St. Anthony

St. Anthony Parish, formerly constituting the southern portion of the extensive parish of St. Augustine, Central Covington, was established in 1878 at Decoursey, under the direction of Reverend William Robbers, third pastor of St. Augustine Parish. In 1926, the new church plant was begun at the present site in Forest Hills.

When the Kentucky Central Railroad, a branch of the present Louisville and Nashville Railroad, was built, many Catholics, employed in its construction, settled along the railroad lines between Cincinnati and Lexington. A number of Catholic families settled around the vicinity of Decoursey. The nearest church at that time was St. Augustine Church at Peaselburg. The first church station in the Decoursey area was located at Culbertson Station. By 1877, the number of Catholics around Decoursey and on Taylor Mill Pike had increased considerably. In the same year, Father William Robbers secured, through the donation of Mr. Winston, a three-acre lot in Decoursey for a church and school, about two miles from the original mission church. The cornerstone of a church was laid in the spring of the following year, and in the autumn of 1878, the church was dedicated in honor of St. Anthony. St. Anthony Mission was attended twice a month from St. Augustine Parish during the next few years, 1878-1880; and from Holy Guardian Angels Parish, Sanfordtown, from 1881 to 1902. While under the care of Reverend Joseph Haustermann, the church building was enlarged. During that time also, a number of Catholics on Taylor Mill Pike and on the south side of the Banklick Creek left St. Anthony congregation, attending Holy Cross Parish, which had been established in 1890. In 1902, a parish school was established at Decoursey. That same year, Bishop Maes appointed Reverend Henry Looschelders as the first resident pastor of St. Anthony Parish.

In 1917, the L. & N. Railroad discontinued the station at Decoursey, and as a consequence, several of the member of St. Anthony Parish sold their homes. There were at that time about thirty-five families at Decoursey. On January 1, 1920, Reverend Bernard Nurre, the present pastor, was appointed to St. Anthony Parish.

In 1926, the L. & N. Railroad expanded the yards at Decoursey. The development of the railroad yards with their close proximity to the church made it necessary to move its location. For several years, on account of noise and smoke, it had been difficult to carry on the work of the school and to hold divine services in the church. Since the number of Catholics in that section had decreased and the terrain in the vicinity was hilly, it was deemed advisable to select a new site for a proposed new parish plant. Accordingly, it was decided to select a site which would be entirely apart from the railroad and with more suitable surroundings. The present site of St. Anthony Church, on Grand and Harvard Avenues, in the developing sub-division of Forest Hills, two and a half miles closer to Covington, was soon afterwards purchased. In May, 1926, work was begun on the new church, the cornerstone being laid by Bishop Howard, on September ninth. Father Bernard Nurre set about to develop an entire parish plant. On November 8, 1928, Father Nurre moved into the new pastoral residence. The first Mass was offered in the basement of the new church on December 9, 1928.

On Sunday, April 14, 1929, Bishop Howard dedicated the new St. Anthony Church, which was constructed of white brick and stone, having a seating capacity of three hundred and twenty. The dedication of the church marked the completion of the parish plant at the new site. The rectory and convent were of white brick, harmonizing with the architecture of the church. The school was a temporary frame structure which was calculated to take care of the needs of the parish for several years.

With the increasing enrollment in the parish school, occasioned by the building of new homes in the Grand Avenue-Taylor Mill area, a more commodious school became a necessity within recent years. The partitioning of one room in the existing two-room frame building had helped to meet the increased enrollment for a time. In 1952, Father Nurre undertook the building of a new school, a one-floor brick building. The new school was constructed of light buff brick, corresponding with the existing parish plant, and contained four large rooms with plans providing for an auditorium, cafeteria and a second floor.


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