Saint Elizabeth was founded on May 22, 1967, and named for the mother of John the Baptist. On this day, Bishop John J. Carberry established the parish with 240 families living north of Route 161. Father Robert Noon was appointed pastor on June 16, 1967. For the first two and a half years, masses were celebrated at the Alpine School and the basement of the Main Federal Savings and Loan building.
From the beginning, it appeared that Saint Elizabeth was going to be a unique community. It was one of the first post-councilor parishes. It had a very charismatic pastor, the people were young and mobile and very open to change and involvement. An indication of this involvement was the response to religious education. With less than 300 families and no church building, there were over 60 religious education volunteers with classes being conducted in their homes.
The original building was also unique, the architects, Conrad and Fleishman Associates, were very open and non-conventional. Many meetings were held with the architects and the parishioners and a consensus were reached. The building was to have a "woods" appearance to reflect the area and it was to be multi-functional since there was not to be a school. On September 14, 1969, groundbreaking ceremonies took place. On Saturday evening of September 5, 1970, the Community celebrated its first Mass in the church. On March 25, 1971, Bishop Elwell dedicated the church.
The first five years were very turbulent as far as growth and stability. By early 1974, the parish count was over 600 families. Several different priests from Josephinum College would assist at Sunday masses. It wasn't until late 1971 when Father Ralph Huntzinger began to assist and in 1973 when Father Clement Durbin was assigned as an associate that there was no stability. There were also several religious educational coordinators during this period, Victor Cardenza, Sister Mary Margaret Doorley, and Monica Breidenbach. Ms. Breidenbach earned her doctorate in ministry while at Saint Elizabeth and instituted many innovative programs, especially in the areas of "family religious education," which continues to be the hallmark of Saint Elizabeth's religious programs to this day. During this period, we also see the parish council voting itself out of existence and the establishment of "General Parish Meetings."
By 1974, activity was in full swing. Father Noon had started to have "Homily Input Meetings" where the parishioners were allowed to discuss what they would like to hear from the homilist the following Sunday, a bold approach for the time. The first Eucharistic Ministers were appointed: John Murphy, Robert Morrisey, Thomas Moushey, Patrick O'Reilly, and Ted Pfenning. Folk music was also introduced. Monthly adult and teen religious education seminars were started. The first "Life in the Spirit" series was held. The religious education coordinator's position was changed to resource associate and there was an increased emphasis on family and parental education.
Under the leadership of Mary Lou McQuire and other parents, a Special Family Liturgy was celebrated once a month at 5:00 pm on Sunday. These masses were to encourage the active participation of all family members (these celebrations usually lasted over an hour and a half). Another unique activity was the so-called Pastoral Area Meeting, this involved the pastor and/or associates visiting the designated geographic areas and having open forums with any or all the parishioners with thin the designated area. This was met with limited success due to the skepticism of some that it was a fundraising ploy.
There was a survey conducted in 1974 that found, 88% of the parishioners were between the ages of 25 and 55. That the vast majority was from Ohio or the Midwest region of the country. They came from metropolitan areas with some level of Catholic school education in their background. The income range of 65% of the people was between $10,00 and $20,000 with 15% below $10,000 and 20% above $20,000. One-third of all the children in the parish were below school age. Most of the people were Roman Catholic from birth and considered themselves more active in church organizations than in the past. The majority had a favorable attitude about the Saint Elizabeth Christian Community, they liked the liturgical changes they saw there, and they were more favorable toward the approach Saint Elizabeth took in being involved in social action. A majority were favorable about parishioner involvement.
Clergy changes and financial woes marked 1975. Father Durbin left, two priests took up residence in the area and became Sunday celebrants, Father Ovidio Pecharroman and Father George Tavard. The Sunday collections were falling short of debt commitment and expenses. Funds were raised through an "Immediate Action Program," along with many innuendoes, threats, and statistics published in the weekly bulletins.
1976 was another year of change, not only staff changes with Monica Breidenbach leaving and being replaced by Margot Hoover, who also earned a Doctor of Ministries degree while at Saint Elizabeth, but we also had a newly ordained priest, Rodric DiPietro assigned to the parish. The largest change was the congregation itself, during this period, the parish was adding and losing 20% to 25% annually due to the transient nature of society at the time.
Several other things were happening to the parish during 1976, representatives were named to the newly formed Vicariate Council, an organization initiated by Bishop Hermann to be a channel to him and other Northland area churches. The representatives were Leo Bistak and Helen Schwaigert. Children's Liturgy of the Word was started for children in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades. Another very important ministry throughout the history of Saint Elizabeth started in 1976, the "Social Activities Ministry." People were beginning to sense a special spirit or feeling being expressed by the community as they worshiped and they felt this spirit could be cultivated. There were suggestions that a "Liturgy Planning Team" could be established. The team would be responsible for a particular mass, consisting of the celebrant, the commentator, the lector, and the minister of music.
Things weren't about to settle down in 1978, Father Noon accepted a temporary assignment (10 months) as Pastor-In-Residence to the North American College in Rome. Father Art Dimond, a gentleman strongly committed to the spirit of renewal, was named administrator. Margot Hoover, the DRE, left and was replaced by Sister Pat Rooks. 1978 and 1979 were interesting, feminine names started to appear for Sunday servers that have continued to this day. Adult education was still very prevalent, but there was a big push for youth programs, such as summer Bible schools, yard parties, parent-teacher communication, and father-son overnights. Father Noon resigned and Father Dimond was appointed pastor on July 11, 1979. Sister Pat Rooks resigned as DRE and was replaced by Sue Cruikshank. Father Ralph Huntzinger was assigned pastor of Saint Mary's Church in German Village. 1978 was also the first year for the "Catechumenate Program" (Pre-RCIA). Dan Whitmer, Sue Lehnerd, Marsh Whitsom, and Helen Meyer were received as candidates preparing for initiation into the Church.
In early 1980, Father Rodric DiPietro was appointed as Chaplain/Moderator of the divorced, separated, remarried, and widowed Catholics of the diocese, in addition to his duties at Saint Elizabeth. Later in the year, he was transferred and was replaced by Father Scott Wolfe. Sue Cruikshank received an additional degree in religious studies from Ohio Dominican College. She was also elected the chairperson for the Diocesan Association of Religious Educators.
It was also a year when many excellent programs were started. Family Religious Education Program (FRE) was started in April. This program was for everyone in the family, the format consisted of separate instruction for each age group, a project for the entire family group, and worship. A Single-Again group was started. Under the leadership of Sally Zuccaro, a Saint Vincent DePaul Society Conference was formed. Larry Koebel, a parish member, was ordained as a Permanent Deacon on October 12, 1980.
1981 was a year of some special honors bestowed upon Mary Pat Mulligan, a parishioner, and Father George Tavard, a Sunday Liturgist. Mary Pat was elected chairperson of the U.S. Bishop's Advisory Council. Father George Tavard was awarded the Medal of Saint Augustine of Canterberry, by the Archbishop of Canterberry, for his many years of service on the commission representing the Catholic Church in the official ecumenical dialogue between the Anglican and the Roman Catholic Church.
Father Scott Wolfe was accepted by the California School of Professional Psychology in 1982 and left Saint Elizabeth to pursue studies for his Ph.D. in clinical psychology. He was replaced that July by Father Joseph Losh, who was appointed Priest Liaison with the Charismatic Community of the Columbus Diocese.
1982 also marked the year that RCIA was initiated in the parish. That year five candidates made their initial commitment to the Saint Elizabeth Community during the Rite of Becoming a Catechumen. They were: Sylvia Finney, Tom Rose, John Long, Rhonda Hoover, and Ron Horton.
A large step toward Ecumenism was accomplished in 1983 when on Sunday of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, the parish was a partner in a "pulpit exchange." Larry Koebel, the parish deacon, on that day, exchanged pulpits (preached) with Rev. Mark Dove from Epworth United Methodist Church. This was also done the following year (1984) between Deacon Larry Koebel and Rev. Ken McCoy of Karl Road Christian Church.
A Pastoral Ministries Committee was convened in February 1985, it was composed of the leaders of the various ministries and was formed to facilitate communication among ministries and parish members. One of the parish's most successful social concern programs, that of taking food to the Open Shelter every third Sunday of the month, began in May 1985.
Father Joseph Losh was reassigned as pastor of Saint Joseph Church in LaRue, OH. He was replaced by Father James Pickett. The parish staff was also increased with the hiring of Peggy Wuefing as Coordinator of Religious Education. 1986 was also the year that "Bridging" was started. It was a program of inviting inactive Catholics to come and tell their story; a time of listening, a time to be heard.
1987 and 1988 were years of more staff changes. Laura Koebel was employed by the parish in 1987 as a Pastoral Minister. Her duties included visits to parishioners in hospitals and nursing homes, bringing communion to the homebound, and visiting new parishioners to welcome them to the parish. Deacon Frank Ball was hired that year as Family Life Minister. Father James Pickett left the parish and was reassigned to the Church of the Resurrection in New Albany and 1988 Father Anthony Frecker came to Saint Elizabeth as Associate Pastor and Eleanor Beck became our parish secretary. Mary Jane Dowds assumed the secretary position for Family Ministries.
Interfaith Hospital Network (Trinity House) became another social concern project, which the parishioners of Saint Elizabeth embraced in 1989. Spirituality and worship were enriched also this year when it was announced that all Sundays will be Cup Sundays. On the feast of Corpus Christi communion began to be served under both species every Sunday and holy day of the year as well as at evening vigil mass. In July of 1989, both Fathers Anthony Frecker and George Tavard left Saint Elizabeth. It also marked the retirement of Father Art Dimond, the pastor for the last twelve years. He was replaced by Father Rodric DiPietro, who was installed as pastor by Bishop James Griffin on August 27, 1989. The Father Dimond tuition fund was established in December 1989 for Saint Elizabeth students at DeSales thanks to an anonymous couple who donated $25,000.
1990 saw the return of a Parish Council. Those elected to this council were Hugh Dowds, Patrick O'Reilly, Sandy Winkel, Sally Zuccaro, Chris Damico, Jeff McCallister, Dolly Trombetti, and Bob Winkel. The Parish Care Committee was established to help with the many needs a parishioner may have at the time of death of a family member. Deacon Larry Koebel and Laura Koebel left Saint Elizabeth; Larry to be a Chaplain at Pickaway Correctional Institute and Larua a chance to rest, reflect, pray, and do some writing. It was also the year Father Donald Nesti became a celebrant at weekend liturgies.
1991 marked the year of the start of a major renovation to the whole facility used by Saint Elizabeth. RENEW, a spiritual renewal process to help develop a closer relationship with God, was started. Romy Riebe was hired as Religious Education Coordinator for Youth. The renovated spaces were dedicated September 6, 1992, by Bishop James Griffin. The exterior was converted from wood siding to stone and stucco. The sanctuary was the primary focus: a sacristy was added. A major change was the permanent baptistry area. There is an added Chapel of reservation which allows quiet space for prayer and a new multipurpose room that provides education and meeting facilities as well as a social area to enhance the spirit of the community.
More staff changes occurred in 1993, after twelve years of serving the parish, Sue Cruikshank left to pursue other interests. She was replaced by Jane Kahl, who was named coordinator of adult religious education. Father Donald Nesti was transferred that year. This left the parish, for the first time, with no regular liturgist other than the pastor. It was also the year that the Knights of Columbus established a Saint Elizabeth Council.
In the summer of 1994, a Parish Nurse Program was started with funding from a special grant. Valerie Thompson, RN, was hired with the goal of helping parishioners reach "whole person" health. David Monseur was hired as Director of Music and Ginny Mack became our Minister of Family Religious Education. It was also the year that Chris DeLay, an artist, was commissioned to create a sculpture of the RiseChrist for the wall behind the altar.
In 1995, our parish suffered a great loss with the death of Jane Kahl. It was also the year that Diane Choberka was hired as Minister of Family Sacramental Formation. This year was also when David Monseur toured England and Wales with The Ohio State University Men's Glee Club and brought the Ohio State Chorus to our church for a special concert.
April 1996 was a banner month for Sacramental Celebrations, in addition to the weekly penance and Eucharist reception of over 1,200 weekly, we witnessed 26 baptisms, 26 confirmations, 22 first communions, and 2 marriages. Church seating capacity was increased from 475 to 575, another sure sign of growth. That year there was a pulpit exchange between Father Rodric DiPietro and Rev. Ron Botts of Trinity United Church of Christ to celebrate the Week of Christian Unity. Sister Mary Franz, O.S.F., joined our pastoral team as a minister of the sick and homebound. Our softball team won the Far North Church League Championship for the second year in a row and we published the first "Saint Elizabeth Great Cooks" recipe book. In late 1996, John Rericha, a parishioner, completed his studies for the diaconate and was ordained in February 1997.
Saint Elizabeth Parish is rooted in the simple understanding that reaching out to all with Christ's teachings and fulfilling the many spiritual, educational, and social needs of their parishioners is the basis of its existence. To service the parish family, it is felt that the community must be a people of vision. They must provide not only for the parish family but also the future generations. This ends the history that was compiled by our late Deacon John Rericha.
Father Charles E. Cotton was appointed Pastor of Saint Elizabeth in July 2001. He was very instrumental in the planning and building of our new educational meeting center and the renovation of Pastor's Hall 2007. A renovation of the kitchen was also planned at that time but was removed due to financial considerations. Bishop Frederick F. Campbell blessed our new hall and classroom wing on March 17, 2007. Father Cotton also oversaw two other major renovations at Saint Elizabeth, the replacement of the heating/cooling system in 2011 and the re-paving of the parking lot in 2015.
Staff changes occurred when Tim Huffman was hired as Music Director in 2002 and Dave Gruber was hired as head of the Parish School of Religion in 2001. Sr. Pat McMahon began her last year as Director of RCIA which she was brought on board to do in 1997. During Father Charlie's time, we started some new traditions at Saint Elizabeth, including monthly adoration with either evening prayer or scriptural Rosary beforehand on the second Sunday of the month. We started saying the Rosary before the masses during October and May to honor Mary and the Rosary. Father Charlie started a blessing of the animals annually for our special companions. This was always a fun and sometimes unpredictable event! Annual Lenten Days of Reflection were added to help increase our Spiritual awareness during the Holy season. Adult Faith Formation was brought on board to include bible studies and other programs to enhance adult learning opportunities in the parish. Father Cotton gave his blessing to Deacon John Rericha to restart our St. Vincent DePaul Conference and Deacon John started meeting with interested parishioners. By the beginning of 2002, our conference was formed and working. Under Father Charlie's tenure, we also got involved with BREAD, another social justice program.
In May 2012, we were happy to celebrate Father Charlie's fortieth anniversary of his ordination! Rich Krehnovi became our Music Director in August 2004. He offered us children's choirs for Christmas and Easter. Eleanor Beck retired in 2010 as bookkeeper and Fran Cautella took on those bookkeeper duties in addition to being church secretary. Dave Gruber became our Director of Religious Education after receiving his Master's degree. In July 2018, Father Charlie celebrated his retirement. We welcomed Father Ramon Owera as our Administrator and Father John Vadakketom as Associate Administrator. Both Father Ramon and Father John are members of the religious order of Sons of the Immaculate Conception. Father John also continues his hospital ministry in Columbus. Father Ramon changed our adoration to each Tuesday with a scriptural rosary and mass. We increased our devotion to Mother Mary with the adoration change and a monthly devotion on the first Wednesday of the month. Father Ramon welcomed the Filipino community with a mass on the first Saturday of the month. He brought us an Advent Novena called Simbang Gabi and added processions back into many of our celebrations. In July 2017, Father Jesse Chick joined us at Saint Elizabeth and is in residence and primarily does hospital ministry.
Saint Elizabeth saw our Fiftieth Anniversary celebration on May 21, 2017, and held a special Mass with Bishop Campbell on November 5, 2017, to conclude celebrations for our Fiftieth year.
In January 2018, Father John Vadakkettom, CFIC, bid farewell to Saint Elizabeth. Father John went back to India to continue his work with the Sons of the Immaculate Conception. In October 2018, we welcomed Father Sudhakar Reddy, CFIC, in residence.
In January 2019, Father Ramon Owera, CFIC, was reassigned to The Community of Holy Rosary and St. John the Evangelist in Columbus, OH. Father Antony Varghese, CFIC, was assigned as our Administrator, he came to us from a community in Canada. Father Antony celebrated the 25th anniversary of his ordination here at Saint Elizabeth.
Summary of Past Administrators and Deacons:
Fr. Robert L. Noon, June 16, 1967 to July 1977 (d. 10-15-2020)
Fr. Arthur Diamond, August 1977 to July 1989 (d. 4-29-2003)
Fr. Rodric J. DiPietro, July 1989 to June 2001 (d. 8-13-2011)
Fr. Charles E. Cotton, July 2001 to June 2016
Fr. Ramon Owera CFIC, (Administrator) July 2016 to January 2019.
Fr. Antony Varghese, CFIC, (Administrator) January 2019 to present.
Deacon Larry Koebel (retired)
Deacon Frank X. Ball (d. 10-2-2014)
Deacon John J. Rericha (d. 4-29-2009)
Deacon Frank X. McDevitt (d. 2-15-2017)
Deacon Dean Racine