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On the sixth of September, 1851, the parish of Philothea was established by permission of Archbishop Purcell of Cincinnati. Early that year, nine men of Philothea had traveled to Cincinnati; to place their request for a church before the Bishop, who seeing their intense desire to have a parish church of their own, gladly granted the necessary permission. In February, 1851, the nine pioneers, Henry Weiner, Frederick Albers, Henry Wendel, John Spoltman, Henry Zumalde, Joseph Saalman, Casper Borgess, Henry Pleiman, and Henry Lennartz, purchased forty acres of land on which to build a church and school for the sum of one hundred dollars.
During the following summer, every member of the little community lent a hand at the necessary work. After their strenuous and difficult labor, a rustic log church, 40 by 30 feet, was dedicated under the title "Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary" on September 8, 1853, by Archbishop Purcell. It is said that the unusual name Philothea, was given to the settlement by the Archbishop, who when told that the place lacked an official name, dubbed it Philothea, ("God-loving" from the Greek), presumably because of the people's deep love for God and Religion. On the same day Father Joseph Albrecht, C.PP.S. celebrated the first Mass. Father Albrecht governed the parish for three years, and was succeeded by the Revs. Stephen Falk, Amadeus Dambach, Sebastian Ganther, Maximillian Homburger, Englebert Ruf, and Anthony Capeder, all members of the Society of the Precious Blood.
In 1857, Rev. John Van den Broeck, C.PP.S. was appointed to the pastorate of St. Mary's. Because of his stature, Fr. Van den Broeck was known as "Little John" and often signed the baptismal register with the equivalent of this nickname, that is "Johannes Minor". When he assumed charge, the number of families had increased to fifty-nine, due to the fact that many Black people who were living in the section originally were gradually being brought into the Church. During the first year of his pastorate, Father Van den Broeck baptized forty-three persons, practically all of whom were Negroes.
The first bell for the church, donated by Joseph Wenning, was brought from Cincinnati on a Canal boat. On April 7, 1858, it was blessed and mounted. In the beginning, mass was celebrated at Philothea only once a month; later, every two weeks or irregularly until January 1862, when Father John began celebrating mass in the parish church every Sunday. Father Alphonse Laux, C.PP.S. succeeded Father John in that year, and two years later was himself replaced by Rev. Jacob Marte C.PP.S.
In the course of time, the original log church became too small to accommodate the congregation, which had increased to sixty five families by 1868. With the unanimous consent of the parishioners a brick edifice, 45 by 85 feet and costing $7,OOO.OO was erected under the supervision of Father Marte. The cornerstone was laid on August 15, 1868, and the church was dedicated on June 11, 1871 by Archbishop Purcell, who had established the parish twenty years before. The people of the parish showed their good will by generously contri-buting to the expense of construction and donating the interior furnishings.
The records show Frederick Heckman to have been an especially generous donor; Within a few years, this gentleman presented the church with two side altars, another bell, a monstrance, a pulpit, and a confessional. During the years in which Father Gaspar Schedler C.PP.S. was pastor, other improvements were made, so that St. Mary's came to be one of the most beautiful churches in Mercer County.
In 1886, it became necessary to erect a house to accommodate the teachers in the parochial school. This building still belongs to the parish. In the following year, Father Peter Kuhnmuench, C.PP.S. became the first pastor to offer two Masses on Sundays. During the decade of the nineties, many other improvements were made, Rev. Paulinus Trost C.PP.S. painted a striking picture of Our Lady, Queen of the rosary on the ceiling. During the administration of Father Gregory Jussel C.PP.S. a marble baptistry, stained glass windows, and a new, one thous-and dollar pipe organ was obtained.
On September 8, 1901 during the temporary pastorship of Father Trost, a professor at St. Charles Seminary, the parish celebrated its Golden Jubilee. Fr. Trost labored untiringly to make the celebration as beautiful and successful as possible and an event of pleasant and happy memories. With the consent of the parishioners, he had medals struck with the inscription "Golden Jubilee' Philothea, 1851 - 1901".
Four years later, in 1905, the first parochial residence was erected at the cost of $4,500.00 during the pastorship of Rev. Ignatius Rauh C.PP.S. Until that time the pastors of Philothea had made their home either at the convent at Himmelgarten or at the seminary at Carthagena. At times, too the Fathers lived at Holy Trinity parish in Coldwater, of which St. Mary's Philothea is the Mother-church.
This appeared as an article in the Celina paper in November 1950, under the name of James E. Miller C.PP.S. who was a student in the Seminary at that time.
The parish celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2001. In 2002, after 151 years of faithful service, the Society of the Precious Blood turned over the care of the parish to the archdiocese. Since that time the parish has been clustered with Holy Trinity and St. Anthony.