Narrative History

Narrative History

Early in the 20th century, Bishop Herman J. Alerding purchased a half block on Kentucky Avenue, Lakeside, as a site for a parish which was expected to be established north of the Maumee River. However, during the following years, there was a large development farther east and north on that same side of the river, causing a change of location. The years 1925-27 witnessed a growing interest on the part of many Catholic residents of Lakeside and Kensington Addition in a new parish. These residents felt that the distance from the Cathedral and Saint Mary Churches made a new church and parochial school necessary.

During these years, these residents held several different meetings. At one of these meetings in the auditorium of Forest Park School in the spring of 1926, Bishop John Francis Noll pointed out the burden of starting a parish from the ground up. When most people expressed a willingness to meet the burden in return for the convenience, the Bishop authorized the formation of a new parish, taking people away from the Cathedral and Saint Mary Churches.

On May 7, 1926, the Diocese purchased five acres of land for the site of the church and the other parish buildings. This acreage constitutes the present Saint Jude Parish Square, bounded by State Boulevard, Randallia Drive, Forest Avenue, and Pemberton Drive. A short time later, the Diocese purchased an additional five acres to the west and south, hoping that the resale of these lots would pay the cost of construction for a new church. Because of the Great Depression, these lots were not sold until much later.

The committee which purchased the property invited the people to suggest a name. “Sharon Terrace” was among the names proposed and eventually selected as the name of the new addition. Situated in the Holy Land along the Mediterranean Sea, Sharon is a beautiful and fertile section where the ‘Rose of Sharon’ flower grows. This flower is mentioned in the Canticle of Canticles: ‘I am the flower of the field,’ which Christians later applied to Christ as the flower of humanity, the Lord of all creatures.

The building program was entrusted to Father Thomas M. Conroy, Rector of the Cathedral. On his recommendation, the new parish was dedicated to Saint Jude, the forgotten apostle whose name has been confused with the other Jude, Judas Iscariot. On March 3, 1929, Bishop Noll dedicated the school and a chapel in the lower southwest wing. The cost was approximately $125,000. The next day, the Sisters of Providence opened the doors of the new school to 105 children in the first four grades.

On April 12, 1929, Bishop Noll formally established the parish as Saint Jude Church and appointed the Reverend John A. Dapp as its first pastor. The southwest lower wing of the school was planned as a chapel. On Sunday, April 21, 1929, Mass was celebrated for the first time in the Chapel. By that evening all the furnishings for the chapel, except the pews and collection baskets had been donated by members of the parish, the Cathedral and other friends. On August 12, 1929, ground was broken for a temporary Rectory, at a cost of $13,500, on the northwest comer of Pemberton and Forest Avenue. It was “temporary,” because a more permanent Rectory was to have been built on the Parish Square. School opened in September with eight grades and 293 pupils.

In 1930, Father Dapp moved into the new Rectory. The south portion of the second floor of the school was converted into a Sisters’ Apartment, with the parish kitchen in the basement serving as both kitchen and dining room. In December 1933, the Parish received the gift of a church bell from the John Dehner family. It was hung in the south tower of the school and rung for the first time for the Angelus on Christmas Eve.

By 1935 the parish had grown rapidly. The school had reached 345 children and it quickly became obvious that the chapel which seated only 260 people was inadequate for the size of the parish. Because of the large parish debt and depressed economic conditions, plans to build a separate church unit had to be dropped. Instead, the decision was made to build a church adjoining the east side of the school, with entrances on Randallia Drive. On July 1, 1935, ground was broken for the new church. A Spanish architectural style conforming with the school building was chosen, and it was built to handle a seating capacity of 750. On Thanksgiving Day, November 28, 1935, Bishop Noll dedicated the new church. In the fall of 1937, John Dehner donated the addition of a second public office room to the rectory.

In November 1946, Reverend Charles F. Girardot was appointed pastor of St. Jude to succeed Msgr. Dapp, who was appointed Rector of the Cathedral. In November 1948, the Sisters moved into a residence at 1903 Kensington Blvd to create more classrooms in the school.

In October 1953, Bishop Noll approved of a plan to build a new convent north of the school, a four room addition to the south end of the school, and a new gymnasium. With school opening that fall, the enrollment had reached 616 pupils. By this time, the Green Room (the former chapel) had been converted to class use. The staff now numbered 12 teachers.

Construction of another addition to the rectory, including a three car garage, was started in October, 1955 and completed a year later. In 1959 the parish sold the back third of its property on the east side of Randallia Drive to Parkview Hospital for $40,000. When school opened on September, 4, 1957, the enrollment reached 920, even though Saint Charles Parish had been formed earlier that summer. The staff consisted of 13 Sisters and 6 lay teachers. Even when Saint Charles School opened, enrollment continued to be high, peaking at 964 children for the 1963-64 school year. The staff for that year consisted of 14 Sisters and 9 lay teachers.

On September 27, 1964, plans were announced to build a new church and everyone was asked to tithe. On March 14, 1965, the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council were implemented at Saint Jude when a new altar was placed in front of the old altar. On July 2, 1965, ground was broken for the new church, with the construction bids totaling $642,901. The liturgical reforms of Vatican 11 greatly affected the church design. The altar, made of Minnesota Red Granite, occupies a prominent position. The pews are arranged so that the farthest pew is only 60 feet away from the sanctuary, allowing the entire assembly to be gathered around the altar. On October 3, 1966, the auditorium under the new church was used for the first time when the Rosary Society installed their new officers. Msgr. Girardot celebrated the first Mass in the new church at 6 a.m. on Sunday, November 6, 1966. Work was immediately started to remodel the old church into classrooms for the school.

On December 2, 1966, Msgr. Girardot consecrated the new altar in honor of Saint Jude. The relics are those of the martyrs Saint Innocentia and Saint Mansueta. The Blessed Sacrament platform was consecrated, and the relics of Saint Modestini and Saint Theophila were placed there. Bishop Leo A. Pursley blessed and dedicated the new church on June 4, 1967.

On February 14, 1970, a Saturday night Vigil Mass was celebrated for the first time, and on Palm Sunday, March 22nd, the Mass of Paul VI was used for the first time. On July 1, 1970, Msgr. Girardot retired and was succeeded by Msgr. J. William Lester as pastor. Msgr. Girardot continued to live in the neighborhood until his death on January 29, 1974.

In August 1973, Msgr. Lester acknowledged 44 years of faithful service to Saint Jude by the Sisters of Providence and welcomed the Sisters of Notre Dame from Toledo, Ohio, to serve the parish. In 1978, Father Donald Isenbarger succeeded Msgr. Lester as pastor until 1980, when Father John Pfister succeeded him. In 1985, a building restoration fund drive made possible the installation of new boilers in the church and school, replacement of new roofs on the church and school, painting of the church interior, installation of new carpeting in the church, and a new fire alarm/public address system in the school.

In July 1988, Father William Schooler was appointed the sixth Pastor of Saint Jude, succeeding Father Pfister, who was transferred to Saint Mary of the Assumption, South Bend. After consultation with the Parish Pastoral Council and the Finance Committee, Father Schooler introduced stewardship as a way of life to the parish in April 1989, with Sacrificial Giving – the giving of the first portion back to God in gratitude for what he has so generously given to us – recommended for Stewardship of Treasure.

In the fall of 1993, a major building maintenance fund drive was conducted in conjunction with the annual Bishop’s Appeal. This drive raised over $1,000,000, which was used for accomplishing major renovations and repairs to the school, upgrading the church air conditioning to adequately cool the church in the warm months, and installing new windows in the convent and parish office/rectory.

In July 1998, the parish purchased the house at 2020 Forest Avenue for $105,000 to be used as a rectory. In compliance with five year plans from both Parish Pastoral Council and the Parish Board of Education, the purchase of this home opened the way to convert the old convent into more efficient parish and school use. Located at 2130 Pemberton Drive, the Parish Center contains all the parish offices, four meeting rooms, an auxilliary principal’s office, a sick room for students, a kitchen, and three classrooms. The sisters now live at 2101 Pemberton Drive.

During the latter part of 2000 and early 2001, a 50 ton water chiller was installed to complete the air conditioning of the school. Renovations in the Church included a new Baptismal Pool, flooring replacement around the Altar to aid acoustics and improvements to the rest rooms to more closely meet the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards.

In July 2001, Father Thomas R. Shoemaker was appointed the seventh Pastor, succeeding Father Schooler, who was transferred to Saint Pius X in Granger, Indiana.

In April of 2004, the parish began a celebration of our 75th anniversary. Outdoor banners announced our anniversary for the next five months. We began the celebration with a Mass and an open house, as the school and parish hall were filled with memorabilia and displays of our history. An outdoor May procession was recreated from years past, and a parish picnic was held in August. The anniversary celebration concluded with a Parish Mission in October. Featured speakers were chosen from among the priests and sisters who had been a part of our parish history. A nine-foot concert grand piano was donated to the parish during the jubilee year.

The parish purchased the empty lots on the southwest corner of State and Pemberton in 2006, with thoughts of someday using that land for parking.

In the fall of 2006, our parish school was named a “Blue Ribbon School” by the National Department of Education, based on academic excellence.

In the fall of 2008, we began construction of a new administration wing for our school, overlooking the parking lot door. Construction was completed in the spring of 2009, and the new wing was dedicated on April 25, 2009 by Bishop John M D’Arcy.

On May 23, 2012, Bishop Rhoades blessed our new bronze statue of Mary and the infant Jesus by artist Frank Bougher.

St. Jude Catholic Church
2130 Pemberton Drive
Ft. Wayne, IN 46805
(260) 484-6609

St. Jude Catholic School
2110 Pemberton Drive
Ft. Wayne, IN 46805
(260) 484-4611

Parish Office Hours
8 am - 4 pm Mon-Fri

Music Ministry
(260) 484-6609