St. Columba Catholic Church

Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg, PA


The construction of the North Branch Canal brought Catholic laborers, mostly immigrants from Ireland, to the Bloomsburg area in 1826. Mass was celebrated in private homes by Father John Fitzpatrick from Milton as well as a priest from Pottsville. Priests from these same parishes celebrated Mass in Catawissa in the 1830's during the construction of the Catawissa Railroad.

In 1844, the construction of the Irondale furnace was completed and some 25 Catholic families were attended by Father John Flanagan from Milton, who celebrated Mass on several occasions in Michael Casey’s home on Iron Street. Afterwards, a German priest attended the German Catholics here and at Lightstreet, celebrating Mass in Peter Smith’s home on Front Street. Names of the pioneer Catholics included: John Hartman, Michael Casey, John Egan, Martin Crogan, David Jones, John Donolly, Mr. McQuillan, John Holligan, Michael Asby, John Smith, Peter Smith, James Cronin and Hugh Furey. On October 17, 1848, land in Bloom Township west of Iron Street, was purchased for a cemetery, the first property owned by the Catholics in Bloomsburg.

From 1849 to 1882, Saint Columba was a mission attached first to Saint Joseph’s and then to Saint Hubert’s in Danville. The famed missionary Father Michael Sheridan is spoken of as the real organizer of the mission parish through his zealous activities. Of special interest, (Bishop) Saint John Nepomucene Neuman visited Bloomsburg in 1854, 1857, and 1859.

It is noted in an old missal that Father Edward Murray "took charge of this country station September 30, 1857." On April 9, 1859, a church formerly owned by the "Primitive American Methodist Church," was purchased for $535 and was blessed by Father Murray under the patronage of Saint Columba. Parish records date from August 1859.

Father Andrew J. O’Brien was appointed the first resident pastor of Saint Columba in October 1882.

During the pastorate of Father Edward A. Burhard (1910-1917), work was begun on the second church in 1911 and the church was dedicated on October 12,1913. Father Herman Gies (1917-1936), decorated the interior of the church and purchased additional property. Father Louis J. Yeager (1936-1946), purchased more property and made extensive improvements to church and rectory. He organized the Columbian Club for Catholic students at Bloomsburg State College. He also created a substantial building fund and organized a USO center during World War II.

Father William J. Burke (1945-1957), erected the parish school in 1954, and staffed it with the Sisters of Saints Cyril and Methodius.

On November 8, 1957, Father Vincent J. Topper assumed leadership of St. Columba. It was he who purchased the Iron Street property which is the present convent. Father James W. Beeman came as Father Topper’s assistant.

After a census conducted by Father James W. Beeman, as directed by Father Vincent Topper, the pastor, the mission chapel of Christ The King was formally organized in 1961. Administered by Saint Columba Church, the mission held its first Mass in a converted bakery in Benton on November 12, 1961. At that time the mission consisted of 165 souls. In March of 1963, a four acre tract of land was purchased as a site for a permanent church. The ground breaking ceremony took place on May 10, 1970 and construction was completed in early 1971. Father Martin Brown, Assistant Pastor of Saint Columba, celebrated the first Mass in the new structure on January 28, 1971. A formal Mass of dedication was held May 9, 1971, with the Most Reverend George L. Leech as the principal celebrant. Christ The King Mission Church is self-sustaining and is still administered by Saint Columba Church.

In the late sixties, the growing parish of Saint Columba began planning for a larger church. Under Father John Suknaic’s guidance, a fund raising campaign was conducted in order to meet the financial commitment required to build a new church. The parishioners made pledges of their treasury and during the pastorate of Father Joseph Kofchock, the project was begun. The old church, which was built between 1911 and 1913, and dedicated in 1913, was razed in 1968. While construction was ongoing, Masses were held in the school gymnasium (Marian Hall). The present church, with a seating capacity of 750, was constructed on the original site and was dedicated on January 18,1970. The principal celebrant of the dedication Mass was the Most Reverend George L. Leech, Bishop of Harrisburg. Concelebrants were Fathers Joseph Kofchock, Martin Brown and Bernard Petrina.

Father Kofchock remained at Saint Columba until 1973, and was followed by Father V. Casey, who served the parish for over twelve years. Father Thomas Langan succeeded Father Casey in 1986, and served until 1989, when Father Thomas A. Scala was appointed pastor of Saint Columba until 1994. Father Patrick Devine succeeded Father Scala, and was pastor until 2009.  Father Paul Fisher served from 2009 until 2011.  Monsignor Robert E. Lawrence is the present pastor of Saint Columba.

Saint Columba is also the center of worship for the Bloomsburg University Catholic Campus Ministry which serves over 2500 students. The ministry was established in the late sixties.

The History of St. Columba Church


About Our Parish

Mass Schedule

Calendar of Events


Pastor and Staff

Contact Information

Address: Third and Iron Street

                Bloomsburg, PA 17815

Phone: 570-784-0801

Fax: 570-387-2604


Parish Center

342 Iron Street (Adjoining the Church)

Bloomsburg, PA  17815


Monday - Friday, 8:30am to 4pm

(Closed from 12:30 - 1:00)

Quick Links

St. Columba School

Catholic Campus Ministry

Christ the King Church

Diocese Website


Volunteer Information

Online Giving