St. Mary Delaware Catholic Church, Delaware, Ohio
In 1808, a former Lenape Indian village gave way to the newly founded Midwestern town of Delaware, Ohio. Situated just 24 miles north of the state capital of Columbus, Delaware serves as county seat of surrounding Delaware County.
The fledgling city grew along the banks of Ohio’s Olentangy River. By 1830, its population had just climbed above 500 souls, but within the following two decades that population would quadruple. Part of that growth was spurred by Delaware’s appeal as a health resort, part by the founding of Ohio Wesleyan University in 1842. Still greater growth ensued with the arrival of rail lines in the early 1850s.
The families of Catholic German immigrants had begun arriving as new settlers to the area as early as the 1830s. That influx of new residents was joined by substantial numbers of Irish Catholics seeking work on the railroads and in related trade and industry. By 1854, a small wooden Catholic church was erected on what is now University Avenue. Within a few years, the parish of St. Mary had obtained its first resident pastor. Under the guidance of Rev. Caspar Wiese, the congregation continued to grow.
To accommodate the parish’s swelling numbers of faithful, a large Gothic church was constructed in 1886 on East William Street a few hundred yards from the banks of the Olentangy. The soaring structure incorporates local stone with its signature red brick, and features ample statuary, richly detailed stained glass windows and several dozen fine stained glass medallions. The church interior is a striking composition of red, white and gold. The parish grounds also accommodate the Parish Office, St. Mary School, The Parish School of Religion and Kavanagh Hall, all rendered in the same red brick.
The parish of St. Mary Delaware Catholic Church has grown to include several thousand families throughout the community. The parish, church and school offer a broad range of activities and social services through its staff and broad pool of volunteers and congregation members.