St. Anthony Parish, established in 1889, was the second parish to be formed in Bellevue. At that time, Sacred Heart Parish was predominantly a parish for German-speaking Catholics, as was St. Francis Parish in Dayton. Apart from the Latin used in the Church liturgy, services were conducted in German in these two parishes. As a result, the English-speaking Catholics found it necessary to go to Newport for the reception of the Sacraments, and some had grown noticeably neglectful of their religion, not attending Mass at all. Reverend William Cassander, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, as well as many of the English-speaking Catholics of Bellevue and Dayton, realized that to preserve the Faith of the English-speaking people of those communities and the Faith of their children. It was of utmost importance that a parish be established for the English-speaking population. With the consent of Bishop Maes, the project was undertaken.
Reverend William Ryan, at that time stationed as an assistant priest at St. Mary Cathedral in Covington, was assigned by Bishop Maes to organize a new parish in Bellevue. St. Anthony Parish, as the new parish was known, was organized to care for the spiritual welfare of the English-speaking Catholics of both Bellevue and Dayton. The English-speaking Catholics of Dayton not only solicited the establishment of St. Anthony Parish, but they likewise assisted in its organization and became members of the parish.
A lot was secured at the corner of Sixth Street and O’Fallon Avenue, on the boundary lines of the towns of Bellevue and Dayton, as the site for the new church. But Bishop Maes decided upon the present site of St. Anthony Church as a more suitable location. Bishop Maes declared the parish limits of St. Anthony Parish to be the limits of the towns of Bellevue and Dayton, as far as the English-speaking Catholics of the two towns were concerned. The cornerstone of the first St. Anthony Church was laid by Bishop Maes, on August 11, 1889. On Sunday, October 27, of the same year, the church, which had been erected at a cost of about four thousand dollars, was dedicated by Bishop Maes. In the summer of 1893, the congregation made plans for the building of a new church. On August 6, 1893, Bishop Maes laid the cornerstone of the present edifice. In September of the same year, a parish school was opened under the care of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. The following year, on May 6, 1894, the new St. Anthony Church was solemnly dedicated.
In 1895, Reverend Thomas McGrady was appointed pastor of St. Anthony Parish, being transferred from St. Edward Parish, Cynthiana. Father McGrady is remembered in Bellevue for his stirring sermons on social questions. Crowds thronged St. Anthony Church to hear his Lenten discourses. In his enthusiasm and interest in behalf of the workingman, he, as did many other well-meaning persons at that time, turned to Socialism as an economic movement, failing to recognize that its anti-Christian philosophy rendered it impossible of reconciliation with Catholic Social principles. His connections with the Karl Marx Class of Boston, Massachusetts, which in 1901 became known as the “Boston School of Political Economy,” were most welcomed by Martha Moore Avery, David Goldstein and William R. Dyer, who had organized the Boston School, in the hope of elevating the Socialist Movement. His continued efforts in Social problems led to pastoral irregularities. His pastorate at St. Anthony Parish continued until April, 1902. He died on December 4, 1907, and is buried in the Catholic Cemetery of his native city, Lexington.
Reverend Francis Kehoe was appointed successor to Father McGrady. His pastorate at St. Anthony Parish extended over a period of twenty-six years. He liquidated the parish debt; purchased and remodeled a pastoral residence; secured a convent for the Sisters teaching in the parish school and enlarged the school. In 1928, Father Kehoe was transferred to the Immaculate Conception Parish, Newport. Father Kehoe’s successor was Reverend Thomas J. Coleman, the present pastor. In July, 1929, Father Coleman announced plans for a new parish school. Additional lots situated between the old school and Washington Avenue were purchased. On Sunday afternoon, September 29, 1929, Bishop Howard officiated at the cornerstone laying of the present St. Anthony School. The school was completed by the middle of June, 1930, and was dedicated on June 29 of that year by Bishop Howard. In addition to the parish school, a Commercial course was introduced. In 1950, Father Coleman undertook to complete the parish plant, with the erection of the present modern rectory and convent, constructed of light buff colored brick. St. Anthony Parish today numbers over three hundred and fifty families.
excerpted from History of the Diocese of Covington, Kentucky, on the Occasion of the Centenary of the Diocese, 1853-1953, by Rev. Paul E. Ryan