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Still-changing needs at St. Boniface Parish

The Beginning of the Road

The elegantly grand and solidly constructed stone buildings of St. Boniface Parish sit aloft a terraced slope keeping an ever-steady and unwavering watch over the prettily painted Victorian homes pressed right against the foot of the hill. Sundays, holy days, and all days in Northside, a bustling and eclectic Cincinnati neighborhood, St. Boniface has served as a spiritual home for its parishioners generation upon generation. Countless families have celebrated the Holy Sacraments under the red clay-tiled roof since its completion in 1927.


(The exterior of St. Boniface Church. Catholic Telegraph Photo by E.L. Hubbard)

Still today, you can find older life-long parishioners who were Baptized as infants at St. Boniface back when it still smelled of new construction and before the days of hospital births. Dependably and carefully, albeit a pace slowed by age, arthritis and time, they can be witnessed navigating the steps and making the climb to enter the church that has overseen their Confirmations and Marriages. It’s where these men and women came for the funeral Masses of their parents. It’s where their own children, grandchildren and great grandchildren were Baptized, Married, and Confirmed. The 1934-built school, where they and their loved ones were educated by the Sisters of Charity, still provides careful spiritual formation and a quality education. Both parish children and the wider neighborhood as well, over 90% of whom are at or below poverty level, benefit greatly from St. Boniface School offering an exemplary alternative to the poorly rated public-school option.

St. Boniface Parish has a long and dedicated history, stretching over 150 years, of meeting the changing needs of her parishioners. In the 1850s, when Northside was just a small village known as Cumminsville, there came an influx of Catholic immigrants. A good number of them were Irish and had no place to worship. Railways, a booming local economy and employment opportunities made the area a perfect fit for these new Americans who where seeking better lives for themselves and their families. All that was missing was a place to participate in and receive the Holy Sacraments, to practice and live the faith. In 1853, Archbishop Purcell approved the building of the small church on Delaney St. allowing Cumminsville to become, for these immigrants, a place where one could make a home— a place to put down roots, to truly live.

Of course, the Irish weren’t the only large group of immigrants who found a home in Cincinnati during the 1800s. German-Catholic immigrants were hugely influential in Cincinnati’s development, growth, and forming of cultural identity in the 19th century. These German immigrants began moving in large numbers to Cumminsville right alongside the Irish. The young parish, known then as St. Aloysius, could no longer accommodate the rapid increase in numbers. Archbishop Purcell formed a new parish to serve the crush of parishioners who no longer fit into the overflowing church on Delaney Street. Their needs had changed.

Change in Direction

As a group, the parish decided to divide along ethnic lines. Drawing lots, the Irish ended up staying where they were and changed the parish name to St. Patrick. The German-Cincinnatians were given $1500 by the Archdiocese to help them on their path for building their new parish church. They started on Blue Rock, there were rectories, sacristies, other school buildings and additions and a residence for the Sisters. St. Boniface Church’s growth was so substantial that two additional new parishes sprang forth to satisfy, again, the changing needs of the people. In 1921, the land for the current location was purchased. And in 1927, at the peak of the “Roaring 20s,” the current rectory and church were completed.

So many things have changed since 1927. St. Patrick Church reunited with St. Boniface in 1991. The school, first started by the Sisters of Charity, became a ministry of the Sisters of Mercy. Many long-standing families moved out of Northside in favor of the suburbs and its expansive lawns. In 1927, ninety-one years ago, there were a grand total of 15 million cars that had been sold in the United States, and the state of Ohio did not even require a driver’s license. Today, there are more than 276 million vehicles that are legally registered in addition to an untold number which are not. And we are living a lot longer, too. The average life expectancy for Americans in 1927 was around 60. Though the total average American life expectancy is currently about 78, once you’ve made it to age 65, you can expect to live about another 20 years. Again, St. Boniface is prepared to meet the ever changing needs of the parish.

Destination Stays the Same


With allocated funds from the One Faith, One Hope, One Love campaign, St. Boniface Parish is building a brand new parking lot to accommodate its parish body and their still-changing needs. No longer will church goers need to circle the block down the hill for street parking. Nor will they have to park up the hill in the school parking lot. Getting to church 45 minutes early will no longer be necessary to procure one of only two handicap parking spots which are currently available. The current church-level parking will be increased from 30 spaces to 69, ten of which will be designated as handicap parking. The people of St. Boniface know that meeting the needs of the people is not always new buildings, new schools, or new parishes. It’s really just helping bring souls to Jesus. Sometimes, it’s a place to park.

Written by: Rebecca Sontag


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Catholic Education Foundation Tuition Assistance

The Catholic Education Foundation for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati is offering more than $2 million in needs-based tuition assistance to Catholic school students for the 2019-2020 school year. Families can apply for tuition assistance of up to $1,000 per student.

For elementary school (K-8) tuition assistance, the application period deadline is January 31, 2019.

If you have questions, please call Pam Jaspers at 513-421-3131, etx. 2713 or e-mail

Catholic Education – The Best Choice!


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When a Priest Retires

“I enjoyed it very much!” That was Fr. Dennis Dettenwanger’s quick and enthusiastic reply when asked what he thought of his first ride in a helicopter. Not even a mediocre cell phone connection could dampen the excitement that Fr. Dennis radiated as he told his story. The blades chopped through the air whipping the wind all about. The technological marvel in which he found himself made quick work of the short distance between the town of Hamilton and the landing pad atop University Hospital in Clifton.


It was in a cozy home on Grace Avenue that Fr. Dennis was born to parents Jean and George Dettenwanger in St. Louis, MO, 1937. World War II was gearing up and so, too, was anti-German sentiment in the United States. George Dettenwanger, employed in the war-production industry, followed the work where it took him. And, in efforts to shield the family from anti-German ire resultant from the war, they moved numerous times during Fr. Dennis’ early childhood finally landing in New Carlisle, OH.

Fr. Dennis first heard the call to the priesthood as a young boy. Though it started soft, it gradually grew louder and louder until it was so loud, even others could hear it.  Sr. Jerome, his 8th grade teacher, cornered him in the coatroom and flatly informed him, “Look—you should be a priest.” Following high school graduation in 1955, he listened and entered Mount St. Mary’s Seminary then located in Norwood, OH.

The cardiac team was waiting for Fr. Dennis that Sunday in 2007 and was poised for quick action when AirCare landed on the roof of the hospital. Within moments they had him safely out of the helicopter, on a gurney, and speeding off towards surgery. That Fr. Dennis remained conscious for the helicopter transport was incredibly surprising considering the severity of his condition. Also shocking was that he was able to complete Mass that morning before seeking care. Even then, he didn’t call an ambulance. He called his brother, George, who picked him up in his car and drove him to the local hospital. But they were not equipped to handle a heart episode this severe. AirCare was called right away.

Nine years after entering seminary, in 1964, Fr. Dennis and 30 other men were graduated and ordained by the Archbishop. Vatican II Council had just concluded a year prior, and within months of ordination, Fr. Dennis would be among the first priests to begin praying the Mass in a language other than Latin. It was to be a gradual transition. First, the readings were read in English, followed by the prayers of the Mass until, eventually, the entire Mass was spoken in English. Fr. Dennis would be there forging the path during this dynamic, and sometimes unsettled, slice of history.

His first assigned parish following ordination was Annunciation located in Clifton, right down the street from the University of Cincinnati and the helicopter’s landing. Some of these parishioners were unable to read. Some had PhDs. Some lived in bare and poorly heated apartments, others lived in grand homes complete with domestic staff. The university neighborhood was abuzz with the cultural tumult that made the 1960s what they were. Fr. Dennis’ 10-year tenure at Annunciation Church witnessed the bulk of the Vietnam War, the rise and fall of the “hippy” culture and Roe v/s Wade all while Vatican II was being implemented and unpacked. Fr. Dennis was right in the middle of it all.

In 1974, Fr. Dennis moved from Annunciation to St. Matthew in Norwood located quite near to where he had attended seminary. Though now, he’d be on the other side of the desk teaching five years at Marian High School (since closed). From there, he was assigned to St. Aloysius on the Ohio, and that would then be his home parish during a 13-year teaching assignment at Seton High School in Price Hill.

After a teaching career that lasted nearly two decades, Fr. Dennis received his last formal parish assignment in 1992. A 2-parish community, consisting of St. Joseph and St. Ann in Hamilton, needed a priest.  More than that even, St. Ann needed a pastor.  Fr. Dennis served these souls entrusted to him with happiness, grace and love just as he had all the others who had come before them. So many baptisms, weddings, last rites, anointings, confessions, absolutions— soul upon soul being carefully shepherded toward God. He loved being their pastor but the helicopter would not be bringing him back to St. Ann nor to his role as pastor. He would have a new assignment, now. Retired.

There are no long golfing vacations or fishing trips here. Retirement has a different meaning. For Fr. Dennis, retirement means officiating Mass at least once a day for the Sisters of Charity, at Mary Margaret Hall, for the Little Sisters of the Poor, or others. But there are no more weddings. Fr. Dennis hears confession 3 times a week and fills in around town as needed but no parish meetings, no parent-teacher conferences.

He goes to his heart doctor twice a month, prays the Liturgy of the Hours, and visits his friends who live in the same apartment building downtown like Fr. George and Fr. Bramlage. He quietly and joyfully continues to serve God, serve the Archdiocese and administer the sacraments as they come. He visits his family, goes to the movies, fixes computers for his neighbors, tinkers with electronics and continues his lifelong commitment to give himself for others. Though his pension from the Archdiocese is modest, it is given in faith, and with hope, with love, and definitely with gratitude. Many thanks to you, Father Dennis, and all our retired priests.

Written by: Rebecca Sontag


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School of Faith

Through Catholic Education Foundation funds are allocated for programs that foster the Catholic identity, leadership and academic quality in schools, religious education programs and parishes. This programming will receive $343,000 for the 2018-2019 school year.

The money will be used to continue several initiatives with the aim of growing the Catholic identity. These include the Vocare and “School of Faith” programs.

The School of Faith program provides principals with life-changing formation and spiritual support that enhances their own discipleship. The program includes a Holy Land Pilgrimage followed by small monthly group Principal cohort formation sessions.

Here is a video testimonial from the recent pilgrimage taken in the summer of 2018:


Cave of Gethsemane – John Leyendecker Reflection from School of Faith on Vimeo.


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Lay Faith Leaders Benefit from the Support of Vocations

“I might not have gone through the program without it.”

Fostering vocations is a component of the One Faith, One Hope, One Love campaign that is often associated with the formation of seminarians at the Athenaeum of Ohio. But another component of that support is the fostering of vocations for lay students as well. Funds from the campaign have allowed the Athenaeum to bolster lay enrollment and assist lay students seeking to further their education and embrace vocations to serve others in the Church.

For the last three years, every lay student at the Athenaeum has received a tuition discount for classes because of funds contributed to the One Faith, One Hope, One Love campaign. This has included students in the permanent diaconate program, lay pastoral ministry program as well as lay graduate students and students in non-degree certification programs. In 2017, $176,701 of scholarship money was distributed to lay students. Every lay student in 2017 received a 50% reduction in tuition. This year, each student has continued to receive assistance with a 25% reduction in tuition.

According to Dr. Susan McGurgan, the Director of the Lay Pastoral Ministry Program, the students have been very appreciative of the financial assistance. “They are deeply appreciative of the people in the Archdiocese who have made this possible and were able to give to the campaign. I believe that the assistance makes a concrete difference in our students’ lives.”

Dr. McGurgan said another benefit of the tuition discount has been that students are taking more classes and finishing their degrees and programs earlier. This in-turn provides the opportunity for students to serve and give back to the community quicker. “Whether they serve as a volunteer or a staff member or a teacher, the people of the Archdiocese are the recipients of their knowledge and preparation and formation. I think every parish in our Archdiocese has been touched by an Athenaeum graduate,” said Dr. McGurgan.


Anna Klosterman is in her final year of the Lay Pastoral Ministry Program. Since her youth she has been discerning her vocation to serve others. Her first career has been a nurse and care-giver, but now she is planning to apply her Catholic faith in her ministry to serve others when she graduates in May.  “I don’t think I would have enrolled for classes without the tuition assistance,” said Ms. Klosterman. “I greatly appreciate the support and I think most people in my class would say the same thing that I am saying, I might not have gone through the program without it.”

The Archdiocese of Cincinnati continues to foster vocations with support to the One Faith, One Hope, One Love campaign. Funds for this allocation are given to the Athenaeum of Ohio. In 2017, the Athenaeum received just under of $2.5 million from the campaign. In addition to tuition assistance for lay students, campaign funds were used for capital improvements and endowment growth.




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Peace of Mind

Catholic Charities of Southwestern Ohio is an organization that receives funds from the 1 Faith 1 Hope 1 Love campaign. $139,499 of the 2017 funds were used for Health and Education Programs for Hispanic and Latino immigrants. The follow is reported on their website highlighting Su Casa Success Stories.


Maria is grateful for Su Casa for providing her with an opportunity to receive her first mammogram at a health fair last year. Her visit led to a biopsy in February, and she’s relieved she’s cancer free.

However, as she received this great news, her cousin died of breast cancer. Her cousin lacked access to regular mammograms. Maria didn’t have the money to pay for a mammogram.


So now Maria is a vocal proponent of Su Casa’s mammography program and shares her story at her church. Nearly a dozen women responded seeking information.

Su Casa Hispanic Center provides free mammograms every month. To schedule an appointment, call Mariela Baltonado Murillo 513-672-3783. The next mammograms will be from 9 am to 3 pm, April 6 outside the Su Casa Hispanic Center at Midpoint Tower in Roselawn.


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New Ways to Serve New Parents

Catholic Social Services of the Miami Valley is an organization that receives funds from the 1 Faith 1 Hope 1 Love campaign. The 2017 funds allowed CSSMV to provide new ways to serve new parents and enhance its support services. The article below first appeared in the Catholic Social Services Summer 2018 Good News magazine.


Healthy Babies, Empowered Parents, Thriving Families

If you ask someone in the Greater Dayton region, “What does Catholic Social Services do?” they will often name some of the agency’s most high-profile programs, such as the Choice Food Pantry or the Refugee Resettlement program. But they are often unaware of the work taking place through the agency’s Pregnancy & Parenting Support programs. In fact, these services are among the agency’s most impactful, making a tangible difference in new parents’ ability to raise healthy, happy children. In 2017, CSSMV’s pregnancy and parenting program served 444 clients and their families, with the majority of those in Montgomery County.

Starting with Healthy Babies

According to the Ohio Department of Health, prematurity-related conditions – such as preterm birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy – are the leading cause of infant deaths in Ohio. (Infants are defined as those who haven’t yet reached their first birthday.) Montgomery County has the fifth highest infant mortality rate in the state, a statistic that is simply unacceptable. Catholic Social Services has been participating on Montgomery County’s EveryOne Reach One Infant Mortality Task Force to identify and implement effective ways to increase the number of babies who make it to their first birthdays and beyond.

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Cindy Currell, CSSMV’s director of social services in Dayton, is the agency’s representative on the task force. “Through this collective impact approach,” she said, “Catholic Social Services has developed new partnerships for supporting pregnant and parenting individuals. We’ve also raised awareness of how CSSMV can address the social determinants of health – not only through our work in pregnancy preparation and parenting support, but also through our complementary services such as mental health counseling, access to fresh produce through our food pantry, early childhood education, and general family stabilization and support case management and utility assistance. Our holistic supports really help strengthen pregnant mothers and families – which is the foundation for healthy babies and safe and healthy kids.”

Through the county task force, the Ohio Department of Medicaid has recently made investments in six community initiatives aimed at reducing infant mortality by connecting women and infants to quality health care and care management. With this new funding, CSSMV is partnering with the West Dayton Health Promotion Partnership and Sunlight Village to implement the Family Wellness Community Health Worker Program. The program is designed to increase peer-to-peer support that’s tailored to meet the unique needs of the community, and CSSMV now has two full-time Community Health Workers who are doing community outreach, educating young pregnant and parenting moms of infants (up to the age of one) about infant mortality and making connections to services that can help strengthen their families.

Making a Life-Changing Decision

For some mothers, having a healthy pregnancy starts with a major life decision: whether to become a parent to their child, or to make an adoption plan. CSSMV offers birth options counseling 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and can provide additional assistance to help ensure a healthy pregnancy and birth. Agency staff are available to support the birth mother and her family as well as the birth father – before, during and after whatever decision they make.


CSSMV’s state-certified adoption counselor can provide information about the various adoption options, as well as explaining what to expect from both emotional and legal perspectives. If the decision is to make an adoption plan, a counselor can help connect the birth parents with a trusted adoption agency for placement.

For those who decide to parent their child, Catholic Social Services offers a variety of pregnancy and parenting supports. This can start with information and links to community resources for prenatal care, financial assistance, home visiting services, support groups, child care, and other services. CSSMV can also connect expectant parents with its own ParentLink programs, including the Mothers Empowered prenatal care program, Nurturing Parenting education, and Teen Parents Learn.

“Parenting Support” Isn’t Only About the Babies

While promoting healthy births and babies is a key component in CSSMV’s efforts, the agency also understands that a variety of factors in the parents’ lives can help a child – and its entire family – thrive. That’s why CSSMV’s Family Life Coaches work with moms and dads on goals related to their own education, careers, health, and emotional well-being, as well as giving them the knowledge and tools to be confident, empowered parents to their children.

For the past seven years, Catholic Social Services has partnered with Lifestages Centers for Women and the Good Samaritan Hospital Foundation to offer the Mothers Empowered program. In this wraparound support program, Lifestages provides CenteringPregnancy® group prenatal care and CSSMV’s Family Life Coaches provide parenting preparation, nurturing parenting education, home visiting, and community resources case management. The program isn’t just for the expectant mothers; fathers are encouraged to participate as well. Once the babies are born, the Family Life Coaches facilitate ongoing group meetings and offer ongoing one-on-one home visits.

Other parenting supports offered by CSSMV include home-based Nurturing Parenting classes with one-on-one support from a Family Life Coach; the Teen Parents Learn program, which helps teenage moms and dads stay in school (or return to school) to graduate with their high school diplomas; and free parenting classes offered at the agency’s Center for Families in Dayton.

Mothers Empowered Finds a New Home

With the closure of Good Samaritan Hospital, Mothers Empowered needed to find a new home. The program will continue to serve clients at Miami Valley Hospital North (formerly Good Sam North) in Englewood, but it was important to all the partners that the program continue serving the west Dayton community.


The search led to the Dr. Charles R. Drew Health Center at 1323 West Third Street, adjacent to the Wright-Dunbar neighborhood. This is one of several facilities operated by Community Health Centers of Greater Dayton, a non-profit corporation with a mission to improve lives by providing quality primary and preventive health care services to those in need, regardless of their ability to pay. As of mid-July, Mothers Empowered has its own classroom space at the center, and services will continue without interruption.

“We couldn’t be happier about this new partnership,” said Catholic Social Services CEO Laura Roesch. “We are committed to serving our neighbors in west Dayton, and we believe that this new location will make the Mothers Empowered program even more visible and accessible.”

Need Assistance?

For pregnancy and birth options counseling, call (937) 296-1007 ext. 2120 during regular business hours. In the evening or on weekends, call (937) 223-7217, press 3, and leave a confidential message. A counselor will return your call promptly.

For information about CSSMV’s other pregnancy and parenting support services, please call (937) 299-LINK (5465).





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