Pastors of Saint Jude Parish, 1929 – Present

Father Jake Runyon – Eighth Pastor, 2013 – present


Hello St. Jude, I’m Father Jake Runyon, and I am excited and humbled to be assigned as your new pastor.

I am the oldest of 11 children.  I was born and raised in the Fort Wayne area.  In fact, I was baptized at St. Jude parish, so this is like a homecoming.  I grew up in the parish of St. Louis Besancon just east of New Haven.  I went to Heritage High School.  After high school, I was a manager at Wendy’s in Decatur for a couple of years.  I then worked at my uncle’s paintball gun company called Tippmann Pneumatics (yes I’m one of the Tippmann family).

Several years ago now, my brother-in-law asked me to be his baptismal sponsor for the RCIA program.  As a result of going to the classes every week with him, I started wondering about my life’s vocation.  The more I thought and prayed about what God wanted me to do, the more I thought I should become a priest.  I finally ended up talking to the diocese and Bishop D’Arcy, and I entered the seminary in 2001.  I spent                  2 years in Boston, 2 years in Minnesota, and 4 years in Columbus OH.  I was ordained a priest on October 31, 2009.  For the past 4 years I have been the associate pastor at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in South Bend and the chaplain of Marian High School in Mishawaka.

This will be my first experience being a pastor, so I hope you are patient with me.  But, I cannot tell you how excited I was to hear the Bishop say he wanted to send me to St. Jude.  During my seminary years, I spent many hours in the adoration chapel with Ed Dahm.  I attended many of the 6:15 masses before work.  I would often make use of the sacrament of confession at St. Jude as well.  All of these things made me who I am today. How blessed I am to be returning to a spiritual home.

I know many people will want to know about my likes and interests.  I play guitar (electric and acoustic, Van Halen, Dave Matthews Band, stuff like that).  I love to play golf, ride my bike, play basketball and racquetball.  I look forward to spending more time with my family, now that I will be closer.  I like to cook and eat.  But most of all, I’m a follower of Jesus.  I think time spent hearing confessions, saying Mass, teaching, and all the other duties of the priesthood are the most important activities in my life.

Fr. Bob and I have been friends for years, so I’m looking forward to working with him.  Also, as a seminarian and priest, I have always looked up to the amazing example of Fr. Tom.  I want to thank him for all his help and guidance over the years.

I look forward to seeing you all in the first week of August.  I’m writing to you from Washington D.C.  Bishop Rhoades has asked me to pursue a degree in canon law.  So, for 2 more years I will have to be in Washington during the months of June and July studying canon law.  I’m looking forward to returning to Indiana, and settling into my new home at St. Jude.

God bless you all,   Father Jake

Father Thomas Shoemaker – Seventh Pastor, 2001 – 2013

I grew up in Gas City, which is an hour south of here on Interstate 69. As a youngster, I decided that I wanted to be a dentist and I pursued that dream. I finished the degree and was licensed as a dentist in 1983. I practiced dentistry for a year at the V.A. Hospital in Indianapolis and for a year in an office in Kendallville.

At age 27, I began to question the direction of my life and wondered if God might have other plans for me. After some time spent in prayer and talking to others, I decided to enter the seminary and see if God might be calling me to priesthood.

I attended St. John’s Seminary in Boston, where I became convinced that priesthood was part of God’s plan for me. After four more years of study and a year as a deacon, I was ordained a priest in November of 1990.

My first assignment was St. Matthew Cathedral in South Bend. There I spent 8 years, most of that time serving with Bishop Sheets, our auxiliary bishop. In 1998, I was made a pastor at Saint Henry’s in Fort Wayne. Three months later, I was asked to also serve as a pastor at Sacred Heart in Fort Wayne. For the past three years I have been honored to be a part of those parishes and their school, Benoit Academy.

In July, 2001, I began my assignment at St. Jude’s. This is the largest parish I have known, and I follow a very gifted pastor here. Despite the challenges, I am excited about the friendliness and great organization I have found here and, more importantly, the beautiful spirit of prayer and service.

Father William Schooler – Sixth Pastor, 1988 – 2001

Father Schooler was born on July 27, 1948. He attended high school at Wawasee Prep, graduating in 1966. Father Bill earned a BA in English Literature in 1970 from Saint Gregory Seminary, Cincinnati, Ohio. He prepared for the priesthood at Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary, Cincinnati, receiving his MA in Theology in 1974. Father Schooler was ordained at St. Jude on May 25, 1974.

Previous assignments include:
St. Matthew Cathedral, South Bend, Associate Pastor. 1974-1979. St. Monica, Mishawaka, Associate Pastor. 1979-1984. Marian High School, Mishawaka, Teacher, Chaplain, Head of Theology Department. 1974-1984. St. Paul of the Cross, Columbia City, Pastor. 1984-1988.

In July 1988, Father Schooler was appointed the sixth Pastor of Saint Jude, succeeding Father Pfister.In July 2001, Father Schooler was appointed the Pastor of St. Pius X, Granger, Indiana.

Father John Pfister – Fifth Pastor, 1980 – 1988

In 1980, Fr. Pfister became the fifth pastor of Saint Jude Parish. In 1988, Fr. Pfister was transferred to Saint Mary of the Assumption, South Bend. He currently serves as pastor of Queen of Angels Parish in Fort Wayne.

Father Donald Isenbarger – Fourth Pastor, 1978 – 1980

Born at New Haven, IN. Attended St. John’s grade school, New Haven. Ordained by Bishop Pursley May 3, 1955 and assigned to high school and college students and Boy Scouts. In 1963 he became a charter member of the new Bishop Dwenger High School faculty, and in 1969 became principal at Central Catholic High School, Ft. Wayne. In 1969 he was named pastor of St. Robert Bellarmine Parish, North Manchester, and in 1975 became pastor of St. Joseph Parish, Garrett, IN. He became Pastor of St. Jude Parish in June, 1978 and served as pastor until 1980, when Father John Pfister succeeded him.

Monsignor William J. Lester – Third Pastor, 1970 – 1978

Born at Gary, IN on Nov. 26, 1919. Attended Holy Angels grade school, Gary. Prepared for the priesthood at St. Lawrence College, Mt. Calvary, Wisconsin, and Theological College, Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. Ordained on Aug. 24, 1945 by Bishop Noll. Assistant at St. Mary Church, Huntington from 1945 to 1947 when he was named principal of Huntington Catholic High School. In 1951 appointed principal of Central Catholic High School, Ft. Wayne. On March 1, 1957 appointed superintendent of schools, also retaining position as principal of CCHS. On May 31, 1960 was invested as Papal Chamberlain. On July 1, 1970 appointed pastor of St. Jude’s where he served until assigned pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle parish, Elkhart, IN.

Monsignor Charles F. Girardot – Second Pastor, 1946 – 1970

Born in Fort Wayne on September, 1894. Attended Cathedral Grade School and Central Catholic High School. Pursued Ecclesiastical Studies at St. Meinrad’s Seminary. Ordained at St. Meinrad Archabbey Church on November 13, 1918 by Bishop Chartrand of Indianapolis. Appointed assistant at St. Mary’s, Michigan City on November 30, 1918, serving at the same time as chaplain at St. Anthony’s Hospital, and at the Indiana State Prison until January 29, 1926. Pastor of St. Joseph’s, Bluffton from January 29, 1926 to April 12, 1929. Pastor of St. Joseph’s, Fort Wayne, from April 12, 1929 to November 13, 1946 when he became pastor of St. Jude Church. Monsignor served our parish until his retirement July 1, 1970. During these years he was invested as Papal Chamberlain Nov. 26, 1950; and Domestic Prelate June 1, 1964. Msgr. Girardot continued to live in the neighborhood until his death on January 29, 1974, ending 55 years of priesthood.

Monsignor John A. Dapp – First Pastor, 1929 – 1946

Born at Summit (Waterloo) on February 5, 1892. Pursued Ecclesiastical Studies at Mount Calvary, Wisconsin, and St. Meinrad’s Seminary. Ordained by Bishop Alerding on June 16, 1916. Assistant at St. Peter’s, Fort Wayne from June, 1916 to June, 1922. Assistant at the Cathedral until July 1, 1927. Pastor of St. Joan of Arc, Kokomo until April 12, 1929 when he became the first pastor of St. Jude Parish, Fort Wayne. Appointed Rector of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on November 13, 1946 where he served until his death Feb. 28, 1956.

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