Pleasant Ridge was incorporated on July 11, 1891, and was annexed to Cincinnati in 1912. Archbishop Henry McNicholas, responding to the growing Catholic population, founded Nativity of Our Lord Parish on February 17, 1917. It was formed from parts of Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Norwood and St. John the Evangelist Parish in Deer Park. He appointed Fr. William Egan as the first pastor. Two months later Fr. Egan moved to Sts. Peter and Paul Parish and Fr. John Burke became the Nativity's second pastor.
The present church was built during the pastorate of Fr. Henry Imbus, the fourth pastor of Nativity. Work began on this church on June 13, 1967. The cornerstone was also placed in 1967. Edward J Schulte & Associates were the architects of the church, and Fisher Devore Construction Company was the general contractor. The church was constructed of Indiana limestone. Archbishop Karl J. Alter dedicated the church on May 18, 1969. It was built with some of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council in mind. Prior to 1969 the church was located in what is now the parish's gym.
On the south wall is found a plague naming Nativity parishioners who served in World War II. Also on the south wall is a Covenant entered into by Nativity Parish and All Saints Episcopal Church on September 7, 1977 while Fr. Joseph Allison was pastor. Among the signers are Archbishop Joseph Bernardin and Episcopal Bishop Krumm. On the north wall next to the entrance is a plaque in honor of Fr. Jerome Bartel. The church was dedicated in his memory. He had hoped to build a new church but,unfortunately, died before he could do so.
The church pews were designed by Albert Watlers and built by Sauder Church Furniture Company. The seating capacity of the church is 600.
Artist Carl Zimmerman designed the altar. It is made from three pieces of Alabama white marble, fitted together to make a solid, star-like design.
The tabernacle has a back drop of solid bronze into which are set some 122 pieces of baked enamel of various colors. It was designed by Carolyn Zimmerman who personally made the pieces of enamel.
Stained Glass Windows
There are 61 stained glass windows in the church. They are designed of one inch thick faceted glass and chipped to cause more "sparkle" and "burning colors" when struck by the light. John Riordan was the church window expert. Over the front wall the windows depict music symbols, the seven sacraments, the Ten Commandments, and the crown of glory, eternal salvation. The windows around the church have symbols representing Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and many crowns and stars -- all designed to show a crown of glory for the entire church.
The Chapel of Reconciliation was designed after the church was built. It is located in a former spare room to the right of the cry room. The Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) is celebrated here.
The cry room, located on the south side of the church, provides a place for parents to take small children whose actions or vocal cords may be disturbing the rest of the assembly at prayer.
The fourteen Stations of the Cross, depicting the suffering and death of Jesus, are located on the back walls of the church. Artist Carl Zimmerman painted the Stations.
Old Confessionals/Shrines for BVM and St. Joseph
Four confessionals were originally built in the church. The two in the back of the church are now used to house the church’s live-streaming equipment. The two on the north side of the church were converted into shrines for the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph. On the left wall of the St. Joseph shrine is a plaque honoring four parishioners who died during the conflict in Vietnam.
The choir area is located in the southeast corner of the church. The organ sits on a circle that, at one time, rotated!
Nativity School, consisting of four classrooms, was opened in 1921. The Ursulines of Cincinnati staffed the school. In September 1926 the Sisters of Mercy began staffing the school. In September 1928 four more classrooms were added. A new school addition was opened in the fall of 1952 and added eight more classrooms.
New Convent/Parish Center
The fall of 1953 a new convent was built on Pandora Avenue. It has the capacity to house 18 nuns. In November 1974 due to the small number of nuns, the sisters moved to an apartment house on Bellewood Ave. Fr. Joseph Allisooon, Nativity's fifth pastor, and Associate Pastor Fr. Ray Meyer converted the convent into a rectory and the business offices for the parish.
In November, 2000 Nativity erected a brand new sign on Ridge Avenue to advertise the mass times and other religious and social events that take place throughout the year.
In July, 1992, Nativity purchased a house on Grand Vista, two blocks down Woodford Road. Fr. Robert Farrell, Nativity's eighth pastor, moved into it. The former convent continued to house the parish business offices and, in addition, more meeting rooms.
The Parish Master Plan
In 2001 Nativity began to develop a Master Plan to prepare for its future in Pleasant Ridge. This plan made improvements to buildings and grounds, including a renovation of the church, the school library, and construction of St. Sebastian Hall for a gym.
Beacons of Light
Currently Nativity is looking forward to the Beacons of Light pastoral planning process in which it will join a Family of Parishes under a single pastor to more fruitfully and joyfully share the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a culture in need of the Lord’s mercy.
List of Nativity Pastors
- Rev. William Egan (1917)
- Rev. John Burke (1917-1925)
- Rev. Jerome E. Bartel (1925-1962)
- Rev. Henry T. Imbus (1963-1974)
- Rev. Joseph C. Allison (1974-1979)
- Rev. Stanley H. Neiheisel (1979-1984)
- Rev. Raymond C. Kellerman (1984-1989)
- Rev. Robert J. Farrell (1989-2000)
- Rev. R. Marc Sherlock (2000-2004)
- Rev. Paul F. DeLuca (2004-2020)
- Rev. Eric P. Roush (2019-present)
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