OUR HISTORY

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Putting the times in perspective...in the year 1909 the first night baseball game was played; the North Pole was discovered, the income tax was proposed to the states and Our Lady of Lourdes Parish was founded.


Bishop Chatard found that the property of Mr. and Mrs. John Cusak, at 5317 E. Washington Street, was available, practical and affordable for the new church. On July 10th, the property was purchased for $2,600.00. It was not until November 10th that Father Joseph Poelhuis of Holy Cross Parish was named as the Pastor of the new parish.


On December 6, 1909, the chapel of Our Lady of Lourdes was dedicated. At the dedication, Bishop Chatard spoke of the new parish. “There are, no doubt, many here today who will live to see a great edifice erected and a great congregation worshiping on this site where this little chapel now marks the beginning...” “The erection of this building is the great mark of man's progress, his real progress, that is, his spiritual progress. We have a great many buildings in our city that mark the progress of man. The banks, trust companies and great business houses indicate financial and material progress. The church building marks man's spiritual progress, his best progress, because the church attunes the free will of man to the will of the Divine and virtue results.”


With the growth of the community, the parish expanded quickly; and in 1911, there was a great need for the little church. It was decided that a school was needed, and Father Poelhuis asked the Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenberg for teachers. On April 18, the Parker property was acquired, and the house was used as both school and a convent.


By 1915, a new school was needed. The Parish had already grown from the initial forty families to over two hundred families. The new school building was dedicated on December 19th of that year. It served as both a school and a chapel. It was built on the site of the first chapel. Services were held in the Sister's residence during construction of the new building.


In 1919, Father Poelhuis left, and Father Michael Lyons became Pastor on September 17. Father Lyons immediately formed a Men's Club.


In 1924, Cathedral High School was built, and Lourdes was assessed $25,000 as our share. Parishioners were generous in supporting it and ultimately contributed $37,000.


By 1925, Lourdes was still growing, and two things were done. First, on March 22nd, one hundred families were assigned to the new parish of St. Therese (Little Flower Parish), and second, another building was added which was dedicated on October 3rd as Bernadette Hall. It functioned as an auxiliary school and later as a social hall for the parish.


In 1927, a rash of anti-Catholic feelings resulted in an attempt to burn Our Lady of Lourdes Church. The damage was minimal, but other churches in the city were not as fortunate.


In 1931, the Robert I. Marsh property was purchased for $22,000 and the house was remodeled to serve as a convent. In 1998, after the sisters moved out, the convent was turned into a Parish Center. In 2002, a new Parish Center was constructed on the site.


The Silver Jubilee of the Parish was held in 1934, and plans for a new rectory were announced. The present rectory was completed in June of 1935.


The Mother's Club was started in 1936. Father Lyons was elevated to Domestic Prelate with the title of Reverend Monsignor on December 6, 1938. On October 5, 1940, Monsignor Lyons read the letter from the Bishop accepting his resignation, and he remained at Lourdes as Pastor Emeritus until he died in 1952.


On October 11, 1940, Father James W. Moore was named as Administrator of the Parish. He had served the Parish for five years under Monsignor Lyons from 1932-37. Father Moore began making plans for a new church, and on February 20, 1941, the finalized plans were announced. The church was to be built to fit the architecture of the rectory since both were thought about when the rectory was approved. On June 15, 1941, the last Mass in the old church was celebrated, and Bernadette Hall became the temporary church during construction.


On July 1, 1941, excavation began, and the cornerstone was laid on August 24th. Among the items contained in the cornerstone was a check to Father Moore with a strong admonition that he was not to cash it until they received their interest. The church was completed in 1942.


The first Mass celebrated in the new church was a First Communion Mass with forty-six children. Father Moore felt strongly that they should have the first opportunity to participate in the Eucharistic Celebration in the new church. On June 21, 1942, the formal dedication was held and with this beautiful new landmark on the eastside, Bishop Chatard's prophecy came true.


The present Wickes pipe organ was added in 1951 and used most of the pipes from the original organ installed in 1942.


In 1952, St. Bernadette's Parish and school were built and many Lourdes parishioners became residences of St. Bernadette's because of the newly created geographical boundaries. Father John Herold was the first Pastor.


In 1954, Lyons' Hall was completed, and it was dedicated on March 17th. The building was named after Monsignor Lyons (whose parents were from Ireland). The menu at the dedication was printed in Gaelic, and Helen Kramer played Irish Tunes at dinner. A unique addition was a choir room in the basement with provisions for recording and projection (it is now the computer lab).


Father Moore died in 1956, and Father James Hickey was appointed Pastor. Again, the school was bursting at the seams. The Butler estate was purchased, and a new school was built during Monsignor Hickey's time and dedicated in 1958.


The Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women (ACCW) was organized that year. Father Hickey was elevated to Domestic Prelate in 1960 with the title of Right Reverend Monsignor Hickey. Monsignor Hickey died on Christmas Eve of 1972.


Father Thomas Amsden was made Administrator of Lourdes for seven months until the appointment of a new Pastor, Father Richard Mueller on July, 5, 1973.


Most of the reforms of Vatican II occurred under Father Mueller, including a new Constitution for the Parish in 1974, the formation of a Parish Council, the First Thanksgiving Dinner was held at Lourdes, a Board of Education was formed, a major remodeling of the church occurred and a kindergarten was started. Mr. Charles Eble was also hired by Father Mueller as a part-time Director of Religious Education and later as a lay Pastoral Associate.


Father Francis Buck was appointed as Pastor July 7, 1982. One of the first things Father Buck did was to reorganize the Men's Club. He also asked a retired priest, Father Charles Sexton, to become a resident at Lourdes. Father Sexton stayed for twelve years before moving to St. Paul's Hermitage in 1995.


In 1984, under Father Buck, Lourdes celebrated our Diamond Jubilee and added the ramp to the East door for access for the handicapped; the outdoor grotto in the courtyard; Wall of Fame in the cafeteria. Father Buck hired the first lay principal of Our Lady of Lourdes, Mrs. Antionette Schwering, after the Oldenberg Francisians withdrew Sister Inez Schuman after seventeen years as principal of the school.


The last Francisian sister left three years later ending a continuous presence of Francisians for seventy-five years dating back to 1912. It would be five years before a religious sister would again be principal when Sister Nicolette Ettiene, O.S.B., was hired and became the first Benedictine nun to become active in Lourdes school.


Fatrher Buck died in May of 1994.


Father George Henninger was appointed on October 19, 1994, to be Administrator/Pastor of both Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Bernadette parishes. Father Henninger was native to Little Flower Parish and served as a priest in the Victoria Diocese of Texas. He was the first Pastor at Lourdes with responsibility for two parishes. Father George left in October of 1996.


Father James Farrell became pastor in June of 1997. Also a Little Flower native, Father Jim was ordained in 1975 and was assigned to St. Pius X and later St. Barnabas. He served at St Andrew Parish, Indianapolis and Sacred Heart in Jeffersonville. He was also Dean of the New Albany Deanery and serves on the Board of Fatima Retreat House. After a sabbatical in Uganda, Father Jim began his journey with St. Bernadette and Our Lady of Lourdes parishioners. Father Farrell was reassigned to St. Barnabas in 2002.


In July of 2002, Father J. Nick Dant became our current Pastor. He is a native of Holy Rosary Parish in Indianapolis, but went to grade school at St. Patrick and St. Jude. Fr. Nick was ordained in 1977, and his first assignment was at St. Paul in Tell City, Indiana. His next assignment was in 1978 to Our Lady of Greenwood in Greenwood, Indiana. In 1983 Fr. Nick was assigned as pastor of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Aurora, Indiana. In 1993 he became part time instructor of theology at Marian College and part time associate at St. Simon on the eastside of Indianapolis. In 1995 Fr. Nick went to Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. to begin postgraduate work on a Licentiate in Sacred Theology (STL) degree in systematic theology. In 1998, while continuing his work on his thesis, Fr. Nick took up residence at Holy Spirit Parish and served on weekends where the archdiocese needed him. In July of 1999 he was assigned as Associate Pastor of St. Pius Parish, subsequently becoming Administrator in January of 2002. Having completed his work for Catholic University Fr. Nick was granted his STL in January of 2001.


We consider ourselves blessed through the years under the mantel of "Our Lady", as she referred to herself to St Bernadette Soubirous on February 11, 1858 at Lourdes, France. We welcome all who come to share these blessings with us as each of you becomes part of our Parish History!