St. Vincent de Paul

As early as 1913, the Catholic people living in the thriving little community of Clifton Heights, a suburb of Newport, approached Bishop Maes for a church and school for their community. Clifton Heights was a part of St. Stephen Parish, Newport. At that time, there were eighty-six Catholic families, mostly of Italian and German origins, and approximately one hundred children of school age in Clifton Heights. Bishop Maes gave his permission for a combination church and school, and appointed Messrs. John J. Hurley, George Eunen and Caspar Regnatti to proceed with the proposed undertaking. On March 1, 1913, an option was obtained on property on Schneider Avenue, between Oak and Home Streets. In the meantime the Catholics of Clifton Heights were active in raising a building fund. But at the time of the death of Bishop Maes in 1915, no step had been taken to erect the much desired church. In December, 1915, Bishop-elect Brossart assigned Reverend Herman J. Wetzels, at that time an assistant at St. Stephen Parish, to proceed with the organization of the parish. When Father Benedict J. Kolb was appointed successor to Father Stephan Schmid as pastor of St. Stephen Parish, on July 7, 1916, Father Wetzels was placed in charge of the congregation at Clifton Heights.

 The cornerstone of the church, which was to be dedicated in honor of St. Vincent de Paul, was laid by Very Reverend Joseph A. Flynn, V.G., on June 11, 1916. The sermon on the occasion was preached by Very Reverend Matthias Leick, Dean of the Newport Deanery. Many Catholic societies of the churches of Covington, Newport, West Covington, Bellevue and Dayton, together with the Catholic Order of Foresters of Kenton and Campbell counties, the Knights of St. John and other fraternal organizations, participated in the parade which made its way from Newport to the site of the new church. 

The new combination church and school which was being erected on Main Street, in South Newport, was under roof by the first of August, 1916, and was dedicated by Bishop Brossart on Sunday, September 17, 1916. A parade of the parish and fraternal societies of the vicinity, headed by the St. Ignatius Drum Corps, formed at Ninth and Washington Streets in Newport. The parade then proceeded to Eighteenth Street, and to the site of the new building. Following the dedication, Solemn Mass was offered in the new church by the pastor, Reverend Herman Wetzels. Father Thomas McCaffrey of St. Patrick Parish, Covington, preached the sermon. The new building was a two-and-a-half story structure of brick, with stone trimmings. It housed two classrooms, a church with a seating capacity of two hundred and fifty, and a basement playground for the children. The parish school opened in September, 1916, under the care of the Sisters of Divine Providence, with an enrollment of seventy pupils. 

The present rectory was erected in 1922. The following year, 1923, the resources of the parish warranted the erection of the present basement church adjoining the school building. At that time, the basement church, intended to be the understructure of a future church edifice, was furnished, having a seating capacity for four hundred and twenty persons. In 1927, more rooms were added to the school to meet the needs of the parish, and at the same time the Sisters’ residence was completed. On Sunday, September 14, 1941, St. Vincent de Paul Parish observed its Silver Jubilee.

 Three years later, August 5, 1944, the parish lost in death its organizer and first pastor. Father Wetzels had served the parish for over twenty-eight years, and under his guidance a well-ordered parish had been established, having grown from about eighty families to three hundred and twenty-five families. 

The parish today numbers three hundred and fifty families.


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