September 23, 2005

St. Pius X Parish in Indianapolis
celebrates 50 years

By Brandon A. Evans

St. Pius X Parish in Indianapolis is celebrating 50 years of being a community of faith in central Indiana.

Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein will celebrate a Mass at 2 p.m. on Sept. 25 at the parish church at 7200 Sarto Drive. A dinner for parishioners follows. (R.S.V.P. was required.)

Throughout the year, the parish has had other events to celebrate, including a 5K run/walk; a reunion of former pastors, teachers and charter members; and a parish mission.

Also, for the past few months, a variety of pictures from the history of the parish have been displayed in the church narthex.

“There’s a lot of interest in the anniversary,” said Father Gerald Kirkhoff, pastor.

Joseph and Josephine Sheehan, members of the parish for most of its history, have attended some of the anniversary events, and look forward to this Sunday’s celebration.

Both have been involved in the parish extensively: Josephine has served as a nurse for St. Pius School, was an officer for the women’s club and currently offers Communion to the sick; Joseph has been a member and director of the men’s choir, served as a lector and was president of the men’s club. Both are involved in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.

Joseph Sheehan said that the parish’s spirit is what makes it great—everyone, he said, participates in parish activities, especially the Mass.

Bill Lesch, a longtime member of the parish, said that people of every age seem more involved now.

He has served as an extraordinary minister of holy Communion, helped the school coordinate bus routes and was a member of the parish council.

“It seems like the younger people continue to be involved,” Lesch said.

He added that the feeling of community in the parish “has been there ever since we started and has continued to this day.”

“I think we’re a very close-knit family,” said Josephine Sheehan. “Everyone is so kind and generous and willing to just step in whenever something is needed.

“I can’t say anything negative about St. Pius—we’ve loved it from the minute we joined and we still love it.”

She added that the priests assigned to pastor the parish have always done well.

“We’ve had wonderful, wonderful pastors,” she said.

Over the years, the parish has changed and grown, and part of the growth came from the initiative of the pastors, said Joseph Sheehan.

“I think the major growth occurred probably in the period when Father Jim Sweeney was pastor,” he said. “Part of that change was affected by his personality and character and leadership.”

Father Sweeney, who died in 1990, came to the parish in 1983 after the founding pastor, Msgr. Charles Ross, had led the parish for nearly 30 years.

The parish was formed out of Christ the King Parish. As was common at the time, the parish school was built first and completed in September 1955. At one point, enrollment reached 750, and now is holding strong at 400.

When the parish was formed, St. Pius X —the pope from 1903 to 1914—had only been canonized the previous year. The street that the parish is on—Sarto Drive—takes the late pope’s family name.

In the early 1970s, after paying off the debt from the original building of the parish school (and the auditorium that housed the church), St. Pius X Parish moved toward building it’s own church building.

Currently, the parish is home to approximately 1,550 families.

There has been a lot of change in the parish, Father Kirkhoff said, and he is taking steps to ensure that the current generation of parishioners lays a foundation for the next 50 years.

As a part of that, he is already promoting the upcoming archdiocesan campaign, Legacy for Our Mission: For Our Children and the Future, as one such way to provide for the future.

“I think it will thrive,” Joseph Sheehan said.

(For more information, call the parish at 317-255-4534.) †


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