New St. Mary Church dedicated in Springboro
By Patricia McGeever
Catholics who attended St. Mary Parish in Franklin mourned a loss and celebrated a new beginning all within a few hours. The doors of their old church were locked and the building is for sale.
Now, there is a new parish in a new community with a new name, St. Mary of the Assumption. It is the first Catholic church to be built in Springboro. It was dedicated by Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr on Aug. 14, the eve of the Assumption. The new parish will draw people from Carlisle, Franklin, Springboro and Waynesville.
“When we said our last Mass attendance was 1,000,” said Father Jim Manning, who presided over the final Mass at the old church. “We went from 1,000 to 2,500 in one weekend,” he said of the crowd who attended the dedication.
The new St. Mary Church is built on 17 acres and overlooks three ponds. There is a parish life center on the lower level. The church was built in the same Gothic-style as the Franklin church, but is more modern and four times bigger, seating around 850 people. Some pieces of the old church have a place in the new one. The stained glass windows were removed from the old church last year. After a cleaning, they were installed in the sanctuary in Springboro. The Stations of the Cross, plus the statues of Mary and Joseph, were cleaned and restored to color before being brought to their new home.
Former pastor, the late Father Chuck Mentrup, who was pastor in 2005, had the vision for the new parish and started the planning. After Father Mentrup’s death in a car accident, Father Manning was named pastor and carried out the vision. The change was hard for some in the parish to handle. “There’s always a sense of loss,” said Father Manning. And he allowed the parish to mourn. But now, “It’s like new life and energy, and it exceeded my expectations,” he said of the new parish.
A capital campaign to pay for the new church was started in 2010. The first round of pledging fell short of the fundraising goal so plans for the new parish were revised. The sanctuary became smaller and the Parish Life Center was moved to the lower level of the church. The property was purchased in 2012. By March of 2015, enough money was raised to break ground.
“We never thought it would come out this good. Never thought attendance would be this high this quick,” said Doyle Key. He and his wife chaired the capital campaign. The festivities surrounding the relocating of the parish and dedicating of the church building were everything organizers hoped it would be.
“We planned it in our heads a year ago and to see if all come together, so coordinated, it’s very fulfilling,” added Father Manning.
Springboro is one of the fastest growing areas in Ohio. Twenty-five years ago, the archdiocese bought property in there intending to build a parish but plans stalled. Ironically, that property was near the site of the new St. Mary’ Parish.
“In the minds of a lot of people we are fulfilling a promise to the people of Springboro made a long time ago,” Father Manning said.
In one week after the new parish opened, he sent out 80 letters welcoming new parishioners.. At the same time, current parishioners are keeping a long-standing tradition alive at the old St. Mary’s church building in Franklin. Until the building sells, the Wednesday night community dinners will continue there. Parishioners donate food and money to feed more than 100 people in the community each week. The parish plans to continue the dinners after the old church building sells but the location hasn’t yet been decided
We want to serve all God’s people no matter what neighborhood they live in,” he said.