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St. Vincent Ferrer Parish Marks 50th Anniversary of Church Building

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by Eileen Connelly, OSU

Amid the traffic and hustle and bustle of the Kenwood shopping district, the spires of St. Vincent Ferrer Church are a beacon of faith and hope to passers-by.

Members of the faith community celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the current church building during a special Mass on Oct. 20. Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr presided, with Fathers Dennis Jaspers, pastor, and Jedidiah Tritle, parochial vicar, serving as concelebrants. A highlight of the liturgy was the presence of Rita Stegge, 92, the only surviving founding member of the parish.

Denny Connors’ parents, John and Virginia (better known as Bud and Jinny) were also among the founding parishioners when the parish was established in 1946. With the exception of a couple of years away, Connors has always called St. Vincent Ferrer home.

“It’s always been a very welcoming community,” he said. “People who grew up in the parish still have strong feelings about it and are very attached. This place just builds bonds.”

The original church was a pre-fabricated surplus hanger from the Second World War and served not only as worship space, but also as the school, convent and rectory. It’s still in use today and houses the school cafeteria, gym and parish offices.

As the Kenwood area began to blossom, the parish grew, and the need for a larger church became evident. Groundbreaking ceremonies for the present St. Vincent Ferrer Church were held on February 2, 1969, with cornerstone blessings given by Bishop Edward McCarthy in June.

“The church was considered state of the art in 1969, and has served us well over the years,” Connors said.

“We have our own little oasis back here,” said longtime parishioner Susan Aloisio, who helped plan the anniversary celebration. “Even with the busy shopping area, you can see the spires rising up to the heavens and feel a sense of peace.”

The fiftieth anniversary celebration has provided an opportunity to do some “sprucing up” around the church, Connors said, thanks to the generosity of parishioners; leadership of Father Jaspers; and vision of architect Mark Dunkley. New carpet and lighting have been installed, the kneelers have been repaired, and there are plans for a multi-purpose gathering space to be completed next year.

“Father Jaspers’ first assignment was at St. Vincent, so he has a real fondness for the parish,” Connors explained. “The outstanding parish response to our fundraising efforts really speaks to how dedicated our parishioners are.”

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