Wednesday, September 17, 2014

St. Michael Catholic Church - History

Photocopy courtesy of Margaret Rachford Dean from an unknown source, c1994, thought to have been written by the priest at that time, Father Ron Cooper.  Transcription follows.


The Village of New Vienna was laid out in 1827 by Mr. Thomas Hussey.  It is located in Clinton County beginning at the western boundary of Highland County.

The first Catholic pioneer in Clinton County settled near Cuba in 1807.  The first Mass was not said in the county until 1852.  This event took place in Wilmington, 10 miles north of New Vienna.  Father Thomas Blake said the first Mass in the home of Jerry Coakley on Sugartree Street.

Patrick Toohey was probably the first Catholic, who with his family settled in New Vienna in the winter of 1854.  The first Mass in the village was celebrated in Mr. Toohey's house in the spring of 1855 by visiting priests from Fayetteville, no doubt Father Thomas Daily and Father John B. O'Donoghue.  They continued to say Mass in his house until better accommodations were secured.

During this era there was a bitter prejudice against Catholics; however, those early Catholic settlers remained steadfast in their faith.  Today there is marked improvement in the feeling toward Catholics.

After Hillsboro, 12 miles to the south, had a resident pastor in 1854, New Vienna was attended by the pastor of St. Mary's Church there.  In 1874 the Catholics began taking steps to build a church and for that purpose purchased the property where the old school house used to stand (present site of St. Michael) for $500.00.  It was in 1874 that St. Michael Church was established.  During the two following years Mass was celebrated in this house.

In the summer of 1876, Father John B. O'Donoghue, pastor of St. Mary's Church, Hillsboro, began construction of the present church building which is where the old school house stood.  In the same year the cornerstone was laid and the church dedicated by Archbishop John B. Purcell of Cincinnati.  The cost of the building was about $1,000.00  At this time there were about ten Catholic families in New Vienna.

In 1899 Father Bernard Feeney was appointed the first resident pastor of St. Benignus Parish in Greenfield, Ohio, and St. Michael Church was assigned to him as a Mission.  The pastors of St. Mary's in Hillsboro had taken care of the Catholics in New Vienna for 45 years.  However, Father Feeney remained for only a few months, and Father A.F. Sourd was appointed pastor of St. Benignus.  In addition to St. Michael, New Vienna, he also took care of St. Joseph Church, Frankfort [Ross County]; and St. Mary Church, Waverly.

In 1905 Mrs. Ada Pemberton established Sunday School classes and instructed the children from New Vienna.  During the pastorate of Father John M. Sailer, a statue of St. Michael was purchased, and electric lights were installed.  Catechism was taught at 7:30 a.m. on the fourth Sunday of each month, and a High Mass and Sermon followed at 8:30.  There was also a Mass offered on the second Tuesday of each moth at 8:00 a.m.  the Higgins family donated  beautiful ciborium in memory of the parents James and Mary Higgins, in 1906.  Mr. Higgins carved the beautiful frames still being used in our Stations of the Cross.

The Christmas Mass was dropped in 1831, and the Tuesday Mass followed in 1935.  From this time on, Mass was offered on the last Sunday of the month only, except during the pastorate of Father John Anthony and Father Leo Herlihy.  Father Edward Lawler resumed the monthly Sunday Masses and began the offering of an evening Mass on holy days, except Christmas.

The Church was papered in 1929, and a new carpet placed in the sanctuary; in the same year a new roof was put on the church.  In 1946 the church was completely renovated, inside and outside, during the pastorate of Father Edwin Dittman.  Brother Bertrand Bailey, O.P., who lived with Archbishop McNicholas and was brought to Cincinnati in 1925, built a vestibule onto the church and erected a celtic cross over the church.  He also painted the church and installed new electrical fixtures which are still being used.  The floors were refinished, a canopy erected over the altar, and red drapes placed behind the altar.  Archbishop McNicholas donated the crucifix that hung over the altar (it is now in the priests's sacristy).  Father Dittman replaced the old pot-belly stove which stood in the middle of the church with an oil heater located in the rear of the church near where the confessional now stands.  He also had the grounds landscaped and placed shrubbery around in front of the church.  Miss Margaret Higgins was most generous in her help to Father Dittman.  In 1947 the statues of the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph were purchased, as well as the new tabernacle which now rests on the altar.

During the pastorate of Father Edward Lawler a sign was erected toward the front of the church grounds giving the time of the Mass (he changed the time to 11:30 on the last Sunday of the month and 8:00 p.m. on holy days).  In 1957 he had the outside of the Church painted and the roof was also repaired.  The following year rubber cushions were installed on the kneelers and at the Communion rail.  The Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus from Hamilton donated the chalice we now use in honor of Msgr. McNary, former pastor of Holy Trinity Church, Middletown.

Except for the catechism classes conducted by Mrs. Ada Pemberton from 1905 to 1907, parents instructed their children.  In 1941 the children in New Vienna went to Hillsboro where they were instructed by the Ursuline Nuns from Brown County.  In 1943 they went to St. Columbkille, Wilmington, where they were taken care of until the fall of 1962.  For the first time in the 107 years of Catholicity in New Vienna, and the 86 years since the Church of St. Michael was erected, weekly catechism classes were conducted by two Sisters from Our Lady of Victory Missionary Sisters living at St. Colman Convent, Washington Court House.  During the month of June the Sisters conducted a daily summer school of religion five days a week.

Beginning with the first Sunday in June, 1962, Mass was offered each Sunday at 9:00 a.m. and continues on this schedule.  The holy day evening Mass remains at 8:00 p.m. and on the First Friday of each month.  Mass is offered on Christmas, and thanks to Mr. Anthony Peters we have a beautiful Crib.  Services are held during Lent consisting of the Rosary and Way of the Cross.  During Holy Week the Holy Thursday and Holy Saturday ceremonies are carried out; on Good Friday the Way of the Cross and sermon take place.  First Communion and May Crowning take place on Mother's Day.

During the fall of 1962 and through the spring of 1963, the whole interior of the church was remodeled.  The ceiling was lowered about 14 inches with acoustic tile blocks, wood panels (light above and dark below) covered the walls, and rubber tile was put on the floor.  Father Joseph V. Urbain, Pastor of St. Columban Church, Loveland, offered us the pews, Communion rail, sanctuary carpeting, credence table, large crucifix, confessional, sacristy cabinet, pamphlet rack, and bulletin board from his old church.  A generous benefactor in Greenfield donated a gas furnace and had it installed in the boys' sacristy.  The oil stove was taken away and Joe Derivan no longer had to haul the oil and light up each time Mass was offered!

A very charitable man from Dayton, 78-year-old Anthony J. Peters, came to live with Father Lay in Greenfield so that he could engineer the remodeling work simply 'for the love of God."  Tony had retired from his occupation as a stripe painter of horse-drawn wagons, and later on the older model automobiles, and he was quite handy as a carpenter.  He began his work of remodeling in the old church in Loveland - dismantling the pews and communion rail, the confessional and carpeting - then cutting the rail and pews to the correct size.  Our men transported these to New Vienna and were most helpful in the initial installation; Tony put the finishing touches to the job!  Lawrence Germann, Bob Dean, and Bill Baker painted the wood tim in Church and along the windows.  Two of our women, and a Quaker acquaintance, fixed the drapes.  Lou and Ed Chandler donated and poured the spacious concrete walk from the road to the Church after it had been prepared by Lawrence Germann, Harold Wallen, and Bill Baker.  The shrubbery in front of the church was donated and planted by Tom Brumley.  Everyone, child and adult alike, cooperated beautifully throughout we would be remiss if we didn't mention the numerous generous contributions by Mrs. Marjorie Sullivan.  The only part of the renovation done by a paid contractor was performed by Mr. Robert Birkhimer, Greenfield, at a very nominal cost.  Bob, his son Tom, and our own Harold Wallen put in the ceiling, the wood paneling, and the tile on the floor.  They did a beautiful job!  Indeed, St. Michael has obtained the blessing of God for us in New Vienna.  We look forward now to adding a room for catechists and two lavatories!

The Priest[s] listed between 1850 and 1874 ministered to Catholics in New Vienna from the neighboring parishes in Fayetteville and Hillsboro.

1850-1854 Father Thomas Daily
1854-1858 Father John B. O'Donoghue
1858 Father F.H. Marian (9 months)
1859-1860 Father Peter Perry

In 1874 St. Michael Parish was established.

1860-1880 Father Michael O'Donoghue
1880-1885 Father Michael Hays
1885-1887 Father William Miggeel
1887-1892 Father Lawrence M. Sullivan
1892-1893 Father Matthew P. O'Brien
1893 Father Joseph Shea (2 months)
1893-1899 Father Thomas Walsh
1899 Father Bernard Feeney (8 months)
1899-1904 Father Adolf F. Sourd
1904-1907 Father John F. Cogan
1907-1908 Father John M. Sailer
1908-1918 Father Joseph Michalowski
1918-1921 Father Francis Sieve
1921-1928 Father Henry Gramann
1928 Father Eugene Gerlach (8 months)
1928-1932 Father Urban J. Koehl
1932-1937 Father Alphonse Schumacher
1937-1945 Father Aloysius F. Leon
1945-1948 Father Edwin W. Dittman
1945-1948 Father Leo T. Hirlihy
1954-1956 Father John H. Antony
1956-1962 Father Edward F. Lawler
1962-1965 Father Francis B. Lay
1965-1969 Father Edwin Francis
1969-1982 Father Harold Bernard
1982-1985 Father Thomas Gavin
1985-1987 Father John Minic
1987-1993 Father James Brichetto
1993- ? Father Ron Cooper
 [? - 2003 Father Frank Klamput, M.D.]

[St. Michael's celebrated a final closing Mass on Sunday, September 14, 2003.  The parishioners voted to have the building demolished in order to preserve the memory of the building in a sacred and good condition.  The Archdiocese, owner of the property, then sold the lot at the corner of Nordyke Road and Second Ave.]

1 comment:

  1. I finally got around to reading this. I converted to the Catholic faith ten years ago...approximately. Great info.! Thanks as always!