17 During the 1840s, the majority of the Jesuits who were missioned to Cincinnati either taught at St. Xavier College or worked at St. Xavier Church. Other Jesuits ministered in different ways, e.g., as chaplains to the sick and dying, or as directors of parish missions/retreats. A number of Jesuits, at the request of Bishop Purcell, served as pastors of diocesan parishes and lived in the parish. The parishes included: St. Mary’s in Covington (1841), Corpus Christi in Newport (1845), 49 St. James in Brownsgrove (White Oak) in 1846, St. Philomena, a downtown German parish (1849), and in parishes located in Chillicothe, OhiO. 50 When Jesuit authorities in Rome heard about Jesuits living in diocesan parishes, the Jesuits were asked to return to live with the Jesuit community. 51 In 1848, some Jesuits living in Germany (e.g., Fr. Francis Xavier Weninger S.J., Fr. F. X. Wippern S.J., Fr. Christopher Genelli S.J., and others) petitioned Rome to be sent as missionaries to America. Political unrest existed at the time in Germany and Jesuits were not welcomed. Rome approved the move. Frs. Weninger and Wippern were missioned to St. Louis and then sent to Cincinnati. Fr. Weninger was well-known in Europe as a director of successful parish missions (retreats/revivals). Fr. Wippern became Principal at St. Xavier. While Fr. Weninger taught Theology for two years, from then on he pursued his successful retreat giving and mission work throughout the country for a number of years. 52 (Two years later, Fr. Genelli, returning to Austria from St. Louis to care for his health, stopped in Cincinnati, caught cholera and died.) It is interesting to note that Fr. Weninger’s first English homily in this country (1849) was given to a black congregation in Florissant, MO. Then in 1852 he preached a mission in Louisiana to slaves from three plantations. (In the Index of Fr. Garraghan’s three volume work, The Jesuits of the Middle United States, Fr. Weninger is listed 13 times for his work with the blacks.) He did much more than this. In 31 years, he preached more than 800 mission/retreats and spoke 30,000 times in German, French and English. He is said to have heard 50,000 confessions each year. Between 2,000 and 3,000 people became Catholic because of him. He travelled some 200,000 miles while giving retreats. He wrote pamphlets and books explaining the Catholic faith to many different audiences and to people of all age groups. 53 When he finished a retreat or mission, he would return to the St. Xavier Jesuit community in Cincinnati to prepare for his next retreat/mission. It is likely that during these times of preparation he spent time with Cincinnati’s black population, most of whom lived very near St. Xavier Church in Bucktown (i.e., along Eggleston Avenue). In 1849 when Fr. John DeBlieck S.J. was appointed as Rector/President at St. Xavier (at age 27), there were already signs pointing to a number of growing problems that would last through the 1850s: 1. 2.
With the opening of the St. Xavier Parish School for boys, fewer young boys of the parish were registering at the College. In addition to St. Xavier Parish, many other local Catholic parishes had now opened their own grade schools. People in these parish felt obliged to help their parish to pay off parish school debts. Parents enrolled their sons in the parish schools
Early history of St. Xavier High School researched and written by Fr. Dennis Ahern, S.J.