The Parish of St. John XXIII is a combination of the two remaining Catholic Parishes in Tamaqua: St. Jerome’s and SS. Peter and Paul’s. In their days, SS. Peter and Paul’s Parish served primarily those of eastern European heritage; St. Jerome’s served Irish, Italian, and other ethnicities.
The original St. Jerome’s Church was located at the sight of the old St. Jerome’s Cemetery, founded in 1834. Construction of a new church building on Broad St. began in 1856 and was completed in 1861. This Parish served Tamaqua and surrounding areas for many years until new Parishes were created due to the increasing number of Parishioners. In 1921 the church was renovated and construction of the school was begun under the guidance of Father Baker.
SS. Peter and Paul’s Lithuanian Catholic Church was founded 1913 on Pine St as a rectory and church. Masses were held in front of a fireplace. Lithuanian families became numerous in the Tamaqua area during this booming time, so a new church/school building was begun in 1927, opening at a much later time due to the Depression (kindergarten in 1941 and grade school in 1956). Rev. William Linkchorst was pastor of SS. Peter and Paul’s Parish for 30 years, retiring in 2014.
In 2012, Father John Frink became Pastor of St. Jerome’s Parish. When Fr. Linkchorst retired, the two churches remained open, but were unified into one Parish that was named St. John XXIII, with Father Frink serving as Pastor for both churches. Due to the operating expenses of maintaining both churches and the cost of repair for the “St. Jerome’s” Church building, the decision was made to close St. Jerome’s Church and unite the Parish into one building at SS. Peter & Paul Church. To commemorate the history of both Parishes and the merger, the church was remodeled, using some relics and furniture from each of the two churches as well as some new ones to begin a new united Parish.
The church’s remodel included woodworking for the altar and other furniture, repainting, and remodeling the old classrooms into a Parish center and Hall, under the guidance of Father John Frink. Using his own woodworking skills, and wood from the pews from St. Jerome’s Church, he added more fixtures, such as candleholders, tables and offertory collection box, to the church, matching the style of the woodworking. Over the period of these few years, Father Frink worked to expand prayer and healing options through expanding our ministries, discussion groups, and healing & worship opportunities, and in 2020, began construction of a Prayer Garden and Memorial for the Unborn in St. Jerome’s (new) cemetery.