(Thomas M. Kennedy, Jr.
March 1994, Revised by John R. McGuire, 1997, Timothy Rowell
2002, Fr. Francis P. Walsh and
Marilynn P. Streeter, 2006)
On April 18, 1922, Bishop
Joseph Schrembs, the Bishop of the Diocese of Cleveland,
established eight (8) new parishes in the Diocese. One of these
was the Parish of St. Luke the Evangelist that was formed from
the parishes of St. Rose and St. James.
The boundaries were Lake
Erie on the North, Detroit Avenue on the South, Cove Avenue on
the East and Lakeland Avenue on the West. Fr. John A. Nolan,
the former pastor of St. Joseph Church in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio,
was appointed the Founding pastor by Bishop Schrembs, on April
Wanting a place where he
might have a mass for his people but with no facilities
available, Fr. Nolan thought that the grounds of St. Augustine's
Convent on Lake Avenue might be used for this purpose. Fr.
Nolan approached Sr. Sebastian of the Sisters of Charity at St.
Augustine who readily consented to the use of an area where a
vineyard had recently been removed.
A large tent was erected on
the convent grounds where Sunday Masses were held. Daily
Masses, Baptisms, and Weddings were held in the Convent Chapel
although on occasion, daily Mass was celebrated in the Pastor's
home, which was located on Giel Avenue.
The hardships experienced
in using the tent for Masses were numerous as evidenced by the
report that during the winter of 1922, it was so cold at times
that the water in the cruet froze. On a Saturday night in the
early spring of 1922, a heavy storm wrecked the temporary
chapel. Stakes were pulled out of the ground, poles and ropes
were broken and large holes were ripped in the tent. Undaunted,
Fr. Nolan, with the help of the people and Charity nuns, had the
tent repaired and new poles erected so that the makeshift chapel
could be used for Masses again.
On June 6, 1922, Fr. Nolan
signed an Offer to Purchase the parcel of real estate located on
the southerly side of Clifton Boulevard being about 260 ft.
frontage, extending back to an average depth of about 317-1/2
ft. and containing an area of 82,550 sq. ft. As the papers
stated, "The parcel will be bounded on the east by a street to
be called 'Bunts Road' and on the west by a street to be named
later." Fr. Nolan agreed to pay $50,000 for the parcel of real
estate and the title was transferred on July 25, 1922.
On August 24, 1922, a
contract was signed to build a wooden frame church measuring 114
ft. by 45 ft. to be situated on Bunts Road on the section of the
parcel which is presently a parking lot and playground adjacent
to the Parish House. The contract provided for the furnishing
of all labor and material necessary to complete the construction
of the church for the total sum of $25,000. The new church was
to seat 430 people. Construction began in September of 1922 and
in May 1923, the congregation was able to move services to the
basement. Shortly thereafter, the upstairs was finished and the
church was ready for use.
The national origins of the
original Catholic population were Irish and German and the
sources of migration to the parish were from St. Patrick, St.
Malachi, St. Mary, and St. Stephen parishes. The first Baptism
occurred on May 28, 1922, the first burial service was held on
August 2, 1923, and the first Confirmation was celebrated on
September 5, 1928.
Fr. Nolan, transferred to
St. Augustine Parish on January 29, 1924, died on April 1,
1933. The Rev. James A. Heffernan, appointed Pastor succeeding
Fr. Nolan in January 1924, made as his first project, the
building of a rectory alongside the church. The rectory was
completed in 1925.
The next project was to
erect a school for the children of the parish. Prior to the
construction of the school, the Ursuline sisters stationed at
St. Patrick's parish instructed the St. Luke children on
Saturdays. In September 1926, Fr. Heffernan received the
Bishop's permission to spend $70,000 to build a new school
consisting of 8 rooms. The building was constructed on Clifton
Boulevard and was completed in time to receive students in
The Sisters of Charity were
asked to teach in the new school, but because of an urgent
request for teachers from a parish in Cuyahoga Falls, Mother
Sebastian was unable to supply sisters for St. Luke School.
Consequently, the Ursuline nuns opened the school. The first
floor of the school was used for classes while the second floor
became the convent for the Ursuline nuns who staffed the
school. In 1933, a new convent was erected for the nuns on
Chase Avenue. The school continued under the operation of the
Ursuline nuns until 1944 when they were replaced by the Sisters
Fr. Heffernan died on June
6, 1944 and later that month, the Rt. Rev. Msgr. James M.
McDonough was appointed Pastor of St. Luke Church. As the
community of St. Luke continued to grow, it became apparent that
much larger facilities were necessary for both worship and
education. In 1950, Msgr. McDonough, with the help of his
assistant Rev. Peter Cherniss who had studied architecture
before entering the priesthood, planned a new church. Designed
by Fr. Cherniss, the new church of Modified Romanesque
Architecture and having a seating capacity of 750 on the main
floor and 150 upstairs was built on the corner of Clifton
Boulevard and Bunts Road.
Much of the material that
went into the church was obtained by Fr. Cherniss during a
six-week tour of Ireland, Germany, France, and Italy. Included
in the material selected by Fr. Cherniss were 155 crates of
matched marble used for the new altar, walls, and aisles.
The new church, requiring
12 months to build was completed in August 1951 at a cost of
$275,000 and blessed by Bishop Edward Hoban on May 4, 1952. The
frame church was then converted for educational uses as a hall
and gymnasium. Because of increased school enrollment
presenting the need for additional classrooms, the old church
was partitioned in 1953 and used as temporary quarters while
preparations were made to build six new classrooms and a
basement library in the Clifton Boulevard building. The
enlarged school with an enrollment total of 500 children was
dedicated by Bishop Hoban on March 10, 1955.
Msgr. McDonough died on
June 18, 1954 and the Rt. Rev. Msgr. Michael J. Hynes was
appointed Pastor on July 2, 1954. Msgr. Hynes died on August 9,
The Rt. Rev. Msgr. Charles
McBride was appointed Pastor of St. Luke Church on September 1,
1956. Shortly thereafter, Msgr. McBride initiated a program to
complete the needs of the parish. Plans were formulated to
extend the school with the addition of a gymnasium, parish hall
and four classrooms. This would result in the completed school
unit having a total of 18 classrooms. The old frame church was
removed after serving St. Luke Parish for 37 years, lastly as a
Construction of the new
building which was located between the existing school and
faculty house began in June 1959 and was completed in 1960. On
May 25, 1960, Bishop Fulton J. Sheen dedicated the new
recreation center and school addition.
In 1970, the church was
remodeled to conform to the liturgical changes resulting from
the Second Vatican Council. Rev. Robert J. Jenkins was named
Pastor of St. Luke Parish on October 3, 1972. Fr. Jenkins came
to St. Luke Parish in March 1968 as Associate Pastor and served
as Acting Pastor during the long illness of Msgr. McBride, who
died on August 9, 1972.
There have been numerous
improvements and renovations to the parish facilities over the
ensuing years. A new organ was installed in 1974 and the pews
were replaced in 1977.
On September 30, 1982,
Bishop Anthony M. Pilla formally decreed that the boundaries of
the parish were Lake Erie to the north, east from Lakeland
Avenue to Cove Avenue, south on Cove Avenue to the N&W Railroad,
west along the railroad to Nicholson Avenue, south on Nicholson
Avenue to Detroit Avenue and west to Lakeland Avenue. The west
sides of Cove and Nicholson Avenues, the north side of Detroit
Avenue and the east side of Lakeland Avenue belong to St. Luke
In 1984, the church was
again remodeled. The stained glass windows were completely
redone, a new painting was provided for the sanctuary and the
wooden altars, baptistry and pulpit were replaced with marble.
An addition was constructed to the east side of the church
enlarging the priest's sacristy and providing rest rooms for the
parishioners. On July 13, 1984, relics of the following saints
were placed in the new marble altar of the Church of St. Luke
the Evangelist by Fr. Jenkins:
St. James the
St. Clement of
St. Pius X
St. Francis of
- St. Anthony
St. John of the
St. Paul of the
Bishop A. Edward Pevec
solemnly dedicated the altar and church on October 21, 1984.
Improvements were made in
the school as well. All windows were replaced with modern
energy-efficient windows. A new library and media center (and
later a computer lab) were constructed by converting two
classrooms. An extra classroom was also remodeled to provide a
larger and more efficient office for the Secretary and the
Principal. The old basement library was converted into a
community center and storage room.
Fr. Jenkins died on October
14, 1991. On January 21, 1992, the Rev. Francis P. Walsh was
appointed Pastor of St. Luke Parish by Bishop Anthony M. Pilla.
Shortly after Fr. Walsh
arrived, a new Finance Council was formed. A power shortage in
1993 led to a survey of all parish buildings and a decision by
the Finance Council that major repairs were in order. To assist
in paying for the repairs, Restoration Fund Phase I commenced in
1994 and Restoration Fund Phase II was initiated in 1997 to
complete the church renovations.
With the beginning of the
restoration campaign in 1994, Fr. Walsh arranged for
architectural renovations and repairs to parish facilities.
Repairs to boilers, roofs, parking lots, sidewalks, air
conditioning and gym walls began in the school, rectory and
Parish Center (former Convent vacated by the Sisters of Charity
in July, 1996). After renovations the Parish Center was used
for RCIA, PSR Offices, Youth Ministry and assorted meetings.
In 1994 Sr. Miriam Erb, CSA
joined the parish staff as pastoral minister to the sick,
elderly and bereaved. In her new role Sister Miriam developed
outreach programs to those parishioners who could not be present
at Sunday Eucharist and to those in nursing homes and
independent and assisted living facilities.
In 1995 the first School
Futuring Process was initiated and plans formulated for the
parish school. Formation of an Education Commission, Day School
Committee and Social Concerns Commission followed along with the
development of mission statements for each of the five Parish
Commissions: Spiritual and Liturgical Life, Parish Life,
Education, Family Life and Social Concerns.
In 1997 St. Luke
celebrated the 75th anniversary of its founding as a Parish.
The anniversary celebration opened April 20 with a Mass
celebrated by Bishop A. James Quinn followed by the 40th
anniversary of Fr. Walsh's ordination to the priesthood on May
25. It continued with a Parish Festival on the grounds June 14
and 15 and closed on September 21 with a Mass celebrated by
Bishop Anthony M. Pilla. The anniversary was documented through
a handmade patchwork quilt, pictorial directory and parish video
narrated by Fr. Kenneth Jakubowski, Associate Pastor.
On January 5, 1998 church
repairs began. Renovations included new chandeliers, wood
wainscot, a crucifix placed on a marble wall added as a backdrop
for the sanctuary, a statue of St. Luke, an ambry for the holy
oils, and a new tabernacle for the Eucharist.
In 1999 Fr. Ralph E.
Wiatrowski, who has resided at St. Luke since 1976, celebrated
the 25th anniversary of his priesthood ordination. Fr.
Wiatrowski continues in service to the Diocese of Cleveland as
Chancellor and to St. Luke Parish as its resident priest and
On November 18, 2000,
Bishop Anthony M. Pilla dedicated a newly built shrine that was
installed in Church in memory of Archbishop Oscar Romero and the
four El Salvador Missionaries who were martyred December 2,
1980. St. Luke parishioner and lay missionary Jean Donovan is
one of the four women martyrs as well as Sr. Dorothy Kazel, a
Cleveland Ursuline Sister.
At the New Millennium, a
snapshot of St. Luke Parish shows a vibrant Christian community,
strengthened through its worship, reaching out to its sick,
elderly and bereaved, developing its young and old though a
strong day school and religious education program, teeming with
the activity of its 'model' athletic and community programs, and
blessed with new vocations (Father Phil Bernier, O.F.M. Cap. in
2001 and Father Michael Keating in 2002). It also brought a
renewal in the spiritual life and social outreach activities of
St. Luke including introduction of weekly Bible Studies,
initiation of the Journey Retreat Program, and participation in
Community Meal Programs in Cleveland and Lakewood churches.
Life within the school
community indicates strong involvement of parents, students,
grandparents, alumni, parishioners and friends through its
School Advisory Board, Parent Teacher Organization and a fund
raising group-The Friends of St. Luke School. This same
committed involvement is apparent through activities such as the
Annual School Auction, Market Day Program, CPO Certificate
Program, Endowment Gift Giving and volunteer opportunities. The
students participate in weekly Masses with the parish and in
outreach to the nursing homes, shut-ins, food kitchens, and
various civic community activities.
These years also witnessed
a growing collaboration between St. Luke and other church
communities. Activities with other Lakewood parishes included
shared athletic programs, community reconciliation services, the
1999 Advent Music Program, and the 2001-2002 Lenten Series.
Activities with other denominations included participation in
and development of the Lakewood Christian Service Center
programs, hosting the multi-denominational prayer service after
the 9-11-01 terrorist attack, and in July, 2000 joining the
Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN) - a network of 30+
Cleveland congregations providing meals, shelter and support to
In January 2004 the Pastors
of St. Clement, St. James and St. Luke Parishes and Schools met
regarding issues of declining enrollment and increasing costs of
Catholic education. A decision was made to pursue the
possibility of merging the schools. The Pastors, Principals and
representatives from the three parishes formed an Executive
Committee with the assistance of the Office of Catholic
Education and hired an outside facilitator to guide the
process. During the merger process St. Augustine Academy
announced it would close at the end of the 2004-2005 school
year. It was decided to investigate the possibility of leasing
the St. Augustine Academy facility for the new school. This was
done and after many volunteer hours of work painting and
beautifying. That summer, the new school Lakewood Catholic
Academy opened with 612 students from Pre-Kindergarten to Grade
8 on August 30, 2005.
Aware of its storied past,
the Church of St. Luke the Evangelist looks forward to its
future, seeks to continue to grow in Christ, and to further its
work in serving God's people.