Early Work By Faith Communities Lays Foundations

In April 1922, Bishop Joseph Schrembs established eight new parishes in the Diocese of Cleveland. Two of these were in Lakewood, OH – Saint Clement and Saint Luke. The following details the very early efforts of determined and faith-filled clergy and parishioners to bring these communities to life.

“The Loving Hands and Hearts” of St. Clement

In the months after the parishes were named, the appointed pastor of St. Clement, Father Schmit, received partial lists of the families living within the new boundaries of St. Clement church. Without a church building in which to congregate, Fr. Schmit began to reach out day by day to individuals and families, bringing them together to plan and worship informally, laying the foundations for many of the programs that would serve the parish in years to come. He brought together those who would become the first lay leaders and active supporters of St. Clement Church.

These early parishioners spent months preparing and building their community – raising money, planning social gatherings, assisting those in need and welcoming members.  On Christmas Day in 1922, with the church building still under construction, St. Clement celebrated the first Mass in the basement of the church where, as Fr. Schmit wrote, parishioners “transformed an ordinary basement into an inviting chapel, and the loving hands and hearts of all the Clementines will offer the newborn babe of Jerusalem a royal welcome.” And a thriving St. Clement parish was born.

The Perseverance of St. Luke

Very shortly after the establishment of St. Luke parish in April 1922, the first pastor, John A. Nolan, and his new parishioners, began celebrating Mass in a temporary location on the outdoor grounds of St. Augustine Convent – the very same grounds on Lake Avenue where Lakewood Catholic Academy now resides. Services were held under a large tent that was erected for Sunday Masses. Determined to join together in faith, these first parishioners were undaunted by the conditions they faced. A heavy storm in the spring of 1922 destroyed the temporary chapel, pulling stakes out, tearing ropes and breaking poles. Men and women, including Sisters of Charity nuns, repaired the tent, allowing Masses to continue for the community. When faced with a severe winter in 1922, they continued to celebrate Mass in their makeshift chapel. As temperatures dropped, the water in the cruet was known to freeze during the ceremonies. Still they worshipped.

When plans were made to purchase the land on the corner of Clifton Blvd. and Bunts Rd., the community’s efforts were put into plans for building and moving into a permanent location to worship. This move was made in May 1923, when the first Mass was celebrated in St. Luke Church. The early St. Luke parishioners, mostly of Irish and German descent, continued to build their church in the decades to come – both physically and spiritually.  

For early members of these faith communities, the parishes were the center of life around which they would live their faith, raise their families and celebrate every aspect of life. It is this spirit that Lakewood Catholic Academy (LCA) captured late last year as they walked attendees of the annual All Saints Auction, "A Celebration of Spirit",  down memory lane to celebrate the 90-year anniversary of St. Clement and St. Luke parishes in Lakewood.

Gretchen Bulan

Gretchen Bulan has been a Lakewood resident for 12 years and works as a freelance communications consultant. Also a personal trainer and lifestyle coach, she divides her time between both types of work that she enjoys. She enjoys all the outdoor activities that Lakewood has to offer and is interested in children's activities, education and family life in Lakewood. Gretchen holds a bachelor's degree from the Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University.

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Volume 9, Issue 1, Posted 9:24 PM, 01.08.2013