New Albany's Catholic heritage was enhanced with the completion of Holy Trinity Catholic Church, built in 1852, followed by the completion of St. Mary of the Annunciation Catholic Church in 1858.
Holy Trinity Parish, the first Catholic parish in New Albany, was established in 1836 by Father Louis Neyron. Located at East Seventh and Market Streets, Holy Trinity Church was first opened for services in October 1852.
St. Mary of the Annunciation was established under the leadership of Father Joseph Wentz in 1853. The church building, with an imposing edifice whose soaring spire is easily seen across the Ohio River from Louisville, KY, was dedicated on December 12, 1858, at its present location at East Eight and Spring Streets.
In time, Holy Trinity and St. Mary's Parishes would be divided by ethnic cultures, with the former primarily ministering to Irish and French Americans, and St. Mary's serving the German-speaking Americans.
On December 29, 1975, a fire tragically destroyed the 123-year-old Holy Trinity Church building. Holy Trinity membership then merged with St. Mary's. Holy Trinity Heritage Court was later established on the site of the church.
Throughout the years St. Mary's Church has undergone many restoration and preservation processes. Originally a rectangular red brick building, a renovation in 1886 added transepts, the apse, flat ceiling, a $3,100 Carl Barckhoff pipe organ, bells, and the placement of clocks on the steeple. In 1902, the brick was "shamrocked," giving it the appearance of stone, as seen today.
Major renovations occurred in the 1920's with the interior execution in Carrara Italian marble of the altars, communion rail, sanctuary floor, baptismal font, and wainscoting throughout. New stained glass, light fixtures, paintings and fresco work, a Romanesque styled arched ceiling, along with plaster ornament, rosettes, molding, and capitals were also included. Exterior work included the addition of vestibules at the east and west entrances along with the vestiblue at the Spring Street entrance. The steeple clocks were later removed.
Painting and enhancement of the church interior were once again completed in 2005. Painting and repair work, begun on the exterior of the church in 2008, was completed along with the replacement of the copper steeple, which was damaged by a windstorm in September of 2008.
St. Mary's takes pride in her most famous son, Archbishop Joseph Cardinal Ritter. Cardinal Ritter served as Bishop of Indianapolis. In 1961, while serving as the Archbishop of St. Louis, he was elevated to Cardinal by St. John XXIII. He is considered to have been ahead of his time in many areas, but most notably in the desegregation of Catholic schools.
As an inner-city parish, St. Mary's ministers to a wide variety of congregants in Floyd and Clark Counties, including those of different socio-economic statuses, political parties, and cultures, along with a growing Spanish-speaking population. With dedication and commitment to their Catholic faith, St. Mary's Parishioners promote both liturgy and ministry through participation in worship and service to its membership and the wider community.
Enriched by the heritage of both Holy Trinity and St. Mary's Parishes, St. Mary of the Annunciation Catholic Church will continue to stand as a place of welcome and worship, as well as an historic New Albany landmark.