+ 001 0231 123 32



All demo content is for sample purposes only, intended to represent a live site. Please use the RocketLauncher to install an equivalent of the demo, all images will be replaced with sample images.

The Old Cemetery:

The first known Catholic cemetery was started in 1853 when Rev. Maurice Howard purchased three acres of land in the southeast quarter, section 17, Springfield Township on the north side of National Road two miles east of the city.  It was in use until 1864 but was never consecrated.


St. Raphael Cemetery, Lagonda Avenue:

In 1864, Fr. J.N. Thisse purchased six acres on Lagonda Avenue to be used for burials.  It was consecrated and many of the dead were moved from the old cemetery to this new location.  This became the only Catholic cemetery in Springfield until St. Bernard Cemetery was established in 1878. 

Fr. Thisse was killed in a horse and buggy accident in May 1873 and is buried in St. Raphael Cemetery.  He was born in Lorraine, France, ordained in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1856, and became pastor of St. Raphael Parish in 1864 where he remained until his death.


Unfortunately, there are no accurate records of who is buried at the cemetery.  Local historians have tried to catalogue the headstones on several occasions; however, the list is incomplete due to deterioration of the markers.  The cemetery has been closed since 1964.


St. Raphael Parish was built in 1849, brought into being to meet the needs of a small but growing number of Catholics in a population of about 5000 persons. Our present church building was begun in 1892 and dedicated in 1898. Since that time, our church at the corner of Spring and High Streets, has been a symbol of Catholic life for many thousands of Springfield’s residents. St. Raphael parishioners have come to it to be nourished by the Gospel and the Sacraments. In it they have found their identity as a community. From it they have gone out to live their faith in their home, places of employment, and the market place. This long and proud history, built on the dedicated service of laity, religious, and clergy, provides a strong foundation upon which St. Raphael can look to the future. The Church’s mission is nothing less than the establishment of the Kingdom of God.



We as a community are indebted to Dorothy Zugelder (1926-2018) for composing most of this history of St. Raphael Parish.  What follows is a synopsis of the early days of the Catholic community in Springfield, Ohio, and brief biographies of some of the key people responsible for its formation.




St. Raphael, holy archangel of God

Guard well the task His servants have begun,

Their hope, their prayer, a sacred place to win--

A haven from the struggles and the sin

That e’er beset the way they long have trod--

Who work His will amid the world’s tired din,

Would here unto His peaceful rest come in,

His consolation for the chast’ning rod.

Through cycling ages in earth’s fairest lands,

Men build great monuments.  Time brings them all

Alike, to mingle with the dust of hands

That buried them.  In ruin must they fall--

But the glory of God’s temples all is given

To add to that eternal one in heaven.

                                                       G. H. D.


THE HISTORY of Catholicity in Springfield is almost identical with its history in every city in Ohio – a few scattered families, a missionary’s visit once or twice a year, gradual and steady increase of population, until finally from the small nucleus had grown a strong, young, thriving parish with a resident priest.  Now that our grand churches and noble schools are spread across the land, doing daily their God given task, it is well to look back at the years that are gone.  The consideration of the sacrifices our ancestors made to keep the faith alive, the burdens they carried and the hardships they endured when civilization was merely dawning, cannot but arouse in us gratitude to those noble old pioneers; who, in spite of bigotry and prejudice, laid so deep and wide the foundations of Catholicity.    It is pleasant to read of a Jogues, a Lallemant, or a Marquette treading the virgin forest, learning the native language and baptizing the Indians in a forest stream.  In the early years of the nineteenth century, a noble band of priests were wandering through the forests of Ohio.  In winter and summer, these holy priests travelled forty, fifty, even a hundred miles with chalice and vestments strapped on their old saddle bags, seeking some lonely hamlet, where there might be a few scattered sheep of the flock.  Hearing confessions, instructing the young, baptizing, and saying the morning Mass, at which the villagers received communion. They then started another ride through the wilderness to bring about the consolations of religion to another distant group; this constituted the pastoral life of the pioneer priest.  How nobly their work was done is evident from the present fruit which their labors have borne. 

It may be asserted with safety that in 1830, there was not a single Catholic family in Clark County.  But about the year 1835 and during the ten years succeeding, a number of families were located in and about Springfield.  Among these Catholic pioneers were Patrick Rocket, Timothy Riordan, William Griblenhoff, N. Spangenberger, Wendelin Pappert, L. Cuymus, Joseph Bauer, John and Francis Creighton, John Doyle, M. Barneat, Michael Kelly, Adam Hyle, Henry Quinn, John Shuette, David Clancy, Francis Shrimp, John Connors, Joseph Lebold, Michael O’Brien, Michael Kennedy, and perhaps a few others.  From 1845 to 1850, we find among the old members Patrick and James Hennessy, Peter and Thomas Lynch, Francis McConnell, Simon Quill, Matthew Green, Michael Condron, Matthew Bolan, Sylvester Digan, Anthony Cavanaugh, James Quinn, Patrick Clark, William Burns, Hugh Farney, Patrick Casey, Patrick Meehan, Jeremiah Foley, Bartholomew Doyle, James O’Brien, Mrs. Bridget Henry, Patrick and Daniel Doyle, James Owen, Thomas McBrien, Patrick and Charles Biggens, Henry and Martin Gibbons, Joh Flanagan, Matthew and Patrick Carlos, Peter, Luke, Patrick and John Cox, John Douglas, Andrew Meehan, Patrick Shinners, Thomas McLane, Lawrence Hays, Michael Murphy, John Bellow, Thomas Carroll, Michael Dillon, John Sullivan, Hugh Sweeney, John Kenney, Michael Ging, Denis and John Shea, Denis Clancy, Patrick Dillon, Eugene McCune, Thomas Conway, and Michael Hart. 

Within the next five years we find the names of Anthony Hines, Thomas O’Brien, B. Enright, Thomas, Andrews and Michael Gallagher, John Maddigan, Peter Seward, Mr. Werngartner, James Fitzgerald, Mr. Monaghan, Patrick O’Brien, Michael, Patrick and John Bolan, William Regan, Richard Burns, Denis Hagan, Owen Gallagher, Michel Condron, Michael Rule, John McGarr, Francis Daugherty, James Burke, Jeremiah Cronin, Hugh Hart, Peter and Michael Madden, Christopher Kelly, Joseph Gunder, Andrew Haas, John Carr, John Milan, Michael Dargen, John and Michael Hughes, Martin Quaid, Daniel and Patrick Tehan, Thomas Shaw, William Ford, Richard Walsh, Anthony Ra, and some few others whose names we have been unable to locate.  However, the persons already named were the nucleus around which the present congregation of Saint Raphael was formed.

The first priest who visited Springfield, as far as we can learn, was Rev. Henry Damien Juncker, of Dayton, who celebrated Mass in the residence of William Griblenhoffer. The exact dates of his visits to Springfield are not known.  However, he was pastor of Emmanuel Church, of Dayton, from 1844 until 1857.  Springfield was attended as a separate mission in 1849; hence, we may safely assume that Father Juncker was in charge during the years from 1844 to 1849.  He was a native of Fonetrange, Diocese of Nancy, in the French Province of Lorraine.  Born in August 1809, his early life was spent amid the Catholic surroundings of his home.  In early manhood, he embarked for America, and under the direction of Archbishop Purcell, finished his ecclesiastical studies in the old Seminary at Cincinnati.  He was ordained on Passion Sunday, 1834, being the first to receive ordination at the hands of Cincinnati’s new archbishop.  Soon afterwards, he became pastor of Holy Trinity Church, Cincinnati.  In 1837, he went to Canton, thence to Chillicothe, attending as missions Circleville, Piketon, Delaware, Columbus and Portsmouth.  In 1844, he was transferred to Dayton.  From this center, he attended Bellefontaine, West Liberty, Xenia, Lebanon and Springfield.  He was consecrate Bishop of Alton, Illinois, April 26th, 1857, and died October 2nd, 1868.

With the exception of Bishop Juncker, we have found only the names of two other priests who attended Springfield up to 1849.  They were Rev. J. J. O’Mealy and his brother, Patrick.  Rev J. J. O’Mealy was born in Limerick, Ireland, in 1809.  He studied in Rome, France, and Cincinnati.  Soon after his ordination he was made Rector of the Diocesan Seminary, and then situated in Brown County.  He died in Springfield, October 20, 1856, and was buried in Dayton.

From the year 1849, St. Raphael’s Parish may date its history as a distinct congregation, attended by its own pastor.  This position was first filled by Reverend James Kearney.  The first parish register was begun by him, August 1849.  In the year 1848, ground had been purchased, and the first church of St. Raphael erected by the noble and timely generosity of Michael P. Cassilly.  He was compensated to some extent afterwards by the congregation.  The new edifice was completed by Father Kearney. 

In 1850, Father Kearney was succeeded by Reverend Maurice Howard.  He was an earnest and zealous priest, and guarded his flock untiringly for thirteen years.  In 1863, Reverend D. J. Cogan had charge for a few months, and in January 1864, Reverend J. N. Thisse became pastor.

The church was remodeled in 1865 and 1866 by adding to the length and otherwise beautifying its various appointments.  It was dedicated by Bishop Rosecrans in 1867.  Until 1865, the pastoral residence was in the rear of the church.  At this time Father Thisse purchased a separate residence, which was sold as part of his estate in 1873.

The first (St. Raphael) Catholic school was taught in the basement of the church during the pastorate of Father Howard.  Afterwards a small frame building was purchased by Father Thisse.  It stood on the site of the present school building and served its purpose well for several years.

Up to the year 1868, one priest was able to take care of the people of St. Raphael’s and the missions, South Charleston and Yellow Springs.  But in that year the numbers had increased to such an extent that it was necessary to have an assistant pastor.  The first to fill the position was Reverend J. A. Maroney.  Since his time up through 1899, that office was filled by Reverends John Burns, G. M. Berding, T. A. Conway, Francis Mallon, J. B. Dickhaus, Michael Ahern, W. B. Miggeel, John Singleton, William Conway, D. A. Buckley, John Cusack, Martin L. Murphy and Michael J. Kelly.

After the death of Father Thisse, May 1873, Reverend William Henry Sidley was appointed arriving in Springfield the 27th of June.

The congregation at that time was $7,000.00 in debt, but had a small frame school building and the church.  There was no residence for the pastors.  The members of the congregation, however, were ready and willing to do their part and did it nobly.  The erection of the present elegant and well-arranged residence was begun at once.  It was ready for occupancy June 1st, 1874.

The next great necessity was a larger school.  Most of the children of the parish were compelled to attend the public schools, as there was no room for them in the parochial school.  The present commodious building was begun in 1876.  The first stone being placed June 29, its great work began in September, 1877.  It is a three story brick building, 45 x 82 ft in size, containing eight rooms and had a hall on the third floor the full size of the building.  It was found necessary in order to accommodate the great number of pupils, to divide the hall into classrooms.  There was a high school department for teaching the higher branches.  The school building, as it now stands, is currently used as the Parish Center.

Beginning with the year 1877, Springfield grew rapidly in population and business interests.  As the population increased, the Catholic portion kept pace with it so that by 1880, both Church and School had become too small.  This increase of population was especially felt in the southeastern part of the city on account of the mammoth East Street Shops.  To accommodate the residents and to furnish greater facilities for the practice of their religion, it was evident that a new church and school were necessary.  With energy born of faith, the people began to work.  In 1881, three lots were purchased on the corner of Kenton Street and Central Avenue.  In 1882 was begun the erection of the large three-story school house, the first story providing a commodious room suitable for church service.  In October, 1883, the school was opened and services held regularly in the church.

St. Joseph’s, the name of the new church, was not cut off immediately from St. Raphael’s.  This was not done until 1884, when the new congregation had a perfect organization both in church and school; and were in all things able to do for themselves.  Rev. C. M. Berding was the first pastor and was succeeded by Rev. W. C. Conway.

In 1880, a Sodality Chapel was erected at St. Raphael’s in the rear of the church at a cost of $850.  In 1883, a residence was purchased for the Sisters at a cost of $7,500.  It was a large house well adapted for its purpose, being adjacent both to church and school.

Notwithstanding the fact that St. Raphael’s, the parent church of Springfield, had been decreased by the formation of two complete and well-equipped congregations[NRR1] , the accommodations were still inadequate for her[NRR2]  own people.  The trend of the popular mind was toward the erection of a new and larger structure for this purpose.  It was desired to purchase more land.  The wish of the pastor was to erect a larger edifice on the old ground.  It was, however, the will of the congregation to increase the property, and erect a church that should be fit to last forever.

Such was the feeling in the spring of 1889, when a meeting of the congregation was held in the School Hall.  At this meeting the following committee was elected:  Patrick Bolan, Daniel Minehan, Alex O’Brien, Joseph O’Brien, Michael Day, Matthew Carlos, Thomas Hennessy and Edward Wren, all being members of the old board except Mr. Wren.

The subject of the new church was introduced and received a hearty welcome.  A strong desire to obtain the property immediately west of the church having been manifested in the meeting, and the chair appointed a committee of five to see what could be done in this matter.  This committee reported soon afterwards that the property belonging to Mr. Bretney, immediately west of the church, could be bought for $17,000.  This offer was not direct, and it was agreed that Father Sidley should see Mr. Bretney personally.  However, it was almost determined upon to build on the old ground.  Thus matters stood during the summer.

Another meeting of the congregation was called October 20, and the purchase of the property was discussed.  It was decided that the property should be purchased.  In addition to the regular committee, the chairman appointed the following gentlemen:  Messrs. Tehan, Smith, Sullivan, P. E. Montanus, Michael Gallagher and William Armstrong.  The committee was instructed to acquire the property on the best terms possible, and it was unanimously decided that their decision should be final.  On November 3, at a meeting of the committee, Mr. Montanus and Mr. Tehan reported that Mr. Bretney was willing to sell the property for $17,000.

As six members of the committee were absent, it was judged better to defer final action until a full meeting should be called for December 1.  Accordingly, a meeting was held, nothing definite being accomplished.  Matters remained unsettled until the meeting of December 1, when it was unanimously decided that the property should be secured at the price required, $16,900.   Mr. Montanus and Mr. Tehan were appointed to close the deal.  A subscription list was immediately started and the church committee put down its name for $1,455.  No regular meetings were held after this.  The work of swelling the subscription was pushed, and, on the 7th of February, 1890, the first payment of $6,900 was made.  The congregation took possession of the property on the 1st of January, 1891.  The last payment was made to Mr. Bretney on February 2, 1892.

In the spring of 1892, St. Raphael’s property consisted of the present school house and residence, and the old church.  In addition to the frontage, fifty feet had been added by the purchase of the Bretney property, in accordance with the desire of the congregation for a more imposing church.  In order to get the views of the congregation in regard to the new building, a meeting was called by the pastor for March 6.  One hundred and twenty-five members responded to the call.  The meeting opened by adding the following gentlemen to the committee:  Messrs. J. B. North, P. Bolan, P. O’Brien, Jr., D. J. O’Connor, C. Mattingly, and John Sullivan.  The subject of the new building was then taken up.  The pastor spoke at some length in favor of it and was followed by several members to the same effect, showing that the general feeling was for building to begin at once.

The question of purchasing the corner lot was put to a vote and lost.  After considerable discussion a standing vote was taken regarding the erection of a new church.  It was enthusiastically decided to build.  Mr. Creager, of Springfield, was chosen as the architect, and authority was given to the pastor and a committee of fifteen to choose the style of architecture.  Father Sidley visited several prominent cities in Ohio and soon submitted two sketches – one of a church with a single tower in the center and another with two towers.  The latter was accepted; it is the St. Raphael’s of today.

On the 15th of May 1892, it was announced “This will be the last Sunday in the old church.”  No doubt the announcement was received with mingled joy and regret as the older members recalled the happy and sad events the old walls had witnessed in the past.  The last Mass was said in it on Thursday, May 19.  The old bell was rung for the last time at 1 pm, Monday, May 23.  The cross placed on the tower was taken down May 30.  The work of excavation was now pushed forward; the first stone in the foundation was placed in position on the 13th of July.  The cornerstone was placed by Most Reverend William Henry Elder, D. D.  September 25th.  His Grace was assisted by Monsignor Thorpe, of Cleveland, who preached the sermon.  Very Reverend T. S. Byrne, D. D., Rector of Mt. St. Mary Seminary, later Bishop of Nashville, Rev. Henry Moeller, DD., Chancellor of the Archdiocese, Rev. A. R. Sidley of Cleveland, Rev. A. Bourion of South Charleston, Rev. Isaac J. Hecter of Xenia, Rev. James O’Keefe of Yellow Springs, Rev. C. Berding and Rev. A. Fischer of Springfield, the pastor, and assistant Rev. Martin L. Murphy were also in attendance.

The work on the superstructure was begun October 10.  Work had progressed so well that in the following October, the church was under roof and the bell was placed in the small tower, which was rung for the first time on All Saints Day.  The work of completing the basement was hurried along, and it was ready for use on Christmas morning, the first Mass. When the first Mass was sung in the new St. Raphael’s, happily closed was the year 1893, with a truly happy Christmas for the zealous people of the congregation.

During the ensuing year, little was done on the church.  General improvements were made on the property, steam heating, etc., aggregating about $6,000.

The limit of indebtedness which the Archbishop allowed the congregation to contract, $25,000, was reached in 1894.  In consequence, a general meeting was called for March 17, 1895.  The attendance was very large, and it was unanimously agreed to increase the debt to $40,000 to complete the church.  The Most Reverend Archbishop, in a letter to the pastor, approved the action of the congregation.  Before the close of 1895, the plastering had been completed and the windows placed in position.  Little was done in the following year, except the placing of the marble wainscoting.  The hard times made a halt necessary.  Work, however, was heartily resumed in 1897.  The steel ceiling was placed in the vestibule and beneath the gallery, the vestibule was tiled, the front steps were completed, the floor finished, pews set in place and gas fixtures arranged.  Still the end and consummation of the work of fifty years was not reached till the following year, 1898, the year of dedication.

The happy and long-awaited event took place on July 17, 1898.  Most Reverend William H. Elder, D.D., carried out the beautiful ceremony.  The solemn Mass of Dedication was sung by the Reverend Dean Sidley.  Rev. D. A. Buckley officiated as Deacon; Rev. Michael L. Loney, Sub-Deacon; Master of Ceremonies, Rev. Henry Moeller, D. D.; and Assistant Master of Ceremonies, Rev. Michael J. Kelly.  The minor offices were filled by the following students of Mt. St. Mary’s and St. Gregory’s Seminaries:  James Fogarty, John Gallagher, William Clark, Thomas Fogarty, John O’Leary, John Gnau, Timothy Bailey, William Welch, and Francis Varley.  The sermon was preached by Right Reverend Monsignor Thorpe of Cleveland.

Solemn Vespers were sung in the evening, and the sermon was preached by the Most Reverend Archbishop.

The church is one of the objects of public interest in Springfield, and non-Catholics, as well as Catholics, always point to it with pride.





The high tower, reaching to a height of 184 feet, commands a perfect view of Springfield and was once very popular with visitors who had the courage to mount the 156 steps which lead to its summit.  The smaller tower is 135 feet in height and contains the bell, which was used in the old church. 

A remarkable feature that was frequently missed by visitors is the huge framework, which supports the enormous roof.  The beams are 12 x 16 inches and are secure enough in the opinion of the original builders, to support a heavy railroad train. 

The style of architecture is the modified gothic.  The ceiling is 50 feet high and contains three graceful arches, meeting, not in columns, but in beautiful drops.  This leaves the entire interior clear, giving a vast space 60 x 100 x 75 feet for the inside of the church.  The wood work and entire interior are finished in quartered oak.  The material used in the walls is Berea sandstone.

The cost of the church was $75,000, on which there was a moderate indebtedness when completed.



Nothing can better explain the consistent Catholicity of Springfield than the preeminence that has always been given to the school. 

The pioneer Catholic school of Springfield was started in the basement of St. Raphael’s by Father Howard.  While located there, Messrs. Coffey and Kelly and Miss Ellen Hennessy were in charge.

In 1864, during the pastorate of Father Thisse, a small frame house was purchased which occupied the exact site of the present building.

At that time, Richard J. Russell and Miss Harriett Armstrong, who became Mrs. P. E. Montanus, were the teachers.  In 1873, Mr. D. C. Lehan was added to the corps of teachers, which continued the same for three years.  In 1876, the old frame house was sold, and the present splendid building erected.  It was completed and ready for occupancy in September 1877.

The present site and building cost $19,000.  The building is a three-story brick of modern style, containing eight comfortable classrooms.  The third story was until 1897, a single room, with a stage and scenery, known as St. Raphael Hall.  At that time, it was necessary, due to the number of pupils, to partition it into three large rooms for the High School. 

At the opening of the new building, Mr. Lehan took charge of the advanced classes of boys, while the Sisters of Charity taught the other seven rooms.  This arrangement continued until the resignation of Mr. Lehan in 1884, when the Sisters took full charge.

The first person who enjoyed a diploma of St. Raphael’s School was Miss Ella Maher, who died shortly after graduation, in 1852.

The congregation of St. Raphael deserves praise for many things, but especially for their continued loyalty to the school.  In spite of the competition, it was able to turn out scholars equal, and frequently superior, to the other schools of the city.  The spiritual good the school accomplished cannot be determined.  Temporal success may be estimated from the positions occupied by the alumni.  In every area of social and mercantile life, the graduates of St. Raphael were able to hold their own.  The school gave worthy members to the priesthood, legal profession, businesses, government, and teaching.  Throughout the entire city were sons and daughters occupying places of trust and importance.  The venerable Alma Mater was proud of her children, knowing well that their success and happiness is her own glory.  To crown the labors of the Sisters in the year of Jubilee, nothing more fitting could have been said than this: “every child in reach of the school gladly and cheerfully attends.”

The school was under the care of the Sisters of Charity.  The pastor was the principal and took a deep interest in the work of the school.  The continued excellent condition of the parish was owed in a great measure to the success of the school.  “From the babies to the graduates,” said a local daily, “the school is the supreme joy of Father Sidley’s heart.”  The system of education embraced the elementary grades, the intermediate, and a four years’ course in High School.  Always zealous and self-sacrificing, the Sisters gave to the school their most fervent care.  They watched over the young heart and opening intellect in the “baby-room” – on through the various grades to the happy day of first Communion – then on to the glorious day of graduation.  Cheerful and happy, during the past decades they communicated their own happiness to others.  Happy homes were formed, the pupils went forth to gather around them new ties and new responsibilities; and they always found strength and perseverance in the remembrance of the lessons they were taught as children by the devoted daughters of Saint Vincent de Paul.





JOHN BAPTIST PURCELL was born in Mallow, Ireland in 1800.  His parents gave him the best education the local schools afforded.  In his eighteenth year, he immigrated to America.  He first earned a living as a private teacher and, in 1820, entered Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland, as a student for the priesthood.  He finished his studies at St. Sulpice, France and was ordained May 11, 1826.  The following year, he was engaged as presidency of the college and, in 1833, was consecrated Bishop of Cincinnati.  When he arrived in the Queen City there was but one church.  From this we may infer what the apostolic labors in store for him.  His diocese extended over the entire state of Ohio.  With tongue and pen, day and night, he labored for the flock entrusted to his care.  An example of his zeal and verbiage is his celebrated public debate on Catholicity with a minister, Alexander Campbell.  It was generally conceded that the Archbishop scored a significant triumph.

He was made first Archbishop of Cincinnati in 1850.

His work may be measured by comparing the condition of the diocese at his death with its condition in 1833.  At that time there was but one church in Cincinnati.  At his death, July 3, 1883, there were thirty splendid church buildings and a Catholic population of 85,000.  There were, besides a magnificent stone seminary for theological and philosophical studies, convents, colleges, and several institutions for charitable purposes.  In fact, it may well be said, “from his fruits you may know him.”  He was indefatigable and wore his life in the service of his Master.

It was under his jurisdiction that St. Raphael’s began its existence, and he always manifested a fatherly interest in its success.




WILLIAM HENRY ELDER was born in Baltimore, Maryland, March 22, 1819.  He received his early education in a private school and entered Mt. St. Mary’s, Emmittsburg, in his twelfth year.  He graduated in June 1837 and entered the Seminary for the fall term.  In 1842, he repaired to the College of the Propaganda, Rome, Italy.  He was ordained a priest on Passion Sunday, 1846.  On his return, he was made Professor of Dogmatic Theology at Mt. St. Mary’s.  In 1855, he was chosen Bishop of Natchez, Mississippi.  The diocese then embraced the entire State.  He was consecrated Bishop May 3, 1852.  Not long after his arrival, the Civil War broke out, and the beginning of cannon mingled with the call of the church bells.  New duties now arose and with them new responsibilities.  The indefatigable Bishop at the head of his noble priests and sisters did all in his power to alleviate the horrors of war.  Again, his zeal was manifested when the yellow fever broke out in the State of Mississippi in 1878.  He constantly walked in the midst of the stricken people without any thought of himself.

On January 16, 1880, Bishop Elder was appointed coadjutor to the venerable Archbishop Purcell.  He succeeded his prelate in 1883, and then endeared himself by his kindness and indefatigable zeal to the thousands of his vast flock.  St. Raphael’s new church was dedicated by him July 17, 1898.




SYLVESTER HORTON ROSECRANS was born in Homer, Licking County, Ohio, on February 5, 1827.  His parents were of Methodist denomination and were emphatic in their views against Catholicity.  He made his early studies at Kenyon College.  After his brother, General Rosecrans, embraced the Roman Catholic faith, a long correspondence was begun on the subject of religion.  It resulted in Sylvester becoming a Catholic in 1845.  In the following year, he graduated with high honors from St. John’s College, Fordham, N.Y.  Afterwards, he entered the Seminary at Cincinnati, situated at that time in the cathedral residence.  He completed his studies in Rome, Italy and was ordained a priest, July 16, 1852.  For some years, he acted as pastor of the Cathedral and Professor of Theology at the Seminary on Price Hill. Cincinnati, OH.  He was made coadjutor Bishop of Cincinnati in 1861.  He re-consecrated the church of St Raphael, May 5, 1867.  He was assisted by Father Thisse, Rev. R. Gilmour of St Patrick’s, Cincinnati, Rev. Chas. Shellhammer of Greenfield, and Rev. S. J. Bexley.  Those also present were Rev. Chas. Hahne of Dayton, Rev. Thomas Blake of Xenia, and Rev. P. Fehlings of Delaware.  Father Gilmour, afterwards Bishop of Cleveland, preached at the Mass, and Bishop Rosecrans delivered the evening sermon.

In 1868, Doctor Rosecrans was made Bishop of Columbus.  His death occurred in 1878.





Little is known of the history of Father Kearney.  It is known, however, that he was a native of Maryland and came west to serve on the Missions.  Before coming to Springfield, he was for some time in Hamilton, OH.  After leaving Springfield, he went to Urbana, OH where he remained until his death, February 10, 1878.  He was a kind hearted and zealous priest, much beloved and respected, not only by his own people, but by the entire community of Urbana, where he resided for many years.



MAURICE HOWARD.  Notwithstanding the most earnest efforts, not all has been learned about Father Howard’s life.  This can also be said of all the other pastors.  Members of St. Raphael at the time he was pastor spoke lovingly of him, as well as his predecessors.  Relatives of Father Howard resided in Columbus, one whom was a priest, Rev. Francis W. Howard.

Father Howard was born in Ireland.  He immigrated to America in the early 1840’s.  Robust in body, his mind was equally vigorous.  He studied and was ordained a priest.  His first labors were in Cleveland, Ohio, which then belonged to the Diocese of Cincinnati.  He was truly a missionary.  At one time he was called, in the depth of a bitter winter night, to the bedside of a dying person.  This was not unusual but the sick person, an old lady, was forty miles away, in a small settlement of Catholics.  This would be unusual now, at least in Ohio, but it was not at that time about 1845.  Without a thought of hesitation, he put the “saddle bags” on his faithful horse and cheerfully began the journey.  The dying person received the last rites of the Church, and the next morning Father Howard celebrated Holy Mass in the log house.  Severe work of this kind filled out his life.

He came to Springfield in 1850.  About this time there was a “boom in railroading.”  Iron rails stretched across the country in all directions.  Father Howard’s early training made him acquainted with the needs of the men “on the section.”  Hundreds of miles he traveled, from one “group” to another, hearing confessions, preaching, saying Mass, and keeping alive the light of faith in the scattered members of a widespread flock.  His work in Springfield was not neglected, as is evident from the general history of St. Raphael’s parish.  He labored here until 1863, when he left for Galesburg, Illinois, where he died after an earnest and self-sacrificing life.




D. J. COGAN succeeded Father Howard in the pastorate of St. Raphael’s.  He was here but three months, from November 1863 to February 1864.  He was quite a young man and an eloquent preacher as the old members remembered him.  He was educated and ordained at All Hallow’s College, Dublin, Ireland, for the American Missions.  On leaving Springfield, he went west.  Afterwards, no one seemed to know or write anything of his career. He appears to have died January 16, 1889.



It was warm inside the basement of the new Saint Joseph Parish schoolhouse.  The boilers had been fired for the first time earlier that day; several hours before the crowd would gather for the first Mass celebrated at the new missionary parish.  As the faithful settled into makeshift seating, the smell of fresh-cut wood and newly applied paint mixed with the incense lit for use during the holy event.

This cold day, November 4, 1883, marked a special beginning in the hearts and lives of hundreds of Irish immigrants who, for some time, had wanted a parish of their own in this neighborhood.  Their dream became reality due to the efforts of Father William Sidley, pastor of Saint Raphael Church.  He had permitted them to construct a new, brick school building, three stories high, eighty-seven feet long and forty-three feet wide on land recently purchased for the newly formed parish.

Only the sounds of rusting crinoline, occasional coughing and the wind blowing through the bare tree limbs outside broke the silence as the Mass of dedication began.

“In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti, Amen. Introilbo ad altare Dei,” proclaimed Father T. H. Cusak of St. Joseph Parish, Dayton, and the service began.  Nearly four hundred filled the basement at that first Mass.  The new church had yet to be constructed but the joy felt by many of those attending was apparent nonetheless.  Many had participated in a grand procession through the main streets of Springfield.  According to the Catholic Telegraph, the parade included horses, carriages, a group known as the T.A.B. Society, Ancient Order of Hibernians, two divisions of the Knights of Saint George, the Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick, the Big Six Band and Saint Raphael Band.  With the procession was Most Reverend Archbishop William Henry Elder of Cincinnati, who was to dedicate the building, and Fathers Singleton and William Conway, the latter to become a pastor of the new parish.

The servers responded to Father Cusak, “Ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meam”, and thus began a long standing tradition of Catholic faithfulness at Saint Joseph Parish that has affected the lives of its parishioners in each succeeding generation for over 132 hundred years.

The potato famine of 1845 forced a great many Irish to seek new beginnings in America.  Construction work on railroads and canals created employment for many of these Catholic immigrants and enabled them to move westward into Ohio.  These early Catholics found a sense of community through Irish peddlers who, along with their itinerate methods of selling, before shops were established on the frontier, would keep Catholics informed on the whereabouts of local priests and other Catholics living in the area.

A diocese was organized in Cincinnati in 1821, when the Catholic population in Ohio reached two thousand.  Its boundaries extended from the Ohio River to Lake Erie.  In 1837, a second diocese was established in the Cleveland area, a third in Columbus in 1868, a fourth in Toledo in 1910.  Later a fifth diocese was added in Youngstown in 1943, and a sixth in Steubenville in 1944.  Today there are approximately 454,000 Catholics in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati alone.

Catholics settled in Clark County starting in the 1830’s, due to the National Road which was constructed through the burgeoning city of Springfield.  The first Mass in Springfield was celebrated b Father Damien Junker of Dayton, in 1844, in the home of William Griblenhoffer, at the corner of Main and Water Streets.

By 1849, it became apparent that a parish was needed in the city and Saint Raphael was organized.  St. Raphael was to serve as the mother church for Saint Bernard in 1860 and again for Saint Joseph in 1882. 

The success of Springfield’s growing manufacturing industries further bolstered the Catholic population of the city.  The East Street Shops, manufacturing farm machinery, and Leffel’s Water Turbine Works were only two of dozens of plants in the Springfield area that needed workers.  By this time people of many nationalities were pouring into the city, many of them settling in the area known as Irish Hill, bounded by Limestone St., Selma Road, East St. and the Penn Central Railroad tracks.


From the Springfield Daily Republic, Saturday, Nov 3, 1883, copied as originally written.

Description of the New Institution on Kenton Street

Program for Dedicatory Ceremonies Tomorrow

The finishing touches are today being put upon the new St. Joseph school building on Kenton, near East Street, in readiness for the dedicatory ceremonies tomorrow, in which His Grace, Archbishop Elder, of Cincinnati, will officiate in chief.  A representative of this paper visited the premises and was shown through the building by Rev. Father Sidley, who was superintending personally the work within yet to be done.  The house is of brick, very solidly and substantially constructed from plans by Kreider, who seems, as in the planning and construction of other building for similar purposes in the city to have kept well in view the great points of light and ventilation.  It might also be added of ready means of ingress and egress (copyist’s note: entrance and exit).

The building is 43 feet front by 87 in depth, three stories in height, the first or ground floor being a half basement.  The exterior is plain but pleasing in appearance, the simple decorations being of cut stone.  From the center of the main front rises a high square tower with belfry, surmounted by the cross.  The doorways for the upper floors are on either side, midway, approached by high, stone steps.  Let into the wall of the tower in front is a stone tablet with the inscription: “St. Joseph School, 1883.”  Next, east of the building is a large two story frame belonging to the church, used as a residence by the Sisters who are to act as instructors in the school.  To the westward, on the same lot is a large space on which eventually a new church building is to be erected.  For the present, it will make an ample playground for the pupils of the school.

The first floor of the school building is fitted up as a church comfortable; even handsomely, and is that in which services will be held to-morrow.  It is 40 x 85 feet and contains 94 pews capable of seating nearly six hundred people.  The new altar just put in, occupies the south end and is an elegant piece of work.  The choir will be located to the left, and a fine cabinet-organ has been procured to lead the voices.  On either hand are confessionals and robing room for the priest.  The wood work in this, as in all rooms, is ash, oak and white pine, finished in the natural wood, giving a bright and pleasing aspect to everything.  In spaces to the right and left are Patric furnaces of large size for heating the entire house.  The second and third floors have four school rooms each 15 x 35 feet, furnished with single desks of the newest pattern.  There are also blackboards and other conveniences just as in the most modern public schools.

There are wide and ample halls on each floor and broad stairways.  The rooms will accommodate 400 children in the several grades.  A six hundred pound bell has been procured from the Buckeye foundry, Cincinnati, for the lofty belfry and the interesting ceremony of “blessing the bell” will be performed at three o’clock to-morrow afternoon.

The premises and institution will be in general charge of Rev. Father W. H. Sidley, of St. Raphael’s, whose assistants will be with him in conducting it.

The program for dedication will be substantially as published two or three days ago.  Archbishop Elder will arrive at 6:30 p.m., become a guest of St. Raphael parsonage.  The procession made up of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, three divisions of the A.O.H., Young Men’s Hibernia, Knights of St. George Division A and B, Father Matthew T.A.B. Society and three German societies, all in regalia with banners and two bands, will form at 9:30 a.m. at St Raphael’s and march over the route already given.  After the societies are seated in the church the general public will be admitted.  Those, besides the Archbishop, assisting in the services will be Rev. Father Sidley, of St. Raphael’s, Rev. Father Cusick of St. Joseph’s, Dayton, Rev. Father Hickey of St. Patrick’s, Cincinnati, and others not definitely known as of yet.

Reuben Copenhafer has had general superintendence of the construction and did the carpenter work.  John Suce was contractor for stone work, Pete Seward of brick work, M. McHugh of plastering.  Wraight & Leggo varnishing and painting.  The structure is one of the most conspicuous architectural features of the populous section of the city in which it stands.


From the Springfield Daily Republic, Mon, Nov. 5, 1883, copied as originally written

Dedication of St. Joseph School

The Republic of Saturday had a complete description of the new St. Joseph’s school building on Kenton Street, which was dedicated yesterday according to the program then outlined in advance by Archbishop Elder officiating in chief, assisted by home and visiting Fathers.  After early mass at St Raphael’s, High street, the city Catholic societies formed under Wm. Spangenberger and Joseph Bolan as marshals, and to the music of St. Raphael’s and the Big Six Bands, moved over the pre-arranged line of march to the new building, escorting His Grace, the Archbishop and clergy in carriages.  An immense crowd had assembled on the ground.  On arrival, Archbishop Elder in his robes of office, as were the assistants in the ceremonies, was received by Rev. Father W. H. Sidley and escorted to the west entrance where a short address was made to the great congregation.  The procession of priests then made the circuit of the building, the Archbishop sprinkling the walls with holy water, the assistants chanting the “Miserere”.  In this order the room on the lower floor fitted up as a church, was entered and the same ceremonies gone through with, when the place was declared appropriately dedicated to the worship of God and a benediction pronounced. The societies and as many of the people as could do so entered and Father Cusack, of St. Joseph’s church, Dayton, celebrated High Mass, Father Singleton acting as Deacon and Father Conway as Sub-Deacon, with Father Hickey of St. Patrick’s, Cincinnati, master of ceremonies.  Rev. Father Kress, of St. Bernard’s church, also assisted in the service.  The music was by a well trained choir, led by Mr. P. E. Montanus.  The services closed about noon with a sermon by the Archbishop, from Hebrews x, 7th, to which the closest attention was paid. 

Vespers were celebrated in the afternoon, and the ceremony of “blessing the bell” then took place, the new bell being sprinkled with holy water.  Archbishop Elder again spoke appropriately.  In the ceremonies the assistants were Rev. Father Cunningham, of Yellow Springs, and Rev. Father Berding, of London.

The day was beautiful and well adapted for such services, and everything passed off pleasantly without the slightest hitch or deviation from the original program.    ----end----


The faithful in this section of Springfield attended services regularly at Saint Raphael’s, many on foot traveling up to a mile from their homes.  This trip on Sunday was hardly a problem, they claimed, but their children had to walk the distance every day to school.  For many children, this trip included crossing busy railroad tracks four times each day, as the children went home for lunch at noon.

Several families presented their concerns to Father Sidley and he suggested that they erect a new school in their area of town.  He proposed the beginnings of a new parish, a mission of Saint Raphael, to serve both schoolchildren and Catholic adults in the Irish Hill section.

In the summer of 1882, three lots situated on the corner of Kenton and Central Avenue were purchased from Jeremiah Reardon.  An additional lot was purchased from John Kelly and ground for the school was broken that summer with the foundation stone laid in October.  The brickwork began in the early spring of 1883.  By fall, the building was ready for the opening of school.

Elizabeth Ann Seton’s Sisters of Charity came to Ohio in October, 1829, and established a motherhouse in Cincinnati.  When teachers were needed for the new school at St. Joseph’s, there was no hesitation, for the nuns were already teaching at both St. Raphael’s and St. Bernard’s.  Sister Rosa Gonzaga was sent as the superior with Sisters Pancrata Breen, Mary Victor Lynch, Pauline Crane and Bertha Armstrong.  The school opened October 8, 1883, before the first Mass was celebrated.  Two hundred and ninety-one students in grades one through twelve attended. 

While Archbishop Elder’s remarks related to “sacrifice” at that first Mass, some may have been anticipating the blessing of the bell later that day at 3:30.  Glancing at the bell, they saw the words “Van Duzen and Tift Company, Cincinnati Buckeye Bell Foundry 1883.”

Father Sidley continued administering to the new mission parish.  He even baptized the first child there, Charles Joseph Goody, son of Joseph and Brigid Walsh Goody, on November 18, 1883.

Saint Joseph became an independent parish January 1, 1884, with the arrival of the first permanent pastor, Father Clement Berding.  The Catholic Telegraph reported, “Of the entire harmony and perfect confidence existing between Father Sidley and his people, the work which they have accomplished in the past year attests more eloquently than any word.  Ground purchased, St. Joseph Chapel, School and Sisters residence built and tastefully furnished, with only now a trifling debt for the new congregation to assume is certainly a matter of justifiable pride.”

Since there was no residence for Father Berding, he lived in the Nangle Homestead at the corner of Kenton and York Streets until a parsonage was built in 1885 located in the lot next to the present church.

One of the first acts as pastor was to establish a “Total Abstinence Society”.  This group began originally in Ireland, and members pledged never to drink alcoholic beverages.  At the first meeting, between twenty-five and thirty persons took the pledge and were given badges to wear attesting to this.  The next years were spent sponsoring parties, bazaars, fairs and raffles to liquidate the debt of the parish.  This was accomplished by July 10, 1892, and a meeting was held on the advisability of constructing a church.  The Church committee for the construction of the present church consisted of Thomas Waters, John Dorley, John Sullivan, James Glenn, Ed Garrity, Sr., John Kearns, John O’Connor and Patrick Welch.  It was unanimously decided to work on the structure in stages as money became available.  Charles Creager was hired as the architect.  A Springfield native, he also built the original city building and arcade.  In August, 1892, the contract for excavating went to Patrick Carlos.

In 1886 the Champion Reaper and the Whitely interest, which employed many St. Joseph parishioners, looked as if they could do no wrong.  In 1884, the “value of product” in Springfield was eight million dollars and the East Street Shops produced four million dollars of sales alone.  In those days, as today, fortunes were made in the community futures market.  E. L. Harper of Cincinnati and William Whitely had shared interest in coal and iron and had “signed each other’s paper.”  Unfortunately, it made Whitely responsible for Harper’s losses.  Whitely was called the man who made and broke Springfield.  During the same time, Springfield was fast losing its prominence in agricultural machinery.  Five plants closed their doors between 1891 and 1900.  On April 18, 1893, due to lay-offs and a poor fiscal environment in the city, work on the structure was halted for a time.

When the Whitely Harvester Manufacturing Company was forced into bankruptcy, hundreds were out of employment and many families moved to other sections of town.  Fall was approaching and there was a fear the new St. Joseph Church structure might not be under roof by winter.  Work was postponed to the following spring.  On May 13, 1894 the cornerstone was laid.

Worn out by his zeal, Father Berding’s health began to fail.  From 1893 to 1894, Father Michael F. Russell assisted him in the work of the parish.  This was not enough and Father Berding was forced to resign, unable to complete the masterpiece to which he had set his hand.

When the thirty-eight year old Reverend Father William Conway arrived, the parish was in the confusion of construction.  Undaunted, he set about directing its completion.  Three years later, the church was ready for dedication.  On October 17, 1897, Archbishop Elder, returned to Springfield to dedicate the new building.  A parade took place in the afternoon with fourteen hundred people marching, and dinner was later served in  the old East Street Shops.

The church was built of brick with stone trimmings at a cost of $25,000.  According to strict Gothic Revival style of architecture, the interior was designed by Durand of Philadelphia, one of the most celebrated ecclesial artists in his day.  All furnishings and decorations correspond to the Gothic, with the exception of the high altar, which is semi-Gothic.  The Sisters of Notre Dame Academy in Reading, Ohio, where Father Michael J. Loney was the chaplain, donated St. Joseph’s new altar.  The piece, which originally graced the Academy Chapel, was carved by hand from wood by Joseph Shroeder of Cincinnati before the Civil War.  The altar is a copy of an altar in one of the chapels of the sisters in Namur, Belgium.  The altar steps and chancel rail were sawed oak and the floor of hard maple.

In the last months of his stay, Father Conway had the assistance of Father Hugh Magevney.  On May 1, 1901, Father Conway was called to the pastorate of the Church of the Assumption in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Father Michael J. Loney succeeded Father Conway as pastor on June 14, 1901.  A son of St. Raphael parish, he was born in Clark County on November 10, 1856, to Daniel and Margaret Foley Loney.  Having followed the founding and growth of the parish, Father Loney set the year 1909, the year of the Silver Jubilee, as the goal to complete and beautify the still unfinished church.  During these eight years the people lent every assistance to their pastor and the parish revenues rose to $110,000.

New oak pews were placed in the church in 1902, constructed by the American Church Furnishing Company of Chicago and designed especially to suit the building’s structure.  The windows were installed in 1904.

In 1907 and 1908 the church was fitted with a divided pipe organ built by the Moeller Organ Company of Hagerstown, Maryland.  It is one of only two in existence.  Frescoed by the Card and Percy Company of Columbus, the church’s predominant colors were cream, olive green and gold.

The sons of the parish who entered the priesthood led off the subscription drive to purchase Stations of the Cross.  They were Fathers Francis A. Varley, Timothy Bailey, John T. Gallagher and William C. Welch, followed by members of the congregation.  These stations, still in the church, are of terra cotta material and were made in Tours, France.  The color scheme corresponded to the fresco work and was Gothic in design.

About the time the organ was delivered, men of the parish organized a choir.  Through the years music has been an important function of the liturgical worship and a tradition of the parish.  Minnie Welch was the first organist.  Around 1910, Frank White directed the men’s choir.  Mary Garrity Collins was the organist until 1918. 

At this point in time, five priests had celebrated their first Holy Mass at St. Joseph’s Church.  They were Fathers Hynes, Gallagher, Bailey, Welch and Varley.  Among the first to be ordained from the parish was Reverend Michael Stritch of the Society of Jesus, six other young men were also pursuing their studies for the priesthood.

It was written in 1903 that “never in the history of nations was there such wealth found among the people.”  The agriculture of Clark County used the latest farming machinery which was described as a combination of “brain and brawn”.  The labor movement in Springfield was growing:  forty-one labor unions began between 1890 and 1900.  Many businesses that had bad luck earlier reorganized and merged, while labor unionized.  This brought about a reduction in the hourly work week without loss of productivity.  Also the increasing pay added to the comfort and satisfaction of the workers.  Many Springfield-produced goods were in demand world-wide.  Springfield industry took a hard blow when the East Street Shops burned down in 1902.  The heat from the fire was so intense that children in the nearby St. Joseph school could not touch the windows.  In spite of this, the Springfield industrial aristocracy carried on and flourished.

As Springfield attracted more citizens to fill the needs of the factories, St. Joseph parish began to swell.  Work for Father Loney increased to the degree that he petitioned for an assistant.  Father James Fogarty, a son of St. Raphael Church and uncle to Organist Anne Clifford, came in 1905 and, during his two years, proved to be a most popular priest.  He was succeeded by Father Martin Malloy, who remained until November 20, 1914.  Father Malloy was greatly interested in young people and gave a great deal of his time to the sodalities.  He had a great love of music and the out-of-doors.  In 1915, Father Francis A. Biendl was present for the completion of the parsonage at the corner of Kenton and Central Ave. and its partial furnishing.  He was the first to move into it, and, as he said later, always remembered the blizzard that greeted his moving day. 

People began coming to Mass on Sunday in cars around 1913.  The cars needed two people to start them, one to crank, outside in front and the second to turn the switch inside at the wheel.  It was easy to tell during Mass who had these new cars because they often had broken arms.  Many times when the car was cranked, it would lunge and the handle would hit the person breaking his arm.

In the early 1900’s, the Sisters of Charity were teaching four hundred and fifty pupils in the school.  The Catholic Telegraph reported.  “To the good Sisters of Charity is due much credit for the manner in which the school has developed.  The Conservatory of Music was built in 1905.  “It was a red brick, two-story building, that was located fifteen feet east of the church and extended from twenty feet off the front sidewalk.  It was sixty feet long and thirty-five feet wide,” Frank Collins remembered.  The school offered courses in violin, organ, piano and voice.  St. Joseph High School opened a two-year commercial course of study and later a four-year classical course was added.  The school was known for its high standards of achievement.  A newspaper article at the time stated that many responsible positions in the city were filled by St. Joseph graduates.

On Sunday, September 26, 1908, parishioners observed the twenty-fifth anniversary of the founding of the church as an independent parish.  It was attended by Archbishop Henry Moeller of Cincinnati.  A solemn High Mass was celebrated by Father P. J. Hynes, and a musical program was under the direction of Father Malloy with Professor H. Kester of Cincinnati at the organ.  In the afternoon a sermon was delivered by Father Bernard O’Reilly, followed by benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.  It closed with the singing of the “Te Deum” by a choir of fifty boys.  The services were attended by members of the Knights of Columbus, Knights of St. George, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Hibernian Rifles and the Catholic Order of Foresters.

The years during World War I were trying years for Father Loney.  He often listened to the sorrowing stories of fathers and mothers whose boys were marching toward the trenches in France.  Father Loney manifested the same strong love for his land as he had for his Church.  Near the close of the World War, he had Father R. Marcellus Wagner as his assistant.  Father Wagner was a classmate at the seminary of Father August Bernard who later became fifth resident pastor of St. Joseph.  Father Wagner was later head of Catholic Charities of Cincinnati.  Each Friday afternoon during the war, the ladies of the parish sewed for the American Red Cross.  The senior class of 1918 also reflected the national fervor in their activities.  The class play, “A Call to the Colors”, had a patriotic theme and their colors were red, white and blue.  Songs in the play included “Wrap Up Your Troubles” and “Over There.”

With the fall of 1918 came a dreaded flu epidemic gathering its toll from the parishioners and adding a heavier burden to the pastor.  The climax came with the death of one of the most beloved sons of the parish, Father John Gallagher.  Father Loney was confined to Good Samaritan Hospital in the winter of 1918 and 1919, and Father Walsh was sent to assist Father Wagner. 

With the departure of Father Wagner, Father Charles Spence became the new assistant on October 5, 1919.  He was a convert and described as a man of culture who loved the rich heritage of the Catholic Church.  When he left St. Joseph, he studied at Oxford, England and later at St. Gregory Seminary.  Father Raymond Brown succeeded Father Spence.  Born of Irish immigrants, Father Brown was the first priest ordained from London, Ohio.  According to Catherine Higgins’ mother, “he (Father Brown) used to check the stove to see what was cooking and say he would be back for supper – and back he did come for he loved to eat.”  Much of the spiritual care of the parishioners fell to the young and cheerful assistant.  In spite of Father Loney’s failing health, he was able to complete the St. Joseph High School.

During his last years as pastor, Father Loney suffered from arthritis in his hands, but continued to visit the sick and shoulder the spiritual and financial burdens of the parish.  By 1932 his health had declined and he retired to a home on Dover Road which he shared with his sisters Margaret and Mary.

He was always interested in the spiritual welfare of the parish.  Many recall the frequent missions, retreats for young and old, the May Crowning and many other activities that found their inspiration in the zeal of the pastor.  One in particular was the Holy Name Society.  The group was comprised of men whose purpose was to reverence Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.  As early as the 1920’s, men recall marching with their father in the yearly rally, with men of the other parishes, from St. Raphael to the football field behind St. Bernard Church.  Many people at this time did not receive Holy Communion each time they went to Mass.  The men of the Holy Name, on the first Sunday of the month, sat together at Mass and received Holy Communion.

With the departure of Father Brown, the Reverend James Wade came to St. Joseph as vicarius adjutor.  This title gave Father Wade the duties of the pastor since Father Loney, because of his illness, could not fulfill them.  He not only was to shoulder the greater part of the spiritual care of the parish, but was able to take over some of the financial administration.  Later Father John Dillon was appointed this task.  He is remembered for being a dynamic speaker, especially at parish missions.

During these years Springfield created a diverse and self-sufficient order.  By 1929, more than two hundred companies were making goods ranging from auto bumpers to rose cuttings.  International Harvester and Crowell-Collier were the city’s leading firms, and these companies needed workers.  Immigrant men from Italy and Ireland came first, sending word back to their homelands of available jobs.  Their sons and brothers followed, later sending for wives and children to join them.  Between 1900 and 1930, waves of Irish, sprinkled with some Italians, settled in the area surrounding St. Joseph.  The Irish were treated badly under England’s rule and many southern Irish of Catholic faith came first to Boston and New York, but decided to travel further west when signs read, “No Irish need apply.”  Many Italians arrived in Springfield at the Big Four railroad station, traveling by train from an immigration check point at Ellis Island.  All of the new immigrants found jobs.

American migration also moved northward.  People from Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia were moving into the area since jobs were plentiful.  Springfield Spring Company on Burt St. was one such place that hired many St. Joseph people.  It was later absorbed by International Harvester.  The Shouvlin’s, members of St. Joseph, owned The Superior Engine, later known as Cooper Industries, and many parishioners had jobs there.  As the parish continued to grow, so did the school.  Since the enrollment had outgrown the building, something had to be done.  Classes for grades one and four were held in a neighboring house, while grades two and three were in the basement of the school.  Fourteen Sisters of Charity were teaching.  A high school was built in 1925 on the corner of Kenton and East Streets to alleviate the overcrowding.  In 1933, the high school students amalgamated in Catholic Central at St. Raphael.  Former students of St. Joseph’s recall being dismissed to the sound of a Sousa march being played by two piano students on two pianos at the same time.  Mary Collins Crotty and Anne Fogarty Clifford played as a duo, as did Virginia McGrath (Sister Sylvia) and Margaret Burley.  The two groups alternated playing four times each school day, at the beginning of school, before and after lunch and again at dismissal.  Jack Yontz remembers helping his grandfather, Albert F. Sirdevan at 6:00 a.m. fire the boiler and shovel coal into the coal and coke furnace in the basement of the church.  The heat was then piped into the school which was warm by the time the other students arrived.

The city became caught up in the Ku Klux Klan movement.  Its motivating force was not white against black as much as it was old-stock Protestant against immigrant Roman Catholic. One day in particular, the Ku Klux Klan had planned a parade to march past the front of St. Raphael Church.  When the parade arrived at the corner of Spring and High Streets, Monsignor Daniel Buckley stood in the street in front of his church and would not let them pass.  There were a few tense moments before the parade turned around.

Father William A. Casey assumed the pastorate in September 1932.  He was born in Cincinnati on June 17, 1882, and was ordained on June 22, 1906.  Father Casey was not in the best of health when he arrived at St, Joseph, and the change of pastorates seemed to aggravate his illness.  In January 1934, Father Charles McGurn was sent to be his assistant.  Father Casey died in Cincinnati on May 2, 1934, while visiting his brother.  Due to the great love he bore for St. Joseph, his body was brought to his parish for the funeral services.  After Father Casey’s death, Father McGurn was placed in temporary charge until appointment of the next pastor.  He remained until June 28, when he left to assume the duties of assistant pastor at St. Andrew Church in Cincinnati. 

During this time, music was a very important part of St. Joseph.  Every class had to practice one hour, once a week, for the hymns that would be sung at the children’s Mass on Sunday, and during the months of May and October at the 7:45 daily Mass.  The practice was held in the hallways of each classroom under the direction of Sister Basil, “the music nun”, and accompanied by Nora White Jung and later by Anne Clifford.  Young boys wishing to belong to the boys’ choir auditioned for Sister Basil in the music room on the first floor of the music building, by singing several scales.  Members of the boys’ choir, on entering high school, were asked to join the men’s choir.  The men’s choir sang Sunday Mass and special holidays, including St. Patrick’s Day.

Father August F. Bernard was born in Cincinnati on January 9, 1892.  He was ordained to the priesthood on June 17, 1916.  On June 10, 1934, he was installed as the fifth resident pastor by Monsignor Buckley.  On July 29, 1934, Reverend John P. O’Connor arrived to assist Father Bernard.  He was born in Springfield on November 22, 1898, and ordained on May 29, 1926.  He later served as pastor at St. Bernard from 1957 to 1971.

By 1933 Springfield and the United States were in the midst of the Depression.  In a city of 60,000, almost 7,000 lacked jobs and 15 million in the nation were out of work.  Springfield businesses like American Radiator, Victor Rubber, Foos Gas Engine and Kelly Springfield Truck and Bus all went under at this time.  Many men at St. Joseph were out of work.  To give them work to do and to help the parish, Father Bernard asked the men to paint the church.  The money for paint and supplies was raised by a turkey raffle.  There were four door prizes, a turkey, a sack of flour, a blanket and twenty-five pounds sugar.  Father Bernard provided the meal and drinks for the men.  The women of the parish fed the school children a lunch consisting usually of soup and an apple.  Everyone donated so the children would not be hungry.

The Golden Jubilee of the parish was celebrated on September 9, 1934.  Father Timothy Bailey was celebrant of the Mass and Father William Welch was deacon.  Father O’Connor, with the help of Father Bernard, wrote a fifty-year history of the parish.  Anne Clifford played the Mass.

Father Bernard, an organist himself, brought a personal love of music and immediately became a “special” member of the choir.  He introduced the idea of both the men and boys singing together.  After he hired Thomas Murray, choir director of St. Cecilia’s in Cincinnati, there were weekly practices year round for the first two years.  The men and boys choir expanded in members and greatly impressed in the skills of presenting good music.  On the occasion of Father Bernard’s fiftieth anniversary, the choir presented him with a gold baton.

 On July 29, 1935, Father Loney died and was buried from St. Joseph Church.  Father Richard Kennedy arrived on July 2, 1936, as Assistant Pastor, replacing Father O’Connor.  Replacing Father Kennedy as assistant was the Reverend William Hilvert on July 22, 1943.  The Reverend Robert Plagge was appointed assistant on January 6, 1944. 

Within ten years of Father Bernard’s arrival, the $10,000 debt left from the new high school on Kenton and East St. was paid.  This was quite a feat when most parishioners were out of work.  Bingo was held every Sunday evening in the school basement, where a previous generation had attended Mass.  Hugh Garrity was the caller in the smoke-filled room while several others sold cards for twenty-five cent and one dollar games.  Several hundred people attended regularly, coming from as far away as Urbana and Yellow Springs.

Seaman First Class William Welch was on the USS Oklahoma at Pearl Harbor on the morning of December 7, 1941.  Raised in St Joseph’s he had enlisted in the Navy at the age of seventeen the year before.  He, along with Pete Rocco and other boys from St. Joseph, died for their country during World War II.  The Rocco-Welch VFW Post on Leffel Lane was later named for two of the many heroes.  One was no longer considered Irish or Italian, but Americans fighting side by side for freedom.

International Harvester towered over the war industry in Springfield.  People lived with ration stamps and the scarcity of goods due to the war, but by 1945 the biggest problem was inflation.  With Harvester paying $8.00 an hour, Springfield was richer than it had ever been.

People were able to make many needed repairs to the church in 1945.  The ornamentation on the side altars was removed, the interior of the church was painted to look like stones; angels on top of the main altar were also removed.  Statues and stations were painted a solid white, the floor was retiled from one solid color to light and dark brown titles, new drapes were put on the main altar, the boiler stoker was updated and the original pipe organ was rebuilt and electrified.

In 1943, an African-American parish, St. Martin’s Chapel, was established on the southwest corner of Center and Pleasant Streets.  The chapel was on the corner and the pastor’s house was in the back on Pleasant St.  It was originally begun as a short-term mission church, since there were few Catholics among the African-American population, but the Catholic population grew and many new members joined.  Many of the children from St. Martin’s Parish attended St. Joseph school.  In the early 1950’s, the parish was closed as lines drawn as far back as the Civil War dissolved.  People from St. Martin’s were incorporated into the other parishes.  At that time, Pastor Father Bernard made home visits to each of the displaced Catholics living within St. Joseph boundaries and welcomed them to St. Joseph. 

The 1950’s were good times for the United States.  The men were home from the war.  People had plenty of money and were anxious to spend it for the “good life” for themselves and for their church.  Three homes were acquired which added seventy-five foot frontage on Kenton St.  The properties were converted to a school yard.

The people of St. Joseph were very active and Father Bernard was very instrumental in getting the people involved.  He revived the Holy Name Society and was particularly proud of the fact that St. Joseph always had the most representatives at the yearly Holy Name rallies.  During forty hours, he began night adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.  He also personally paid the tuition of any child unable to afford a Catholic education.

Fr. Bernard’s fatherly love spilled into the young men who soaked up his warmth and wit.  One in particular was Father Thomas Higgins, a son of the parish who became a missionary priest in South America.  Father Bernard and the parish family sent monies to him for the people of Bolivia.  Monies were also sent to Sister Mary Ellen Mertens, a daughter of St. Joseph working as a Maryknoll nun in Hong Kong.

In 1961. Father Elmer Smith was assigned as assistant to Father Bernard.  Born in Dayton on July 19, 1926, he was ordained on September 8, 1950.  Father Smith was well-known in the Springfield community for his active work in promoting a number of ecumenical programs.  St. Joseph became known as the “friendly parish” for the warm welcome given to friend and visitor alike.  Father Smith called each person by name and spoke to each visitor after Mass.  He promoted wide participation in church and school activities.  He strived for personal contact with each parish member.  Father Smith never kept office hours.  Ruby Donohoue recalled, “Many times he would get a call and we would see him leave in the middle of the night to be with a dying parishioner in the hospital or to console a distressed family, arriving back in time to say morning Mass and begin another full day.”

During the same time the lay apostolate, through the Legion of Mary, was begun, due to the shortage of priests and the duty of the lay people to share in the mission of the church.  Many new changes in the liturgy took place after the Second Vatican Council, called by Pope John XXIII.  The Mass was now said in English rather than Latin and the congregation responded to the prayers of the Mass.  Special altars were built to accommodate the liturgy facing the people.  Later an evening Mass on Saturdays and the eve of the Holy Days was added to the Mass schedule.  Following the directives of the Archbishop, a Parish Council was formed in 1966 with Mr. Donald Rizer, president and Miss Mary Maddus, secretary.  The Parish Council consisted of the pastor and a representative from each parish group and society to discuss and promote that which would be helpful to parish life. 

The Christian Family Movement also was begun about this time.  The work of this organization was three-fold.  The first was to observe what was needed; the second was to judge what should be done, and the third was to act.  The group conducted a tour of the church for neighboring churches and later attended services with those Protestant neighbors.  In 1966, a Cana talk was given to two hundred couples in Springfield by Father Norbert Burke of the University of Dayton.  From this a Pre-Cana series for those contemplating marriage was begun with Father Smith as chaplain for the group.  Many parishioners participated as speakers.

In March, 1969, plans were begun to replace the grade school building built in 1883.  Many had toiled nearly one hundred years ago to build the school, the education of their children being the most vital.  Again, a suitable place for the education of the children meant the sacrifice of pledges over three years, but with men on the moon, education methods and equipment had to be updated.  It was to be a parish center with four classrooms, two meeting rooms and a general purpose room for gym cafeteria and auditorium.  Boris Mehoff was hired as the architect.  The cornerstone was installed September 27, 1970, and the new parish center was dedicated by Archbishop Paul Liebold on October 11, 1970.  When the old school was torn down, the bell was stored in the new school.

In the early 1970’s, lay people were given an even greater role in the spiritual realm of the church.  A liturgy committee was formed to plan special prayers and music for the Masses.  Lay people were also given the honor of distributing Holy Communion and reading the Sacred Scriptures at Mass.

The latest renovation of the church in 1976 saw the wiring replaced and the sanctuary enlarged to adapt to the new liturgies.  New pews were added, replacing the old ones installed in the 1900’s; the entire church was carpeted and some statues were removed to lessen the weight on the sanctuary floor.

Many groups in the parish flourished; the Boosters, a bowling league, Father Bernard Guild of Mercy Hospital, bingo and festivals, and the ladies Altar Rosary Sodality. 

The Sisters of Charity had lived in a nineteen room convent built in 1883 that stood next to the original school.  The convent chapel was very beautiful inside and lent itself to devotion.  Six bronze candlesticks with a crucifix to match were given in memory of Mrs. Mary Tuttle.  The Stations of the Cross in the chapel were donated in memory of First Lieutenant Elden Hamilton who was missing in action in World War II.  After the convent was demolished in 1970 for the building of the new parish center, the sisters moved into a house located at 829 Kenton St. that had been renovated for their use.

After 1974, there were no sisters living at the convent and the house was rented.  Between 1963 and 1971 three Sisters taught from one hundred fifty to three hundred eighty-three children with the help of some lay teachers.  From 1975 until 1977, when Sister Theresina arrived to teach, there were no Sisters of Charity at St. Joseph.  In 1975, St. Joseph School had its first lay principal, Mr. David Getter, followed by Mr. William O’Neill in 1979.  Mrs. Malinda Lileas began as principal in 1982.  Fewer sisters at St. Joseph’s reflected a national vocation problem as fewer women were entering the religious life.  Sister Mary Docker, an Ursuline from the Brown County Community, served as the director of religious education from 1975 to 1981.  In 1981, Mrs. Marty Tayloe began serving as director of religious education. She was followed by Sister Christina Bartsch.

In 1978, after the Vietnam War, many Vietnamese refugees came to America seeking, as had the Irish and later the Italians, not a land flowing with milk and honey, but a new world of promise and hope.  Three Catholic Vietnamese sisters and their families eventually settled in St. Joseph Parish.  The Di Family with six children, the seventh born here, remained the longest as the other two families moved closer to cousins in California.  Father Smith donated the tuition for the children to attend St. Joseph School.  Various people in the parish taught them the English language, American ways, and of course, how to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.  St. Joseph, in turn, learned of their loving traditions and even how to make egg rolls.

In June, 1975, Father Albert Lauer arrived at St. Joseph as associate pastor.  He served until February 1977.

St. Joseph parishioners also opened their doors and hearts to the young seminarians and deacons who came as practicum students to gain field experience.  Fathers Bernard and Smith were very anxious to have the students come to St. Joseph, and the students enjoyed the parish, many asking specifically for placement here to learn from the two priests.  With the seminarians, three generations were in the rectory; the humble Father Bernard, the kind Father Smith, and the young seminarian.  Each learned from the other and jointly served the parish.  William Kramer was the first to arrive in 1972.  Later came Deacon Tom Meyer, who enjoyed working with the youth of the parish.  He was followed by Deacon Dave Miller.  Deacon Paul Hurst, who later became the pastor of St. Bernard, was at St. Joseph during 1976 and 1977 when the church was being redecorated.  In addition to his many activities, he, with the help of the youth, washed all the Stations of the Cross.  Seminarian Mark Brugger arrived next and Deacon Rich Unwin followed.  Charles Karst was a seminarian in 1979 and later returned in 1980 to serve as pastoral associate until his move to Dayton in mid-1983.  Russ Maue served as deacon in 1979.

 During the late seventies, guitars were introduced as an instrument of musical accompaniment during the Mass.  The guitar group was organized by Father Smith to play for the Sunday noon Mass.  All of the congregation joined in the singing of the hymns during Mass.

Heart trouble plagued Father Bernard and in 1970 Archbishop Leibold placed Father Smith as administrator of the parish.  In 1974, Father Bernard successfully campaigned to the archbishop to name Father Elmer Smith to succeed him as pastor.  Father Bernard stayed on as pastor emeritus and continued in the spiritual care of the parish.  He said, “The parish is like home to me and the people are like my people.”  Many remember Father Bernard as a firm, strong, grandfatherly pastor.  In 1970 Mt. St. Mary’s of the West Seminary granted the first honorary degree in its one hundred fifty year history to Father Bernard.  They said he symbolized the highest aspirations of the faculty.  In the final weeks of his illness, parishioners kept vigil with the “Old Padre”, as he called himself.  One nurse at the hospital remembered Father Bernard as having bought her first pair of hose.  Beth Robey recalled sitting with Father in the hospital and the nervousness she felt when first entering his hospital room, expecting to sit and stare out the window, but Father was very coherent, a young mind in a decaying body.  Bedridden, he was still warm and witty.  Beth and the other volunteers thought they would, in some way, help the man who had given them so much, but instead, he gave to them.  “By seeing to his personal needs, helping to do what he couldn’t do for himself, I learned humility,” remembers Beth.  From this humble and gracious man, people learned that gentle wit and humor are just as appropriate in sickness as in health.  During his sixty-four years as a priest, he had always been a giver; he gave in return for whatever he received.  He died July 20, 1980, after serving St. Joseph Parish for forty-six years.  Archbishop Joseph L. Bernardin was the principal celebrant for the Mass of Christian Burial.

Father Bernard often expressed his wish to hear the church bell ring before he died.  The bell was rung just before Father’s funeral Mass on July 23.  With the help of many willing workers, the bell was moved from the school basement to a temporary location in front of the Parish Center.  It was later hung in the church steeple and rang for the first time in its present location Easter Sunday, 1981.

On February 15, 1981, Father T. Edward Hopping arrived to assist Father Smith.  Father Hopping was born in Springfield on August 9, 1912, and ordained May 18, 1940.  At about this same time, Father Smith received word of his appointment in St. Cecelia Parish in Cincinnati.  There was great sadness when Father Smith left, the parish having lost two beloved pastors in one year.  A brick and glass enclosed sign stating the sermon topic and Mass schedule was erected in front of the church with labor donated by parishioners.  It was dedicated to Father Smith for twenty years of service to the people of St. Joseph.

The Reverend Thomas Dorenbusch arrived on August 18 1981, as seventh resident pastor of St. Joseph Church.  “Father Tom”, as he was affectionately called, was born in Hamilton, Ohio, on July 6, 1932, and raised in Middletown, Ohio.  He was ordained July 21, 1957.

The early eighties brought home the fifty-two Americans held hostage in Iran.  It brought the United States double digit inflation and double digit unemployment, the worst since the Depression.  In Springfield, International Harvester, whose predecessor, the Whitely Harvester Manufacturing Company closed over one hundred fifty years ago, rocked on the brink of bankruptcy and fought to stay solvent, laying off hundreds of employees.  Many were St. Joseph parishioners.  Many others were out of work due to businesses relocating to the sunbelt.  The population of Springfield declined by nearly 10,000 during the next ten years.

St. Joseph withstood hard times.  A new group, the Parish Family Organization, combined several men’s and women’s groups into one.  Encouraging members to join as a family, the purpose was threefold.  One was to offer support to the bereaved, the second was visitation to the ill, and the third was social in nature.  Approximately twenty other groups were active.  One such group, the faithful ushers, had the third generation continuing this important service to the church.

The men and boys’ choir continued their tradition uninterrupted since approximately 1902.They sang Gregorian Chant and the works of Palestrina and Bach along with the more recent works of Gelineau and Deiss.  The choir performed in Cincinnati and Dayton.  The highlight of the year was the traditional Midnight Christmas Mass.  The encouragement of the pastor, the dedication of the men and boys and the loyalty of the parents helped the choir continue for so long.  In the 1980’s the choir director was Ann Clifford, who  gave more than fifty-seven years of service to St. Joseph Parish.  She played two daily Masses each day for approximately forty years, accompanied choir rehearsals, and directed hundreds of programs for special events.  Her work and support has made it into a great choir.


The church, built in 1897, was entered into the National Register of Historic Places on March 15, 1982 for its architectural significance.  In 1983, Father Bill Cole of the Society of Mary arrived, to assume the duties of associate pastor.