UTICA — Utica Church of the Nativity will celebrate its 100th anniversary on Sunday, Sept. 30.
Friends and former members are invited to join parishioners at an open house celebration between 12:30 and 2 p.m. where guided tours will be provided and a gourmet dessert buffet will be served. A community choir fest and a wine and cheese reception will follow at 2 p.m. The day-long celebration will conclude with Vespers at 4 p.m.
Monthly Masses were first celebrated in private homes and rented halls in Utica in 1908. In 1912, a 24-by-30 foot red-brick schoolhouse at 50 S. Central Ave. was purchased and renamed Nativity Chapel. It was in this former schoolhouse, built in 1812, that the first Mass was celebrated on the last Sunday of September 1912.
Throughout its early years, the parish was a mission of St. Joseph parish in Licking County Jersey Township, and Johnstown Church of the Ascension, Newark St. Francis, Blessed Sacrament and Mount Vernon St. Vincent parishes.
The present church building at 126 N. Main St., built in 1864, was purchased by the Columbus Diocese in 1950 from the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, commonly called the Covenanter Church. According to church history documents, the purchase of the building saved it “from being used as a poultry and egg depot. The building was completely redecorated inside and out by church members who worked faithfully in the evenings and on Saturdays to complete the task.” Bishop Michael J. Ready blessed the Church of the Nativity in December 1950.
Church of the Nativity remained a mission of Johnstown Ascension parish from 1948 until 1973, when Father Elmer Boyden was assigned as a resident pastor. Monsignor Patrick Griffin followed in 1973 and served until 1980. Father Ralph Dermody was pastor from 1980 until 1988 and Father Samuel E. Durbin from 1988 until 1995. Father Stephen Metzger has served the parish since 1995.
Published on September 24, 2012