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St. Peter in Chains celebrates anniversary

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By Patricia McGeever
For The Catholic Telegraph 

Saint Peter in Chains Parish in Hamilton is marking a milestone. It is celebrating 50 years since its present-day church building was built and dedicated. The parish itself was founded in 1893 and the church building at 382 Liberty is the third one the congregation has used for worship.

“I went to all three churches,” said lifelong parishioner Mary Joe Staarmann. “I’ve got many fond memories,” she added.

Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr presided at the 11 a.m. Mass on June 23 that was concelebrated by Father Ronald Haft, pastor, Father Joseph Bruening, former pastor, and sons of the parish Fathers Joseph Beckman and Marc Sherlock. Deacon Jeffery Merrell also took part and the Knights of Columbus led the procession. Father Haft has since been reassigned to Covington, Ohio, and as of July 1, Father Patrick McMullen is the new pastor.

“It was beautiful and an honor to have the archbishop here,” said another lifelong parishioner Marilyn Flum of the anniversary Mass, adding it was nice to see the other priests as well.

A reception and luncheon followed the Mass in the school cafeteria.

Snow was on the ground that day in January of 1962 when groundbreaking ceremonies took place at the corner of Liberty and Ridgelawn. Msgr. Basil A. Haneberg, Hamilton dean, turned over the first shovelful of dirt. He was joined by Father Paul Ratterman. Pastor, and Father William Long, associate pastor. St. Peter in Chains is built in a modified Romanesque design with both brick and stone. It seats 800.

It took almost 40 years for the greenish bubble-glass windows to be replaced by beautiful stained glass windows that reach almost from the ceiling to the floor on the left side of the church. They depict a scene of St. Peter in Chains. The right side of the church has windows representing the seven sacraments.

The bell tower that stands alongside the church was built by parishioners Joe Bange and Jim Conradt and dedicated in 2001. “It was all in one piece and they had all kinds of police escorts to bring it across town and up that hill and around this bend,” recalled Barb Gardner, the sacristan at the parish, who has lived two doors down from the church for 73 years. “There were people all over watching,” she said.

The tower holds three bells. They were cast after the one big, original bell that was given to St. Peter in 1913 by Sacred Heart Parish in Cincinnati, was melted down.  It was taken down after a tornado damaged the old bell tower in which it hung in 1932. The old tower was dismantled and the big bell put in storage. For more than 50 years, no bells rang at the church.

They were heard on June 23 though as St. Peter in Chains in Hamilton marked a half-century in its church at the corner of Liberty and Ridgelawn.

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