Written by one of our own faithful parishioners at Immaculate Conception
The church was brought back to the Traditional Catholic Faith and re-dedicated by Bishop Clarence Kelly on July 12, and thereafter the altars were re-consecrated and relics of the Holy Martyrs solemnly restored to the altars: the High Altar holds the relics of the first two successors of Saint Peter – Saint Linus and Saint Cletus; the Blessed Mother’s Altar holds relics of Saint Philomena and Saint Maria Goretti; Saint Joseph’s Altar holds the relics of the third successor of Saint Peter, Saint Clement, and of Saint Callixtus.
It is ironic that the parish was founded in 1906, under the reign of Saint Pius X and was lost to the Modernists whom St. Pius warned about in 1907 in his Encyclical Pascendi. And then, 99 years later it was recovered at the order of and through the efforts of one of the direct successors of Saint Pius X in the episcopacy, Bishop Mendez himself.
The church had been vacant for a year by the time the new Traditional Catholic group obtained occupancy. Because of the lack of use and the Modernist influence, the church was in very poor condition. The roof was leaking, walls cracking, and paint peeling. The carpet was thread-bare and a musty orange color, while the confessionals were being used as broom closets. Much of the marble communion rail had been removed and Father Jenkins actually discovered the remaining pieces scattered and buried in the dirt of the church basement. Father came to find out that the communion rail had been saved from ultimate destruction by the President of the Parish Council at St. Matthew’s. The pastor at the time wanted to destroy the communion rail, but this gentleman was able to persuade him from that choice. However, the pastor then insisted that the communion rail be buried in the basement.
The original marble statues had been taken away, but two of them were ultimately returned. In fact, the marble Sacred Heart statue was gifted to Immaculate Heart Seminary, where it remains today. The large wooden crucifix in the sanctuary had also been taken down and removed. The original tabernacles, which were built by a safe maker and parishioner of St. Matthew’s, were removed, leaving only empty sockets in the altars. And, the original altar relics had been removed by a local funeral director.
But, the Traditional Catholic faithful were not discouraged and they worked tirelessly to make this their home. They replaced the carpet, moved in new statues, and installed new altar relics. They dug up the communion rail and hired a stone mason to put all the pieces back together. Father Jenkins designed a plaque to Bishop Mendez matching the plaque to Father Gallagher. It sits opposite Father Gallagher’s plaque on the Gospel side of the church near the vestibule doors. The new suspended sanctuary crucifix dedicated to Mr. William Crock Senior was donated by his family “with tender gratitude for the benevolence of our friends and parishioners of Immaculate Conception Ch
urch.” The corpus on the crucifix was a gift from Father Francis Fenton, one of the earliest Traditional Catholic priests. Mr. Joseph Berger (brother-in-law to Father Baumberger) hand-crafted the 14-foot long cross. Mr. Cliff Hogan and Mr. Nick Federspiel designed and assembled the hanging apparatus. The crucifix is suspended on chains attached to aircraft grade cable which is wound around the motorized spindle of an aircraft door.
From 1995 to the present day, Immaculate Conception has grown in numbers and in faith. This January marks 22 years since the Traditional Catholic faithful purchased this
property, made possible by Bishop Alfred Mendez. Immaculate Conception Church is now about 1,000 souls strong, with 163 students in the Academy. Since the move to Norwood, the Church and Academy have thrived. They have kept the Traditional Catholic Faith alive and strong. There are far too many people to name, but thanks and prayers should be given to all those who have helped along the way: God, Our Blessed Mother, Bishop Alfred Mendez, the Society of Saint Pius V, especially Father Jenkins and Father Greenwell, the Daughters of Mary, the many benefactors of the Church and Academy, and of course, all the church members themselves!