40th-anniversaryThe beginnings of St. Paul’s parish stem from a series of meetings in the summer of 1971 between the late Archbishop Paul F. Leibold and Fr. Francis B. Pilliod, then pastor of St. Rita Parish in Dayton. The parish was the only one planned by the late Archbishop during his term as ordinary, so it was decided to name the parish in honor of St. Paul, the Archbishop’s patron saint. By September 1971, the preliminary plans were formulated, boundary lines proposed, and Fr. Pilliod was appointed pastor of the 36th parish in Montgomery County. An advisory committee was formed to aid in the structuring of the new parish and arrangements were made to hold the first masses the weekend of August 19 -20, 1972 at Englewood Hills School. Seven-hundred-twelve people attended those first masses.

During the first year and a half the parish continued to hold Sunday masses at the school. A residence was purchased at 116 Havenwood Drive to be used as a rectory, our first distributors were installed, and our CCD program was established during this time. The Ladies Guild, Men of St. Paul, and Youth organizations were also formed.  The plans for our new church on Wenger Road were finalized and the groundbreaking was held on June 8th, 1973. The fruits of much hard work and prayer were realized on Christmas Eve, 1973, when the families of St. Paul gathered together in their new parish church to celebrate the Nativity of the Lord. Construction of the pole building began in the fall of the following year and the new Rectory Administration Building was completed in 1977.

As membership growth continued, greater seating capacity, as well as more classroom space was needed. In 1980 parish council authorized a fund drive for an educational unit, which would include additional sanctuary seating, a DRE’s office, teacher’s lounge, storage area and kitchen. In an effort “to preserve the old,” the installation of a stations-of-the-cross prayer garden began in July 1982. The fourteen stations, weighing a total of 12 tons, came from a former retreat house for women run by the Dominican Sisters. On the recommendation of several parishioners, a Society of St. Vincent de Paul Conference was formed in 1983. The conference remains active today, having served the poor of the local community for over 25 years.

During 1984 a need for additional storage space and recreation area was realized and the construction of an open-air pavilion and storage area, which would be connected to the existing pole building, was begun. The facility has housed hundreds of parish activities over the years, including festivals, picnics, and wedding receptions.

On June 24, 1984, our founding pastor, Fr. Pilliod, retired. In order to recognize Fr. Pilliod’s untiring service to the Archdiocese, Archbishop Pilarczyk appointed Father Pilliod “Pastor Emeritus” of St. Paul’s. Father Ronald Wilker, formerly of Our Lady of Mercy Parish, Dayton, was named St. Paul’s 2nd pastor. St. Paul’s soon became a sister parish to Santa Luzmila in Lima, Peru. A monthly tithe from the parish helps support the religious education program for over 6000 students in this strife-torn area.

In 1986, the Rite for Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) program was instituted to pair inquirers seeking knowledge about the Catholic faith with sponsors from our parish to help them on their faith journey. The interior of St. Paul’s worship space was also renovated that same year.

In 1989, the need for more classroom, meeting, and fellowship space became critical. A fund drive was launched to add a 16,500-square-foot addition to the building complex. Dedicated in September 1990, the addition features eleven class/meeting rooms with flexible walls that open into a parish hall, offices, a catechist center and kitchen. The parish hall was named Pilliod Hall in recognition of our founders many contributions. Seventy new parking spaces and a new drive were also part of the expansion. The facility served over 800 students in our religious education program and the needs of parish membership that numbered over 1100 families.

On August 1st, 1993, Fr. Wilker celebrated his last Mass as pastor of St. Paul and became the new pastor of Holy Trinity Parish in Coldwater. The Archdiocese selected Fr. Todd Grogan, Associate Pastor of St. Jude Parish in Bridgetown, to be St. Paul’s 3rd Pastor.

God’s Garden was started in the summer of 1994 to provide fresh produce to the area’s needy and raise awareness about the problem of hunger in the local community. The garden was located on parish property and maintained by parishioners. The garden was expanded in 1997 and has been able to produce as much as 2 tons of vegetables in a single summer.

The St. Paul bell system was replaced in December of 2005 after having been struck by lightening almost a year-and-a-half earlier. The bells announce the great events of our shared history: Easter, Christmas, holy days; gathers the faithful together to celebrate Mass; and calls us to prayer throughout the day.

In 1997, St. Paul’s parish transitioned to a new faith formation program that focused on intergenerational catechesis and the domestic church. Both the library and parish website were created as part of this new formation process.

In January 2002, an anonymous donor gave his time and talent to create the Mfirst-massural Icon seen behind the altar. The work is titled “Christ in Glory and the Conversion of St. Paul” and was blessed on January 25th. Fr. Grogan remained pastor until 2005, when he was transferred to Annunciation Parish in Cincinnati. Fr. Ken Baker, from neighboring St. Rita’s Parish, became St. Paul’s 4th pastor.

In the spring of 2005, the outdoor Marian Shrine was added and blessed, beginning St. Paul’s annual May Crowning following First Communion. This same year, the parish also began allowing 24-hour-a-day access to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel.

The fall of 2005 brought more changes to the parish. The St. Paul Knights of Columbus Council #13874 held its first meeting on September 15th. The Northwest Dayton Pastoral Region planning committee also began meeting to discuss ways in which St. Rita, Precious Blood, and St. Paul’s Parishes could increase collaboration and share resources, in anticipation of possibly sharing one pastor in the future.

In January 2007, Religious Education classes resumed for grades preK-8. During that same year, the Church building was also improved. The sacristy was expanded and moved to the main corridor and money was raised to purchase an organ and install new speakers.

In 2010, the Raising the Roof Campaign provided funds to make much-needed repairs to St. Paul’s. The roof over the 1990 addition was replaced, new heating/ac units were purchased, and the parking lot was resurfaced. A sign of the parish’s vitality and commitment, the community of 600 families raised over a quarter-million dollars in under two months.