In April of 1904, Father Charles Watterson was appointed by Bishop Hartley to undertake the joyous task of organizing a new parish. It was under this first pastor that the parish saw its first church and school building, a combined building also housing quarters for the nuns who would be teaching here.
Father Watterson served the people of Blessed Sacrament faithfully until his death on February 15, 1928. From the Golden Jubilee Book, “Under Father Watterson’s direction the Church and School at Blessed Sacrament parish flourished and was marked by a distinctive spirit of religious expression…and even after his death, his influence lived on.” In the twenty years he served there were 119 converts and 887 baptisms, a tribute to his leadership.
The first Mass was held in the Old Armory and on March 12, 1905, the single building combining the Church and the school was completed and the school doors opened September 5th of that same year. The school offered commercial courses as well as a standard curriculum that went through the 12th grade. The Dominican Sisters of Saint Mary of the Springs greeted classes totaling one hundred and fifteen students. In 1931 the high school and commercial courses were discontinued and all the students wanting to continue to high school had to attend either Saint Francis de Sales on the “other” side of Newark or attend the public school system. The Dominican Sisters served our school until the late 70’s, then the toll of declining vocations made “Our Good Sisters” but a memory for those who had the privilege of knowing their dedication and love. In 1953 there was a need for extra classroom space which was found by converting a used substation for the Telephone Company and eventually another building was built to house the upper four grades. In the 1940’s the enrollment at Blessed Sacrament School rose to over 200 pupils.
Father John Byrne, a native of Ireland, served Blessed Sacrament parish until his death in 1946. The original church would suffice for awhile, but because of the foresight of our founding pastor, who immediately started a building fund with the estate of Mrs. Mary Walsh, a new church building under the direction of Father Byrne was erected and was dedicated on January 28, 1942. The church was actually completed by Christmas of 1941 and permission was given by the Bishop for Christmas Mass to be celebrated in the new church although the dedication would come later.
It was during Father Bryne’s pastorate that Blessed Sacrament received their first “assistant” pastor in Father Remark. Father William Conners, Monsignor Ralph Huntzinger, Father Robert Manning, Monsignor Thomas Bender, Father James Pickett, Father Jerome Raiser, Monsignor Mario Serrgilo all served as Assistant Pastors for the people of Blessed Sacrament.
The parish saw an interim pastor in Father Hubert Kreamer, O.F.M., until the appointment of Father Richard Crosser in 1946. Father Crosser, as he told upon his departure in 1960, was “the first pastor to leave Blessed Sacrament alive.” The new school was built by Father Crosser in 1957. He was a man strong in attributes both physically and spiritually.
Father John Eyerman became pastor in 1960. He added to the convent for the Sisters. His stay was relatively brief, five years, and was followed by Father John Sughrue. Father Sughrue’s stay was brief also as the Lord called him home in 1968. During his brief time with us, he had the responsibility to renovate the sanctuary to conform to the Second Vatican Council.
Father Paul Laurinaitis, who was considered a very holy individual, established the first Parish Council in 1970. Father Frank Schaefer then became our pastor from 1970 until 1984 during which time our parish was able to rebound from trying times experienced in the late 60’s and once again become viable financially. Father Raymond Thomas who served until 1987 replaced Father Schaefer.
Father Thomas Shonebarger arrived in 1987 and remained until November 1995. Father Tom not only led the parish spiritually throughout his stay but also was very active in the Licking County community and was held in high esteem by clergy of other faiths throughout the community. It was during his stay that we saw our church struck by lightning and burn. The parish temporarily had to move back into the original church on the third floor of the original building. This brought back memories to many of the more mature folks as they made their way up fifty plus stairs each weekend. It was Father Tom who rebuilt the church proper and added to the structure, attaching the rectory and church. The Catholic community of the East End of Newark continued to see a growth in its census.
Father Shonebarger’s unexpected departure brought about another interim pastor in Monsignor Robert Noon who saw the parish through the celebration of Holy Christmas season.
Arriving January 1, 1996, Father Timothy Hayes, brought an excitement for the future under his guidance. Under Father Tim’s leadership, properties surrounding the church and school were purchased to allow for future building for the church and school.
After the Dominican Sisters left their teaching assignment, Blessed Sacrament was fortunate to retain one, Sister Zita, who continued as a Pastoral Assistant.
The influence of our families, nurtured by our clergy and religious, and by the grace of God, Blessed Sacrament has been blessed by many vocations to the religious life. Among the daughters and sons of the parish responding to the call of God are: Sr. Angelita Conley, O.P., Sr. Olivia Glaub O.P., Sr. Coletta Georgetti, O.P., Sr. Adele Heffley, O.P., Sr. Georgina Kaercher, O.P., Sr. Robertine Moats O.O., Sr. Ann Therese Moats O.P., Sr. Blandina Mueller O.P., Sr. Jeanette Ohler O.P., Sr. Sabina Stokes O.P., Sr. Fidelia O.P., Sr. Mara Deering, White Sisters, Sr. Assunta Ghiloni O.S.F., Sr. Columba McGinley O.L.V.M., Sr. Carol Spencer O.P., Fr. Athanasius McLaughlin O.P., Fr. Francis Mueller, Msgr. Herman Mattingly, Fr. William Allen, Fr. Hubert Rubeck, Msgr. Harry Connelly, Fr. Richard Connelly, Msgr. Joseph Susi, Fr. Robert Mallonee, Fr. Mark Ghiloni, Deacon Charles Stevens, Deacon Jack Elam, Deacon Robert Ghiloni, Deacon Patrick Wilson.
“It was just about the time of the dedication of our parish under the beautiful title of the “Blessed Sacrament,” that Saint Pius X was leading Catholics to a new understanding and appreciation, and use, of the wealth of our religion. He promoted frequent reception of the Eucharist and also for children. He urged attendance at Mass, to be offered at hours convenient for attendance, in places convenient for people and encouraged a more intimate participation by the people in this Holy Sacrifice. This is the program of and for the Blessed Sacrament. We are privileged to carry the banner.”
With the guidance of Father Tim Hayes the Centennial Building was completed. The old Watterson Building was demolished and the Centennial Building is the new home of Blessed Sacrament School and the parish offices. Father Tim completed 12 ½ years at Blessed Sacrament and was assigned as Pastor of St. Timothy Parish, Columbus on July 8, 2008.
Father Jonathan F. Wilson arrived at Blessed Sacrament parish on July 8, 2008 after being an Associate Pastor at the Perry County Consortium in New Lexington, Ohio, to begin his term as pastor.
(Excerpts of information as collected by Deacon Robert Ghiloni for a report dated January 17, 1996. The last two paragraphs have been added later.)