St. Benedict

By the Early Part of the 1880's, the number of Catholics of German descent residing in the southern part of St. Joseph Parish, Covington, known as Austinburg, had grown considerably with the increasing population of the city. For many of the parishioners in Austinburg, the distance to church and school on the northwest corner of Twelfth and Greenup Streets was proving too burdensome. Accordingly, a movement was begun in 1883 to establish a church and school more conveniently located. The main organizers of this movement under the leadership of Christopher Rice, were John H. Hinken, Henry Benzinger, Anton Kreidler, Clem Schweinefuss, St., L. Schreck, Sr., and Charles Bogenschutz. The proposal met with the ready approval of Bishop Toebbe. Under the direction of Very Reverend Aegidius Christoph, O.S.B., Prior and pastor of St. Joseph Parish, meetings were held in the latter part of November and the first part of December, 1883, for the members of St. Joseph Parish residing in the section south of Powell Street, (the name of present Fifteenth Street). A two-story building with a basement to serve as a combination church and school, to be placed under the patronage of St. Benedict, was proposed.

A plot of ground comprising Lot 6 in Block 8 of the Southgate division was chosen as a suitable site and purchased. On October 12, 1884, the cornerstone of the new edifice was laid by Bishop Joseph Rademacher of Nashville. The following July 5, 1885, Bishop Maes dedicated the new St. Benedict Church, a combination church and school, on Sixteenth Street, between Garrard Street and Eastern Avenue. At that time, the congregation numbered about ninety families. St. Benedict Church then became a mission attended from St. Joseph Parish, the actual management of the congregation remaining under the care of Father Aegidius, its organizer, until the time of his death in March, 1887.

Immediately after the completion of the building, a school was opened in the two rooms set apart for that purpose on the first floor, under the charge of the Benedictine Sister of St. Walburg Convent on Twelfth Street. The second floor of the building served as the church. The priest's residence, begun by Reverend Paul Behrens, O.S.B., was completed by Reverend Theodore Schmitt, O.S.B., who, in 1889, became the first resident pastor. During his pastorate the parish was permanently placed in charge of the Benedictine Fathers of St. Vincent Archabbey at Latrobe, Pennsylvania, by Bishop Maes, with the approval of the Holy See given in a document issued in May, 1891.

During the first six years after its organization, the parish had grown steadily, in keeping with the increasing population of Covington, and by 1891, the combination church and school was becoming inadequate for the needs of the parish. Accordingly a piece of property opposite the church, extending from Sixteenth to Seventeenth Streets was purchased by the parish, for the building of a new church. On September 22, 1907, the Very Reverend Ferdinand Brossart, Vicar General of the Diocese, laid the cornerstone for the proposed church, which would have a seating capacity of seven hundred and fifty. Reverend Charles Lindner, O.S.B., took up the work of erecting the new church, begun by his predecessor, Reverend Marinus Ferg, O.S.B., and on December 20, 1908, the present St. Benedict Church, with entrance on Seventeenth Street, was solemnly dedicated by Bishop Maes. Soon after his arrival as pastor in September, 1911, Reverend Adolph Rupprecht, O.S.B., purchased a piece of property east of the new church for the present rectory, which was ready for occupancy by September, 1913. At that time the former parish house on Sixteenth Street became the residence of the Sisters teaching in the parish school, remaining such until the new convent was erected at that site in 1926.

By 1918, the question of an adequate parish school had become acute. In 1922, it was decided to erect a new two-story, ten class-room school building, with an auditorium of six hundred seating capacity. The old combination church and school building on Sixteenth Street, which since the erection of the new church, had been given over completely to school purposes, was razed to make room for the new school. On August 20, 1922, the cornerstone of the new school was laid by Very Reverend Joseph A. Flynn, V. G., and upon completion, the school was solemnly blessed by Right Reverend Aurelius Stehle, O.S.B., Archabbot of St. Vincent Monastery. With the opening of the new school, in addition to the eight grades of elementary school, a Commercial or Business Course of two years was introduced, open to graduates of other Catholic schools of Northern Kentucky.

On the death of Reverend Adolph Rupprecht, O.S.B., Reverend Virgil Niesslein, O.S.B., who had been serving as administrator of the parish, was appointed pastor. His first work was to take up a project which had been under consideration by Father Adolph, the building of a new convent for the Sisters. On June 23, 1927, the Sisters took possession of the present convent on Sixteenth Street, which brought to completion the present St. Benedict Parish plant. St. Benedict Parish today has a congregation of five hundred and five families.


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