Established in 1912, it was the first Catholic Church in Cleveland, and was originally named Church of the Resurrection. The church was originally located at the modern-day First and Worth streets, according to a history of the church.
Parishioner Barry Boettner remembers the transition to the new location.
“It was quite a change. The old one was in a wooden building behind the post office downtown,” Boettner said.
When more people moved to the area to work at American Uniform and Bowater, the church grew. Boettner himself had been brought to the area in 1960 to work for Bowater.
The church’s growth highlighted the need for a larger meeting place. Boettner said during a special Mass there would be so many people that some would stand outside and listen because there was no more room. This led the church to purchase property on Clingan Ridge Drive. The church was renamed St. Therese of Lisieux in 1961, according to a timeline of the church history made available by Terry Peters.
By December, the church building was completed and the first Mass was celebrated in the building. A formal dedication of the building was postponed because the church was waiting on stained-glass windows to be installed.
The formal dedication was held in February 1962, according to Peters’ information.
On March 25, the parish will be celebrating 50 years since this dedication, according to the chairman of the Parish Council, Barry Maples. The celebration will include a rededication mass at 4 p.m. and the public is welcome to attend.
“After the mass, we are having a dinner in which we’ve invited a lot of local dignitaries,” Maples said.
Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis and Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland are among the specially invited guests.
Bishop Richard Stika from Knoxville will present the church with a pontifical blessing from Pope Benedict XVI.
Eight years after the formal dedication an addition was built for classroom space for religious education classes. At that time, 181 children were enrolled in the classes. This addition was formally dedicated as the Breen Hall Education Building in 1971. The first Three Kings Feast, an annual community event for those in need, was held in 1988.
“We started out building a pretty large facility for what we had,” Boettner said.
Today, what may have seemed an ambitious goal is now a near-capacity facility, he said.
As of November of last year, St. Therese of Lisieux had 2,490 parishioners.
The church holds special memories for Boettner.
“It’s interesting to look back,” Boettner said.
Of his five children, two were baptized at the original location. Two of his children still attend St. Therese. One of his sons, David Boettner, is now a priest in Knoxville. David was ordained to the priesthood in May 1994 at St. Therese.
Barry Boettner said he had no idea when he first moved here how long he would stay.
On April 30, the church will plant a white oak tree and place a marker on the property to commemorate the 50th Anniversary.