The History of St. Leo Parish (1893-2011)
In 1887, a small but enthusiastic group of Catholics made plans for a church in Versailles, the county seat of Woodford County, Kentucky. Captain Samuel B. Lyons acquired a tract of land owned by W. Henry Graddy at the head of Main Street. A building fund, whose goal of about $3,000 was established, and Capt. Lyon’s $150 was the first contribution. On November 10, 1887, Rt. Reverend Camillus Maes, Bishop of Covington (which was established on July 29, 1853), laid the cornerstone. Upon completion six years later, on October 15, 1893, St. Leo Church was dedicated. The Reverend G. Bealer, of Maysville, was appointed pastor on April 30, 1893, of St. Leo mission church while he resided as pastor of St. Luke in Nicholasville, Kentucky. During the next thirty years, St. Leo continued as a mission church served by various succeeding pastors of St. Luke.In 1924 Father Nicholas Judermanns was transferred by Bishop Howard to be the first resident pastor at St. Leo which was established henceforth as an independent parish. Father Judermanns built the present rectory in 1925 and opened St. Leo School in 1926 in the old Presbyterian Manse (minister’s house) directly across Main Street from the church. The Sisters of Divine Providence of Melbourne, Kentucky were contracted to teach, and Sister Hildegarde was the first principal. In 1962, Bishop William Hughes appointed Father Charles McDonald as pastor. Under his guidance the church was restored and the school gym solemnized on Sunday to handle the growing Catholic community. In 1988, a building committee was formed to study expansion possibilities for the church. After months of study, Bishop Hughes decided to build a church and rectory on the Huntertown Road property at an approximate cost of $1,400,000. Upon completion one year later, St. Leo was formally dedicated on October 15, 1989. Father McDonald was succeeded by Father Raymond Stratman in 1990 and he, in turn was succeeded by Father Frank Osburg, in 1997. Father Osburg retired on June 30, 2004 and was succeeded by Sister Mary Ann Warner, Pastoral Director, and Father Dan Noll, as Sacramental Minister. In May 2009 our new Parish Life and Education Center was dedicated by Bishop Gainer. In June 2009 Father Dan Noll was reassigned to Mary Queen of the Holy Rosary Parish in Lexington, KY and Fr. Danny Schwendeman became our Sacramental Minister. In August 2010 the first school year began in our new facility. In June 2011 Sister Mary Ann Warner retired and Fr. Danny Schwendeman became Parish Pastor. Today, St. Leo is comprised of approximately 650 families and is still growing, both spiritually and physically. 2016 marks the 90th Anniversary of St. Leo School. Following the tradition began in 1887, we are working to be faithful stewards of the mission of St. Leo Parish.