St. Thomas More University Parish, as a family of faith, loves, serves, and enhances the community of Bowling Green State University through an invitation to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, experienced in the Sacraments of the Catholic Church so that all may grow intellectually, personally, and spiritually.
In 1939, the formation of St. Thomas More University Parish began with the help of some very dedicated students. As early as 1916 there was some evidence of a Catholic organization present but it was not until 1939 that Father Horrigan, then pastor of St. Aloysius approved the formation of a Newman club for BGSU students. Since the formation of the Newman club, an extreme amount of hard work went into making St. Thomas More what it is today.
In 1952, Father Ollivier was appointed to serve and a majority of the growth took place under his direction. Father Ollivier worked with eight other students on many construction projects to expand properties that were bought in order to better serve the students. Four years later, the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity house was purchased and remodeled for Father Ollivier and the 8 students to move in. Different construction projects and expansions occurred from 1956 to 1966 in order to create the most successful parish possible.
Father Ollivier and the eight faithful students that helped him with construction were the driving force of making St. Thomas More what it is today. Included in the expansion projects, the St. Thomas More Chapel was built. In 1958, the first Mass was held in the new chapel and in 1959 Bishop Rehrig blessed the chapel. In 1963, the chapel doubled in size and was remodeled. In 1964, three houses that were on the Thurstin Avenue property were torn down and Newman housing was built. That next year, the Toledo Blade reported, “This summer Father Ollivier will complete his most ambitious attempt at construction. A 17 room, L-shaped center with a large meeting hall, library, bookstore, and offices.” A few years later in 1968, the Newman Foundation officially became a parish as St. Thomas More University Parish.
The main purpose of St. Thomas More was and continues to be to serve the BGSU community. It was Father Sullivan who decided that the spiritual needs of the college demanded a complete separation from the local parish. Today, St. Thomas More University Parish provides and supports an array of ministries and continues to look toward the future in order to serve BGSU and radiate the love of Christ.
“Cor ad Cor Loquitur” – “Heart Speaks to Heart” –Blessed Cardinal Newman
1939 – Fr. Horrigan, pastor of St. Al’s, approves the formation of a Newman Club for BGSU students
1949 – Fr. Nietfield is appointed director of the Newman Club, an office is established on campus
1952 – Fr. John Ollivier is appointed to the Newman post. With the permission of St. Al’s pastor Fr. Sullivan, Ollivier turns the parish hall into a Newman center.
1955 – Fr. Sullivan, St. Aloysius pastor, determines that the “spiritual and intellectual needs of the students demands total separation from the local parish.”
1956, October – The Newman Club purchased the home at 307 E. Wooster St.
1957, March – 307 E. Wooster dedicated as Newman Center. Fr. Ollivier lives on second floor with some students.
1957, June 13 – Diocese buys the Mills property on Thurstin Street. Three houses and a auto repair shop are on the grounds. The body shop is converted to a student center.
1958, October 19 – First Mass in the chapel.
1959, May 10 – Chapel blessed by the Bishop
1961 – Two story addition put in front of garage, made new student center
1963 – Chapel is doubled in size and remodeled
1964 – The three houses on the property are torn down and Newman Housing is built.
1964, Sept. – Fr. Wurzel appointed to assist Fr. Ollivier
1965 – New L-shaped addition with gym built
1965, July 17: From Toledo Blade. This summer Fr Ollivier will complete his most ambitious attempt at construction. A 17 room, L shaped center with a large meeting hall, library, bookstore and offices. Was built by eight students, Fr. Ollivier and Fr. Wurzel. Cost of this part was $50,000. The chapel, hall and Newman housing combined cost $76,000. Fr. Specially thanks Matt Sobon, Stan Sobon, Dave Gideon and Charles Regan for their help. Matt Sobon spent every summer from 1958-65 helping manage construction jobs.
1965 – Brother Antoninus, the self-proclaimed “Beat Friar” of San Francisco visits for a night. He says his poetry has a style that “smashes, pulverizes and confronts” the audience.
1966, Jan. 18: From BG News. Open house for the gym portion of the new L-shaped wing. New library also completed with 6,000 volumes.
1966 – Old two story hall converted into more student housing for 35 more students. Bringing total to 70.
1966 – Sr. Mary Ursula and Sr. Mary Martina, Benedictine nuns from Tulsa, come to St. Tom’s to teach and counsel.
1966, Nov. 9 – Students from Newman Foundation collect 500 pounds of candy to send to American soldiers in Vietnam in “Operation Sweet Tooth.”
1967 – Religion classes are taught by Fr. Ollivier, Fr. Warren, Sr. Martina, Fr. Rinkowski and Sr. Ursula.
1967 – Newman Club elections are held. Herb Weber runs for second vice president. “Time and initiative are my qualifications. I showed initiative in founding a new committee. I have also worked for the religious and publicity committees and various other Newman projects.”
1967 – Newmanites went to Cincinnati to work with Franciscan Friars in Operation Spring Break.
1967, May – First guitar Mass introduced, per bulletin: “Many students have commented most favorably on the new guitar Mass introduced last Sunday. As yet we have received no adverse criticism.”
1967, May 21: Bishop John Donovan speaks at the Communion Breakfast. Tim Conway is toastmaster, and Dr. William Jerome, university president, attends.
1967, Aug. 26 – Fr. Ollivier says that the Newman Foundation is getting into the housing business as a money-making venture. “The collections don’t even pay utilities.”
1967 – “Married student housing for the fall.” “This week we have beguns construction on apartments for married students just south of the chapel. They are being built as townhouses with a living room and kitchen on the first floor and a bedroom and study on the second floor. The first choice of these will go to married and graduate students.”
1967, Sept. 8 – Fr. Ollivier getting ready for influx of 3,000 Catholic students this semester. Hopes income from housing will pay back the loan the diocese gave the parish for building.
1967, December: The first parish council is elected “in order to give a more active part to the laity in the government of the Church, as seems to be the desire of Vatican II.” 32 members are elected, Barb Walker, Barb Riebe, Marie Tancredi, Kathy Fisk, Gail Sylvester, Kathy Gerber, John De Paul, Len Coleman, Bob Segna, William Sykar, Robert Pinto, Sue Rechelderfer, Dee Lovrinoff, Bob Sudik, Tim Frank, Richard Werner, Jim Clouse, Don Marino, Bob Krebs, Joe Brennan, Carol Weber, Marilyn Smeyda, Kay Kerscher, Bob Peresie, Jim Lazur, Bob Alge, Jim Spitler, William Wagner and Don Heinige.
1968, January – “The Newman Club is dead. It lived long! It lived well!” Lay people are to take a more active role in the Church, so efforts are now focused on the parish council. Jan. 1, 1968, the council begins to function “as of that date all existing organizations will cease to exist.” Parish constitution to be voted on before the end of 1967.
1968, Jan. 19 – Newman Foundation officially becomes a parish this Sunday as St. Thomas More.
1968, June 20 – Fr. Joe O’Brien replaces Fr. Ollivier, who is transferred to Most Pure Heart of Mary Parish in Shelby, Ohio.
1970, June – Fr. Wurzel appointed pastor.
1970, August – Fr. Jim Bacik named associate pastor.
1970, August – St. Thomas More is designated as a “personal” parish to serve Catholics at BGSU.
1978 – Fr. John Blaser appointed pastor.
1980, June 29 – Fr. Earl Loeffler leaves STM from his post as Vicar of Priests. He is replaced by Fr. Ray Ensman.
1980, Sept. – Tom Gorman, a BGSU student, takes over music coordinator duties from Bob Kachurek.
1981, Feb. 17 – Bishop James Hoffman is installed, replacing Bishop John Donovan, who served since 1967.
1982, June 6 – Fr. Bacik’s farewell Mass and potluck. He leaves for University of Toledo after 12 years at STM.
1982, July 4 – Fr. Mike Tremmel arrives from St. Joseph Parish, Sylvania.
1983, June 5 – Work begins on cement pad for courtyard renovation.
1983, July 17 – Sr. Pat Schaap, RSM, leaves the parish to return to academia after 4 years at STM.
1983, Oct. – 25th anniversary of the parish. Celebration brings back Fr. Wurzel, Fr. O’Brien, Fr. Bacik. It coincides with the annual “German Night.”
1984, Jan. 24 – A boiler near the gym blows up.
1984, May – Fr. Blaser announces that he is leaving for Mansfield St. Peter’s
1984, July 1 – Fr. Herb Weber moves in to take over as pastor – Weber was once president of BGSU Newman Club while studying at BGSU, graduated 1969. Sr. Joyce Lehman is responsible for counseling and spiritual direction of parishioners.
1984, Sept. 9 – Student residence roof reshingled
1984, Dec. – Parish donates money to help buy food for famine victims in Ethiopia.
1984 – Parish mission statement unveiled: “We, the members of STM University Parish, as a Catholic faith community, recognize the dignity and unique giftedness of each person and minister to each other’s needs whether student, family, couple or single. We warmly invite and involve all through the prayerful celebration of liturgy, a concern for social justice and through educational opportunities for ownership and nurturing of faith in Jesus Christ. We commit ourselves to encourage, enable and send forth one another to serve and effect various communities.”
1985, May 21 – STM Conference of the St. Vincent de Paul Society begins its service mission.
1985, May 28 – 195 tons of stone put on back parking lot. Members of the Ohio Tractor Pullers Association spread the stone.
1985, June 30 – Fr. Ray Ensman leaves for Tiffin St. Mary’s and Fr. Paul Mueller moves in a vicar of priests.
1985, Dec. 22 – Fr. Mike Tremmel’s last week at the parish before leaving for Zimbabwe.
1986, Jan. 19 – Fr. Joe Steinbauer comes in as associate pastor. He comes here from grad school at Catholic University after five years as a priest at St. Patrick’s of Heatherdowns.
1986, April – Parish gets its first computer, primary use is inputting parish census data.
1986, May 25 – STM participates with 130 people, filling 1/10 of a mile in the “Hands Across America” demonstration at 3 p.m.
1986, June 20 – Fr. Joe gets a black puppy, described by Fr. Herb as so cute “no one could not love.”
1986, July 13 – Plans for new tabernacle approved for east end of church near Sacristy doors. A present door would be bricked over, with minimal loss of seating. Construction to be completed by end of calendar year 1986.
1986, Aug. 10 – Sr. Evelyn Craig joins the staff.
1986, Sept. – Perhaps the last annual German Night, a tradition dating back at least as far as 1966.
1987, Feb. 2 – Dr. Benjamin Hooks, national president of the NAACP, speaks at STM for Black History Month.
1987, June – Tom Gorman leaves part-time music director position to concentrate on graduate school.
1987-1988: Parishioners participate in a host of service activities, including nursing homes, prisons, homes for troubled youth and several Appalachian trips.
1987, Aug. 2 – Sr. Cecile Kaza, OSF, joins as liturgical and music director, coming from Out Lady Of Lourdes Parish in Toledo.
1988, Aug. 7 – Sr. Evelyn invites parishioners to join in a rally at a nuclear weapons plant in Pontiac, Mich.
1988, Aug. 14 – Finance committee recommends plan to put a sloped roof over the flat roof covering the Antioch Room, which had been repaired “countless times.” Cost was to be $20,000.
1988, Aug. 21 – Fr. Weber’s message in bulletin reminds that, during the hottest summer on record, there was no air conditioner at STM.
1989, July 1 – Fr. Paul Mueller leaved for Sacred Heart Parish in Toledo.
1990, Sept. 2 – Fr. Joe Steinbauer leaves for Rossford All Saints Parish.
1990, Nov. 18 – Students participate in “Snack for Soldiers,” a program to send candy and sweets to Operation Desert Shield soldiers.
1991, Jan. 16 – Fr. Weber writes in his weekly column that he and other staff members met with 8-10 students to pray for both sides on the night shooting erupted in the Persian Gulf War. A separate bulletin item invites students to meet with staff for a dialogue on the issues of the war.
1991, April 21 – Sr. Cecile Kaza, OSF, leaves to work with the poor in East Toledo.
1991, Summer – New furnaces and the first parish central air system is installed to everyone’s great relief. Fr. Weber warns that sermons may get longer since everyone will be comfortable.
1991, July 7 – Fr. Nick Nigro comes in as associate pastor from Delphos St. John’s high school. Tom Gorman also returns full-time as music director. Fr. Weber is happy to have an associate pastor: “We’re so pleased, in fact, that we intend to give him an apartment that doesn’t flood.”
1991, July 21 – Sidewalks north of the chapel are replaced.
1991, August – Religious Education room refurbished. Next up are the hallway, restrooms and nursery.
1991, October –Fr. Weber’s apartment floods again. Students help Shop Vac and clean it out.
1992, February – For the first time, STM holds its Ash Wednesday services on campus, in the Student Services Forum.
1992, April 22 – The Peace Garden and Peace pole in front of the parish are dedicated.
1992, May 31 – Fr. Paul Mueller returns to STM as his retirement home. He will fill in at other parishes and continue writing columns and books.
1992, Aug. 9 – Seminarian Steve Rogers joins STM for his third year (pastoral year) in seminary.
1993, 27 June – Sr. Evelyn Craig and Fr. Nick Nigro both leave STM. Fr. Nick leaves for Sandusky Central High School. Sr. Evie moves to a sabbatical year.
1993, July 11 – Fr. Joe Weigman comes to STM after 2 years at Point Place St. John Parish. He is a 1983 graduate of Miami University and was ordained in 1991.
1993, August 6 – Sr. Mary Kuhlman, OSF, arrives from Upper Sandusky-Kirby where she served as pastoral associate. She is a native of New Cleveland, Ohio.
1994, Jan. 30 – Bishop Hoffman chooses STM as one of 11 parishes to study alternative parish leadership. Two or three parishes which have studied the concept are to implement it in the summer.
1994, June 18 – STM is open with staff on hand as a Ku Klux Klan rally is held at the courthouse.
1994, July 10 –. Herb Weber is reassigned to Mansfield St. Peter’s.
1994, July 16 – Fr. Dan Zak comes to STM after 12 years at Corpus Christi University Parish in Toledo.
1994, July 17 – Sr. Mary Kuhlman is installed as pastoral leader for STM. It is the first time in diocesan history that a non-priest pastor and two priests serve together in parish leadership.
1995, June – Steve Rogers, who spent his internship year at the parish, returns shortly after ordination to say Mass.
1995, Fall – three meeting take place between parishioners and staff from STM and St. Al’s to “dispel some of the fears which have sprung up between us and to heal some wounds which have festered for a long time.”
1996, Feb. 1 – A meeting on parking determines two possible courses of action: Paving over the grass in front of the church or looking into buying the trailer court a few doors down. Majority of those at the meeting suggest paving over the grassy area.
1996, Feb. 18 – Draft vision statement created by Vision Team:
“St. Thomas More University Parish was created to nurture the faith journeys of members of Bowling Green State University’s Catholic community.
Those not associated with the University are also welcomed here.
Ministering to the special needs of students and developing their ministerial capabilities are the primary tasks to which all members of St. Thomas More are committed.
Our mutual efforts will renew our commitment to the gospel’s good news, to spiritual and intellectual formation, to social justice and to innovative service to the University community, the Diocese of Toledo and the broader community, of which we are all part.”
1996, March 23-30 – A group of students travel to Haiti for an immersion experience.
1996, May 19 – Bishop Hoffman gives a five-year, $200,000 loan to purchase the trailer park for use as a parking lot. Many of the late 1996 bulletins discuss payment and structure of the lot.
1997, April 6 – A week earlier, fire spread through the west end of the building. Opportunity presents itself in the form of new renovations in that end of the building.
1997, July 1 – Fr. Dan Zak leaves for Swanton St. Richard. His replacement is Fr. Ric Saelzer, pastor of St. Patrick’s Toledo and a teacher at Toledo Central Catholic High School.
1998, April 19 – Fr. Joe Weigman announces he will be leaving at the end of summer to join the staff of St. Meinrad’s Seminary in Indiana as associate director of spiritual formation.
1998, June 13 – Tom Gorman leaves as director of music and liturgy to record and publish music. Steve Postellon takes his place.
1999, June 30 – Fr. Paul Mueller dies after a long illness.
Fall of 2006: Weekly Eucharistic Adoration is offered on Wednesday evenings at 9:00pm in the form of Night of Worship (NOW). 40-50 students on the average attend.
Winter of 2007: Student retreat Koinonia returned to St. Thomas More, with the plans to offer two/year; one in November and one in February.
Summer of 2007: Newman Housing Kitchen is renovated (first renovation in its 40 year history) and Statue of Mary is installed to adorn Newman Housing Courtyard. Additionally, the purpose and mission of Newman Housing is redefined and focused on intentional, faith-based and formative living option for BGSU students. Diocese of Toledo purchases the corner property (store Colligate Connection) and gravel lot south of property and next to STM parking lot and property. This provided for expended parking and redesign landscaping in the front facing Thurstin Avenue. The five foot high brick wall was reduced and modified opening a view of the property from the street.
Summer of 2007: Fireside and Newman Center are repainted and carpeted. Preparations are made for the Fall Semester to welcome first residents of Gianna and Frassati Households. This unigue housing option for BGSU students would offer a context for community prayer and fellowship. The men occupied part of Newman Housing while the women lived in apartment off the St. Thomas More campus.
Winter of 2008: BGSU alumni and friend of St. Thomas More gather in BGSU Student Union to celebrate our 50thAnniversary.
Summer of 2009: * St. Thomas More and Creed on Campus sponsor pilgrimage to Rome, Assisi and Fatima Portugal. Appropriately 25 students and St. Thomas More parishioners make the pilgrimage.
*Renovations occur in former rectory to make for a two bathroom, three bedroom Convent to serve the Notre Dame Sisters of Toledo. Three Notre Dame Sisters move in in August, one of them serves St. Thomas More as the Lead Campus minister. The rectory is relocated to empty staff apartment in Newman Housing.
*St. Thomas More parishioners and friends donated over $70,000 to renovate the church providing redesigned Sanctuary platform, new granite alter & baptistery, carpeting, interior and exterior doors and the return of the Blessed Sacrament to the central axis of the church.
Summer of 2010: The Notre Dame Sisters move out of the Convent and the Gianna Women’s Household moves in. With their presence to the St. Thomas More campus they launch a new era of outreach to BGSU women.
August 2010: BGSU Catholic Student Life Group Veritas is launched after a previous semester of discernment to merge Catholic Newman Club and Creed on Campus. The Nights of Worship are moved onto campus to literally bring Jesus to campus. They are in conjunction with the Veritas evenings.
2010 – 2011: Parish Vision Team launches a process to lead parish through the process of generating a three year operational plan.
November 2011: Son of Parish, Ed Maher is ordained to Permanent Diaconate and assigned to serve as deacon at St. Thomas More University Parish.
Winter 2011: Veritas hosts national speaker Janet Smith on BGSU campus to present on the harmful effects of contraconception.
· Bowling Green Koinonia 12 hosts a full house of student participants to celebrate BGK12 in 2012.
· Veritas hosts along with other BGSU student group the Abortion Debate, they fill Olscamp 101 to standing room only.
Summer of 2012: Parish Kitchen (off of Seton Hall) is renovated and major excavation is done on the property which will successfully address the long history of flooding in the building during heavy rains.
Fall 2012: Night of Worship returns to St. Thomas More Church for Monday nights; featuring Night of Worship Under the Stars on weather permitting Fall nights.This move has resulted in increased weekly attendance of 70 plus and the need of two priests for confessions.
Spring 2013: St. Thomas More hosts record number of BGSU students on Alternative Spring Breaks in Appalachia, Kentucky and Immokalee, Florida.
June 2013: Fr. Michael Dandurand is reassigned to Holy Trinity Catholic Parish in Swanton, Ohio.
July 2013: St. Thomas More welcomes Fr. Jason Kahle as pastor. Fr. Jason is from Kalida, Ohio and St. Thomas More is happy to welcome him into our university parish community!
Summer 2016: All 40 apartments in the Newman Housing Center are renovated
Fall 2016: Veritas becomes Catholic Falcon Community to smoothly combine Veritas and St. Thomas More for on and off-campus events