St. Augustine Parish
St. Augustine Parish, established in 1870, was the fifth German parish to be established in the city of Covington. It embraced the southern part of the city, its boundary line extending six miles to the south. At the time of the organization of the parish in Peaselburg, the surroundings were merely a village, with scattered homes. But the influx of Catholics into this section was rapid during the next few years, and by the end of 1877, the congregation had grown so large that, with the permission of the Bishop, Reverend William Robbers, the third pastor of the parish, organized a new congregation in that part of the parish in the vicinity of Decoursey, St. Anthony Parish being erected the following year (1878). When St. Benedict Parish was erected on Sixteenth Street, in 1885, east of St. Augustine Church, many of the members of the new congregation were former parishioners of St. Augustine Parish. Five years later, in 1890, the congregation again required a division, and Bishop Toebbe directed Reverend Paul Abeln, the pastor, to organize a parish in the section of Milldale, present Latonia.
St. Augustine Church was named in honor of the patron Saint of the new Bishop of Covington, Most Reverend Augustus Maria Toebbe, D.D. On June 19, 1870, the cornerstone was laid for a combination church and school, and on the following October 16, 1870, the new two-story edifice, ninety by thirty-three feet, was dedicated, the Reverend L. Neumeier being appointed the first resident pastor. In February, 1871, Father Neumeier was succeeded by Reverend Joseph Goebbels. During his pastorate, Father Goebbels undertook several projects to enhance the parish property, which he was unable to carry to success, and as a result the parish suffered a complete financial failure.
In 1877, Reverend William Robbers was appointed pastor of St. Augustine Parish. Four years later, in 1881, Father Robbers and the Board of Trustees organized a corporation which was known as the “Roman Catholic German Church of Central Covington, Kentucky.”
Father Robbers was transferred from St. Augustine’s in December, 1879. His successor, Reverend Clement Jesse, because of ill health, could not engage in any extensive parish activities. On his death in June, 1883, Bishop Toebbe appointed Reverend Paul Abeln pastor of the struggling congregation which had been a victim of mismanagement and subject to extreme embarrassment.
St. Augustine Parish owes much to Father Abeln. He brought order out of chaos, readjusting all the financial matters and reconstructing the temporal and spiritual affairs of the parish with such splendid success that the parish was able to begin a fund for a new church. Father Abeln worked diligently to meet the obligation of paying off the notes of the corporation.
Father Abeln by his laborious fidelity to the parish, endeared himself to the congregation, striving until his death, April 10, 1911, to raise funds for a new St. Augustine Church which was much needed and which was eagerly desired by the parishioners. On May 11, 1911, Bishop Maes appointed Reverend William F. Kathman pastor of St. Augustine Parish. Father Kathman built on the excellent work that had been done by Father Abeln. As the corporation of the parish had expired by limitation, Father Kathman restored the parish to its original title. Under the conditions of the corporation, it had been impossible for the congregation to build a new church, since the congregation was not permitted to incur a debt in excess of fifteen thousand dollars. With this restriction removed from the parish, Father Kathman instituted steps for the building of a new church. With the permission of Bishop Maes, a tract of land, consisting of sixty-six hundred square feet, at the corner of Nineteenth Street, between Jefferson and Euclid Avenues, was purchased. The property had four residences on it. Two of the frame buildings on the property were sold; a brick residence on the corner of Nineteenth Street and Euclid Avenue was moved to a lot of Jefferson Avenue for a Sisters’residence behind the school. The pastor'’ residence was located behind the school on Euclid, conveniently near the church sacristy. It was planned that the new church would face Nineteenth Street, leaving sufficient frontage for a school west of the church. Work on the church was begun May 8, 1913, and by the middle of June, 1914, the new structure was under roof. On Sunday, December 20, 1914, the present St. Augustine Church, constructed of a chocolate color rough brick, Italian Renaissance in architectural style, with a highly artistically designed interior, was solemnly dedicated by Bishop Maes. At that time St. Augustine congregation numbered two hundred and ten families.
After the completion of the church, Father Kathman next turned his attention to the erection of a parish school. Permission to proceed was obtained from the Very Reverend Ferdinand Brossart, Administrator of the Diocese, and work was begun in the fall of 1915. In January, 1916, the cornerstone was laid, and on September 10, 1916, the present school was dedicated by Father Kathman. A home for the Sisters was then purchased in the rear of the school.
By June 20, 1920, when St. Augustine Parish celebrated its Golden Jubilee, under the wise guidance of Fathers Abeln and Kathman, it had become a flourishing parish, with one of the best organized congregations in the city of Covington. Father Kathman’s pastorate continued until his death, March 14, 1926.
On March 25, 1926, Bishop Howard appointed Reverend Charles A. Woeste, the present pastor, to the pastorate of St. Augustine’s. In 1945, Monsignor Woeste renovated the entire interior of the church. One of the features of the renovation was the acoustical insulation of the panels of the ceiling and walls of the church, correcting a twelve second echo. These were the first improvements necessary for St. Augustine Church since its erection in 1914, St. Augustine Parish today has about five 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