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Parish celebrates 150th with old friends, former pastors

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

By David Eck

ST. ANDREW DEANERY — The regular 4:30 p.m. Mass at St. Columban Parish in Loveland was anything but routine as former parishioners and pastors returned to celebrate the parish’s 150th anniversary on Aug. 29.

Coadjutor Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr celebrated the Mass, with eight priests concelebrating.

Coadjutor Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr celebrates Mass at St. Columban Parish in Loveland as part of the parish’s 150th anniversary. At left, Deacon Jerry Sasson assists. (CT/Tony Tribble)

The church was filled for the Mass, which also featured music from the parish choir and several children carrying banners. The oldest parishioner, Henrietta Duvelius, 83, joined her sister, Rosemary Duvelius, and Maxine Bodley in carrying the gifts during the Mass.

Rosemary Duvelius, 73, has been a lifelong parishioner at St. Columban. Her parents were married there. She recalled how the parish has grown over the years.

“It’s much larger than what it was,” she said. “We only had two classrooms to start out with.”

Even after she moved to another part of Loveland in 2001, Duvelius remained a St. Columban parishioner.

“It’s our whole life,” she said. “When we moved, we were closer to Good Shepherd [Parish] but we would never leave our parish.”

In his homily Archbishop Schnurr recognized the previous generations of parishioners, and spoke of working together to address the issues facing the church in the future.

“No one person — clergy, religious or lay person — is equipped to address all of the challenges that the church faces in the world today,” Archbishop Schnurr said. “No one person — clergy, religious, or lay person — can lay claim to the measurable successes or advances of a parish.  Accomplishments are realized only when, under the guidance of the pastor, all the faithful — clergy, religious and lay people — come together, each contributing their God-given talents to the common enterprise.”

U.S. Representative Jean Schmidt, who grew up in the parish, presented several gifts to St. Columban pastor Father Larry Tensi, including the speech she made on the floor of the U.S. House in support of the parish’s milestone. She also spoke of her days as a student in St. Columban School. Loveland Mayor Rob Weisgerber, a parishioner, presented a proclamation listing significant dates in the parish’s history.

Young members of St. Columban Parish participate in the offertory procession. (CT/Tony Tribble)

A blessing from the Vatican was read.

After the Mass Warren County Prosecutor Rachael Hutzel, who grew up in St. Columban, looked over old parish photos and artifacts. A dozen more photos were displayed in the church’s undercroft, where a dinner was served.

The parish dates to the early 1850s when a visiting priest from St. Andrew Parish in Milford celebrated Mass with the few Catholics in Loveland every two months or so. The parish was formally established in 1859 with the purchase of an old school house on Broadway Avenue in Loveland. The first church was built in 1893 on the Broadway site overlooking the small town. A school was established in 1926.

Responding to rapid growth following WW II, the parish bought its current site on Oakland Road in 1956. A new school was dedicated on the site in 1958. That building was expanded in 1961 to include a church. The expansion also marked the end of St. Columban’s use of its original Broadway Avenue site. Another church was built in 1983, and the current church was dedicated in 2002. (See parish timeline below)

Father Tensi gave thanks for the parish’s rich past.

“Today we gather to remember those who said “yes” to this way of life and on whose shoulders we now stand,” Father Tensi said. “We give thanks to God for [His] faithfulness and various presences during these 150 years. And today we remember that we come this day inheritors form those whose work is done. We come this day asking the Lord to make us contributors to years beyond our own.

“And so let faith’s enkindled flame not fail me friends, let love’s best gifts increase during our time,” Father Tensi said. “Let hope in Christ’s sure word prevail till earth and time shall cease.”

Following the Mass, about 500 people  gathered outside on the beautiful evening to enjoy dinner and live music. They shared stories and met up with friends.

“It’s very nice to come back and see a lot of old friends,” said Father Joseph Robinson, a former pastor at St. Columban. “It’s nice to see St. Columban continuing to do well and grow.”

David Eck can be reached at deck@ catholiccincinnati.org.

St. Columban Parish timeline

1859 – St. Columban Parish was formed when Father John Baptist O’Donoghue and 10 families raised enough money to buy a one-room schoolhouse on Broadway Avenue from the Village of Loveland for use as a church.

1893 – First church was built on Broadway Avenue site.

1906 – Father Timothy Bailey became the parish’s first resident pastor. St. Columban had previously shared pastors with St. Andrew Parish in Milford.

1926 – St. Columban School opened.

1956 – The parish purchased current 28-acre site on Oakland Road.

1958 – School on Oakland Road site opened.

1961 – School building on Oakland Road is expanded to include a church, and the last Mass was celebrated at the old church on Broadway. The parish discontinued use of its original site.

1983 – A new church was dedicated.

2002 – The current church was dedicated.

Source: St. Columban Parish.

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