By Amy Drake
Did you know that this is not the first time that the pastors of Saint Mary Mother of God parish have had to find an alternative space to hold mass?
The community of Saint Mary Mother of God parish has always had a determined spirit. In its over 150-year history Soon after Ohio gained statehood, a community formed in central Ohio and the city of Columbus was planned in 1812 and incorporated in 1816. according to an 1815 census Columbus grew from a population of seven hundred to a city of four thousand residents by 1834.
A significant portion of the populous were Catholics seeking a place to worship together. Their call was heard by Archbishop John E. Purcell of Cincinnati who organized daily mass services held by Father Henry D. Junker at the home of Henry Weiss until St. Remigius Church, Columbus’s first Catholic Church could be constructed in 1838. Within ten years, it was replaced by Holy Cross Church. By 1851 St. Patrick’s Church was built to serve the needs of the English-speaking Catholics. In the 1860s, the rapidly expanding Columbus community of German Catholics who traveled so far from home to make a new life for themselves and their families settling in the south end of Columbus needed a church to call home.
Father J. B. Hemsteger, pastor of Holy Cross Church, and a committee of parishioners selected a plot of land where St. Mary Mother of God parish stands today. Father Hemsteger appointed his assistant pastor, Father Francis Specht, to lead the planning and fund-raising effort. In 1865 a school was built followed by the church. Mass was said in the school during the original construction of Saint Mary’s Church, just as Father Lutz, Father Droll, and Deacon Minner celebrate mass during the restoration today.
Guttman, William. The Story of “Grand Old Saint Mary’s.” Master’s thesis. N.D.
Ohio History Connection, “Ohio History Central: Columbus, Ohio” http://ohiohistorycentral.org/w/Columbus,_Ohio Retrieved 29 May 2017.
Special thanks to Ed Quickert and Fred Wickham for assisting me with materials from the Saint Mary parish archives.