St. Monica parish was founded in 1911. The present church is an early work of Edward J. Schulte of the Cincinnati firm of (Robert) Crowe and Schulte; it was designed 1926, built at a cost of $250,000, and dedicated in December, 1928. From 1938 to 1957, St. Monica Served as the Archdiocesan Cathedral.
The sculpture is the work of Clement Barnhorn, carried out with the assistance of his pupils Clothilde Zanetta, Carolyn Zimmerman, and Ruth Kerr. Barnhorn is probably also the designer of the grillework. The oil-on-copper paintings of the Stations of the Cross are from an unknown Munich Firm; the glass is the work of the Munich firm of F.X. Zettler. The apse mural, and probably the stencilling of the walls, were executed in 1936 by Carl Zimmerman and Charles Seyffer of the Cincinnati Art Academy.
Although Schulte claimed credit for the entire design, its conception was that of St. Monica’s Pastor, Fr. Charles William Kuenle. Schulte stated in his autobiography that Kuenle had worked with other architects before Crowe and Schulte received the commission, “but we were the only firm sympathetically tuned to his…preconceived ideas…”
Schulte stated that he “decided to use the Early Christian period” for his inspiration, and he cited Sant’ Apollinare in Classe, Ravenna (6th Century A.D.) as the model for the apse mural. Sant’ Apollinare appears to be the model for the building also, with some notable design changes: the entrances are at the sides of the narthex, as in the pagan basilica, rather than at the West; the proportion of the aisles to the clerestory is reversed so that there are low side aisles and large banks of glass above them; the attached campanile (a medieval addition to Sant’ Apollinare) is on the South rather than the north.
The interior is richly programmatic, and remarkably elaborate for a parish church. The painted symbols include the Mysteries of the Life of Christ, the Imitation of Christ, the Holy Sacraments, and the Means of Grace. In the apse is the Eternal Life in Paradise. The large windows depict the Twelve Apostles, St. Monica and St. Augustine. The windows around the altar refer to the prefiguration of the Crucifixion, and to the Eucharist. The smaller windows portray scenes from the New Testament and the life of St. Monica. The North chapel is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and the South chapel to St. Joseph.
St Monica-St George Parish
What follows is a brief reflection of the history and merger of St. George and St. Monica church, written by Fr. Jeffrey Scheeler in 1998:
“In 1868, the faith community at St. George began to form; they built a beautiful church on Calhoun St. A landmark for many with its twin spires, St. George was dedicated in 1874.
In 1911, the faith community at St. Monica began; and literally building on a firm foundation of rock, they dedicated their beautiful church, located at the intersection of six streets, in 1928. From 1938 through 1957, St. Monica served as the Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. St. Monica School, opened in 1913, was closed in 1978 and consolidated with Corryville Catholic which still serves the community today.
Ministry to students at the University of Cincinnati began when a chaplain was appointed in 1923. At first, in 1963, an independent Newman Center on Stratford St. was established to serve the students. In 1974, the Newman Ministry was merged with St. George Parish.
For many years these communities grew and flourished side by side. But needs and demographics called for more changes. So in 1993, these two faith communities merged to become St. Monica-St. George Parish Newman Center.
We are very proud of our heritage; those who have gone before have been a faithfilled and adaptable people. We, too, stand ready to proclaim God’s reign and love as we move into the future. Today, in 1998, we are very much “Alive at Five”. We are seeking to be a vital and vibrant faith community, where many will experience God’s love.”
In 1993, Archbishop Pilarczyk wrote “All people need to know that they are not only accepted but welcomed in this new parish. They should all have an experience of being in a welcoming community which represents the best of the love and diversity of the Catholic Church. What will you do to bring the people of the two parishes and campus ministry together in a single faith community united in Jesus Christ?”
The parish of St. Monica-St. George Parish Newman Center, flourishes. Campus Ministry has become a vital part of the parishes mission. Much has been accomplished towards the goals established by the original pastoral team. The old St. Monica school has been remodeled into a thriving Catholic Center for both students as well as parishioners. Activities abound for both Campus Ministry as well as parishioners. It is often said these days, “St. Monica-St. George Parish Newman Center” is a good place to be. The current pastoral team works daily to bring the people of the two parishes and campus ministry together in a single faith community united in Jesus Christ!