Our History

This page contains a thorough history of our parish, thanks to the diligent efforts of parishioner Mary Ellen Wittekind. Although she has passed away, we know she is still looking out for the parish she loved. Our sincere thanks to Mary Ellen for investing her time, energy, and talents in this extensive project. This history has been updated periodically since her passing.

The 1960s: The Building Years

In August 1961, Fr. Francis J. Flanagan was given the assignment by the Archbishop of Cincinnati to begin a new parish in northern Hamilton County. The parish, St. Bartholomew, started with 17 acres of farmland (on which were a farmhouse and a small barn) and an area of responsibility that included many young families in newly developing subdivisions. Fr. Flanagan, aided by Associate Pastor Fr. William Huseman, and later by Frs. Fred Bruening and Robert Keller, sought out the Catholics assigned to the new parish and built them into an enthusiastic and dedicated parish family.

In early 1962, while the former Kolping Grove on Winton Road was the site of Sunday Masses, construction was begun on a new building on parish grounds. The entire first floor of this building was designed for the celebration of the Eucharist, while the second floor contained classrooms. When the school began in September of 1962, there were 334 children in grades two through five. Four Sisters of St. Francis from Oldenburg, Indiana, headed by Principal Sr. Mary Mark Deters, moved into a prefabricated home built near Winton Road and taught in the school, together with four lay women. In the late 1960s, when the increased school enrollment necessitated converting the first floor worship space into classrooms, the church-rectory-convent complex was built. The new church building was dedicated on December 21, 1969.

Numerous parish traditions and organizations were developed during the 1960s. CCD (religion) classes for children not enrolled in the parish school were begun in 1962. Family devotions to the Sacred Heart were promoted, and the first parish picnics were held in the backyard of the farmhouse rectory.

Fr. Flanagan organized and chaired the first Parish Council, which consisted of clergy, religious, and lay men and women. In 1962, the St. Anne’s Altar Rosary Sodality for women and the Holy Name Society for men were formed while the Athletic Boosters fielded their first football teams. 1965 saw the beginning of a St. Vincent de Paul group at St. Bartholomew.

Major fund drives were held to finance the building projects, and parish festivals were undertaken to provide additional income. In the early festivals, the major raffle was called the “Penny Cadillac” because chances on the automobile were only one cent each.

The lay people of St. Bartholomew have always taken active roles in Parish activities. In addition to the leaders of the organizations named above, the parish choir was lead in the 1960s by Jack Matre and later by Paul Abbinante. The volunteer coordinator of the preschool CCD classes was Gloria Vesper.

The 1970s: A Decade of Change

The decade of the ’70s brought many changes to our parish. Our founding pastor, Fr. Flanagan, was succeeded in 1974 by Msgr. Lawrence Breslin who was in turn followed in 1978 by Fr. John Porter. We also were served in these years by a series of seven Associate Pastors and resident priests (Frs. J. Dennis Jaspers, Richard Dressman, Harold Cullen, Dennis Caylor, Rick Walling, Robert Marine and John Wolbert) who each contributed significantly and left their imprints on our parish family. The Permanent Deaconate was established by the Archdiocese, and two laymen from our parish, Manuel Vilaboy and Michael Ascolese, were ordained as deacons.

Our parish traditions and organizations underwent change during this time also. A major fund drive was held to increase parish income and the festival was discontinued. While the Sodality and Men’s Society activities decreased, an organization for older adults, The Northern Lites, was begun.

Several major projects were accomplished in the ’70s. A displaced Vietnamese family was adopted by the parish. This effort was spearheaded by Marilyn Wilke and Deacon Bill Brown, with Al and Charlotte Wilson providing temporary living quarters for this family of eight. Christ Renews His Parish, a faith renewal program, was begun in 1979.

The role of the laity also increased during this time. Lectors, distributors and liturgy planners joined the more traditional roles of ushers and musicians for our liturgical celebrations. The Extraordinary Eucharistic Ministers even began to make Sunday visits to the sick and homebound. A guitar group led by Clarice Chism was added to our music ministry.

The leadership of Parish Council passed to the laity as Bob Becker, Peg Hoban, Elmer Obermeyer, Marilyn Wilke and Al Hidalgo chaired this advisory group during this decade. Gloria Vesper volunteered as director of both the preschool and elementary CCD until 1976 when the parish hired Sr. Marietta Sharkey, O.S.F. as its Director of Religious Education (DRE), a position she held for three years. Mary Lou Veerkamp followed her in 1979. In the school, our first lay principal, Thomas Coors, succeeded the Franciscan Sisters Mary Mark Deters, Barbara Hirt, Philip Marie Geiser and Mary Rose Geckle.

The 1980s: New Programs, New Personnel

Before the close of the 1980s, the parish would pay off its mortgage to the Archdiocese and our fourth pastor, Fr. William Krumpe, would be welcomed to St. Bart’s. Both of these events occurred in the summer of 1989 when Fr. John Porter was assigned to a new parish in Butler County. By 1989, the shortage of priests was evident when the Archdiocese could no longer provide us with an associate pastor, and Fr. John Wolbert, Fr. Ken Ruzick and Fr. Thomas DiFolco, each of whom served here during the ’80s, were transferred to other duties. We were more fortunate than many other parishes because “in residence” here were retired Msgr. Earl Whalen and Fr. Robert Hasselhoff. However, lay men and women were empowered to participate more fully in the spiritual aspects of the parish. For example, they now presided at communion services daily at 6:15 am and at noon during Lent when a priest was not available to celebrate Mass.

In our church, the Risen Christ sculpture was added to the sanctuary, and air conditioning was installed to combat our steamy summer weather.

In 1980, declining enrollment and rising costs in the school spurred us to form St. Bartholomew Consolidated School with Corpus Christi and St. John Neumann parishes. The consolidation was very successful and kindergarten classes were added to the school’s program. The annual school enrollment was approximately 800 students in grades kindergarten through eight. The decline in the number of nuns teaching in our school precipitated the closing of our convent. This building was remodeled and serves now as our Parish Office.

The Network of Care and Communications, a broad-based program addressing some of the physical and emotional needs of our parishioners, was begun under the direction of Fr. Wolbert, Charlotte Wilson and Lois Bedenk. Under this umbrella were gathered the programs of hospital visitations, emergency home and child care, bereavement, and prayer support, to name a few. Ruth Ann Doerger, Donna Haun and Beverly Frank served as volunteer coordinators of the program until Sharon Pardi was hired as Pastoral Associate to head the Network.

Other personnel changes during this decade included the addition of Beverly McCreanor as Youth Minister and the hiring of Dianne Reynolds as our new DRE. Dan Fuerst was chosen as our first Music Minister, a position he would hold from 1981 to 1992. Principals of the consolidated school were Melanie Bair (1980-81), Sr. Katherine Ann Beimesche, O.S.U. (1981-1987), and Dorothy Lindsey (1987-1996). Our secretaries for the parish staff included Dudie Schaefer, Mary Boback and Grace Hafele. Serving as Parish Council Chairs during the 1980s were Elmer Obermeyer, George Laughlin, Allen Birkmeyer, Joe Chism, Joe Crowe, Skip Borgman, and Bill Sander.

The 1990s: The Active Years

During the last decade of the twentieth century, St. Bartholomew was shepherded by Fr. William Krumpe, pastor until 1998. Fr. Thomas A. Snodgrass was then our pastor for one year (1998-1999) until ill health necessitated the appointment of Fr. Ray Kellerman (who had been our Associate Pastor) as Temporary Administrator for approximately a year. Illness also forced Msgr. Whalen and Fr. Hasselhoff to retired from active duties. In July 1999, Fr. Joseph Binzer officially joined us as Resident Associate while working full time at the archdiocesan Tribunal Office. In 1988, our parish was again blessed to have a parishioner, Conrad Kolis, ordained to the Permanent Deaconate; Conrad played a significant role in our liturgies and sacramental programs.

Also during this decade, Michael Bernert became our Music Minister, Larry Ungerer our Pastoral Associate, and Jenny Luchsinger our Director of Religious Education. A new position of Business Manager was filled by James Faller and later by Skip Borgman. Jim VonderMeulen was hired as a custodian and Stan Muse became our computer expert. Our parish secretaries included Gloria Vesper, Joyce Bierman, Mary Boback and Sandy Dillenburger. Parish Council Chairs were Paul Dillenburger, Mary Ellen Wittekind, Conrad Kolis, Elise Fessler, Chip Burwinkel, Ted Alverson and Jackie Barron.

The youth of the parish participated in some exciting events during this decade. Under the direction of Fr. Bill Krumpe and adult volunteers, they raised money through numerous service projects to finance trips to Denver and Paris, France to see Pope John Paul II at World Youth Days. In addition, they traveled to West Virginia and Wisconsin on mission trips of service to residents there. In 1998, Jodie Bender was hired jointly by our parish and neighboring St. Vivian Parish as Director of Youth Ministry. She continued and expanded the program for our junior high and high school students.

Our dream of a Parish Activity Center became a reality in 1994 through the hard work and planning of a group of parishioners led by Skip Borgman and a successful fund drive chaired by Fritz & Betty Shadley and Bill &  Judy Sander. This facility is used for parish functions and sports programs as well as for the school’s physical education classes. In this new center, the first of many stage productions by the Bart’s Bards was presented in 1995.

In our church, the sanctuary was refurbished with a new altar, new or refinished chairs, lectern and baptismal font, and our tabernacle was fitted with Plexiglas doors. New carpeting was installed throughout the church, and outdoor electronic bells now call parishioners to services.

A renewal program of small Christian communities (also referred to as Faith Inspired Renewal Experience or FIRE) replaced Christ Renews His Parish. Vacation Bible School and Liturgy of the Word for Children during Sunday Mass were also new features. Our parish library was reopened and a Knights of Columbus Council was begun.

Through the efforts of the Long Range Planning Committee headed initially by Bob DeSalvo and later by Margery Sowell, a Parish Mission Statement was adopted and a long range plan developed. The summer festival returned in 1992, and a quarterly parish newsletter, the BartholoNEWS, was begun.

Our consolidated school remained strong with an enrollment between 700 and 800 students from the three parishes. A latch key program was added to provide care for children before and after school hours. Principals included Dorothy Lindsey, Anne Crowe and Gerry Myers. School secretaries, Mary Wagner and Lucille Brown, retired in 1998. Mary had completed 29 years of service to our schoolchildren and Lucille 19 years.

The 2000s: A New Millenium

St. Bartholomew welcomed our sixth pastor, Fr. Robert Farrell, in the summer of 2000. We said farewell to Fr. Kellerman, Fr. Binzer and
Deacon Kolis as they moved to new assignments.

During his pastorate, Father Farrell introduced new programs of adult religious education and faith formation and also emphasized a greater awareness of our social justice responsibilities. Among many spiritual opportunities was the 2002 Parish Mission. Social Justice Activities included volunteering at the Drop Inn Center, Our Daily Bread and Tender Mercies as well as helping our own members with home repairs and yard work. A Parish Town Hall was held in 2008 to gather ideas and input from parishioners to plan for the parish’s future.

Bishop Carl Moeddel visited the parish in November 2000 to preside at the Dedication Ceremony when the name of the Parish Activity Center was changed to the Fr. William Krumpe Center. This was to honor our former pastor who had died earlier that year. Also, a new organ was installed in our worship area and Italian-made stations, which include a 15th station, the Resurrection, were purchased.

In 2008, the consolidated school changed its name to John Paul II Catholic School in honor of the late pope. At the same time, the parishes of Our Lady of the Rosary and St. Clare joined St. Bartholomew parish in the consolidation. During this decade the principals included Mary Carver, Sharon Willmes and Leanora Roach. In these years, our parish had as many as 225 children in the consolidated school.

The participation of our teenagers in liturgical, pastoral and social ministries was realigned under the umbrella of “Youth Connection”. Mission trips by the youth and adult helpers continued, including trips to the Gulf Coast devastated by Hurricane Katrina. During this decade our parish numbered approximately 900 active families. Parish Council Chairs included Steve McGraw, Bart Kohler, Dan Depperman, John Ceddia,
John Slone, Regina Rothan, Janet Strecker, and Linda Kohler.

A number of changes in the staff occurred during these ten years. Our Music Ministers included Michael Bernert, Susan Hack, Jeremy Helmes and Paul Bresciani. The Directors of Religious Education were Lucinda Anderson, Pat Douglas and Suzanne Engel. Our other Pastoral Associates were Chris Bruewer, Sr. Janet Schneider, Sr. Ruth Kluemper and
Sandy Hornbach.

Skip Borgman, and later John Finn, served as Business Managers. The Office Staff included Terri Scheper, Joyce Bierman, Joanne Statt,
Gloria Vesper, Stan Muse, and Craig Auberger, while Jim VonderMeulen and Dan Radford supervised our parish maintenance.

The 2010s: A Milestone

Our Seventh pastor, Fr. Patrick Welsh, came mid-2009. The celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Founding of St. Bartholomew was one of the highlights of the 2010 years. Spearheaded by our pastor Fr. Pat and aided by the parishioners, 2011 was a great year of events, remembrances, and written histories that has given rise to gratitude to God for the outstanding first half-century of our parish.

Archbishop Dennis Schnurr presided at our anniversary liturgy on August 28, 2011 when current and former parishioners, as well as many priests and deacons who served our parish, gathered to celebrate the occasion. In September 2011, a special Mass and picnic was held to honor and thank the 90 to 100 men and women who were founding members and have remained in St. Bart’s for the entire 50 years. In addition, a “Fun Day” was held at the neighboring Powel Crosley YMCA in July when parish members could swim, play games, enjoy bingo, or just eat and visit with each other. In preparation for the anniversary events, the cornerstone in the church was removed, but found to be empty. In August 2012, the cornerstone was filled with memorabilia from the first 50 years of the parish, closed, and reinstalled in the church wall.

Another cause for celebration occurred in June 2011, when our former associate pastor, Fr. Joseph Binzer, was ordained a bishop and was named Auxiliary Bishop of the Cincinnati Archdiocese.

In the church, the altar and the credence table were enlarged. New triple pane windows were installed in the nave in 2012, and the vestibule enlarged by enclosing the entrance areas with new doors and windows. The entrance to the office was remodeled to provide a handicap accessible entrance and greater security for the staff. The rooms in the rectory were freshly painted and the kitchen updated. In the Krumpe Center, the Athletic Association spearheaded a drive to finance a new gym floor and other upgrades, especially to the kitchen.

In 2014, the parish “adopted” seminarian Tim Fahey as a way of offering prayers and support for a seminarian. Tim was ordained a transitional deacon in April 2015 and his elevation to the priesthood was in the spring of 2016.

A unique event happened on July 1, 2015 when our parish and our neighboring parish, St. Vivian, became collaborating parishes sharing one pastor. A decreasing number of priests in our archdiocese necessitated the sharing of pastors as an alternative to closing churches. Over the years, these two parishes had already cooperated in many ways – for example, sharing festival equipment, having combined grade-school-age sports teams, and playing bridge in each other’s card marathons. Being “sister” parishes now is leading to other ways to work together, such as a combined Vacation Bible School and a “collaborative” bulletin. The staffs of both congregations are working together to provide opportunities to their members that just one parish might not be able to do.

Archbishop Dennis Schnurr named Fr. Jerry Hiland as the pastor of our new Blessed Saints Pastoral Region. Father had previously been the pastor of four parishes in the Clermont County Pastoral Region. Fr. Welsh was assigned as an associate to St. Albert the Great Parish in Dayton. Sharing one pastor does not come without some significant challenges, but the two visiting priests who had been assisting Mass at St. Vivian’s
(Fr. Kenan Freson, OFM and Fr. Ed Pigott, SJ) agreed to continue with the new collaboration.

St. Bartholomew Parish was blessed to have two permanent deacons, Deacon Gerry Flamm and Deacon Conrad Kolis; Deacon Mike Ascolese “retired” from active duty. Others currently on our Pastoral Staff included Milt Goedde (Music and Liturgy), Amy Staubach (Regional Youth Minister), and Sandy Hornbach (Regional Pastoral Associate). Kathy Rothschild is our Regional Business Manager assisted by Donna Fledderjohn. Joanne Statt was secretary and bulletin editor.

The parish ministered to about 679 families. John Paul II Catholic School had about 130 students in pre-school through the eighth grade who were parishioners of St. Bart’s Parish. Mrs. Leanora Roach continued as principal.

In the summer of 2016, we welcomed Seminarian Elias Mwesigye. Elias was a wonderful fit for our parish. He attended many meetings, went on outings with various groups, helped with the liturgies, visited the school, and totally made himself at home at St. Bart’s and St. Vivian’s. He became a deacon in April 2018 and a priest for the Archdiocese in May 2019. His first Mass, celebrated at St. Bartholomew, was attended by many African family members and friends.

In April, 2018, the Trinity Memorial Garden, an idea of parishioner Ray Rom to remember his wife Carolyn, was dedicated by Bishop Binzer. Each brick bears the name of a beloved parishioner or family member or friend who have died. The Garden is located in front of the Parish Office. Also at this time, parishioner Tyler Weingartner constructed a prayer garden in front of the rectory for his Eagle Scout Project.

Our narthex update was completed in August of 2018. We added more restrooms and drinking fountains; replaced the “Cry Room” with a “Prayer Room”; added meeting space especially for religious instruction; and allowed for easier entry for our disabled and elderly parishioners. The space is wonderful for socializing. Committee members were: Mike Scott (chair), Bill Mauntel, Steve McGraw, Roy Bauer,  Dan Depperman, Diane Eisele, and Joanne Statt. Architect Chip Williamson of Chameleon Architecture and builder Miller Valentine completed the team.

The 2020s: Coping With Change

Our newest seminarian, Chibueze Asiegbulem from Nigeria, arrived in the summer of 2019 to live in the rectory and learn about parish life. His love of the liturgy and theology was evident from the start. He became Deacon Chibueze in April, 2021, and was ordained to the priesthood in May, 2022.

Adjusting to the COVID-19 Pandemic was a challenge. For about 10 weeks in 2020, including most of the Lenten and Easter seasons, we had Mass online only. School, sports, and meetings were curtailed. We were in a social desert, told to quarantine at home. How grateful we were to return to church on Memorial Day, even though we had to wear face masks and sit 6 feet apart. But at least we had the Eucharist again! By June 2021, most COVID restrictions were lifted and we were feeling “normal” again.

The pandemic affected our attendance; we have about 530 families. Now that COVID is behind us, we look forward to working with our new Church families in the S-7 Region: St. Vivian (who was our sister parish for seven years), St. Clare in College Hill, Church of the Assumption in Mt. Healthy, St. Bernard in Spring Grove and Mother of Christ in Winton Terrace.