Established and Named
In the 1960’s there was an increased population movement to the suburbs of Cleveland. This trend affected the Catholic Church and the shape of the Diocese of Cleveland. Given the amount of Catholic families in North Olmsted and surrounding areas, a need was seen for the formation of a new parish community. On June 4, 1964 Archbishop Edward Hoban established this parish under the patronage of St. Brendan of Clonfert from Ireland. Archbishop Hoban named Fr. John Kenny, a well respected individual among his peers and a much loved priest among his people, as well as, a native of County Leitrim in Ireland, to build up this newly formed parish physically and spiritually.
Fr. Kenny was called from his assignment as parochial vicar at the neighboring community of St. Angela Merici in Fairview Park to pastor the 600 families that would form the foundation of St. Brendan Parish. The parish had some humble beginnings. Sunday Mass was celebrated initially at Barrett Brothers Motors, formerly located at 23905 Lorain Road in North Olmsted. Parishioners were requested to transform this auto garage from Monday through Saturday into a church on Sunday and then back into a garage for the week ahead. Meanwhile, construction began on the permanent structure of the parish facilities. Nestled in the woods, on a spot of open field on what would be named Brendan Lane, the first shovel overturned the soil of what would be the cornerstone of faith for many years to come. The construction began five months after the parish was named. The last Mass was celebrated at “St. Barrett,” as it was affectionately called, on July 25, 1965.
A New Facility
The first Mass in the newly built facility was held on August 1, 1965. The new church was able to hold 1200 people. Fr. Kenny also believed strongly in Catholic education. St. Brendan School was built alongside the new church building. Bishop Clarence Issenmann officially dedicated the parish buildings on August 29, 1965. Westlife, a local newspaper described St. Brendan Church and School as “…new, fresh, and different. It is situated in a picture book suburbia setting on a street surrounded by stately colonials, garden-type apartments and up-to-date condominium complexes.”
Forming Faith in Many Ways
St. Brendan School welcomed their first students on September 7, 1965. Sister Mary Paula, a Sister of St. Joseph, was the first principal. Her staff of four Sisters of St. Joseph and eight lay teachers welcomed 502 eager young people for grades one through six. The same Westlife newspaper article described the twelve classroom school building as “…fresh and handsome and designed for growth.” And grow it did! Grade seven was added the following year. In 1967 with the addition of an eighth grade, the elementary school was finally completed. 693 students were taught by 16 full time teachers. 1967 also saw the launch of the CCD program, what is now called PSR (Parish School of Religion). The Holy Family Program, which continues to this day, started in 1969. This program came from the life experience of Fr. Kenny when he was prepared for the Sacraments of Eucharist in his hometown parish in Ireland. Today, the Holy Family Program brings our parish families together as they take up the role of being primary educators of their children in the life of our Catholic faith. Kindergarten was added to the school program in 1987.
The parish initially had a monthly publication mailed to keep members informed. The current parish bulletin, “The News From The Pews,” was not published until 1970. In 1975, the community took up the national program called “Christ Renews His Parish.” This was a yearly retreat experience for both men and women of the parish. The weekend long experience was the culmination of a team of parishioners’ year long prayer, formation, and work. Witnesses were given on various topics of faith. Many lasting relationships were established by the common experience of prayer, play, giving witness to the faith, eating together, and simply being together. The parish community, as a whole, was brought closer to God and closer to one another.
A New Church
In the spring of 1983, an ad hoc committee of 25 parishioners began to study the feasibility of completing a long-range plan for St. Brendan Community. The group presented their findings to Parish Pastoral Council who then established a building committee and the “New Beginning Drive.” The church would eventually become a much needed parish center and a school gymnasium. The parish would eventually have a space for the sole purpose of the celebration of Sacraments, the adoration of the Eucharist, and other special moments of life to bring to prayer.
More To Come
In 1984, after two dedicated and faithful decades of starting and leading the parish, Fr. Kenny retired. Fr. Cornelius Murray, a St. Brendan parish priest for eleven years, was assigned to succeed him as pastor. In honor of Fr. Kenny’s contribution to the North Olmsted community, the city honored him by renaming Reed Lane to Kenny Lane. After a lengthy illness, Fr. Kenny entered into eternal life on March 11, 1985.
On September 22, 1985 groundbreaking for the new church took place with Bishop A. James Quinn presiding over the blessing of the land and the consecration of the church site. Sister Victoria McQuaid was given the honor of laying the cornerstone for the new church on May 31, 1987. The dedication of the new church building was celebrated by Bishop Anthony M. Pilla on December 12, 1987.
In 2007 after 34 years of dynamic ministry in the parish community of St. Brendan, Fr. Murray announced his retirement. On the Feast of the Epiphany, January 2, 2008 Fr. Thomas G. Woost was installed as the third pastor of St. Brendan.
From all this, through the years, with the guidance and love of our God through the many gifts and talents of the People of God, St. Brendan Parish continues to be a warm, vibrant, friendly community. We are attentive to the needs of not only our own parishioners but also to the needs of the North Olmsted community in which we have grown. With other Christian church communities we strive to take up the mission of Christ and help those in need. We also go beyond our neighboring community and tend to the needs of the Church in other parts of the world. We take up the call of Christ to “go out to every nation.” We have been involved in helping refugees from Vietnam, Bosnia, and the Sudan. Currently, we have an ongoing relationship with the children at CALM (Children And Light Mission) based in Uganda, Africa. Several parishioners have gone as missionaries to spend time with the boys who call this special orphanage their home.
Invitation To Others
Come and be part of not only a rich past, but come and be part of our lively present, as together we build a future of abundant faith.