First Pastor and Unicycle Drill Team Founder

Parishioners of St. Helen Catholic Church were greeted at Mass Sunday, September 14, 1952, by the newly appointed Pastor, the Reverent James J. Moran. Father Moran was no stranger to this section of the country since he was born in Cleveland and attended St. Columbkille’s Elementary School and St. Ann’s School, Cleveland Heights. He then went to Notre Dame, graduation in 1927, followed by Western Reserve Law School until 1930; then on to the Seminary and his ordination into the Priesthood in 1935.

His first assignment (1935) was at Holy Rosary Church in Lowellville, Ohio, until 1939, then back to Cleveland at Immaculate Conception Parish until 1943. As a Chaplain in the U.S. Army, he served from 1943 to 1946 in the South Pacific Campaign and is the recipient of a Silver Star. In 1948 Father Moran left Holy Name Church of Cleveland upon being recalled to the Service, and was in the Air Force until 1953.

A great sports enthusiast, he was especially fond of basketball and boxing and was lightweight boxing champion at Notre Dame for four consecutive years.

Father Moran, a member of the ordination class of 1935, celebrated his Silver Jubilee in the holy Priesthood with a Solemn High Mass of Thanksgiving on Sunday, April 24, 1960, at 12 o’clock noon. The Rev. John Powers of St. Ann’s Church, who preached at Father’s first Mass, also preached at his Silver Jubilee Mass as well. The Benedictine Monks of St. Andrew’s Abbey of Cleveland chanted the Mass.  The parish feted Father Moran with a reception in the church hall from 4 to 7 p.m.

Father Moran is the founder and director of the St. Helen Unicycle Drill Team.

On April 24, 1970, a 35th Ordination Anniversary Party, honoring Father Moran, was given by parishioners and various church groups. Nearly 350 people attended the party. Father was presented with a quilt, handmade by the school children, and a purse of money. The main gift, a trophy case, arrived later, and it is used to display the many trophies won by the St. Helen Unicyclists.