St. Rita Links
In the fall of 1921, at a time when boundary lines were being established for all parishes in the diocese, it was found that Shiloh Springs contained a good number of Catholics. Archbishop Henry Moeller of the Cincinnati Archdiocese asked Father John Lampe to work with Shiloh’s Catholics to build a church. Response from the community was both swift and generous.
The land located at the corner of Erdiel Drive and Covington Pike (Route 48/Main Street in the Shiloh Springs area) was selected as the site for a new Catholic Church. Louis Wehner, owner of the property, donated six lots and six more lots were purchased from him for $3,600.00. Ground was broken and blessed on April 23, 1922, and excavation began on May 4, 1922 for the new church to be named for St. Rita. Until the church was erected, the new parish community received permission to celebrate Mass at Shiloh’s public school on the corner of Philadelphia Drive and Route 48 (North Main Street).
In August 1922, a home adjacent to the church site was purchased for a rectory. On November 12, 1922 the new white frame church was dedicated. Father John F. Lampe was named the first pastor.
St. Rita’s first parish school was a two room schoolhouse, which opened in January 1926, with an enrollment of 38 students, staffed by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.
Through the 30’s and 40’s the parish grew along with the growth of the Shiloh Springs area, and in 1945 and 1946 additions and renovations occurred in the church.
In 1945 the parish purchased a seven room residence for the teaching Sisters. However, there were only two Sisters teaching along with a lay teacher at the time.
On August 19, 1946 the Sisters of the Precious Blood replaced the Sisters of Notre Dame at St. Rita’s School.
With the growing number of parishioners and students, a new school building was constructed in 1950. And in 1960 eight additional classrooms and a cafeteria were added. With the growing school came the demand for more teachers and the decision to build a new convent. A ground-breaking ceremony for the convent took place on June 1, 1959. The formal opening was on January 24, 1960.
On July 25, 1964 the first school building and old rectory were razed. The area was restored into an open area. On August 5, 1964 a new rectory and parish offices were opened.
As the growth of the parish continued in the 60’s, it became apparent that St. Rita needed a larger worship space. On July 19, 1965 permission was granted by the Archbishop to make plans for the construction of a new church seating 800. In September a “Capital Fund Drive” was launched, and by November when the drive was completed the goal had been exceeded.
On July 1, 1966 the groundbreaking took place on the existing land for the new church, and on March 19, 1967 the cornerstone was laid. Mass was offered for the last time in the “old” church on September 23, 1967. A wrecking crew started tearing down the old church on September 25. It was a slow process because of the caution that had to be used because of the proximity to the new church.
he solemn dedication of the new church took place on Sunday, October 29, 1967, with the Most Reverend Karl J. Alter, Archbishop of Cincinnati, officiating.
The new church dominates the Shiloh Springs parish scene; its brick and limestone exterior is complimented by a warm interior of wood arches and ceiling with exposed brick walls. High narrow openings in the nave and transept allow the sun to filter in through the stained glass windows. A free-standing bell tower, crowned with a cross, soars some 90 feet into the sky, while a large contemporary sculpture of St. Rita dominates the main entrance.
Through the years, St. Rita continues to be a vibrant and active parish, serving the spiritual needs of all of its members.
On September 15, 2002, the parish celebrated the ground-breaking ceremony of the new Parish Family Life Center. The construction was finished in the fall of 2003.
In September, 2005, because of the shortage of priests and men entering the priesthood, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati formed clusters/regions of parishes to plan ahead for the time when there would be one priest serving the cluster/region. St. Rita parish, Precious Blood parish and St. Paul parish in Englewood became a cluster/region for the Northwest communities of Dayton. From the beginning, representatives from each of the three parishes and the three pastors began working together and planning for the future of the region. Many social events were shared by the parishes as well as having a combined 4:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon Mass. Several liturgical celebrations are also shared by the three parishes. By July 1, 2012 our Northwest region had one new pastor serving all three parishes.
Because of a steady decline in enrollment of students through the 90’s and the 00’s at St. Rita School, the decision was made to merge with Precious Blood’s school.
On July 1, 2010 the two parishes merged into a new school named Mother Maria Anna Brunner (Mother Brunner) after the Founder of the Sisters of the Precious Blood.
Although St. Rita Parish no longer has its school, the parish’s traditions continue and their identity and history are very evident in the Shiloh area and the Northwest Region of Montgomery County.