St. Mary

The first Catholic church at Alexandria was built in 1860. At that time Alexandria was a typical little county-seat village, with its courthouse, a few shops and trading posts, having a population of less than three hundred. The spirit of the little rural village was evidenced in the annual Alexandria Fair, begun in 1856, as an outstanding yearly event of social significance.

At the time the Diocese was formed, Reverend John Voll, pastor of Corpus Christi Parish, Newport, was attending the congregation. Subsequently, Bishop Carrell placed this station under the care of St. Joseph Parish, at Four Mile Creek. On July 1, 1860, Reverend Lawrence Spitzelberger, pastor of Four Mile, with the permission and encouragement of Bishop Carrell, undertook the erection of a church at Alexandria. The little congregation of thirty families purchased four acres of land on the south side of the town, near the corporation line, which had a hundred and thirty-three feet frontage on on Jefferson Avenue. On September 9, 1860, Bishop Carrell laid the cornerstone of the new church, which was being constructed by Michael Blenke, the father of Reverend Joseph Blenke. On November 25, 1860, Father Spitzelberger, in the absence of Bishop Carrell, dedicated the neat little church in honor of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

During the next four years, St. Mary Church at Alexandria continued as a mission of the Four Mile Parish. In the latter part of July, 1864, Reverend Eberhard Schulte, a newly ordained priest, became pastor of Four Mile, caring for the mission at Alexandria. On January 2, 1865, the congregation purchased the frame house next to the church to serve as a parish rectory. Shortly afterwards, in the same month, Alexandria received its first resident pastor, the Reverend D. Beck. In the fall of 1867, the first parish school was opened in a room adjoining the church, with an enrollment of seventy pupils, Professor A. Maginot being the first teacher. At the close of Bishop Carrell's episcopate, St. Mary Parish had about fifteen hundred souls, with a parish school caring for about two hundred children.

When the parish rectory was destroyed by fire, in 1870, shortly afterwards it was replaced by a brick building. The first part of the present school building was erected in 1875, and on October first, of the following year, the Sister of Notre Dame took charge of the school. The first Sisters to go to Alexandria were Sister Mary Blandina, S.N.D., Sister Mary Regina, S.N.D., and Sister Mary Lamberta, S.N.D. In April 1882, the parish cemetery was surveyed and planned. The following year, December 2, 1883, the lot between the church and the rectory was purchased by the congregation.

When Bishop Maes made his first visit to St. Mary Parish in May, 1885, to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation, the parish extended a cordial welcome to Covington's new Bishop. The young men of the parish riding their spirited horses formed a guard of honor at Youtsey's Hill, about two miles from Alexandria, to await the arrival of the Bishop. They then escorted the Prelate along Alexandria Pike to the church. On November 25, 1885, the congregation celebrated the Silver Jubilee of the establishment of the church.

On March 6, 1889, Reverend Carl Richartz sought permission from Bishop Maes to erect a new church at Alexandria. Permission was granted and plans were immediately begun. In the first part of December, Father Richartz was transferred from Alexandria and on December 11, 1889, Reverend Herbert Thien became pastor of St. Mary Parish. Father Thien took up the project of building the new church which had been so enthusiastically begun by the congregation under the guidance of Father Richartz. On May 15, 1890, the cornerstone of a new church was laid by Bishop Maes. The bricks for the church were made on the church grounds. A little over a year later, October 25, 1891, the present attractive brick church was dedicated by Very Reverend Ferdinand Brossart, V.G.

During the pastorate of Reverend Louis Fey, in 1929, the old rectory was torn down and the present rectory built, being ready for occupancy by May 21, 1930. In 1934, an addition to the parish plant was made in the erection of a two-story brick commodious church hall under the direction of the present pastor, Reverend Francis DeJaco. The Diamond Jubilee of the parish was fittingly observed in 1935.

In December, 1949, the parish acquired the Campbell County public school building, at Alexandria, to be used for a parish elementary and high school. The new Catholic school was dedicated by Bishop Mulloy on Sunday, October 22, 1950, following the observance of Catholic Action Day in St. Mary Parish. The new high school, the first Catholic rural High School in Campbell County opened in September, 1950, with an enrollment of thirty-two freshmen. Each succeeding year a new class has been added to the high school. Besides the students from Alexandria, the high school receives students from rural Campbell County, including the parishes at Camp Springs, Twelve Mile, Melbourne, John's Hill and Cold Spring.

St. Mary Parish today is one of the finest rural parishes in the Diocese. At present, it numbers one hundred and eighty-four families. The elementary school has an enrollment of about a hundred pupils; the high school, an enrollment of about seventy students.


excerpted fromĀ History of the Diocese of Covington, Kentucky, on the Occasion of the Centenary of the Diocese, 1853-1953, by Rev. Paul E. Ryan