During the pastorate of Pius IX 1846- 1878
In the late 1850s, a group of eastside Springfield German Catholics petitioned Archbishop Purcell of Cincinnati for a priest who could say Mass for them in their native tongue. The request being granted, Father Volmer arrived. Early church members first attended Mass at the home of William Griblenhoffer. Finally, in 1860 there were a sufficient number of families to petition the Archbishop for their own parish.
Once again the request was granted. Mass was said at a property located at 266-268 East Main Street, near the intersection of East Main and Foster Streets. There, in a former clothing store, our parish was born. The first recorded Mass was said on November 1, 1860. The priest's residence was upstairs, the church was on the main floor and the basement later became the school. French Catholics were here first in our area so we can only guess why a French saint's name, St. Bernard, was chosen. Rev. Fr. Francis X. Mauclerc S. M., from Dayton, said Mass a couple times a month and was our first assigned pastor. Father Mauclerc came from the University of Dayton and he signed the first extant baptismal record on November 28, 1860. During these same years, Fr. Mauclerc was pastor of St. Mary, Greenville from 1856 to 1862 and Our Lady of Good Hope, Miamisburg from 1861 to 1873. He founded Our Lady of Good Hope under the patronage of St. Michael. He also founded Mary, Help of Christians parish in Fairborn in 1862 when that city was still known as Osborne.
In a true sense of the word, Fr. Mauclerc was a circuit riding missionary.
John Schutte and Nicholas Spangenberger were among the leaders of these first families. This small group of men and women are the real heroes of St. Bernard. The future was unknown and their new homeland was just beginning to open up for them, but their faith moved them to form a parish church. Recorded names included Bauer, Brugger, Spangenburger, Snef, Rheinhardt, Schmidt, Koper, Kaiser, Kampman, Schnorbus, Haug, Nagengast, Boerger, Goebel, Dorn, Fisher, Neidlinger and Hubert. (The best source for our early years was in Beer's 1881 History of Clark County, City of Springfield, Ohio, pages 522-523).
Fr. William Deiters, our first resident pastor, took over in 1863.
Approximately six years after the founding of the parish, long enough to gather monies for a permanent site, St. Bernard Parish started building at its present location, the corner of Lagonda and Columbia Streets, known at the time as Mechanicsburg Road. Springfield's daily newspaper, The Daily Republic, printed that on Sunday, October 20, 1867, the corner stone was laid. Archbishop Purcell of Cincinnati gave the sermon.
Fr. Januarius P. Weissenberger followed Fr. Dieters, but illness forced our second pastor to return to Germany.
Fr. John Jutting was assigned in 1868. He left a year later, going to St. Louis, Missouri.
Fr. Bernard M. Engbers was our pastor in 1869, followed by Fr. John M. Schuchart. Fr. Engbers was here only a few months. Fr. Schuchart, who was born in Dusseldorf, arrived in the fall of 1869.
Bishop Rosecrans, first bishop of Columbus, came here on July 4, 1870, to dedicate our new church building. The church was 60 feet by 124 feet, capable of seating 900 and cost $24,000 ($402,233.14 in 2009 dollars). It was in the Gothic style and the exterior was red brick. The church faced approximately north to south to take advantage of the east and west sun to illuminate the interior through the beautiful stained glass windows. A two-room school was built in 1874, the first addition of any kind to our parish. The parish was growing and in 1879, needing a cemetery, purchased 20-acres of land in the north end of Springfield. We read in the Catholic Telegraph of October, 1879, “Archbishop Purcell, accompanied by several thousand parishioners walked to East Home Road where the archbishop blessed this 20-acre site to become truly sacred ground henceforth for generation after generation of our people.”
One of the greatest blessings our parish ever received happened in 1880. The Sisters of Charity were invited to our school. Sister Augustine, Superior, and Sisters Chrysostom and Margaret completed the first school staff, with a recorded number of 115 students. A house on Farlow Street became their home, having been donated by Mrs. Paul of the parish. Joseph Link, from Springfield, Illinois, came here to be our first organist, and taught second grade.
During the pastorate of Leo XIII 1878-1903
In 1881 our pastor, Fr. Schuchart, was assigned to St. Henry Parish in Cincinnati. Archbishop Purcell sent us Fr. John Kress. He added four rooms and a large hall to our school. In 1886 the church tower was built and three bells from the Louisville (Kentucky) Exposition were obtained. The largest, at 2,000 pounds, was christened St. Francis; the second, at 800 pounds, was named St. Bernard; and the smallest, at 600 pounds was named St. Aloysius. On Sunday, November 7, 1886, Rev. Fr. Sidley from St. Raphael was present to bless the bells. He preached the sermon in English while Fr. Nichols of Dayton preached in German.
In 1886, after 5 years at St. Bernard's, Fr. Kress was assigned to Cummingsville, near Cincinnati. Fr. August Fischer was appointed our new pastor.
On July 7, 1895, the Silver Jubilee of the dedication of our church building was celebrated. Three years later, in 1898, Fr. Fischer celebrated his own Silver Jubilee to the priesthood. The Most Rev. Archbishop was here assisted by Rev. Fr. Sidley of St. Raphael. From the Josephinum College of Columbus came Monsignor Joseph Jessing who delivered the sermon. Dinner was served in the school, and the children gave a concert.
During the pastorate of Pius X 1903-1914
In 1906, a fire broke out in the church, but it was contained to the organ. A new church organ was immediately purchased. By 1908 the parish was booming and Fr. Fischer requested an assistant. Fr. C. Wirtz was sent. He was replaced two years later by Fr. Goswin Menge. Our beloved Fr. Fischer was in failing health and had to resign in 1912. The Archbishop sent us Fr. John H. Metzdorf, from St. Philomena Parish, Cincinnati. Two years later our second assistant priest, Fr. Menge, was replaced by Fr. Albert Kroum.
Fr. Metzdorf's tenure of 19 years (1912-1931) turned out to be a golden age for our parish. Archbishop Henry Moeller sent us the right man for the time, and to the right city. Springfield herself was prospering during these times. Fr. Metzdorf's long line of improvements started with a new vestibule, built in 1913.
During the pastorate of Benedict XV 1914-1922
Ground was broken in 1914 for a new school. The cornerstone was laid and blessed the same year by Fr. A. C. Tapke of Piqua. The dedication took place on September 5, 1915, and the honors went to Archbishop Henry Moeller of Cincinnati. The Guardian Angel statue above the school was donated by John Groeber, Sr. Enrollment was recorded at 212. A commercial school was begun in 1913 with one-grade high school and two-grade commercial. All eleven grades were taught by the Sisters of Charity. With continued improvements, what was to become "Metzdorf Hall'' settled into three classrooms and a typing room. By 1923, 517 pupils were enrolled, with 340 grade school children and 120 high school students. St. Bernard's was able to keep these numbers well into 1930s.
When World War I broke out in 1915, German Catholics in the U.S. were worried. The annual meeting of The Ohio Federation of German Catholic Societies, held June 15 of that year in Springfield, brought a record crowd. The published statement from these 200 delegates asked ''neutrality of the United States and this organization goes on record as deploring war. Further, manufacturers of arms should be stopped from shipping to any warring nations.” St. Bernard Church and school was the rallying site for this state-wide convention. Mass, choir, solos, sermons, and parades were all included in this one-of-a-kind three day event.
Fr. Metzdorf continued his improvements and in 1921 ground was broken for a rectory. The contract went to parishioner Clemens Seger for $26,648. ($316,820.60 in today’s dollars). When finished a year later it became one of the finest parish houses in the Archdiocese.
The original Sisters' house constantly endured flood damage from Springfield's east-end spring "high water'' and heavy rains. The parish took action and had it raised four feet and completely remodeled.
Fr. Metzdorf traveled to Europe for three months in the summer of 1922 and when he returned he gave the Papal Blessing to the Parish on September 17, 1922.
During the pastorate of Pius XI 1922-1939
Fr. Metzdorf apparently had just got going in keeping St. Bernard's abreast of the times. He decided with the church wardens that after 54 years of use, the church building needed to be remodeled. Bids were solicited and the winning bid was submitted by Hodges & Irvin Co., of Cincinnati for $88,851. ($1,105,238.54 in today’s dollars). The remodeling was designed by Kunz and Beck, also of Cincinnati. Work was started in the spring of 1924. The stained glass windows were made by the renowned firm of F. X. Zettler of Munich, Germany, at a cost of $10,000. ($124,392.36 in today’s dollars) all donated by members of the parish. With good weather and no injuries to workers, the gutting and rebuilding of our church was completed in December, 1924. The pews were placed during the same month by the Josephenum Church Furnishing Co. at a cost of $4,600. ($57,220.48). The communion rail was built and positioned by E. Hackner Co. for $1,550. ($19,280.82). A unique concept for the church's ceiling was also brought back from Europe by our beloved pastor. On the ceiling an artist created oil paintings depicting Biblical scenes representative of the Ten Commandments. It is said that there are only two churches in the United States with the Ten Commandments on the ceiling, the other being in New Orleans. We can only wonder at the painter scratching his head trying to come up with a Biblical scene depicting the eighth commandment (“Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor”). Solemn dedication was held December 21, 1924, the Most Revered Archbishop Moeller presiding. The rector of the seminary in Cincinnati, Fr. Joseph Sieber, PhD., assisted him. Archbishop Moeller's dedication of St. Bernard's turned out to be his last official church function as he died Jan. 5, 1925.
On June 21, 1925, the parish celebrated the Silver Jubilee of Fr. Metzdorf's ordination to the priesthood. Fourteen priests were present in the sanctuary. Gifts of a new car and a radio were given to the pastor.
Later in the same year a new Christmas crib was purchased for $450. ($5,461.13) from the F. Pustet Co., Cincinnati. A Crucifixion group of terra cotta, imported from Treves, Germany, was erected in St. Bernard Cemetery at a cost of $7,000. ($84,950.88).
Miss Catherine Saunders donated a processional canopy, costing $350. ($4,286.94), in memory of Nellie Saunders. It was used the first time at the closing of Forty Hours, May 2, 1927.
On June 10, 1928, Mr. Berring of Cincinnati and Caroline Krupp donated the statue of the Blessed Virgin. It was imported from Dusseldorf, Germany, at a cost of $60. ($744.58).
The two large, wood-carved angel statues were imported from Tyrol, Austria, and donated by Jacob Nafz and Bernardine Brugger in memory of Rev. A. Fischer, our former pastor.
With a last payment of $1,000. ($12,409.73), on September 7, 1928, our church was free of debt.
The vestment case and cabinet, made by the Tiffin Manufacturing Co., for $933. ($11,578.28), was positioned in the sacristy on December 4, 1928.
During the summer of 1929 another classroom was added to the high school and by September, the fourth year of high school was started, specializing in commercial education. There were 129 high school students.
A new assistant pastor, Fr. Warren Hook, was assigned when Fr. Ed Stuhmueller was reassigned to St. Elizabeth Church, Norwood, Ohio. Fr. Stuhmueller's farewell address was printed in the local Springfield paper. He was quoted as saying, "My friends, may I recall that recently the archbishop had named St. Bernard as one of the 20 leading parishes of the diocese.''
Another church steeple fire occurred on the morning of June 16, 1929, with damage of $254. ($3,152.07). Fire insurance took care of this.
In 1930 new lighting fixtures in the church were paid for by A.C. Link, Louis Link and Jacob Ritter.
Memorial Hall was the site of the combined Catholic Central High Schools of Springfield first commencement exercises.
A Milwaukee firm, B. Liskowiak, started work on our church decoration. The price was $7,500. ($95,459.46).
In the summer of 1931 our new assistant pastor, Fr. Ed Macke came to replace Fr. Hook.
Major changes for our schools occurred in September, 1931, when junior and senior high school grades were moved to the new Catholic Central School on East High Street.
Late this same year of 1931, our parish was saddened when Fr. Metzdorf, after being pastor for almost 20 years, was reassigned to St. Martin’s Parish, Cheviot, Ohio.
In early 1932, Fr. John H. Schawe became our tenth pastor. He was transferred to St. Bernard on January 20 from Resurrection Parish, Dayton. Monsignor Buckley from St. Raphael celebrated the installation.
Fr. Anthony Wolf, who had been chaplain at St. Mary Hospital, Cincinnati, came to be our new assistant priest when Fr. Ed Macke was transferred to St. John Church, Middletown. However, Fr. Wolf was to remain at his hospital and Fr. Francis J. Heider, assistant at St. Ann Parish, Hamilton, was assigned the same time. In 1934 Archbishop John T. McNicholas, OP, ordered a mission service in every parish in the archdiocese corresponding with the 1900th anniversary of the death of Our Lord. Fr. Joseph Steinbrunner of Cincinnati gave the mission at St. Bernard from December 9 to December 16, 1934.
On Saturday, March 24, 1935 at noon, the church tower was once again struck by lightning. Fortunately there were no injuries and insurance took care of the $257. ($3,975.51) damage.
Due to the deteriorating condition of the Sisters’ convent, brought on by flood damage throughout the years, a new convent, now known as the Boyle Center, was built in 1935.
During the pastorate of Pius XII 1939-1958
Memories of Fr. Schawe include his playing pinochle every Friday night with three parishioners, rotating homes. Father Schawe was a diabetic and it has been told that he stepped on a nail and gangrene set in. A server at the time vividly remembers seeing him limping. It is believed this caused his death in 1942 while still pastor of St. Bernard's.
Fr. Henry Joseph Richter served as our eleventh pastor from 1942 until 1945. He was born on January 11, 1884. Father Richter completed his theological studies at Mt. St. Mary of the West Seminary and was ordained at the cathedral in Cincinnati on June 16, 1909, by Archbishop Moeller. His first assignment was to Emmanuel Parish in Dayton, Ohio. He then served as associate pastor of St. Henry Parish in Cincinnati. He next served the mission churches of Scioto County, Ohio, for a number of years. He was then assigned to St. Ann Parish and later to St. Aloysius Parish, both in Cincinnati. Father Richter was then assigned as pastor here at St. Bernard. He left St. Bernard in 1945 to become the Chaplain at Mt. St. Joseph Mother House in Cincinnati. During his time at the Mother House, he was elevated to Monsignor. He died there on September 9, 1974.
Father William Anthony Shine, our twelfth pastor, succeeded Father Richter at St. Bernard in 1945. He was born on April 27, 1895. He completed his seminary studies at Mt. St. Mary of the West Seminary and was ordained by Archbishop Henry Moeller on September 20, 1919. His first assignment after ordination was as associate pastor at St. Matthew Parish in Norwood. He was then assigned to Holy Angels Parish in Cincinnati. During this time he taught Hebrew at St. Gregory Seminary and completed his master's degree at Fordham University. Father Shine continued his education in Rome, Italy, from 1929 until 1932. Upon his return, he was appointed the Vice-Rector of St. Gregory Seminary. From 1936 until 1945, he was the administrator of Holy Ghost Parish in Veracruz, Ohio. Father Shine was pastor of St. Bernard from 1945 until 1953 when he was assigned as pastor of St. James Parish in Wyoming, Ohio. He later became Pastor Emeritus of St. James. He died in Cincinnati on February 19, 1987.
A newspaper article from September 5, 1947, carried this interesting item, complete with two pictures. During the children's 8 A.M. Mass, lightning struck the church. According to one parishioner, Mrs. Christopher Klenke, that was the second time she was in church when lightning struck. Church custodian Ralph H. McConnell quickly swept away the litter, the roofer promised to fix things right and the $3,000. ($28,505.45) damage was, yes, once again, for the third time in our history, taken care of by the insurance company.
Fr. Cletus Rieger was our pastor in 1953. He came from the Columbus Diocese, being ordained by Bishop Hadley in 1925, after completing his theological studies at The Pontifical College Josephinum. His first pastoral assignment was at St. Joseph in La Rue, followed by St. Sebastian Church in Sebastian, Ohio, St. Mary in Hillsboro, and then St. Bernard's. Leaving St. Bernard's after four years, he became pastor of St. Stephen's in Cincinnati where he remained until his retirement in 1967. Father Rieger died at his home in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1988.
Fr. John P. O'Connor succeeded Father Rieger as pastor in 1957. A Springfield native, he studied at Mt. St. Mary of the West Seminary and was ordained on May 29, 1926, at St Peter in Chains Cathedral in Cincinnati by Archbishop John McNicholas. His seminary class was unusual in that the members of the class were ordained before their studies were completed due to a lack of priests at the time in the Archdiocese. His first assignment was as assistant pastor at St. Patrick Parish in Bellefontaine. He then served at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Cincinnati, and at Corpus Christi and St. Anthony in Dayton. He was then assigned as assistant pastor of his home parish of St. Joseph, here in Springfield. From St. Joseph he was sent to Holy Family Parish in Dayton and then to St. James in Wyoming, Ohio. He then became administrator of St. Martin Parish in St. Martin, Ohio, and from there was sent as pastor to St. Michael Parish in Cincinnati. He became pastor of St. Bernard in 1957 and served our parish until his retirement in June of 1971. Father O'Connor was a favorite with the school children. It seems that on special occasions if the children sang to him at the rectory he would reward them with a school day off. The eighth graders could often be found in the rectory doing chores such as using the old hand-run printing press for the church bulletin. During his retirement, Fr. O’Connor served as the Chaplain at the Ursuline Convent in Brown County, Ohio, where he died on January 16, 1983.
During the pastorate of John XXIII 1958-1963
On Saturday, October 21, 1961, Jesuit Fathers Leroy Bennish and John A. Lucal began a mission of reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus at the parish. The mission was concluded with a Solemn High Mass on Sunday, October 29, 1961. The mission was very well attended and parishioners were reminded that devotion to the Sacred Heart is part of the mainline of our faith: honor paid to the love of God as seen in and symbolized in the Heart of Jesus.
During the pastorate of Paul VI 1963-1978
June, 1967, saw the completion of a redecoration of the interior of the church building. This was the first such redecoration of the church in 43 years. The work was completed by Griewe Decorators of Cincinnati at a cost of $20,277. ($128,858.22 in today’s dollars). Parishioners found the church much brighter than before which highlighted the glorious interior.
The beautiful grotto located near the entrance of St. Bernard Cemetery was completed in October, 1967. It was dedicated on Sunday, November 5 of the same year by Fr. O’Connor.
Construction of the grotto took two years to complete, mostly because the stone, coming from various parts of the nation, was all hand cut by cemetery personnel. Approximately 120 tons of stone and 30 yards of cement were required for the project. An idea of its beauty in color can be realized when the source of the stone is known. Red granite from Mount Scott in Oklahoma, southern gray granite from numerous southern states and Pulasky stone from Michigan were added to the various dark shades of Ohio granite gathered from fields around Clark County.
Fr. John P. Boyle succeeded Fr. O'Connor as pastor of St. Bernard in July, 1971. He attended our own St. Bernard School, graduating from the eighth grade in 1934 and entering St. Gregory Seminary in the fall of that year. Continuing his seminary studies at Mt. St. Mary's Seminary, he was ordained in Cincinnati on May 20, 1944. Fr. Boyle's first assignment was as a teacher at St. Gregory Seminary and for many years was spiritual director there. Upon leaving that post he was assigned to St. Bernard in July, 1971. During his tenure here he made many memories with his work with the school. He was instrumental in having school uniforms for boys, saying, ''You do better work when you are dressed properly.” He was often seen in the schoolyard with the children gathered around him, or conversing with a parent about a funny story he had encountered with their child earlier in the day. He was always around and seemed to know child and parent alike. He would stand up for you in a meeting but was also quick to tell you when you were wrong. After twelve years as our pastor he was assigned to St. Mary's Parish in Urbana, Ohio, in July, 1983. Poor health caused him to retire in 1984. He died in Springfield on September 12, 1993. Fr. Boyle is buried in the Priests’ Mound at St. Bernard Cemetery.
During the pastorate of John Paul II 1978-2005
Father Donald C. Huebner was appointed pastor of St. Bernard in July, 1983, when Fr. Boyle was reassigned. He was born in Springfield on July 4, 1928. Receiving his elementary education at both St. Teresa and St. Raphael Schools in Springfield, he was a 1946 graduate of Catholic Central High School. Father completed his religious training at St. Gregory Seminary and Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary in Cincinnati, and was ordained by Archbishop Karl J. Alter in May, 1954. He ministered to many parishes in Cincinnati from 1954 to 1971. During that time he also taught at Purcell and Seton High Schools in Cincinnati. Father also served Dayton parishes from 1971 to 1983 when he was assigned as pastor of St. Bernard. Father was the first pastor since 1908 to serve the parish without the assistance of an associate pastor. For that reason he brought in Sr. Della Mae Meyer, C.PP.S., as Pastoral Associate. Together they set up the various ministries and commissions we have today. Father Huebner retired from St. Bernard's on July 1, 2001. He resided in Ludlow Falls, Ohio, until his death October 23, 2008. Fr. Huebner is buried next to his parents and brother in St. Bernard Cemetery.
In early 1986, Fr. Huebner realized that the irreplaceable windows of the church were in need of restoration and preservation. The parishioners were asked to raise the funds to accomplish the project. The $51,000. ($98,469.38 in today’s dollars) was quickly raised. The thirty-three stained glass windows were completely restored and preserved by the Franklin Art Glass Co. of Columbus, Ohio. An added benefit of the restoration project was the installation of “storm” windows which has helped to reduce the costs of heating and cooling the church.
In July 1988 a long held dream of the parish was finally realized when a handicap access ramp was installed. At the same time extensive cement work was done around the parish buildings. The completion of the ramp has helped to allow parishioners with physical challenges to be able to be present for church services.
In 1989, former Pastor Fr. John Boyle donated a new granite Crucifixion monument for the Priests‘ Mound at St. Bernard Cemetery. The beautiful new monument replaced the original one that had been severely damaged by a lightning strike.
The interior of the church was again redecorated in 1992. The Martin Painting Co. completed the work at a cost of $40,000. ($60,405.11). Included in this project was the stripping and refinishing of the pews. Many parishioners marveled at the beauty of the natural oak finish of the pews.
On March 3, 1999, The Most Rev. Daniel Pilarczyk, Archbishop of Cincinnati, presided at the liturgy and blessing of the new columbarium at St. Bernard Cemetery. The columbarium is an arrangement of niches in a granite structure into which cremated remains are placed for permanent memorial. It is situated in a garden setting, gracefully landscaped, where cremated remains can be entombed with solemnity and dignity. Space is provided for family who wish to spend time alone in private prayer.
Fr. Paul F. Hurst succeeded Father Huebner as the seventeenth pastor of St. Bernard Parish on July 2, 2001. He was born in Cincinnati on July 25, 1945, attended St. Lawrence Elementary School in Price Hill and graduated from Elder High School in 1963. He graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 1968 and worked briefly as a bill collector for a Cincinnati trucking company. He then taught seventh and eighth grade for a year at a parochial school in Covington, Kentucky, and then worked for about 5 years as a claims examiner for the Bureau of Employment Services in Cincinnati. Father Hurst entered Mt. St. Mary's Seminary in 1973. After completing his seminary studies he was ordained at St. Peter inChains Cathedral by Archbishop (later Cardinal) Bernadin in 1977. Father served as a Deacon at St. Joseph Parish Springfield in 1976. His first assignment after ordination was at St. Anthony in Dayton from 1977 to 1980. He then was assigned to St. Mary's Parish here in Springfield from 1980 to 1985, during which time he served as the Catholic Chaplain at Community Hospital. From 1985 to 1987, he was the Catholic Chaplain at Kettering Medical Center while also serving at St. Albert Parish in Kettering. In 1987 Father Hurst was assigned to Our Lady of Good Hope Parish in Miamisburg, Ohio. From July, 1989 to 2001, Father served as pastor of St. Augustine Parish in Germantown, Ohio. In July, 2001 once again Fr. Hurst found himself in Springfield at St. Bernard Parish where we are privileged to have him as our current pastor. Father enjoys traveling to historic places and using his experiences in his sermons. He is known for the "Little Mouse Christmas Story'' and adding a mouse to our Christmas crib.
Central air-conditioning was installed in the church in the early summer of 2002. The system was made possible through the generosity of the family and the estate of parishioner Elizabeth Steinmetz. Mrs. Steinmetz passed away on February 2, 2002. The new system was used for the first time on July 26, 2002, and parishioners have enjoyed the comfort provided by it, especially since it was installed during an unseasonably hot summer that year.
The summer and fall of 2002 also saw many renovations to the school buildings. Donated hours and dollars from parishioners helped to complete the makeover. Parishioners volunteered to replace roofs, paint classrooms and much more in order to keep the buildings in good repair at little or no cost.
Also completed at the same time was the installation of new energy efficient windows in both buildings which helped to substantially reduce maintenance and heating costs. The cost for the new windows exceeded $100,000. ($118,568.33) all of which was entirely donated by parishioners.
A high priority for Fr. Hurst was to add restroom facilities to the church building. There were many hurdles that had to be overcome but this convenient addition was finally realized in the fall of 2004 when Jim Williams completed construction at a cost of $12,165. ($13,702.71).
During the pastorate of Benedict XVI 2005-
On November 10, 2006 at 8:30 a.m., the newly rebuilt Grotto, which had been at the former St. Mary’s Parish in Springfield for over seventy years, was completed by the installation of the statues of Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Bernadette. Many people were in attendance, including the students of Catholic Central Elementary Lagonda campus. A crane from the Eric Samuelson Construction Co. made the installation of the statues possible.
The statue of Mary is estimated to weigh nearly one ton and the installation would have been extremely difficult without the use of the crane. At approximately 10 a.m., when the installation was complete, members of the community who were on hand walked to the top of the steps and prayed the Memorare. It was a fitting prayer since it was, in fact, St. Bernard who wrote the Memorare in honor of Mary. Periodically throughout the day, groups of school students processed before the new grotto and prayed.
The statues, restored by sculptor Catherine Kramer, had been dedicated on October 29, 2006 after the 11:30 a.m. Mass before the structure had been completed. The Knights of Columbus were on hand with ten Fourth Degree Knights, as well as Fr. Ken Baker, who once served at St. Mary's where the grotto was originally built. There were a few hundred people in attendance who prayed the rosary inside the church and then processed out to the site for hymns and blessings. People were given the opportunity to bless the statues and the site with holy water.
During the July, 2009 National Pastoral Musicians Convention in Chicago, the parish earned the right to have internationally known catholic composer David Haas write a song in honor of the parish’s upcoming 150th anniversary. Mr. Haas completed “We Will Rise Up and Follow” in January, 2010. The song was presented to the parish for the first time on March 12, 2010 by the parish choirs at a concert presented by Mr. Haas and Lori True. The concert, held in the sanctuary of the church, was part of the many ongoing activities presented by the parish in celebration of the 150th anniversary.
Another celebration of the parish’s 150th anniversary was the hosting of a Precious Blood mission. The mission provided an opportunity for God and the people of God to interact with one another through an experience of the promises of the Word of God.
Precious Blood missionaries Rev. Dennis Criszt, Sr. Donna Liette and Gretchen Bailey preached the Kingdom of God. The Precious Blood spirituality is a gift for the whole church. During the special celebrations held from Sunday, February 21, 2010 through Wednesday, February 24, 2010 the parish and the entire Catholic community of Springfield was able to rejoice that we who were once far off, have become near by the blood of Christ.