Ascension Church

Ascension Church Celebrates 100 Years

By Ann Chrissos

Ascension Catholic Church of Chesterfield kicked off its fourteen-month centennial celebration on April 17th with a special Mass officiated by Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski.  Although 100 years ago the Catholic population in the Chesterfield area was sparse, they wanted their own church. Prior to 1923, area Catholics had to attend Mass at St. Anthony’s in Centaur or St. Monica’s in Creve Coeur.  The Reverend Louis Schultz and his cousin Joseph Schultz put their time and effort into founding and supporting a new church.  On April 17, 1923, ground was broken for the newly formed Ascension Church on land donated by Theresa Reuther.  The cornerstone was laid on May 10.  The following year, the newly completed building was dedicated as a mission church to St. Anthony’s Parish.  The Reverend Vincent McCartney served as pastor of both churches.  Ray Ruby, in his book Do Tell Hear the Corn Grow, recalled how he and his seven siblings would walk two miles from their home on Griffen Lane to Ascension Church for 7:00 a.m. Mass every Sunday.  They would arrive early so their mother, Mary Becker Ruby, could sing in the choir.  The Rinkels, owners of Rinkel’s Market, supported the new church by providing food for church fundraisers.  In 1941, Father McCarney initiated the construction of a two-room school with a finished basement and modern conveniences, however his successor, the Reverend John F. Godfrey, completed the project.  Over a hundred parishioners attended the groundbreaking on July 30.  The school served approximately forty students in eight grades. Current student enrollment is 409.  In 1964 the parish had only 109 families registered, but it had outgrown the little church by 1977, so a larger new church was built.  Today it serves 2800 families and possible expansion is being discussed.

A variety of activities have been planned to celebrate Ascension’s first 100 years. Three pilgrimages for parishioners are on the agenda.  These include one to Italy, another to the Shrine of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne in Florissant, Missouri and a third to some local Marian Shrines. Some other events include a reunion of couples who were married in Ascension Church, a school alumni reunion, Fair Ascension on September 23, 2023 and Winterfest on January 28, 2024.  A parish gala with an auction is scheduled at the Factory on April 20, 2024.  The centennial will conclude with an outdoor Mass at noon on May 24, 2024, the 100th anniversary of the little church dedication, followed by a picnic lunch and games.  A book on the history of Ascension Church by Robert Schultz should be available for purchase during the centennial year.  Ascension parishioners, as well as the wider community, can participate in a memorable and informative look at the past.

Ascension Parish bulletins.
Conversations with Reverend Thomas Molini, Robert Schultz, and Don Weigand.
The Chesterfield Historical Commission Book Committee. Chesterfield, Missouri:  From Untamed Wilderness to Thriving Municipality, 2011.
The St. Louis Star & Times. “Work Underway on a New School,” August 15, 1941.