Our parish celebrated its 100 Year Anniversary on September 28, 2013
Yes, more than 100 years have passed since the Fall of 1913 when just seven families gathered in a rented room in Uptown Westerville to celebrate the first Mass. That small Catholic Mission organized in those early years, later named in honor of St. Paul the Apostle, flourished to become the community of faith we enjoy today. Click below to watch video.
Bishop James J. Hartley asked Fr. Hugh Ewing to establish a mission in the Westerville area in the spring of 1913. The mission wasn’t for Catholics in Westerville – there weren’t any – but for Catholics in the surrounding countryside.
Originally Mass was offered only once a month, in rented rooms over a bakery and a pool hall (currently Graeters Ice Cream) at 7½ North State Street. During the first ten years, the 60 parishioners enjoyed sharing Sunday school, “Church” cleaning, picnics and other activities. By the fall of 1924, Mass was being celebrated once a week. The majority of this time, the St. Paul Mission was under the care of Fr. Conrad Conrardy, a professor at the Pontifical College Josephinum.
The parish continued in this manner until 1931 when the Capuchin Friars responded to Bishop Hartley’s invitation and moved to Westerville to formally establish a parish. The parish contributed $1200 and the Bishop contributed $500 to purchase a tract of land with a large red brick residence just north of the residential district in Westerville.The large 13-room residence was converted to a monastery and a chapel was added to serve the Friars. Plans were developed for a new frame Church to seat 150. The Church was built south of the monastery and the first Mass was celebrated just six months later in September 1931. The Friars serviced the parish for 20 years and retired in 1951, when the first diocesan priest was selected as pastor.
At the same time that the Church was built, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur from St. Joseph Academy began giving religious instructions to the children. In the mid-1940’s, there were 225 members of the parish and students were transported to Immaculate Conception School and later to St. James the Less School in Columbus. Plans for a school were developed but actual building was delayed until the property south of the white frame Church was acquired, since Westerville would extend its sewer and water lines only if the property was contiguous to the Village of Westerville. The Diocese of Columbus purchased the necessary property in late 1958. The residence on the new property was remodeled to serve as the rectory, the former monastery was converted into a convent, and the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur agreed to teach in the future school.
St. Paul School opened in September 1961 with an enrollment of 218 students. At the same time a new development called Huber Ridge began to flourish, so that by the fall of 1962 (one year after the school opened), there were 60 students in classrooms designed for 40. Two years later eight additional classrooms were completed which doubled the capacity of the school. Further residential development in the area made St. Paul School the largest in the Diocese of Columbus.
It became obvious that sound religious education outside the Catholic school classroom would have to continue for the many public school children of the parish. The position of Director of Religious Education was introduced to organize and direct the many volunteer parishioners in this task. During the 1960’s plans for a new Church, which reflected the spirit of Vatican II, were developed. The Church was to offer the worshiper a broad vision of the new liturgy and, with a contemporary design, reflect strength, simplicity and beauty.
The new stone Church built behind the original frame Church was designed to seat 800 and was completed in late 1968. The Christmas Eve Mass in 1968 was the first Mass celebrated there. During the 1970’s, the number of parishioners grew to 8000, the number of weekend Masses increased to seven and a satellite Mass, serving 300, was introduced in Sunbury. The Ursuline Sisters agreed to staff the school. Plans were developed and building began on a Parish Center to house a gym, kitchen, kindergarten, CCD office and meeting rooms. This new building, added to the school, was completed in late 1979. During the 1980’s two new parishes grew from St. Paul Parish; St. John Neumann in Sunbury and Resurrection Church in New Albany. The original white frame Church (which was still in use) and the rectory were condemned and used by the fire department as a training exercise. A bell tower, which stands in front of the present Church, was built from stone of the foundation, and houses the bell from the original frame Church. The original monastery/convent was remodeled and served as the parish rectory. Early in 1985 the parish offices moved from the red brick rectory to a white house purchased at 313 N. State Street, south of the parking lot.
Two new classrooms were added for Kindergarten in 1993. During 1995, the parish undertook another major facility expansion. A parish center (Miller Hall), nine new classrooms and new offices for the school and PSR were added. In 1997, the parish offices temporarily moved to the basement of the Parish Center and in 1999 a new rectory was constructed on Moss Road, west of the school. A new parish office building was completed April 2001 with offices and meeting rooms.
The most recent facility improvements included updates to the school building in the summer of 2007. New windows were installed, the electrical system was updated and the school received a new HVAC system. Several individual properties directly across from the school were purchased and a new parking lot created along with a large green space. In 2008, the parish built a new Activities Center large enough to seat over 1,000. This new Parish Activities Center was completed in November 2008 and serves as a great source for parish gatherings, meetings, school activities, and athletic events. Also, Miller Hall is no longer used for weekend liturgies and is now available for a variety of events.
Our new church was completed and dedicated on June 29, 2011. We are the 6th largest parish in Ohio with more than 14,000 members. Our parishioners are the heart of our vibrant, living and growing church and represent the working hands of Christ within our family of faith.
OUR NEW CHURCH
In 2004 St. Paul Parish embarked on a historic journey by developing a complete Facility Master Plan. This plan was born after all parishioners were surveyed for their views and opinions. The vision of our parishioners helped our Parish Building Committee develop the four major areas of need listed below.
- Improvements to the school building
- Additional parking and site improvements
- A new Parish Activities Center
- A new and larger church
PRAYER ENVELOPE CEREMONY
St. Paul Parishioners were invited to write personal prayers and/or blessings for our new church and place them in a special prayer envelope. Those envelopes were collected over a two-month period and deposited in a cross-shaped container and buried below the altar of the new church on Sunday, December 12, 2010 after the 10:30 Masses. Nearly 2,000 envelopes were returned and placed in the cross. View ceremony by clicking on the screen below or you can click on the “You Tube Symbol “and view it in (720p) higher resolution.
SETTING THE CROSS ON THE TOP OF THE CUPOLA!
Hundreds of parishioners participated in the ceremony after the 10:30 Masses and watched the blessing and setting of the 20-foot gold-leafed cross on the cupola of our new church. (August 15, 2010)
Stained Glass Windows
All 164 Stained Glass Windows have been donated.
We thank all donors who made this possible.
Stained Glass Windows were not part of our budget nor were they anticipated to be in place for many years. However, due to a number of churches closing in the Diocese of Cleveland, we were able to acquire stained glass and several other major liturgical items that under normal circumstances would not be affordable. While we are saddened by the closing of nearly 40 parishes in the Cleveland area, we feel blessed to be the new home for not only a large number of windows, but also Stations of the Cross, statues, and a number of other key sacred items that would be quite appropriate in our new church. This window of St. Peter holding the Key to the Kingdom has been repaired and installed in the Crossing Tower of the new Church. More information about this window and others can be found in the links below.
Our church has 164 windows in total. There are two basic shapes – the arch and the rose (round) with multiple sizes. Our goal was to install stained glass in all windows with either existing windows from the closed Cleveland churches or with newly designed stained glass. We were able to fill a large percent of our windows with existing stained glass from three of the Catholic churches closing in the Cleveland Diocese. The Cleveland Diocese desires that the sacred items from the closed churches be used in other Catholic churches. The items were sold at reasonable prices. In our case, the windows 100 years old and beautifully made by true artists. The windows match our traditional architecture very well. However, they all required resizing and reconditioning to fit our openings and there was a cost to complete this process. We were most hopeful that our parishioners would help us underwrite this project by purchasing a window and they did. Some windows were donated by more than one family. Once completed, we will have magnificent stained glass windows in our new church much sooner than we had planned. The windows from the three churches are surprisingly similar in colors and work very well together. Since there were not enough existing stained glass windows for our entire church, some windows will be created new just for us.
(Updated as of 6/25/15)