The Protestant community helped the Hamilton Catholics found
and build St. Stephen Church in 1834. Waves of German and
Irish immigration during the next fourteen years brought many
Catholics to the parish. But this same immigration caused
a problem. The Germans could not understand English and the
Irish and English Catholics could not understand German.
The tension resulting from this situation caused the second
pastor of St. Stephen’s, the Rev. Daniel M. Hallinan,
to suggest the founding of a new parish. In 1847 the German
speaking members of St. Stephen’s agreed to pay the
English speaking group a sum of money which would enable them
to build a new church of their own.
On May 3, 1848, this English-speaking group purchased St.
Matthew’s Episcopal Church at Front and Court Streets.
Two months later, on July 2, 1848, the church was formally
dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and called St. Mary.
Father Hallinan became its first pastor.
After Father Hallinan’s death in 1850, Father Stephen
T. Badin, the first priest ordained in the United States by
Bishop Carroll became the second pastor. He was followed by
the Rev. James F. Kearney.
In 1856 Father Kearney inaugurated the parish school. It opened
with an enrollment of thirty students. It was also during
Fr. Kearney’s pastorate that the building of a new church
Father Kearney was succeeded in 1857 by the Rev. E.P. Corcoran
who completed the task of building the church. An account
of the dedication ceremony, which appeared locally, reads
in part: “The beautiful new church, 100 by 50 feet,
situated near the Court House Square, was blessed on last
Sunday. The ceremony was performed in the presence of the
Most Reverend Archbishop Purcell, by the Very Rev. Joseph
Ferneding, assisted by several of the clergy. The church was
designed by Rev. William Stehle of Cincinnati. It was built
by Ely and painted in the best style by Tandrop. It is for
the English speaking Catholics of Hamilton…” In
1861, when the Civil War broke out, Father Corcoran heeded
the call of duty, resigned from the pastorate of St. Mary
and took the post of Army Chaplain in the Union Army.
In 1861, Rev. A.O. Walker became pastor. He was succeeded
in 1865 by Rev. Charles F. Hone, who in 1867, engaged the
Sisters of Notre Dame to teach in the parish school and also
acquired the property on Pleasant Avenue which became St.
The Rev. Martin L. Murphy replaced Father Hone and in 1880
the Rev. John Bonner succeeded him. Father Bonner erected
the parsonage at the corner of Court and Front Streets. In
its later years it served as a barber shop and was torn down
In 1885 the Rev. P.A. Quinn became the fourth pastor in seven
years to serve the parish. He was followed by the Rev. James
Donohue. In 1890 Fr. Donohue built a new school on Court Street
behind the rectory and adjoining the church.
The Rev. Henry Anderson was pastor from 1894-1901. He was
succeeded by the Very Rev. Joseph A. Shee who later became
rector of Mt. St. Mary Seminary.
Father Shee was succeeded by Father Mulvihill, who, in turn
was succeeded by Father Joseph H. Hyland.
The Rev. James McNary followed Fr. Hyland as pastor. Father
McNary acquired a house and property for the parish at Sixth
and High Streets. In August 1918 he entered the service of
the United States Army in World War I as a chaplain.
In October 1918, the Rev. Lawrence L. Denning was appointed
pastor of St. Mary. The present school building on High Street,
built in 1921 is just one of his many accomplishments during
the 40 years he served as pastor. He died in September 1958
and was succeeded by Fr. Francis Lutmer.
In December 1965 Fr. Francis J. Miller was appointed pastor.
He had supervised the building of Badin High School and from
1965 until 1976 he served as both pastor of the parish and
principal of the high school.
Fr. Miller had a number of firsts to his credit: the first
parish school board in October 1966, the first parish council
in December 1966 and the cemetery board in April 1968.
St. Mary’s school held the distinction of being the
first certified Montessori School. Today the Montessori program
continues for the pre-primary and kindergarten classes.
In other parish developments an early morning fire destroyed
the roof and the interior of St. Mary Church November 29,
1970, the first Sunday of Advent. From November 1970 until
September 1972 mass was held in the school hall on High Street.
The first mass in the restored church was celebrated September
23, 1972 at 5:30 p.m.
Reverend Kenneth J. Schoettmer succeeded Fr. Miller, becoming
the nineteenth pastor of St. Mary on August 1, 1982. He successfully
shepherded the congregations of three Hamilton parishes into
a new Catholic community when a shortage of priests resulted
in a call for the merger of St. Mary, St. Stephen and St.
On June 2, 1988, St. Mary School graduated its last class.
On August 29, 1988 the school reopened with the new name of
St. Julie Billiart, High Street Campus. A new era had begun
for the school, a new era was about to begin for the parish.
Father Daniel Hallinan was the first pastor of St. Mary. Father
Schoettmer was its last. In 1848 St. Stephen Parish was split
and St. Mary Parish was formed. For 141 years they remained
separate until the parishes of St. Stephen, St. Mary and St.
Veronica merged to become the new parish of St. Julie Billiart.
1 - St. Julie Billiart Parish History
Page 2 - St. Stephen Parish History
Page 3 - St. Mary Parish History
Page 4 - St. Veronica Parish History