I’d like to tell you more about the history of the parish since we’re celebrating the 70th Anniversary of the Parish this year. But first I want to let you know that Bishop Perez will be here on Saturday, September 1st, to celebrate the 4pm Mass. This will be his first visit to St. Leo the Great & we will use it as an opportunity to give thanks to God for the blessings of these past 70 years. You will have a chance to meet the Bishop personally in Lux Hall after the Mass where we will have some refreshments available to you. We look forward to meeting the Bishop in person and welcoming him here to St. Leo the Great Church.
Back to our parish’s beginnings. I had already written about how the First Mass of the Parish was celebrated in the Auditorium of Ben Franklin School on Sunday, October 17, 1948, and how a bulletin announcement from Our Lady of Good Counsel (currently Mary Queen of Peace) announced the start of this new parish to be called St. Leo the Great. At the time, Our Lady of Good Counsel had their first Sunday Mass at 6:00 a.m. so Father Lux, the first Pastor, decided to have Mass at 5:30 a.m. in order to entice those who liked an early Mass!
The home of parishioner Bill Heminger was used for holy day Masses. It is a white house on the east side of Broadview (currently owned by another parishioner) which later was used as the first rectory and then the first convent. It had a little porch that Fr. Lux had extended for daily Mass. I spoke to Sr. Joseph Marie who is currently the head of Mount Alverna (where Fr. Vesely lives) as she was one of the first nuns who lived and taught here at St. Leo’s. She told me that the nuns lived in this white house on Broadview be- fore moving into the convent built in the mid 1960’s (now our Parish Community Center). Sister said that more than 10 nuns lived in that house on Broadview Road! Hard to believe that more than 5 people could live in there comfortably, but the Sisters did what they had to do.
In 1949, the men of the parish began building the first church on parish property right where the current entrance is off of Broadview Rd. It was a temporary church but at least on parish property. It took just a few weeks to build. The lights bulbs were exposed and it had hard kneelers but it would do for Sunday Mass. There is a large picture of some parishioners building this first church in the vestibule, hang- ing over the display case (which has a number of pictures from the first years of the parish...if you haven’t checked it out yet be sure to do so!).
One more thing to note: John Sabol, a long-time active parishioner who is one of our cantors and our parish archivist & historian, will be giving a presentation on the history of the parish, planned for October 18th. More information to come as we get closer to that date.