Blessed Sacrament

Blessed Sacrament Parish had its origin in the St. John Congregation which grew up in the vicinity of St. John Orphanage.

In 1885, Bishop Maes transferred Reverend Bernard Hillebrand from St. Boniface Parish, Ludlow, to St. John Orphanage to serve as chaplain, and to organize the Catholics living in the neighborhood of the orphanage into a congregation. The congregation became known as St. John Copngregation, Kenton County. Divine services were held at the orphanage chapel, and a school was opened. Father Hillebrand cared for the St. John Congregation for about twenty-three years, 1885-1908. When his health became undermined in 1908, he was forced to retire from his pastoral charges, taking up residence at Villa Madonna. 

Bishop Maes had granted permission for the establishing of a new parish in April, 1908, but during his episcopate no definite steps had been taken to erect a parish church. In the early part of the episcopate of Bishop Brossart, the congregation undertook to establish a parish plant.

 On December 26, 1916, Reverend William Blees was appointed chaplain of St. John Orphanage, and pastor of St. John Congregation, Kenton County. Father Blees organized and became the first pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish, South Ft. Mitchell, as we know it today. On March 16, 1917, a piece of property consisting of about three acres was acquired in Fort Mitchell, fronting on the Lexington Pike. In the latter part of January, 1920, Bishop Brossart gave permission for the erection of a church, in accordance with the plans which had been submitted to the Diocesan Building Committee.

 The first church building, erected in 1920, was a combination church and school. A meeting for the selecting of a committee to make arrangements for the laying of the cornerstone of the new church was held on April 9, 1920, at Stevie’s Hall on the Dixie Highway. On April 15 of that year, the cornerstone for the new church was laid. The church was dedicated to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, and the first Mass was offered in the church on December 26, 1920. In 1922, a priest’s house was built, and in 1924 the school was enlarged to the present size.

 In 1935, the present Sisters’ convent was completed. In 1938, the erection of the present church was begun on the parish property situated to the left of the rectory. The cornerstone was laid on Sunday, July 10, 1938, by Right Reverend Monsignor Ignatius M. Ahmann, V.G. A church, constructed of brick and stone, one hundred and sixty-three by seventy-six feet, with a tower surmounting the right transept, was erected, having a seating capacity for about eight hundred and fifty persons.

 The new Blessed Sacrament Church was dedicated by Bishop Howard, on September 24, 1939. The new church, Lombardy-Romanesque in architectural style, was replete with symbolic emblems centering around the Blessed Sacrament. It displayed truly medieval lines both on the exterior and in the interior.

 The church throughout is a liturgically correct monument to the doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. Every phase of its rich symbolism, from the striking façade to the delicately carved marble altar, was designed to speak to the observer of the Blessed Sacrament.

 The columns supporting the graceful arches display carvings symbolic of the Passion and the Holy Eucharist. The altar of the church may be truly regarded as an altar of the Blessed Sacrament. It is constructed of Botticino marble in the form of the Table of the Last Supper. In the rear of the altar table appears a beautiful gateway, styled after a gateway of a medieval city, which forms the baldacchino, symbolically conveying the central message of the entire building—that the Eucharist in the Gateway to Everlasting Life. The Expository Niche, set in the rear of the altar, is in mosaic. The exterior of the two door wings, serving as an entrance to the Tabernacle, display emblems of the other six Sacraments. Upon the massive octagon columns, flanking the gateway of the Altar, are found statues of the Saints of the Blessed Sacrament, including St. Paul the Apostle, St. Tarcisius, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Paschal Baylon, St. Alphonsus de Liguori, St. Barbara, St. Juliana, St. Clare, St. Gertrude, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, and St. Gemma Galgani. The same Eucharistic theme is carried out in the stained-glass windows of the church. 

After the completion of the church in 1939, the building previously serving as church and school was given over completely to school purposes. The building program undertaken by Blessed Sacrament Parish during the first eighteen years of its history gave the congregation a complete parish plant—church, school, parish rectory, Sisters’ residence, and a custodian’s residence. On October 27, 1945, Bishop Mulloy consecrated the altar of the Blessed Sacrament Church, and on the following day, Sunday, October 28, the Bishop performed the ceremony of the consecration of the church. On December 26, 1945, Blessed Sacrament Parish observed the Silver Jubilee of its founding. 

On September 1, 1948, Father Blees resigned from the pastorate of Blessed Sacrament Parish, taking up residence in South Fort Mitchell. Right Reverend Monsignor Leo Streck was appointed his successor, September 4, being formally installed as pastor, September 22, 1948, by the Dean of the Kenton County Deanery.

 From a small congregation of thirty-seven families, Blessed Sacrament Parish has grown to a present congregation of eight hundred and ninety families, one of the largest parishes in the Diocese. 



excerpted from History of the Diocese of Covington, Kentucky, on the Occasion of the Centenary of the Diocese, 1853-1953, by Rev. Paul E. Ryan