St. Cecila

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For Many Years the Catholic congregation at Independence was a station visited by the pastor of St. Paul Parish, Florence. In 1860, Independence had a population of about one hundred and ninety. The foundation for a Catholic church was laid in 1868. But financial difficulties caused a discontinuance of its construction, and Mass continued to be said in the home of one of the parishioners.

The building committee consisted of Henry Slater, Roger Cavanaugh and Tobias Burke, assisted by Mr. Spink, a non-Catholic. The first entry in the baptismal registry at Florence for the St. Cecilia congregation was made on May 15, 1870.

The church was finally completed in 1880, under the direction of Reverend Edward Burke, pastor of St. Paul Parish, Florence (1878-1890), and was dedicated in honor of St. Cecilia. The first Mass in the new church was offered by Father Burke on the third Sunday of November, 1880, which that year preceded the Feast of St. Cecilia.

During the next thirty-nine years (1880-1919), St. Cecilia Mission continued to be attended from Florence, being served by the following pastors of St. Paul Parish: Reverend Edward Burke, 1880-1890; Reverend William E. Gorey, 1890-1892; Reverend Benedict Kolb, 1892-1904; Reverend William Kathman, 1904-1911; Reverend Thomas J. McCaffrey, 1911-1913; Reverend John F. O'Dwyer, 1913-1915; Reverend John Kroger, 1915-1917; Reverend J. M. Lelen, 1917-1918; and Reverend Gerald Connolly, 1918-1919.

In his Pastoral Letter of 1911, noting the progress of the Church in the Diocese, Bishop Maes stated that the Catholic congregation of Independence had bought a track of land a few hundred feet from the old frame church, and that probably within the next few years it would have a resident pastor.

On April 19, 1919, Reverend Henry J. Heringhaus, a young priest not yet four years ordained, and who had been serving as assistant pastor at Mother of God Parish, Covington, since September 13, 1916, was appointed as the first resident pastor of St. Cecilia Parish, Independence. When Father Heringhaus was sent to Independence, the first thing confronting him was the building of a new church. The congregation at Independence had suffered the loss of its church on the night of Sunday, March 23, 1919. At that time, Father Gerald Connolly was attending Independence from Florence. Fire was discovered about an hour after the evening Lenten devotions. But it had gained such a headway that nothing could be done to save the church. The building and all its furnishings were completely destroyed. In the meantime, until the present church was completed, Mass was held in the courthouse. A temporary chapel was set up in the home of one of the parishioners, where the Blessed Sacrament was reserved.

Three weeks after the fire, Bishop Brossart appointed Father Heringhaus resident pastor of Independence. Father Heringhaus set about immediately to make plans for a new church to be erected on the present church site, which had been previously purchased by Father Thomas McCaffrey. It was decided to build a brick church which would accommodate about two hundred and fifty persons. On July 27, 1919, the cornerstone of a new edifice was laid, and on November 30 of the same year, the dedication of the present attractive St. Cecilia church took place. After the completion of the church, the erection of a pastoral residence and a parish school was undertaken. A brick rectory, harmonizing in architecture with the church, was erected at that time. A temporary frame school building, sufficiently adequate to serve the immediate needs of the parish, was likewise built.

On Sunday, June 2, 1930, the parish celebrated the Golden Jubilee of the erection of St. Cecilia Church. Father Heringhaus' pastorate continued until August 11, 1932, at which time he was transferred to Sacred Heart Parish, Bellevue.

During the pastorate of Monsignor Joseph A. Lubrecht, the development of the parish plant has taken a step forward with the erection of a modern parish rectory. The former rectory became the residence of the Sisters of Divine Providence who teach in the parish school.

St. Cecilia parish at present has about one hundred and sixty families.

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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