The early 1900s witnessed a period of phenomenal growth for the city of Columbus. By 1922, the Tri-Village area was well established as one of the most rapidly developing areas in the city. It was clear that this area required a new Catholic parish to serve the spiritual and educational needs of its increasingly diverse population. A four-acre tract of land on Roxbury Road in Marble Cliff, the site of a twenty room stone house and a hunting lodge was purchased by the Most Reverend James J. Hartley, D.D., Bishop of Columbus. This became the site of Our Lady of Victory Parish.
Although intended to serve the Tri-Village area, Our Lady of Victory’s parish boundaries extended well beyond that, taking in the area between the Olentangy and Scioto Rivers from McKinley Avenue up to the northernmost limits of the Diocese.
Father Thomas A. Nolan was appointed pastor and soon after moved into the lodge which became the rectory. Father Nolan set about the task of administering the sacramental and administrative duties of a geographically large parish, while simultaneously overseeing the creation of the buildings which would house the parish’s rapidly expanding membership. Originally just 65 families, the parish took in 108 families by the end of its first year.
On September 1, 1922, Father Nolan celebrated the first Mass at Our Lady of Victory. The following week, on September 5, three Sisters of Charity from Nazareth, Kentucky, began teaching classes at Our Lady of Victory Academy in the existing stone house. Aside from serving as the school building for 51 students, the twenty-room house also became both convent and chapel for the sisters. This building remains on the property and houses the parish offices, while still serving as a convent on the second floor.
During his first year, Father Nolan and the parishioners celebrated Mass in the convent chapel. While the chapel served the immediate needs of the parish, work began on a permanent church building. A small English Gothic structure was constructed. This building comprised what is the main nave of the present church building with the high altar located approximately where the current altar stands. On October 14, 1923, just a little more than a year after the first Mass was celebrated in the convent chapel, this building was dedicated as Our Lady of Victory by Bishop Hartley.
By 1927, 92 students were enrolled at the school. With so many students, it became clear the convent could no longer continue to house the school as well. Father Nolan next set about planning a new school building, containing 10 classrooms and an auditorium-gymnasium. In addition, the old lodge was replaced by a new rectory built on the same site. Both buildings were completed in 1931. No longer simply an elementary school, the Academy now offered high school curriculum as well. The high school was coeducational until the mid-1940’s when it became a girl’s academy, continuing to educate young women until it closed in 1963.
Father Nolan served as pastor of Our Lady of Victory Parish for 31 years. He retired in January, 1950, after having been invested as a monsignor the year before.
Father J. Arnold Favret was appointed pastor on June 15, 1950. Like his predecessor Monsignor Nolan, Father Favret undertook the expansion of the parish facilities to accommodate an ever larger parish family. In April, 1956, parishioners were asked to discuss plans, already approved by Bishop Michael J. Ready, to enlarge the original church. Contracting expenses were kept at a minimum thanks to Father Favret who personally acted as the plumbing, heating and air conditioning contractor. A multi-talented man, he also supervised installation.
The 1956 additions shaped Our Lady of Victory Church as parishioners know it today. The wall behind the original altar was removed, and a new main altar of marble and ceramic-tile mosaic of Our Lady of Victory above were installed in the newly constructed area. A new sacristy was built to the north of the sanctuary and a chapel with marble side altar was built to the south. A new baptistery and a Norman-style tower were constructed of the same native Ohio stone as the original building. Ceramic tile stations of the cross were installed, having been commissioned to match the mosaic of Our Lady of Victory behind the high altar. Finally, the rectory was connected to the church building and a new cafeteria was outfitted in the enlarged church basement.
Dedication of the new Our Lady of Victory Church was set for Saturday, May 4, 1957, with the Most Reverend Michael J. Ready, Bishop of Columbus presiding. Dedication was delayed, however, by Bishop Ready’s untimely death May 2. As a result, the re-dedication took place on Saturday, June 1, 1957, when the Most Reverend Edward G. Hettinger, Auxiliary Bishop and administrator of the Diocese of Columbus, celebrated Pontifical Mass in the new church.
The 1920’s and 1950’s had witnessed the physical growth of Our Lady of Victory Church. Subsequent decades have witnessed continued spiritual growth in the parish, now about 550 families. With the coming of the Second Vatican Council in 1962, changes began in the liturgical practices of the church, resulting in the laity’s growing role in the parish. These changes have led to vigorous lay ministries which thrive at Our Lady of Victory today. Liturgical changes also resulted in the reconfiguration of the sanctuary in 1966. The high altar remained but was no longer used to celebrate Mass. A free-standing, temporary altar was erected.
By 1972, years of dedicated service to the parish had taken their toll on Father Favret and on March 24, 1972, Father James M. Berendt was appointed to serve as co-pastor with Father Favret by Bishop Elwell.
The mid-1970’s brought more changes to the parish. The elementary school was consolidated with St. Christopher and St. Margaret of Cortona parishes to form Trinity School. Father Berendt became pastor after Father Favret’s death. On Pentecost, of 1976, parishioner Dick Baumann was ordained a permanent deacon. These changes brought about a change of focus for the parish.
In July, 1987, Father Tom Cadden became the fourth pastor of Our Lady of Victory. He celebrated the 40th anniversary of his ordination at a special Mass and dinner with parishioners in August, 1995. In 1998, Monsignor Paul Enke became pastor and he served until 2000, when Monsignor Romano Ciotola came to serve.
The 1990’s and the new millennium saw new growth in the parish. Many young families have moved into the Tri-Village area, increasing enrollments in the Religious Education program and the Children’s Liturgy of the Word. The grounds of Our Lady of Victory have become a show piece and the interior renovations of the church begun in the 1960’s have continued. The temporary altar has been replaced with a permanent one made of the marble used for the main altar of the 1956 addition. Our Lady of Victory will continue its mission of service in the new century.
This history was written by Margaret Richards and Jim Shannon for the 75th anniversary celebration of the parish.