the year 1959, plans were drawn and construction was completed on
the convent. Al Walchshauser supervised construction of the building
containing eight bedrooms, a chapel and a community room, which
was completed ahead of schedule. An Open House was held on August
23 and featured an altar made by Carl Bomanz. By the close of that
year, the parish had grown to 543 families and school enrollment
grew to 350. The parish debt had been reduced to $205,000.
OLP began youth sports programs from revenues generated by Sunday
bulletin ad sales. By June of 1960 enough money was raised to begin
a baseball/softball program. That fall enrollment for the school
was so large that six new classrooms had to be constructed. Parishioners
rallied that year to repaint the church and cafeteria and transform
the sanctuary. Father Duggan referred to the group of parishioners
that performed the work as the “Holy Rollers.” In December
of 1960 Terri Ott organized the Christmas Cookie Sale. During 1961
the Holy Name Society and the St. Ann Sodality began incorporating
adult religious education into their monthly meetings. From February
to July of 1962 plans were drawn and construction completed on an
addition to the convent. The same contractors constructed the new
rectory from February through September of 1963.
The second decade of OLP parish history had begun, and in November
of 1964 Forty Hours Devotion was held, and all litanies, prayers,
and the Pange Lingua were done in English. The Boys' Choir sang
the Pange Lingua with the congregation and six eighth grade boys
led the Litany of Saints. The Holy Rollers painted the convent during
the summer of 1965. Father Duggan had seen the arrival and departure
of three associate priests by this time. They were Father James
C. McLain (1959-60), Father James Kern (1961-63), and Father Richard
Money (1964-65). In 1965 Father Charles Frankey had arrived and
worked with the CYC to relocate playground equipment and provide
a blacktop area for basketball and volleyball as well as additional
parking space for Sunday Masses.
January of 1967 the parish numbered 786 families and school enrollment
was 625 students. In 1968 liturgical reforms of Vatican II prompted
renovation of the sanctuary at OLP. The altar railing was removed
to make room for the altar, which was placed in the center of the
sanctuary. Concurrently, the church and convent were air conditioned.
The first open School Board meeting was held on October 15, 1969
and the first School Board members were elected in April of 1970.
During this year the Offertory Procession was initiated and the
Liturgy Committee was organized, further implementing liturgical
reforms. OLP’s weekend Mass schedule was modified from six.
Masses on Sunday to one Mass on Saturday afternoon and five
on Sunday. OLP School students held their first Christmas Food and
Clothing Drive to benefit 16 families at St. Henry and St. Rose
The annual St. Ann Sodality Smorgasbord evolved into Parish Day
in 1973. By this time Associate Father Theodore Brug had been at
OLP since 1966 and Father Robert Faherty (1968-69) and Father Richard
Neuman (1969-71) had come and gone. Father Richard Heman arrived
at OLP in 1971 and served together with Father Brug until his departure
February of 1974, a monthly collection of food, clothing and money
began for St. Rose of Lima Parish. This effort continued through
the summer of 1977 when the St. Joseph Basket was placed in the
front hall of the church.
Plans for the renovation of the church were approved in the Spring
of 1975. Renovation work began in November and was completed May
18, 1979, minutes before Cardinal Carberry arrived for the Sacrament
of Confirmation. The renovation included a forty-foot addition which
served as sanctuary and sacristy. The interior of the church was
carpeted, a modern wood panel design was installed, confessionals
were updated, and Stations of the Cross were put in place, as were
the refinished pews. A stained glass window depicting the life of
the Blessed Virgin Mary was constructed in the top front wall of
the church. During this period, Associate Father Richard Heman was
replaced by Father Donald G. Brinkman in 1975.
February of 1977, after 23 years as pastor, Father Duggan announced
his resignation. Father Duggan stated at the time that he hoped
to spend more time teaching in the school and assisting in other
parish activities. The sixth grade class sponsored a school Thank
You Party for Father Duggan on May 20. In addition to giving several
gifts to Father from the students, a representative from each grade
read an appreciation statement to him, recognizing the special person
he had been to them.
Monsignor Nicholas Schneider was appointed Pastor of OLP in May
of 1977. On June 14
Father Duggan was honored at a parish Thank You Reception and Monsignor
Schneider was formally welcomed to OLP. Father Duggan’s retirement
plans were cut short when in August of 1977 he suffered a massive
stroke. Cardinal Carberry conferred on Father Duggan the title Pastor
Emeritus in June of 1978 for his 38 years of service to the Archdiocese
and twenty-three years as Pastor of OLP.
Brinkman was replaced by Father Robert C. Lane in 1976, who stayed
through 1977. The year 1978 brought two Associates to OLP, Father
Timothy M. Foley and Father A. John Schuler. Plans were made for
the parish’s 25th Anniversary Celebration in August of 1978.
These plans included a Parish Pictorial Directory, a Parish Mission,
a Progressive Dinner, an outdoor procession and an Anniversary Mass.
On May 9, 1979 the parish celebrated its 25th Anniversary with a
concelebrated Mass of Thanksgiving for God’s providential
care in each one’s life.
In May of 1980 the Sisters of Providence withdrew from teaching
at OLP School after twenty five years service. Father Schuler also
served at OLP until 1980. Father Foley served until 1981, at which
time he was replaced by Father Anthony J. Palazzolo. In 1982 Father
Dennis Doerhoff came to OLP to serve as Associate with Father Palazzolo.
Pastor, Monsignor Schneider focused attention on adult education
and prayer. The liturgical ministries that we take for granted now,
such as Readers and Communion Ministers, were encouraged by Monsignor
Schneider. Under the direction of Marie Kremer, the Music Ministry
grew to include a Children’s Choir, an Adult Choir and an
Instrument Group. The ministry of Cantor was also initiated.
During his seven and a half years as Pastor of OLP Monsignor Schneider
saw to it that The OLP Parish Council took a more active roll in
the life of the parish. Monsignor Schneider announced his transfer
to St. Monica Parish in Creve Coeur in December of 1984.
Charles Forst arrived at OLP on January of 1985. Father Forst officially
became Monsignor Forst on May 7, 1986. The parish celebrated this
appointment on July 6. Monsignor Forst was dedicated to help bring
Father Duggan’s dream of a new permanent church at OLP to
reality. Fund raising for the new church and gymnasium began in
March of 1986. With the support of over 450 parish families, who
pledged over $800,000 to the effort, the $3.2 million project was
approved by the Archdiocese.
The chosen architectural firm was Gilmore, Malcic and Cannon, Inc.
As part of their proposal, the architect stated the following: "The
image of Our Lady of Providence Church derives from ancient ecclesiastical
architecture as well as purity and honesty in the use and expression
of materials. The basic organizing form of the church, exemplified
by its high central space and stepped gable profile, is derived
from early Christian basilica churches, most notable the original
Church of St. Peter in Rome."
the noise of fireworks, Monsignor Forst broke ground for the new
church on October 11, 1986. Construction began in March of 1987.
Father Palazzolo received his pastoral appointment in 1986 and Father
Dennis M. Schaab came to OLP. He served as Associate until Father
Donald G. Brinkman returned to OLP in 1987.
The cornerstone of the new church was blessed by Bishop O’Donnell
on October 30, 1988. In December the pipe organ was dismantled and
removed in preparation for the new pipe organ to be placed in the
permanent church. Monsignor Forst shared his talent for woodwork
by making a wooden cross for the life-size crucifix, as well as
the sanctuary chairs the ambo, and wall fixtures.
began in the new church on the first Sunday in Lent, February 12,
1989. The new organ was dedicated on October 22, 1989, “to
the greater honor and glory of God.” On November 12, 1989
Parish council President Ray Kramer and Monsignor Forst formally
transfered ownership of the new church to Archbishop John L. May,
who presided over the Mass of dedication. At the altar that day
were Father John Gaydos, Deacon Jerry Prives, Monsignor Forst and
Father Thomas Begley, who came to OLP as Asssociate Pastor earlier
Renovation of the old church building began in 1990. The church
was converted to a multipurpose gymnasium by lowering the floor
as opposed to raising the roof. The sanctuary became three meeting
rooms and a small kitchen area. As a reminder of all of the wonderful
years of worship in the building, the stained glass in the front
of church was preserved in the center meeting room. The Providence
Room serves as the Chapel of Repose on Holy Thursday, uniting our
past with the present.
The close of construction was marked by blessing of the new Parish
Center, which was followed by a Thank You Dinner served in the Pardee
Room (gym) on August 11, 1990. All parish volunteers were invited
for an evening of camaraderie and a chance to tour the facility.
Monsignor Forst also initiated a Sacrificial Giving Program. He
was a man of considerable faith, not only in our Heavenly Father,
but in the people of Our Lady of Providence. The new church enhanced
worship, and the gym allowed more social functions as well as physical
education and sports for young and older parishioners.
While parish life at OLP was markedly better, Monsignor Forst and
the entire parish felt the weight of our debt. Over the next six
years, we practiced the frugal definition of "providence."
During that span of time, two important organizations were initiated
by OLP parishioners: the Home and School Association (HASA), later
renamed Parents of Providence (POP), organized in 1990, and the
OLP Men’s Club, formed in 1996. Both have done extra-ordinary
work to raise funds for the benefit of the school and parish. Pictured
at right are the first leaders of the Men’s Club.
Father Dennis Doerhoff
was given his pastoral assignment in January of 1989. Father Thomas
Begley served as Associate from 1989 to 1991, Father Stephen Puricelli
arrived as Associate, to be joined in June of 1991, by Father Donald
Koch. They both served at OLP until June of 1995 when they were
replaced by Father Glennon E. Doherty and Father John Heil.
A Fortieth Anniversary Celebration took place on May 1, 1994, which
included Mass with guest Archbishop Justin Rigali and dinner at
the Royal Orleans. Monsignor Forst, having reached retirement age,
received orders from Archbishop Rigali to move to Precious Blood
Parish in June of 1996.
fourth pastor was Father Robert F. Johnston, who arrived in June
of that year. It did not take Father Johnston long to realize that
OLP had been making stifling monthly payments for ten years on our
loan without any significant reduction in principal. The Parish
Finance Committee worked with Father Johnston to solve the OLP debt
problem with a capital campaign. Unfortunately, the Archdiocese
of St. Louis was declaring a moratorium on parish fundraising. Instead,
it favored an effort to raise endowment funds, entitled Returning
God's Gifts. As a result, a plan was developed and proposed to Archbishop
Rigali to combine the Archdiocesan program with our own program
to reduce OLP’s debt. The Spirit of Providence Campaign was
announced, and the parishioners of OLP responded by generating enough
donations to eliminate the parish debt, redecorate the church, and
pay our share of the Returning God’s Gifts Endowment Fund.
The Spirit of Providence Campaign set the parish free from debt
so we could focus on other needs of the parish. As promised, Father
Johnston hired contractors, and work began to improve the appearance
of the new church. Problems associated with the church roof were
repaired, the bare concrete surfaces of the large columns were coated
with a marble finish, which complimented our beautiful marble altar.
The multicolored stained glass windows were installed to block the
daily glare of the sun. Also, the exposed steel beams were painted
white, making them less noticeable. Improvements were made to the
sound system in church and a grand piano was added for more variety
The late nineties saw the beginning of a parish tradition that is
still going strong today. The annual Rachel Mueth Golf Tournament
has not only been a social success for parishioners, it has also
generated significant funds for the school, which Rachel attended
through the third grade, until her untimely death from cancer in
In January, 1999 a delegation
of OLP parishioners joined our larger archdiocesan family for
Mass with Pope John Paul II.
priest Father John Heil served until June of 2002 along with Father
Doherty, who remained in the parish until 2004.
In January of 2003, Father David Rauch became the fifth Pastor at
OLP. Father Rauch was mindful of the challenges he was facing as
our new spiritual leader, and the greater uncertainties about our
future relative to the Archdiocesan consolidation of parishes nearby.
Father Rauch began with a strong effort to get acquainted with OLP
parish organizations, leadership and individual parishioners. At
the same time he began planning and preparations for the fiftieth
anniversary of OLP.
A large group of parishioners, including parish organization leaders,
were invited by Father Rauch to participate in Summit Meeting/Retreat
at the LaSallette Spiritual Center on June 28, 2003. The coordinated
effort and input shared by most of those in attendance began to
shape a vision of OLP’s future.
50th Jubilee Committee was assembled, and the parish family began
planning a celebration that would begin on May 9, 2004 with the
fiftieth anniversary of the first Mass, and end in August, 2005
the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of our school. The highlight
event consisted of a dinner celebration at the Top of the Met for
the entire OLP parish family. Since then senior priest in residence,
Monsignor Griesedick, has been transferred and Monsignor Francis
X. Blood has been in residence.The fiftieth anniversary marked a
new beginning for OLP. Having addressed most of the material needs
of the parish, Father Rauch began work to address the needs of the
parishioners. A parish nurse has been hired to work part time performing
health services to the school students and parishioners in general.
The Parish Council has evolved into a new Pastoral Council. The
Little Rock Bible Study Program has become a popular adult education
effort. The Preschool has taken off and is filled to capacity. These
are just a few of the results of Father’s commitment to improving
the quality and value of our parish community. And there is more
brief account of OLP history could not possibly tell the whole story.
One element that has not been mentioned is the contiributions Deacons
Larry McVey, Chris Winkelmann, Gerry Prives and Dave Amelotti, staff,
school principal and teachers have all made important contributions
to our parish family through the years. Hopefully, this account
does demonstrate the generosity and love that our parishioners have
for their faith community throughout OLP history: The Spirit of
While this account summarizes important events of the past, which
we can all enjoy, it is our present and future that we are compelled
to consider. Let us pray that we are inspired by the trends of the
past in order to secure a bright future for this special Roman Catholic
family. We will continue this account as more of our history is
in the making.