150 years of tradition at St. Rose enduring fires, floods, changes
Tom Raabe has been passing the collection basket for 40 years at St. Rose Church in the East End.
There have been several times when “a young couple will come in and they’ll say this is the place. This is the church we have to get married in. That’s happened over a number of years and it’s all because of the beauty and tradition of the church,” Raabe said.
“The church is very conservative. It’s beautiful inside and I love the church itself. I love Father Barry Windholtz (pastor) and I love the people and there are outstanding people who come from all over.”
This year marks the 150th year Saint Rose has served Cincinnati’s East End. Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr celebrated the occasion with a Mass in January followed by a reception. About 700 families call St. Rose home.
Father Windholtz said: “The parish was founded by hard working Germans who built and repaired boats so vital to the life of our river town. The little four-room school house taught the children of the local population even after the Germans moved to higher ground.
“There was a point in time when Father Wintermeyer, who was here for 20 years, provided breakfast for the neighborhood children. The current neighborhood is gentrifying and the street name has changed which has afforded some new parishioners for the church. Saint Rose is a parish of convenience. People come from all over the city and from Northern Kentucky to worship each week.
“Saint Rose has been generous to numerous charities in the past 16 years — donating more than $2 million to their causes. The church has endured fire in 1894, and floods — the highest in 1937– and still continues to survive and thrive. I encourage people to come and see our famous flood gage on the rear exterior of the church and I invite everyone to come and worship with us.”
Father Windholtz cited several memorable events in the past 16 years: Converting the convent to apartments for retired priests; starting a bereavement committee; the senior group called the “Joy Group”; St. Patrick party, Octoberfest, the Christmas party and parish picnic. He admits to watching
the river rise each spring and praying it stays out of the church.
But for many long-time parishioners, the church is proud of maintaining its tradition through times of change in the Church and in society
Joe Christmann, 79, a 31-year member of St. Rose, noted, “I’m a very traditional person. My wife. Mary Anne, is too. At St. Rose, everyone on the altar is in cassock and surplus and they are all-male.
“Every now and then, during the week, you’ll see people and they’ll stay around and ask questions about some of the statuary or other architectural things of interest and I’ll ask if they are first-time visitors. A lot of people come in through word-of-mouth, out of curiosity,” said Christmann. They’ll come back and a lot of them sign up and join the parish. We have many people from across the river — northern Kentucky.
“You have so many comments from people who come in because they hear about St. Rose and the traditions we preserve and the way the church is decorated at Christmas and Easter. People, say ‘Oh my Gosh! This is so beautiful.’,” said Christmann, who serves on the pastoral council, as sacristan and master of ceremonies for all liturgical events. He is there daily for the 12:10 Mass and locks up after it.
“It’s’ the atmosphere, the environment, the tradition, that make St. Rose so special,” he said.
Photos by Colleen Kelley