St. James

In 1886, the English-speaking Catholics of Ludlow, at that time numbering about thirty families, requested of Bishop Maes permission to erect a church of their own in the town of Ludlow. Bishop Maes assigned the Reverend James Kehoe, pastor of St. Ann Parish, West Covington, to the task of organizing the English-speaking residents into a congregation. Father Kehoe began by organizing a Society, known as the “Improvement Society of St. James Church.” The following year, 1887, the Armory Hall on the east side of Carneal Street, between Elm and Oak Streets, was purchased and remodeled for church purposes. The new church was dedicated by Bishop Maes under the patronage of St. James, Apostle and Martyr, on Sunday, May 1, 1887. Until such time as a pastor could be appointed, the congregation was to be cared for by the pastor of St. Ann Parish in West Covington.

On October 1, 1887, Reverend J. Horan was appointed the first resident pastor of the new St. James Parish. Father Horan’s pastorate continued until 1890, at which time he was succeeded by Reverend Edward Burke. During the five-year pastorate of Father Burke, the parish purchased a pastor’s residence on Oak Street. Also under his direction, St. James Parish school was established. In 1891, the parish bought the Odd Fellows Hall on Oak Street, which was remodeled to serve as a parish school. Sisters of Charity of Nazareth were engaged to conduct the school, which opened in September, 1893. For many years the Sisters, making their home at La Salette, journeyed to Ludlow daily until arrangements were made in 1918 to secure a convent home for the Sisters in Ludlow. 

In 1894, Reverend Thomas N. Kehoe, a brother of Reverend James Kehoe who had organized the parish, was appointed pastor. The parish enjoyed extensive development during his pastorate, growing from a comparatively small parish to one of the foremost in the Diocese. Under his direction the present St. James Church and St. James School building were erected. At the time of his death, in 1921, all parish property was free of debt and a fund for a new pastor’s residence had been begun. The cornerstone of the present church was laid by Bishop Maes on October 18, 1903, and on Sunday, October 9, of the following year, it was solemnly dedicated by the Bishop. The erection of the present St. James School was begun in the summer of 1911. Although in use for some time, the school and auditorium were formally dedicated on March 18, 1912.

The present pastor’s residence was erected by Reverend Thomas J. Coleman, and was ready for occupancy by June, 1922. The old rectory at that time was remodeled into a Sisters’ convent. Father Coleman likewise inaugurated the practice of an early Sunday morning Mass at St. James Church for the convenience of railroad workers. 

St. James High School was opened in 1928. Shortly after his arrival as pastor of St. James’ in 1928, Reverend Clement Bocklage, singularly devoted to the cause of Catholic education, realized the need of Catholic high school facilities in the city of Ludlow. With the permission of Bishop Howard, he founded St. James High School. This school he maintained at the cost of great personal sacrifice until the time of his death. As the growth of the school required more space, he moved to the upstairs of the parish rectory, and turned the lower floor over to the use of the high school. St. James High School continued in operation through 1947.

On February 16, 1947, Reverend Leo H. Egbring, the present pastor, was appointed successor to Father Bocklage. At present the congregation consists of two hundred families.


excerpted from Rev. Paul E. Ryan's History of the Diocese of Covington, Kentucky, on the Occasion of the Centenary of the Diocese, 1853-1953