1953 - 1983
Father John Reddington
As St. Louis’ second pastor, Father John Reddington came to us with a prestigious educational background and distinguished war time service. He attended St. Bernard’s Seminary and was appointed, in 1931, by then Bishop Edward Mooney (later Edward Cardinal Mooney) to continue his studies at the North American College in Rome. Ordained by Francesco Cardinal Marchetti Salvaggiani on March 19, 1937, Father Reddington received his Doctor of Theology degree from Gregorian University in Rome in the spring of 1939. Returning to Rochester, he taught at St. Bernard’s Seminary. During World War II, he was called to serve as a chaplain in the U. S. Marine Corps stationed in Palermo, Sicily and Naples, Italy. It was there that his passion for helping the needy found tangible expression on a large scale.
Rev. John A. Reddington Pastor 1953 to 1983
Shortages caused by the war had forced the children of Italy into the streets to beg for food. When Father Reddington saw their plight, he came up with a plan. Each day, he went to the U.S. Navy ships stationed in the harbors and collected their leftover food, which he then distributed to the starving children. For his efforts, he was honored with the Cavalliare Del Regno D’Italia, presented by the Italian government.
After the war, Father Reddington was assigned to St. Francis DeSales parish in Geneva. In 1950, he became the assistant pastor at St. Ambrose Church in Rochester until 1953 when he become the pastor at St. Louis.
Construction of the New School Building
Father Reddington assumed his responsibilities at an important time for St. Louis. The need for an ambitious new building program for both the school and the church had become apparent. By 1954, enrollment at St. Louis School reached 250 pupils and the little church on State Street had become inadequate to serve the ever-increasing congregation.
In a newspaper photo from 1957, Father Reddington greets young parishioner Jay Dee Whiting and his horse in front of the State Street church. The church’s horse hitching block can still be seen in front of 19 State Street in the village.
St. Louis parishioners rose with enthusiasm to the task of fund-raising. The campaign was launched in October of 1954 with Robert E. Ginna (then President of Rochester Gas and Electric Corporation) as its general chairman. Parishioners responded generously and readily. By November 4th they had pledged $161,000 toward the building program. In the meantime, architectural plans were being readied for the school. An association had been formed between Mr. Alan Dailey, an architect of St. Louis parish, and Mr. J. Sanford Shanley, eminent church architect with offices in New York City. The combination was a happy one. The plans were put out to bid and in April of 1955 contracts were awarded to Daniel J. Meagher, Inc., general contractors; Betlem Air Conditioning Company, heating; A. Burgart, Inc., plumbing; and E. E. Driscoll & Son, for the electrical work.
In May of 1956, the new St. Louis School building was dedicated by Bishop Kearney.
1955 was also the year that Father Reddington moved the rectory from Monroe Avenue to a newly purchased house at 46 South Main Street, next door to the Manse. This enabled closer communication with the school and would eventually serve a variety of other needs for the parish.
Construction could hardly proceed quickly enough to meet the burgeoning enrollment of St. Louis School. In 1955, it approached 300 students and that forced the kindergarten and first grade to be housed temporarily in the church. When the interior of the new building was ready for occupancy in early February, the children were moved in immediately, even though grading and exterior work would not be finished for several months. February 14th, 1956 was the children’s first day in their new St. Louis School.
Sister Rose Mary’s fifth grade class settled in to their new new school in the Spring of 1956.
Official dedication activities for the school were held during a busy week in May. Bishop Kearney dedicated the school on Sunday, May 5,1956 at 3:00 PM. Father John celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Louis Church on State Street. Two days later, Auxiliary Bishop Lawrence B. Casey visited St. Louis and conferred the Holy Sacrament of Confirmation.
Construction of the Main Street Church
With the school completed, construction began on the new church, located just south of the Manse. It, too, was built under the direction of New York architect J. Sanford Shanley and Father John Reddington.
Excerpts from the dedication program, dated May 21, 1958, describe the interior of the new church in detail.
The Rambusch Studios (of New York) were honored to work under the guidance of Father John Reddington and architect J. Sanford Shanley, and to be entrusted with the execution of the Stained Glass, Lighting, Stations of the Cross, and Mosaic Altar Frontal.
Under the direction of New York architect J. Sanford Shanley and Father John Reddington, work began on St. Louis Church in the summer of 1956.
The sanctuary is distinguished from the body of the church by its higher roof level and its painted white brick walls.
The floor is of black marble with white marble worked in to suggest a carpet leading up through the center of the altar steps. The background or retable of the altar is serpentine scuro setting off the mosaic altar frontal where the vine and the branches are worked out in gold.
The grapes are, of course a symbol of the Eucharist; the vine and the branches are a symbol of our union with Christ in the Communion of Saints.
Viewed from South Main Street, work continues on the church during February 1957. The new church was dedicated on May 21, 1958.
The altar candlesticks are Spanish baroque antiques as are the three lovely hanging sanctuary lamps. The Lady Chapel has a full view of the main altar. The altarpiece in the chapel is an original eighteenth century painting of the Madonna and child by Giacomo Amigoni. The Prayer chairs are by Stickley.
The Stations of the Cross were designed for Rambusch Studios by Hugues Maurin and executed in glazed terra cotta in Italy.
Lancet Windows of the Nave display a stunning tour de force in color harmony, running through the entire spectrum with the cooler colors used to the rear of the church, the warmer tones near the Sanctuary. These windows face East so that they dapple the church with the light of the morning sun, give it a warm glow in the afternoon. In these windows a series of Christian symbols has been employed to illustrate the Apostles Creed, the “Faith that makes us one.” Father Robert F. McNamara of St. Bernard’s Seminary was an invaluable consultant in his collaboration in working out these symbols.
The sanctuary windows: two large hexagonal windows on either side of the sanctuary recall the Old and the New Testament. On the epistle side the four major prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezechiel and Daniel represent the Old Testament. On the gospel side the four Evangelists of the New Testament Sts. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are symbolized by a young man, the lion, the sacrificial heifer and the eagle.
The Entrance Window is of Christ the King. In a smaller jewel-like window of rich reds, the Holy Spirit, symbolized by the Dove and the flames of Pentecost, is represented hovering over the altar.
The altar for the new church was donated in memory of Father Reddington’s parents. The altar relic is that of an early Christian martyr from the Catacombs in Rome.
St. Louis Church was most fortunate to be able to incorporate in the decor of the church the work of parishioner John C. Menihan, a prominent, eclectic artist and professor of art at the University of Rochester. The Shrine of St. Joseph mosaic, the large dossals and their companion banners, as well as the beautiful Nativity set are examples of his work that are enjoyed to this day. He was known primarily as a portrait painter, and his touch is seen in the portrait of Father Reddington that hangs in hallway gallery that connects the church with Reddington Hall. His landscape of the church graces the rectory.
The dedication Mass for the new St. Louis Church was a joyous celebration offered by Bishop Kearney with 150 priests in attendance. John Cardinal Wright of Pittsburgh, who was the Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Clergy at the Vatican, preached the homily. Cardinal Wright also donated the Statue of St. Louis that graces the main entrance to the church. After the Dedication Ceremony, Bishop Kearney, Bishop Wright and the clergy were guests of honor at a dinner in the parish hall.
Above the main entrance to the church is a sculpture of St. Louis - King Louis IX of France - crafted in terra cotta by Frederick Shrady of Connecticut and donated by John Cardinal Wright of Pittsburgh.
The following weekend, the first Sunday Masses were celebrated in the new church, with Pastor Emeritus Father Edelman preaching. He also preached at the first Christmas Midnight Mass.
What became of the old St. Louis Church building on State Street? In 1958, the interior fittings were removed and the large sanctuary room was used as a basketball court for St. Louis School. In 1966, with the construction of the Junior High (today known as Reddington Hall), the old church building was no longer needed. It was sold to an advertising firm and two years later, on April 25, 1968, they demolished the building, citing the need for parking space and the high cost of renovating the structure. The copper and tin cross, which had adorned the top of the spire for 84 years, was saved as an historical artifact and is now in storage at St. Louis. The stained glass windows were donated to the Genesee Country Museum in Mumford, New York.
The sanctuary of the church as it appeared in 1958 with the then tradtional placement of the altar and the communion rail. The walls of the sanctuary were painted white to distinguish it from the rest of the church.
A Half-Century of Growth
As the 1950’s drew to a close, with new school and church buildings completed, St. Louis parish could look back at a half century of accomplishment. Diocesan archives for the period 1911 through 1959 attest to the growth and success of St. Louis parish; 1361 Baptisms, 807 First Communions, 880 Confirmations (plus 32 from Mendon), 398 Marriages and 301 Burials. Truly, the St. Louis community had flourished from those early days in the village.
The dedication Mass for the new St. Louis Church was a joyous celebration with 150 priests in attendance.
Always involved in the larger Diocesan community, St. Louis was chosen to have its Easter Sunday Mass televised throughout the area as the “Mass for Shut-Ins” on April 20, 1962. Father Reddington presided. This was only the first taste of television exposure for St. Louis. The church was featured on national television in January of 1968. Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, who had recently been named Bishop of Rochester, was conducting an Ecumenical Youth Group program at the Presbyterian Church in Pittsford. The event was being covered by an NBC network crew and when Bishop Sheen decided to walk down to St. Louis and concelebrate the 5:00 PM Sunday liturgy, the camera crew followed. Father John Phillips, then Assistant Pastor, made an audiotape of the celebration, which is now in the parish archives.
Gathered in front of the new church following the dedication: Father Tom Reddington (brother of Father John), Bishop Kearney, Father John Reddington and Father Bob McNamara.
The Death of Monsignor Edelman
Wednesday, February 19, 1964, was a day of sadness for St. Louis. On that day Monsignor Edelman died peacefully at St. Ann’s Home where he had moved in October of 1962. Bishop Kearney celebrated the funeral Mass on February 22, 1964. In attendance were Bishop Lawrence B. Casey, 70 monsignori and priests, 100 sisters, as well as several hundred parishioners and friends. Father L. James Callan, who had served as Assistant Pastor at St. Louis from 1950 to 1955, gave the eulogy. Monsignor Edleman was survived by his two sisters: one a Visitation Sister in Ohio, and the other, Sr. Agnes Joseph SSJ of Rochester.
The Campus Expands
The St. Louis campus continued to expand in 1966 with the construction of the junior high school building. Two years later, in 1968, the rectory was moved from 46 South Main Street to the remodeled Hawley House at 60 South Main Street. The Brighton-Pittsford Post noted that the remodeling of the house was done with care to preserve the historical and architectural character of the building. A large front porch was removed and the windows were altered, but overall the house retained its traditional Colonial style. In view of an increasing need for space to hold meetings, one room, located over the garage was to be used as a conference room for small groups.
Outreach and Innovation
Under the leadership of Father Reddington, St. Louis began several initiatives. They included outreach to St. Bridget’s parish of Rochester (which would later become Immaculate Conception/St. Bridget’s Church), the World Hunger Task Force (later the Haiti Task Force) under the leadership of Marcia Mendola, the Corn Sale with sweet corn donated by Powers’ Farm Market, a wide range of parish committees, as well as the development of the Parish Council.
Father Reddington endeavored to meet the needs of the community in a variety of ways. He implemented the use of Eucharistic Ministers at the liturgies and encouraged participation by the laity in the liturgies. In 1968, Ginny Pierce was the first woman to lector at St. Louis.
Growth of Liturgical Music
The choir flourished under the guidance of Sr. Josepha Kennedy, SSJ, the first music director at St. Louis. She utilized the giftedness of the choir in a diverse array of liturgical music.
The St. Louis folk music group was initiated by Darlene Flynn and featured artist John Menihan playing the banjo. Later, the folk group came under the direction of Ginny Miller, the second music director at St. Louis who served from 1985 to 1995. During that time Ginny provided innovative direction to the music ministries of the parish. She introduced flutes and clarinets into the folk group. She also began the Lessons and Carols Program as part of the Music Series of St. Louis. The early Music Series concerts benefited local food cupboards that served the needy of the Rochester area.
A Pilgrimage Church
The Holy Year of 1975 saw St. Louis Church named one of the pilgrimage churches. The Courier Journal (Catholic Courier) reported, “‘Substituting for Sacred Heart Cathedral as a pilgrimage church in the Monroe county Southeast Region of the Diocese is the Church of St. Louis in Pittsford.” St. Louis was chosen as one of the pilgrimage churches along with Mount Saviour Monastery and St. Thomas the Apostle. Coincidentally, all three pilgrimage churches were designed by Joseph Sanford Shanley.
In 1977, a new sacristy was added to the south side of St. Louis church. The space formerly occupied by the sacristy became our Blessed Sacrament Chapel.
In 1978, St. Louis acquired the house at 64 South Main Street as a convent for six Sisters of Mercy. The house was built in 1868 and had been remodeled in 1920.
The Diocese of Rochester took another step in responding to the varied needs of God’s people when, in 1982, it ordained its first class of Permanent Deacons. Embracing this new concept, Father John Reddington hired Deacon Tony Marini. One other member of that first ordination class was Deacon Thomas Driscoll.
Deacon Thomas Driscoll and his wife, Michele.
In 1980 Tom was hired at St. Louis to work on Christian Formation and help with the formation of the RCIA Program. During his time at St. Louis, Tom also helped establish the Elderberry Express and the Pittsford Food Cupboard. Following Deacon Tom, St. Louis welcomed a new Deacon who was a St. Louis parishioner, John Payne. Deacon John served us from 1999 to 2012, when Deacon Dave Synder became our fourth Permanent Deacon.
Church of the Transfiguration Established
1983 was a year of significant changes for our church. In looking at the constantly growing numbers of parishioners, the diocese decided to create a new parish in our area, the Church of the Transfiguration. While the creation of a new parish was an exciting movement in the history of the local Church, it was a difficult time for St. Louis as many of our members were requested to change parishes. With Father Gerald Appelby as its first Pastor and Deacon Al Wilson, who was ordained from St. Louis, the Church of the Transfiguration would be formally dedicated two years later on May 4, 1985.
Father Reddington Retires
For thirty years, Father John Reddington led our faith community through a diverse series of changes and opportunities for growth. In 1983, Father Reddington retired from his active and energetic leadership of St. Louis.
Father John led our faith community for thirty years, retiring in 1983. He continued to serve as a priest in residence and celebrated Mass on a regular basis until his passing in late 1997.