|History of St. Teresa of the Infant Jesus Church
Catholic activity began in Covington around 1875 when Mass was said in a residence on Walnut Street. Street preaching was then done by priests from St. Mary Parish, Piqua, in 1944. Following a census conducted in 1946 by the Rev. Francis Pilliod, a recommendation was made to the Rev. Fr. Robert VonKaenel, then pastor of St. Mary Church, to purchase land in the Covington area containing a minimum of five acres. The nearly eight acres of land was purchased from Alvin and Maizie Fritz at a cost of $800.00 per acres.
St. Mary Church, Piqua, donated a total of $8,000.00 over the next three years. A donation of $6,000.00 by Rev. John Sailer, then pastor of St. Agnes Parish, Dayton, with a request to name the church in honor of his sister and a like amount from Mrs. Frank Vogel of Dayton with a request to name the church in honor of the Infant Jesus resulted in naming the mission St. Teresa of the Infant Jesus. That name was registered with the Archdiocese on October 25, 1950.
The Reverend Bertrand Bailey, O.P., who had built the original mission of The Church of the Transfiguration in West Milton was chosen to build the mission chapel. St. Teresa mission was the last of 25 missions that Brother Bertrand erected in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.
Significant Dates in the History of St. Teresa
The blessing of the new mission was held at 2:30 p.m. on December 24, 1950 and the first Mass was celebrated on Christmas Eve by the late Rev. Andrew Hoying, assistant pastor of St. Mary Church, Piqua. On August 5, 1951, the Rev. Karl J. Alter, Archbishop of Cincinnati, celebrated the Pontifical Mass and presided over dedicatory rites at the 10:00 a.m. Mass.
Historic items found in the church are the five hanging lamps in the nave of the church which were made in 1830 in Germany; the Montezuma oak pews which were used in two churches in the northern area of the Archdiocese; and the cupola and railing of the choir loft which were handcrafted after those found in colonial houses of worship.
Some of the major improvements made to the church over the 50 years include:
1960 Blacktopping of parking area; 1961 Beginning of Reservation of the Blesses Sacrament in chapel; 1962 Addition of mercury lights on grounds; 1963 Installation of carpet in sanctuary; 1964 planting of spruce trees; 1965 Fr. Robert Monnin preaches in
Covington Presbyterian Church which was beginning of Ecumenical Movement; and the Catechetical center was built which included the kitchen, restrooms and office; 1966 Herman Marchal directs the building and installation of kitchen cabinets; 1970 Mobile home purchased as temporary pastor’s residence; 1974 The shrine honoring St. Teresa was erected on the lawn; 1980 - The parish hall was restored and the front portico added; 1981 Church interior was painted and carpet installed; 1982 Parishioner Tom Grilliot directs building of parish rectory at a cost of $64,000; 1985 New altar and podium handcrafted of oak donated in memory of the Pour family; 1990 New Stations of the Cross donated in memory of the Vogt family; 1993 Handicap accessible ramp built; 1997 Breezeway refurbished and carpeted and new boiler installed in furnace; 1998 Landscaping improved, new signs erected on lawn and new windows installed; 2000 Electrical system upgraded and central air conditioning installed. 2005 Beginning of sports complex; grass planted in fields surrounding church; 2006 Baseball diamond constructed; soccer fields laid out; volleyball courts erected; 2008 Interior of church hall remodeled; 2010 Outdoor shelter completed
Silver Jubilee Celebration
In 1976, St. Teresa Church celebrated its Silver Jubilee. Main celebrant and homilist at that Mass was the late Most Rev. Josheph Bernardin, Archbishop of Cincinnati. Concelebrants were Fathers Rober Wolfer, Eugene Vonderhaar, Robert Monnin, Oscar Lauber, Joseph Raudabaugh, Paul Wolfer and Gerald Bensman.
In his homily, the Archbishop stated, “The anniversary of this parish is significant only to the extent that it reminds us, as St. Paul did the Corinthians many centuries ago, that it is the people of the parish who are really God’s building not the brick and mortar we see around us.”
Golden Jubilee Celebration
St. Teresa Church celebrated its 50th anniversary in the year 2000. Parish Council members and a committee of volunteers joined in planning several events through the year. In January, a soup and desert supper was held at which time Fr. Jim Schmitmeyer, who authored a book on Catholic history in the Miami Valley, gave excerpts from his book.
Entertainment and a sing-a-along were presented by Bob Lennartz and the St. Peter Musicians and Singers from Huber Heights. In February, a dance was held in the Covington Hall, sponsored by members of St. Teresa and Immaculate Conception parishes.
On October 15, 2000, the 50th anniversary Mass of Thanksgiving was celebrated with the Most Rev. Daniel Pilarczyk, Archbishop of Cincinnati as main celebrant. Concelebrants were Fr. Robert Monnin and Fr. James Duell. Fr. Francis Pilliod, who conducted the survey in the area in 1946, was an honored guest. A reception and dinner followed in the Covington Hall. In his homily at the 50th anniversary Mass, Archbishop Pilarczyk urged members to be Catholics on a daily basis, not just on Sundays. He said we should always be grateful to the people who developed the structures of the parish as well as the priests and people who came before us.
Roster of Priests who have Served
The following priests have served as administrators/pastors in St. Teresa Church:
1950-1952 Fr. Robert VonKaenel, assisted by Frs. Andrew Hoying and Carl Lizza
1952-1960 Fr. Michael Hinssen
1960-1972 Fr. Robert Monnin
1972-1974 Fr. Eugene Vonderhaar
1974-1978 Fr. Joseph Raudabaugh
1978-1988 Fr. Raymond Kammerer
1988-1993 Fr. John Minnic
1993-1995 Fr. Gerard Hiland
1995- 2004 Fr. James Duell
2004-2013 Fr. Jim Simons
2013-present Fr. Ron Haft
Parish and Community Involvement
Parishioners of St. Teresa volunteer many hours throughout the year, utilizing their special talents. Members volunteer for such duties as grounds and building maintenance, lectors, servers, choir members, ushers and donating food and preparing dinners for funerals and various receptions. They also participate in several fundraisers, including fish fries, spaghetti suppers, Ft. Rowdy booth, Christmas Bazaar, sports complex activities and the annual St. Teresa’s Festival.
Religious education is ongoing at St. Teresa Church from pre-school classes on Sundays through adult classes. The students collect food for the food pantry, go caroling at the Covington Care Center and participate in activities such as the May Crowning service and the Christmas play of a live nativity scene.
Junior high and high school students are involved in Youth Ministry. The students assist with Vacation Bible School, visit nursing homes, and attend Right to Life marches, both locally and in Washington, D.C. They enjoy social activities such as trips to Cedar Point, overnighters, and visiting haunted houses.
The St. Teresa parish joins with the Immaculate Conception parish in Bradford in sponsoring an Easter egg hunt, the annual parish picnic, youth ministry, task list committee, church directory committee and Eucharistic ministry.
Chronicled by Evelyn Speer, 2000; edited in 2013