The History of St. Leonard Catholic Church

The Beginning

On June 16, 1961, the Leonardo DiGiandomenico family donated land to the Diocese of Columbus, Ohio, for a new Catholic Church in Heath, Ohio.  At the suggestion of a member of the DiGiandomenico family and with the agreement of Mr. DiGiandomenico, the decision was reached to name the new church St. Leonard.

The new name was taken from that of Saint John Leonardo, born 1541 and died 1609, who was founder of the Clerks Regular of the Mother of God, in 1595. Saint Leonard formed a small band of priests early in his life and they became a great power of good in Italy. He helped plan the first seminary for foreign missionaries, which was instituted by Pope Urban VIII in 1627 and the College de Propaganda Fide. Pope Pius XII canonized him in 1938 and his feast was established in 1941 as October 9.

The Church Building 

The architect of the new church was Orville Varasso, of Newark, Ohio. The Sheaf Construction Company was awarded the general contract. The church building was built at a cost of $175,000 and included a temporary church, office, kitchen and restrooms. The hope was to build an elementary school on the property. 

The building is brick with stone accents and accommodates approximately 300 families. The present rectory, located next to the church, was built at the same time as the church.

Bishop Issenmann, of the Columbus, Ohio Diocese, dedicated the building in January, 1965.

Time Line

June 16, 1962: The Leonardo DiGiandomenico family donates land to Diocese of Columbus for a new Catholic parish in Heath, Ohio. It was named St. Leonard.

April 10, 1964: Construction began on the church. 

August 22, 1964: Father Edwin McNulty was appointed first pastor. He served until 1970.

November 22, 1964: First Mass celebrated in new church.

June 14, 1970: Father Charles Sala, P.I.M.E., became pastor. He served the parish until 1981.

June 17, 1979: Mortgage Burning Ceremony, William Giles, Sr. and Fr. Charles Sala, P.I.M.E., presiding.

July 14, 1981: Father David Petry became the new pastor. He remained until his transfer in 1983.

February 15, 1983: Father Harry Schneider was named administrator of the parish.

July 12, 1983: Fr. Harry Schneider was appointed pastor and remained until 1998.

January 22, 1989: Dedication of new church and religious education classrooms. 

September 9, 1993: Dedication of a large bronze statue of St. Leonard at the entrance to the church that was a gift from parishioner, Gene Egan, in remembrance of his wife, Olga.

July 14, 1998: Father Michael Reis became pastor and remained until July 2013. Father Jack Maynard became associate pastor and  remained until his new assignment in 2001.

June 2003: Fr. Ronald Boccali, PIME (retired) was appointed Priest in Residence. He served until 2015.

June 2005: Deacon Larry J. Wilson was appointed to St. Leonard. 

2010-2011:  Church Interior is renovated.  It was completed in 2011.

July 2013: Father William Ferguson became pastor when St. Leonard became a clustered parish with Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. He served until 2014.

July 2014: Fr. William A. Hritsko became pastor of Saint Leonard and our sister parish, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.

July 2014: The sanctuary was reconfigured by centering the Altar and moving the presider's chair to the side, focusing emphasis on the central core of the Catholic faith: The Holy Eucharist. 

October 2014: Stained glass windows were acquired from St. Bede the Venerable Church in Bovard, Pennsylvania, which closed in 2008.  An "Adopt a Window" campaign raised funds for the windows. Work for fitting the windows began by Associated Crafts in Gilbert, Arizona.  

November 2014: The main Crucifix was moved to the center wall of the sanctuary. The 12th Station of the Cross was returned to its original place in the Reconciliation Room. An image of The Pieta was placed in the Reconciliation Room.

July 2015: Installation of the stained glass windows, and the new Altar and Ambo (by Bill Lieb).

September 2015: Dedication of the stained glass windows, the new Altar and Ambo. Re-dedication of the former main Altar (designed by Fr. Harry Schneider) as the Altar of Response, continuing Fr. Harry's desire to uphold the Eucharist as primary in faith life. Blessing of the 3-octave set of hand bells. Premier of song, composed by Fr. William Hritsko, using St. Leonard's church motto to accompany the blessings.  

July 2016: Re-dedication of the former Eucharist Chapel to the Chapel of the Holy Family.