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History of Corpus Christi

Corpus Christi parish was established on September 11, 1958 by the Archbishop of Cincinnati, Karl J. Alter. The parish was entrusted to the care of the Franciscans of St. John the Baptist Province, Cincinnati, Ohio with Fr. Barnabas E. McAlarney, O.F.M., named as the first pastor.

The new parishioners were from Assumption Parish, Mt. Healthy; St. John’s, Dry Ridge; St. Ann’s, Groesbeck; and Our Lady of the Rosary, Greenhills. They all assembled on August 15th for a general meeting in the main theater of Mt. Healthy. Father Barnabas greeted his new congregation and for over two hours explained the instructions from the archbishop and the plans for the parish and church. At the invitation of the Provincial, Vincent Kroger, St. Francis Seminary Chapel was offered for the parish church and accepted until a new church could be built. The first Masses at St. Francis were offered on Sunday, September 14, 1958.

On Sunday, April 5, 1959, Father Barnabas announced that permission had been given for the building of a new church. The property that had been purchased in 1954 on the corner of Struble and Hamilton for this purpose was found to be too small for the parish compound contemplated, so the thirty-two acre Marshall Estate on Hamilton Avenue between Struble and Springdale was purchased. A committee for plans and building was formed. Invitations were sent to various architects to submit sketches and estimates. The firm of Gartner, Burdick & Bauer-Nilsen, Associated Architects, was selected to draw complete plans and specifications for the church. The groundbreaking ceremony took place on September 27, 1959.

This was a unique church — the first of its kind in the Cincinnati area. The Greek Cross plan had been chosen by the building committee. The nave was designed according to the new liturgical concept of having the parishioners participate in the Mass. Hence, no parishioners would be more than fifty feet from the altar. It would seat 482 in the nave and 160 in the balcony. The church would have a full basement equipped with complete kitchen service, store rooms, maintenance area and restrooms.
The altar was made of highly glazed mosaic topped with white marble. The tabernacle was made of bronze with enameled doors showing wheat for bread and grapes for wine. On either side of the sanctuary were shrines to the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph holding the child — both hand carved by John Giglio.

The organ pipes were hidden behind the sanctuary and the console located near the sanctuary to provide better congregational singing. 

Stained glass windows on all sides of the Church building depict liturgical symbols — those on the East above the altar, the Sacraments; those on the North, Old Testament; those on the West, the Apostles; and those on the South, New Testament.

Archbishop Karl J. Alter was the celebrant at the dedication of the new church on April 30, 1961. 

On June 27, 1962, Father Barnabas and his first assistant, Father Elgar Nadon, moved into a rental home at 2055 Springdale Road. Ground was broken on the south side of the church for the rectory on October 4, 1962. Father Sylvan Becker, Franciscan Provincial, dedicated the completed rectory on April 17, 1963.

Initially there was a hope to build a school on the Parish grounds. However, that dream was never realized. The children attended St. Stephen’s School and St. Mary’s School in Hamilton at the invitation of their pastors. CCD (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine) was held in the New Burlington School and the High School Program took place in the Taylor Elementary School off Springdale Road. During a visit by Archbishop Karl Alter in April, 1965, the school building was discussed. The Archbishop suggested that the parish use the facilities of the old Hamilton Catholic High School until a permanent school could be built. Corpus Christi Grade School began September 12, 1966. Use of the Hamilton location was free with the stipulation that the parish would be responsible for the housing of the sisters who were assigned to Corpus Christi School and Badin High School. 

Groundbreaking for the convent took place on October 21, 1965. The Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg, moved into the convent August 12, 1966. Auxiliary Bishop Edward McCarthy blessed the convent on November 10th. They served for 28 years.

The parish began to flourish with many organizations and activities, including Youth Club, Adult Choir, Turkey Shoot, Spaghetti Dinner, the Annual Summer Festival, etc. 

Following the Second Vatican Council changes occurred, including the renovation of the worship space. The altar was moved to allow the presider to face the congregation when celebrating the Eucharist. The tabernacle, which originally stood atop the altar, was moved to the north transept and placed on a walnut shelf. Also at this time the walnut carving of St. Joseph holding the child was moved to the south transept, forming the Holy Family. The communion rail was removed and the confessionals were renovated to become reconciliation rooms. 

In 1976, this growth of the Parish resulted in major physical changes in the parish. Crowded offices, fewer sisters and greater enrollment in CCD necessitated a consultation with all parties involved. It was decided that the convent and rectory needed renovation for the major changes. The sisters moved into what was previously the rectory. The convent became the Priests’ home, parish offices and the CCD Center. The Friars moved into living quarters on the second floor. The transition took place in August, 1976.

As the Parish continued to grow, storage room became a premium. To relieve this problem, members of the parish with the leadership of the Men’s Society and Scout Troop 603 built the McAlarney Building in 1979. This building was to be used for storage with one room on the West side set aside for the scouts to use. 

In late 1979, the school once again became a major issue in the parish. After consultation with two neighboring parishes — the newly formed St. John Neumann and St. Bartholomew, it was decided that consolidation was in the best interest of all three parishes. A consolidation was agreed upon to form St. Bartholomew Consolidated School beginning with the academic year 1980-81.  

After the Parish began to flourish and recognizing a need for continued spiritual growth, the parishioners embarked upon a renewal program, Christ Renews His Parish, in December of 1980. This renewal program proved to be a benefit to many. 

The Parish celebrated its Silver Jubilee celebration with an outdoor Mass on Sunday, September 11, 1983. The Theme was “Without U, Christ and I, There Would Be No - CorpUs Christi.” The Mass was followed by a myriad of activities – picnic, reminiscing, square dancing and movies. 

In mid-1980 the parish was the beneficiary of a bequest from the Estate of Virginia Dempsey. This bequest allowed the parish to make several capital improvements. Air conditioning was added to the church and the cry room was updated and made more inviting. Other improvements included the blacktopping of the parking lot, repairs of cracks in the walls of the church along with roof repairs, conversion of the heating system from oil to gas, installation of storm windows, a new stove in the undercroft kitchen, as well as other major repairs.

As social action has been a major part of the parish since its inception, our Food Pantry began to operate in the mid-1980s in the lower level of the Parish Center. Prior to this time, the ministry of providing food for those in need was coordinated from the homes of parishioners. 

After some twenty-eight years, the Sisters of St. Francis left in January, 1994. Their dedication and involvement in the life of the parish and school will always be appreciated. 

In March of 1994, the Franciscan Friars returned to reside in the original rectory. This allowed the convent to become the Parish Center building which includes the Parish Offices and space for other activities. 

 A daily Chapel was created in 1994 in the Parish Center, made possible through generous donations from parishioners. 

Corpus Christi celebrated its 40th Anniversary on the Feast of St. Francis, October 4, 1998 with a Liturgy and reception that followed. A committee provided a pictorial history of the Parish in the Undercroft for everyone to enjoy as they renewed friendships with former pastors, sisters and parishioners, past and present. 

Realizing that our worship space and sound system needed renovation after 40 years, Fr. Don Holtgrewe, OFM and the Staff moved in that direction shortly after the anniversary celebration. A new sound system was installed and the sanctuary carpeted. Other improvements were made to the facilities, including a new sewage system, upgrading the terrain to allow adequate water drainage and the installation of catch basins. Plans were being developed to improve access to the Undercroft for the physically impaired. Other improvements included new lighting fixtures, padded chairs and an large screen TV screen for catechetical and educational purposes. The cry room was equipped with a video camera and TV screen for easier viewing of the sanctuary. 

On July 1st of 2002 the Franciscans returned the administration of the parish to the Archdiocese at which time Fr. Jim Meade was named Pastor. The Friars of St. John the Baptist Province ministered faithfully since the parish was formed and left the mark of St. Francis on all who had been or are currently associated with the parish. Corpus Christi Church will be forever grateful for the ministry of the Franciscan Friars and the Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg, Indiana. 

Corpus Christi Parish has been blessed in recent years by having several men ordained to the Permanent Diaconate. Deacons John Gingras, Tom Kiley, and Al Juniet, all of whom have since gone home to the Lord, faithfully served this community. We are now blessed to have John Corson, ordained in 2004, and Larry Day, ordained in 2007, serving us as Deacons. 

The Archdiocese of Cincinnati implemented a planning process for future ministry. Corpus Christi Parish participated in this process on the local and deanery levels. The St. Margaret Mary Deanery was aligned into “pastoral regions.” Beginning in 2002, Corpus Christi and St. John Neumann Parishes were formed into a pastoral region with the intention of working together in a spirit of collaboration. We also entered into a special relationship with St. John the Baptist, Dry Ridge along with St. John Neumann forming a “pastoral area.” As a result of the Deanery planning, children from Corpus Christi Parish attend St. John the Baptist School. While some of our children still attend John Paul II School (the former St. Bartholomew Consolidated School) our official parish school became St. John the Baptist School, Dry Ridge. This agreement was formalized in the 2008-09 academic year.

September 8, 2007 began the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the founding of Corpus Christi Parish. The year of Jubilee began with a special liturgy. Fr. Fred Link, OFM, Provincial of the Franciscans of the St. John the Baptist Province presided. A wonderful 50th Anniversary Committee planned many celebrations and activities, both spiritual and social. The anniversary year culminated with Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Archbishop of Cincinnati, presiding at the closing liturgy. A parish reception followed at the Donauschwaben Hall. It was a wonderful celebration despite the fact that it ended in darkness as on September 14, 2008, Greater Cincinnati experienced damaging winds, the remnants of Hurricane Ike.

Plans were revived to assure accessibility to our Worship Space and Undercroft. Parishioners generously responded to a Capital Campaign entitled “Renew the Face of Corpus Christi.” On October 11, 2009, following the 10:30 a.m. Mass, ground was blessed and broken by the parishioners for a renovation project to create a new Gathering Space, an elevator, restrooms and a new Baptismal Font. During the period of construction, the community gathered in the Undercroft for liturgy. It was a smooth transition to the Undercroft and back to the worship space due to the hospitality, flexibility and openness of all the parishioners. This new space was blessed by Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr on the Feast of Corpus Christi, June 6, 2010.