Sunday, November 17, 2019; St. Stephen Roman Catholic Church, 1930 W. 54th Street: The main altar at St. Stephen’s church. The altars and statues at St. Stephens were carved from oak and most were imported from Munich, Germany. The parish, which was founded in April of 1869, celebrates its 150th anniversary this year. The current church, designed by the architectural firm of Cudell & Richardson was dedicated on November 20, 1881.
St. Stephen Parish celebrates 150th Anniversary
(Plain Press, December 2019) This year, St. Stephen Parish celebrates its 150th years since its founding in April of 1869. A pamphlet provided by St. Stephen Church titled Brief History and Tour of St. Stephen Roman Catholic Church offers some historical highlights described in this article.
“In April of 1869, Rt. Rev. Amadeus Rappe, first Bishop of Cleveland, commissioned Father Stephen Falk to establish a two-story building which would serve as both church and school for German-speaking Catholics living west of W. 44th.” This action, according to the pamphlet, was necessitated by the growth in St. Mary Parish. At the time St. Mary’s, which no longer exists, was located on W. 30th near Lorain Avenue.
St. Stephen parish started with about 200 families, according to the history. The first pastor was Father Casimir Reichlin and the first mass was celebrated in the new building on May 1, 1870.
As the parish continued to grow it was decided that a new church was needed. In 1873 the architectural firm of Cudell & Richardson was commissioned to work on the present structure. The pamphlet says, “Parishioners mortgaged their own properties in order to raise the needed funds.”
The present church, located at 1930 W. 54th Street, was completed in November of 1881 and was formally dedicated on November 20, 1881 by the second Bishop of Cleveland, Rt. Rev. Richard Gilmour.
The pamphlet describes the church structure as being “built entirely of stone, mainly of the best Amherst sandstone.” In the interior of the church, beautiful wood carvings are dominate on the main altar, side altars and pulpit.
During a tour of the church, parishioner Evelyn Trucks pointed out some highlights. Trucks noted that before its installation the large oak pulpit was exhibited in the World’s Fair held in Chicago, Illinois in 1893. She said it was amazing that the large intricately carved, wood pulpit made it to Chicago and back by train without any damage.
Trucks pointed with pride to the stained-glass windows in the church and presented the Plain Press reporter with a large post card that contained the image of Christ at the Last Supper from one of the stained-glass windows. Trucks also noted that on the high altar, the person standing at the foot of the cross is St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, for whom the church is named.