Making room for all at the table of the Lord through loving service
St. Rose of Lima Catholic Community, named in honor of the 17th century South American saint, famous for her piety, love and dedication to the poor and the sick, was established in March 1946. At that time there was no church structure, not even the grounds on which to build one. There were, however, 110 families registered in the parish, which gathered for Mass in a school auditorium on West 21st Street or a fire station on West 34th Street. The Rev. Paul C. Pieri served as the first pastor.
The first tract of land on Brinkman Street between 34th and Wakefield was purchased later that year with two additional purchases expanding the property. Plans for a parish complex were drawn up almost immediately, but post-war government controls prevented the start of construction until April 12, 1947. Inclement weather and a scarcity of building materials hampered construction, which was finally completed in August 1948.
On August 30, 1948, what was then the Feast Day of St. Rose of Lima, Bishop Christopher E. Byrne, D.D. was assisted by 45 priests in dedicating and blessing the new buildings. The original complex consisted of a rectory, an auditorium (now the East Hall) that also served as the church, five classrooms, a cafeteria and a convent for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, who helped to establish St. Rose of Lima Catholic School, which opened its doors in September 1948 with 185 students. The school continues to offer a quality Catholic education based on the integral formation of the entire Christian youth: mind, body and spirit.
Construction on the present church complex began in August 1961. The church’s cornerstone was laid July 1, 1962. Bishop Wendelin J. Nold, S.T.D. dedicated the new structures on the Feast Day of St. Rose of Lima August 30, 1962. The contemporary architecture with the cross-topped bell tower, rising 63 feet into the suburban sky, immediately made the church a local landmark. The green and gray ledge stone walls of the sanctuary, the German-made stained glass windows and especially the Stations of the Cross (hand-carved in Italy) continue to make the church distinctive.
Msgr. Pieri passed away in September 1969. Following, Rev. John J. Ruddy was appointed pastor but the parish was shocked by his sudden death less than one month later. In January 1970, Rev. Joe Crosthwait became pastor and served the parish for most of the next decade. Beginning in 1979, Rev. Rudy Beranek succeeded Rev. Crosthwait as pastor and he led a drive to build the Parish Activities Building, which was dedicated in August 1987. This addition includes the current parish and school offices, upstairs meeting rooms and the West Hall, which now serves as a gymnasium and auditorium.
Msgr. Tom Wendland became pastor in 1989. In the mid-1990s, he oversaw the purchase of two residences across the street from the parish and their conversion into a rectory. He also led a capital campaign to support the construction of the Early Childhood Center, the renovation of the first floor of the old rectory to become the parish’s Fellowship Center and for needed improvements in a number of other areas, including new lighting and sound systems for the church. Msgr. Wendland passed away on Dec. 26, 1998.
The parish’s Parochial Vicar Rev. Clint Ressler served as interim pastor until Msgr. James B. Anderson joined the parish in June of 1999. Msgr. Anderson served as pastor of St. Rose until August of 2007, when Rev. Clint Ressler returned to St. Rose to begin his service as the pastor on August 26, 2007. Rev. Ressler led an ambitious capital campaign that allowed for the construction of a new elementary school wing, the new Parish Hall, expansion of the Early Childhood Center and the purchase of property across the street to house the Food Pantry. Rev. Ressler remained at St. Rose of Lima until May 2015.
In July 2015, Rev. Rafael Becerra, fondly called “Father Rafa”, joined St. Rose of Lima Catholic Community and serves as the church’s pastor. Today, St. Rose of Lima Catholic Community serves a growing and increasingly diverse population of approximately 2,100 registered families. With numerous organizations and ministries—from youth formation and education programs to leadership councils and spirituality services, St. Rose of Lima Catholic Community offers wonderful ways to nurture and grow people’s faith while serving others. We hope you will join us and get involved.
Original St. Rose groundbreaking in April 1947.