The disastrous effects of the Vatican II changes prompted faithful Catholics in Cincinnati (as elsewhere) to seek out priests to who celebrated the old Mass and who rejected the modern-day errors.
Father Daniel Dolan, then ordained just a few months earlier by French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, first visited these Catholics in 1976. In February, 1978, he established St. Gertrude the Great Mission, which met for a monthly Mass in various rented facilities. In March 1980 the mission purchased a Presbyterian church in Sharonville. Mass was celebrated every Sunday by priests who traveled to Cincinnati from other cites. Skilled volunteers entirely renovated the facility for traditional Catholic worship, and it was widely admired for the beauty of its woodwork and statuary.
The membership increased, more services were added, and finally in 1989 the church began to be staffed by resident clergy.
By 1993 it was necessary to celebrate four Masses each Sunday to accommodate the increased size of the congregation, and by 1997 we concluded that our first church was rapidly becoming too small to accommodate future growth.
Late in 1997 we purchased eight acres of land, prominently located next to a major thoroughfare in West Chester, a northern suburb of Cincinnati that is experiencing tremendous growth. We formulated a plan to build a large Gothic church, a school, a social hall/gym, offices, a rectory and a convent.
Construction on Phase One of the building project began in September 2002 and, with the exception of installing the granite façade, was completed in late 2003.
The interim church was solemnly dedicated on November 15, 2003, marking the closing of the 700th anniversary of the death of St. Gertrude the Great, the 25th anniversary of the founding of St. Gertrude the Great Mission, the 23rd anniversary of the dedication of our first church, and the 10th anniversary of the episcopal consecration of our pastor, the Most Rev. Daniel L. Dolan.
At present St. Gertrude’s has 600 parishioners, drawn from all over the Tri-State area (southern Ohio, northern Kentucky, southeastern Indiana). Some travel as long as three hours each Sunday to assist at Mass. The church is known for the splendor of its liturgical life. Visitors are drawn to St. Gertrude’s from all over the country, especially for its splendid and complete celebration of the unreformed Holy Week rites.
We draw new parishioners of all ages and from all walks of life. Visitors are amazed by the numbers of young people and young families at Sunday Mass, a proof of the perennial appeal of the unchanged faith.
St. Gertrude’s serves as a center for assisting traditional Catholics in other parts of the country. Priests based at St. Gertrude’s offer the traditional Mass in Columbus, Milwaukee, and Louisiana. One of our priests commutes each month to Most Holy Trinity Seminary in Warren, Michigan, where he teaches seminarians preparing to become traditional Catholic priests.
We are confident that the new home of St. Gertrude the Great Church in West Chester, Ohio will attract even more Catholics to the Mass and faith that is theirs by right.