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First Mass is celebrated with Fr. Schneider presiding. At year end, 135 people in 50 families
||Parish Hall purchased and renovated.|
||Fr. Heitker named the new pastor; weekly bingo begins in Mason Town Hall.|
||Fr. Clarence Issenmann was named pastor; second Sunday mass is added.|
||Fr. Alexander Koenig was appointed pastor, rectory is purchased and weekday masses are available.|
||First parish "Mission"|
||St Susanna school opens 94 families; school opens with 35 students in four grades.|
||A third Sunday Mass is added. School adds fifth grade.|
||Block Rosary Group card parties are begun to raise funds for church furnishings. Third Sister added, six grades now taught. |
On Easter Sunday, April 17, 1938, a newly formed parish gathered to celebrate mass for the first time in the city of Mason, Ohio. They worshipped in a little white chapel built (at a cost of $15,000) by Dominican Brother Bertram - the first of ten such chapels he would build in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Plans for this new parish had actually begun with the purchase of the property in 1936. It was all done rather quietly, since the Ku Klux Klan was very active in Warren County at the time, and it was felt that Catholics might not be welcomed with open arms. To forestall any interference, the deed of the property was not transferred to the Archdiocese until after the church was already built. The Right Reverend Monsignor Joseph Schneider, Rector of Mt. St. Mary Seminary, was named administrator of the new parish.
The year 1938 saw many firsts for this new "People of God." On June 6th, Goldie Ann Snider, daughter of Raymond and Ann Johnson Snider, became the first infant to be baptized. Her brother, Jacob Lee, 3, was also baptized that day. On June 22nd, Rheba Elizabeth Sawyer became the bride of James Edward Becker. That same month religious education began in the parish with summer classes conducted by the Sisters of Notre Dame De Namur from Reading, Ohio.
Seven people were baptized in 1938. Four weddings occurred and sixteen children received First Communion. In the fall, nineteen people were confirmed by Bishop George Rehring. By year's end, the little parish consisted of 50 families, numbering 135 people.
St. Susanna was chosen for the patroness of the parish as a way of honoring Susanna Hinkle. Mrs. Hinkle, a convert to Catholicism, was a benefactor of many religious institutions in the Cincinnati area, including Xavier University and the Summit Country Day School. Her generous financial support enabled the Catholics of Mason to see a dream come true in the establishment of their own parish.
Other people, whose names are lost to us, also contributed unselfishly to make the new chapel suitable for worship. Parish records show that the purchase of an organ, tabernacle and sanctuary furniture were all financed by private donations. The statues of Mary and Joseph were a gift of the Brewster family. The statues were hand-carved of wood by Giocoma V. Mussner of Bolzano, Italy. They were delivered in February, 1939, and are still in use in the current church building.
In February, 1939, a bungalow and garage (both later torn down) on property adjoining the church were purchased for $2,700 with the aid of a loan for that amount from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. The bungalow was renovated to serve as a parish hall. The garage was turned into a kitchen where meals were prepared for the first annual St. Susanna Festival and Chicken Dinner, held that summer. It netted approximately $1,600. Most of this was sent to the Archdiocese as payment on the note.
Weekly bingos began in January 1940. They were held in the Mason Town Hall, and were not without controversy. The February 15th edition of "The Warren County News" printed objections from citizens to using public property for such a questionable activity. Fr. Schneider responded with a letter to the editor explaining the Catholic Church position on bingo and gambling in general. The Village of Mason officials concluded that no harm was being done, and allowed the games to continue. Bingo has remained an uninterrupted Tuesday night tradition in the parish up to the present time.
On August 1, 1940, Fr. William Heitker was appointed to succeed Fr. Schneider as administrator of St. Susanna, while continuing his duties as pastor of St. John Church in West Chester, and St. Rita School for the Deaf in Evendale. Fr. Heitker, who had been living at the seminary, moved to West Chester on August 14th. Almost immediately, Fr. Heitker asked permission of the Archdiocese to buy a house on the property adjoining St. Susanna Church for use a rectory. The house was owned by the Brewster family, who were parishioners. Mrs. Brewster was also the parish organist.
In July 1941, Fr. Clarence Issenmann was named pastor. Fr. Issenmann received permission to celebrate two masses each Sunday for the growing congregation. The Rosary Altar society was already in place that year, and they held a Christmas party for their members.
In September, 1942, Fr. Alexander Koenig was appointed pastor, and would remain so for twelve years. The next month the purchase of the Brewster home was completed and Fr. Koenig moved in. This made weekday masses possible. Fr. Koenig found that heating the poorly insulated church each day was too expensive, so weekday masses were said in a little sitting room which was attached to the sacristy. This room was also used for Sunday catechism classes. In 1943, the Holy Name Society, dedicated to honoring the Holy Name of Jesus, was started in the parish. The following year "Rural Life Sunday" was established as an annual event. It began with High Mass in the morning followed by dinner in the Town Hall. Educational programs and recreational events were featured in the afternoon.
The first parish "Mission" was held April 7-14, 1946. It consisted of preaching and devotions each night, and was conducted by Fr. Leonard J. Vonderbrink. The pastor noted that he was pleased with attendance.
By the tenth anniversary in 1948, the parish had grown to 94 families. Rosary devotions and Benediction were conducted each Friday evening. The Holy Name Society, Sacred Heart League, Catholic Rural Youth Organization and Ladies Rosary-Altar Society were all meeting regularly. Ground was broken for a school building consisting of two classrooms and an office on the upper level, and a parish hall and lavatories below. The school opened in September 1948, with 35 pupils in four grades. Two Sisters of Notre Dame staffed the two classrooms. The building cost $45,341.23. $3,800 was spent for a school bus and some remodelling was done to the rectory at a cost of $2,096.05. To mark the anniversary, Mr. Laurence Rapp, a parishioner who was a musician, wrote a Mass in honor of St. Susanna. It was submitted to the Chancery and approved for use. A copy of this Mass is kept in the parish archives.
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Our First School
Sister Mary &
Sister Helen Therese
Our First Group of
In 1949, a fifth grade was added to the school, with all grades being taught by two Sisters. A bus garage with overhead storage was built, and a parish parking lot-playground was paved. Fr. Koenig celebrated the Silver Jubilee of his Ordination with a parish dinner and reception. The parish now consisted of 340 people and it was necessary to add a third Mass on Sunday. A Glenmary priest was assigned to assist Fr. Koenig with Sunday Masses.
Photos from the
1949 Parish Festival.
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A week's Mission was held in February, 1950, directed by Fr. Theodore Engst, C.S.S.R. In September another sister was added to the staff, making it possible for six grades to be taught. The following year a four-classroom addition was built, and the original concrete building was faced with brick to match the new addition.
Following World War II an interest in the message of Our Lady of Fatima had developed throughout the United States. In answer to her request to pray the rosary for peace, neighborhood Block Rosary groups were formed and met each week in homes to pray. In September 1950, a Block Rosary group in this parish began to have card parties to raise money for altar and church furnishings (the parish was still considered a mission and most of the furnishings were hand-me-downs). The first card parties were held in members' homes, but the crowd soon grew so large that the games were moved to the church hall. Over the years, the group has purchased an organ, vestments, and many altar furnishings [some of these were still in use in 1988 when this history was written]. They have provided funds for building renovation, most recently for the new glass doors in the rear of the school building. In all, over $16,000 has been raised for the parish by these dedicated people. The parish truly appreciates their efforts.
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