Corpus Christi Parish
In 1853, owing to the influx of immigrants from Europe, the first church of Newport had become too small for the Newport congregation. The parish at that time included more than a hundred families. And thus, Father John Voll undertook the erection of a new church. The question of a new site more centrally located for the uptown parishioners was discussed, but it was finally decided to build a new and more spacious church on the site of the old one, with the acquisition of additional property at that site. The plans called for a brick structure, of Gothic design, ninety by fifty feet. The façade was to be crowned by a tall spire in the center and flanked by two graceful turrets. By December of 1854, the church was completed, and on December 24 of that year, it was solemnly dedicated by Bishop Carrell. On March 25, 1861, the city of Newport was visited by a destructive cyclone, and much damage was done to the church, requiring the rebuilding of the turrets.
In the fall of 1863, the Ursuline Sisters of Louisville were invited to Newport to take charge of the parish school. A few years later the existing school was replaced by a three-story building. In 1869, the parish cemetery, which had been acquired much earlier in the history of the parish, was abandoned because of its impracticable location. The same year, twenty acres of land were purchased on the Licking Pike, becoming known as St. Joseph Cemetery.
Although two new parishes, St. Stephen Parish and Immaculate Conception Parish, had been formed from the Corpus Christi Parish, the number of families steadily increased, and the duties of the pastor assumed such proportions that Father Voll was in need of an assistant priest. In September, 1872, Reverend Herbert Thien was appointed as an assistant to the parish. By that time, the church which had been built in 1854 had become too small, and, accordingly, Father Voll planned a thirty-seven foot addition to the church.
The twenty-two year pastorate of Father Voll at Corpus Christi Parish was closed by death on May 19, 1875. Father Thien was appointed as his successor, but six year later poor health forced Father Thien to resign from the responsibilities of the pastorate. In December, 1881, Bishop Toebbe appointed reverend Peter Teutenberg administrator of the parish, who remained in charge until June, 1882, when Father Thien returned to the parish. During Father Thien’s administration, Corpus Christi Parish was for the first time visited by the disastrous floods which eventually necessitated the change of the location of the church to the present site. Devastating floods in three successive years, 1882, 1883, and 1884, proved to be a serious drawback to the development of the parish. In the flood of 1884 the water rose to a height of one foot above the altar table. In spite of this repeated occurrence, the church at that time was again renovated.
In 1894, during the pastorate of Reverend Paul M. Kolopp, the parish celebrated its Golden Jubilee. By that time, the yearly recurrence of the floods in that part of Newport had caused a great number of the parishioners to seek homes in the other parts of the town. In spite of the great sacrifices that had been made toward the maintenance of the church, school and other parish buildings, Father Kolopp had become well aware that the parish would have to make practically a new beginning and locate outside the flood district.
At thaqt time almost two-thirds of the congregation lived in the flood zone. Moreover, there was the question of the depreciation of property situated in the flood area, which would mean a considerable financial loss to the parish by the moving of its location. But Father Kolopp, facing the stern realities, purchased the property on the northwest corner of Ninth and Isabella Streets for the future church. Several years elapsed, however, between the time of the purchase of that site and the beginning of the construction of a church. In 1902, the cornerstone of the church was laid, and on October 4, 1903, Bishop Maes solemnly dedicated the new building, a substantial stone structure, which was to serve the parish as a combination church, school and pastor’s residence. In 1900, the Ursuline Sisters of Louisville were replaced in the parish school by the Sisters of Divine Providence of Melbourne. The Sisters of Divine Providence going to Corpus Christi Parish at that time were Sister Mary of the Cross, Superior, Sister Mary Irene, Sister Mary Henry, and Sister Bernard Henry.
On the death of Father Kolopp, April 26, 1906, Bishop Maes appointed Reverend Matthias Leick as his successor, who served the parish for twenty-two years until the time of his death in 1928. With the many improvements accomplished in the spiritual and material life of the parish, both pastor and parishioners, on the occasion of the Diamond Jubilee of the parish in 1919, were justly proud of the flourishing condition of Corpus Christi parish.
Father Leick’s solicitude for the Christian education of the youth of the parish was expressed in the erection of a high school in 1927, with spacious facilities for a recreational center for the social activities of the parish. The high school, taught by the Sisters of Divine Providence, continued from 1923 to 1930, providing classical and commercial courses for the children of the parish and the vicinity. From 1931 until 1933, classes were neld for boys who desired a two-year course in commercial subjects. In 1933, the building was given over to the use of the parish school. The last project undertaken by Father Leick was the building of a commodious rectory. After its completion Father Leick lived only a few months in the new residence, his death occurring on October 29, 1928.
In March, 1929, Reverend John Kroger, the present pastor, was appointed to the pastorate of Corpus Christi. Father Kroger has zealously endeavored to stimulate the spiritual life of the congregation and to inspire high religious and social ideals in the youth of the parish. During his incumbency, many noteworthy improvements have been made in the parish. In September, 1945, Newport Catholic High School for boys was transferred from its location on Fifth Street to the former Corpus Christi Parish school quarters in the church building at Ninth and Isabella Streets.
Under the direction of Father Kroger, Corpus Christi Parish celebrated its one hundredth anniversary in 1944. The parish today has a congregation of four hundred 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