HISTORY – A Most Polyglot Parish
A “MOST POLYGLOT PARISH”
written by Ms. Evelyn Phillips Mantz
In 1926, Father Wuest established the Kolping Society and leased the old Palms Homestead (1394 East Jefferson Avenue) as a meeting place and boarding house for the large number of German men then arriving in the area.
It was in 1928 that a mammoth new Kilgen organ was installed at St. Mary’s and in which the St. Vincent DePaul Society of St. Mary’s helped organize the St. Peter Claver Conference of Colored Vincentians to care for the poor of the black community.
Father Wuest, who had been assisted during his pastorate by Fathers Wilhelm and Schultz, was relieved of the burden of the pastorate late in 1929, but he stayed on to assist the new pastor, Father Frederick Hoeger. Father Hoeger was particularly interested in perpetuating the beautiful ceremonies and devotions of St. Mary’s past. It was he who began the noonday masses that now make St. Mary’s the downtown home of many business people and the city and county officials who work in the area.
By 1930, St. Mary’s was no longer predominantly German. This melting-pot parish included representatives of Greece, Syria, Armenia, Italy, Mexico, India, Africa, Bengal, Japan. Its school was quoted as having “the most polyglot attendance of any Catholic school in the city.” Its high school, conducted by the School Sisters of Notre Dame, attracted students from all over the city. Its alumni were “very energetic and a great help to the parish.” The church’s oldest societies, were the St. Joseph Verein and the St. Aloysius Beneficiary Society for the men and the Ladies’ Altar Society and the Ladies’ Sodality.
The sturdy old school building, built in 1855, was being used as a Greek boarding house. The large rooms had been partitioned off to furnish accommodations for fifty or more roomers. The old school-yard had been turned into a garage and parking lot.