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Centennial History

Saint Christopher Parish History

(Click on images to view them in their normal size)

The first Mass of the St. Christopher community was celebrated at Rocky River City Hall on May 14th, 1922. The first Mass celebrated in the original church occurred on March 18th, 1923. Note its modest size! You can also see the original high altar and church interior, including the old St. Christopher statue that was just recently replaced. The first St. Christopher Lawn Fete was held in 1925. Perhaps this was first Block Party?

 

St. Christopher School was built in 1926, originally with two classrooms serving four grades. two more classrooms were added in 1929. In 1927 the first church bells were donated, ringing for the first time on Christmas Day (not pictured). 1928 saw the dedication of an outdoor St. Christopher statue. This was followed by a blessing of automobiles in 1929.
1931 saw the first graduating class from St. Christopher School (not pictured). Both the school and the church received expansions during this decade to accommodate the growing parish population. In 1939 the first convent was built, offering housing for up to 10 sisters who serviced our school. Additional pictures included here are a blessing of a baby carriage (1930), a couple of first graders on their first day of school (1931), the 1933 first Communion class, and the 1939 graduating 8th grade class.
A new brick rectory was constructed in 1941 to replace the old farmhouse. Additionally, four more classrooms were added to the school (pictured). In 1942 the first parish newsletter, “The Traveler” was published. A column called “Doughboy Data” kept track of the enlisted men of the parish (pictured).

 

St. Raphael parish was formed in 1946, changing the parish boundaries of both St. Christopher and St. Angela. This moved the parish boundary to Clague Road. Msgr. Patterson, the founding pastor, died in 1947, just three months short of the parish’s 25th anniversary. Fr. Edmund Ahern was appointed pastor shortly thereafter. Also pictured are the first Communion classes of 1942 and 1944.
1949-1950 was an exciting time for the parish. Land was purchased on Hilliard Road for the eventual construction of a new church. However, Bishop Hoban decided to use the land for a girl’s high school. That land would eventually serve as the campus of Magnificat High School. The Diocese of Cleveland compensated St. Christopher for the land by helping to build a new church building on Detroit Road. In 1952, additional land was purchased along Detroit Rd. An architectural firm was hired for the purpose of designing the new church. Construction started in 1953 and was completed 18 months later. At the same time, property on Northview Ave. was purchased to provide an additional entrance to the campus.

 

Also of note, St. Bernadette Parish was established in 1950, resulting in new parish boundaries for both St. Chris and St. Angela.
While the early 50’s saw great joy and growth within our St. Christopher community, the late 50’s started with difficulty. In 1956 a tornado ripped through Rocky River, damaging many buildings on the property including the brand-new rose window of the church.

 

In 1959 more classrooms were added to the school and previous rooms were renovated. This same year saw the debut of “Operation Doorbell,” a mission to take a census of all families within the parish bounds.
New church bells were installed and dedicated in 1961 and have remained to this day. The outdoor statue of Saint Christopher was moved to face Detroit Rd. in 1962. As part of the move it was outfitted with a dramatic marble background.
Soon after celebrating his 50th anniversary as a priest, Msgr. Ahern died in 1966. He was replaced as pastor by Msgr. Bernard Weigand. A new church organ was installed in 1968, offering the same beautiful tones we enjoy today. Additionally, the school library was added the same year, offering a plethora of new resources to our SCS students.
The 1970’s saw continued growth in the St. Christopher community. The first parish council was formed in 1970, consisting of twelve members. The parish celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1972 and formed its first parent-teacher union. Msgr. Weigard retired as pastor in 1973 and was replaced by Fr. Edward Prendergast. Fr. Prendergast visited EVERY Catholic home within the parish boundaries during his time as pastor. Wow!
A feasibility study was conducted in 1976 for the purpose of constructing a new building to serve the needs of the parish. This study was furthered a year later as planning for a new Parish Community Center was underway. These plans were publicly revealed in 1979, the same year the “Christ Renews His Parish” program was implemented.
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