History of Church of the Ascension
Our Church of Ascension journey started in the mid-1800s with a group of Irish immigrants who lived in western Licking County. Their homes served as meeting places for Mage, baptisms, and social events. These gatherings were the church. In 1851, a log chapel was built at the current site of our parish cemetery on Jug Street. A frame church followed in 1875. Ours was always a mission church and our priests were from the diocese of Cincinnati, which served Kentucky, Ohio, and part of Michigan.
A new parish, with 50 members, was formed in Johnstown in 1912. The first Masses were said in Woodman's Hall, which was located above where the shops on Main Street are today. The hall was offered by J.J. Mattingly, grandfather of parishioner Betty Disbennett, as a temporary church. The alter was a former lunch counter placed on a platform that was used for musicians when a dance was held. The confessional was a ladder covered with sheets. The parish soon purchased the lot at 276 S. Main Street for $225, with an assessment of $500 to be paid semi-annually for 10 years. In 1914 work began on the church building. The first plans for a wooden building didn't meet code so new plans for a brick church were drawn. In the autumn of 1914, the farmers came with their horses, plows, and scraping equipment, and spent four days digging out the basement. They placed the block for the basement walls and then had to wait until the spring of 2015 to continue work. The building was completed December 1, 1915, and the first Mass was said in the new church at 5 a.m. on Christmas day. In the spring of 1916, the parishioners finished the landscaping and on May 30, 1916, Bishop Hartley conducted an official dedication. Forty people were confirmed that day and a reception was held in the basement. The rectory next to the church was purchased in 1917 for $3,150.
Many years later, the old house on the east side of the church was purchased to use for CCD classes. Other lots were purchased behind the church for parking. When the old house fell into disrepair, it was raised and a hall was built on the site in the 1980s to serve as classrooms and social hall for the parish. In 1966, our pastor, Fr. Laureniatis, purchased 16.5 acres of land next to the IGA grocery store (which is now the Johnstown municipal building). He was looking forward to the future and our growing community. Our parish grew in size as Johnstown and the surrounding area grew and became more accessible to Columbus. We went from the original 50 members to 300 families. The old church on Main Street needed many repairs and didn't have enough seating or parking for the Masses.
The year 2007 saw us moving into our present multi-purpose building. The original plan was to build a church with a basement that could be used as a meeting space and classrooms, but that would have cost more than the savings, pledges, and loans from the diocese could afford. The building committee and the diocese agreed the best plan would be to build the multi-purpose space, with classrooms for PSR, that we have today, and then build a sanctuary later. A new rectory was required by the dioceses to be built for our pastor, Fr. Reichert. The entire infrastructure is in place and drawings for a sanctuary are already done. The space we use now for Mass will one day become our social and banquet hall.
It is our hope, in the next several years, to begin planning and building our new, permanent worship space. Below, you can see an image of what our hopes and desires might look like compared to our old Church.
Molly Pertee Pavilion and Nick Pertee Playground
Nick Pertee Playground sanctuary Molly was an active member of our parish, and in her memory, the Pertee family made a large donation, which the social committee, garden committee, Knights of Columbus, and members of the parish added to, enabling us to create this beautiful improvement to our facility.
The prayer garden is the newest addition to our grounds and was the Eagle Scout project of teen parish member Marko Jesenko Jr. Funding in large part was donated by the Paider family with help from the Knights of Columbus and other members of the parish. Our parish family continues to grow and we now have more than 433 families registered.