburbs and are very close to their Mom.  “We get a special feeling when we drive by the church.  Every major life event – marriage, baptism, and first communion, happened here,” says Diane.  For the Lauritz family, SJB will always be home.

Submitted by Bob and Christine Martuch