"And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with
knowledge and understanding" (Jer 3:15).
The history of Blessed Mother has always been shaped by the pastors who have lead us so faithfully over the years. They have guided us to where we are today, and we would be remiss if we did not tell their story. A church history should be just as much about people as it is about facts and numbers. After all, "We, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another" (Rom 12:5).
I recall, more years ago than I like to think about, an organized effort to spruce up the church for the Easter Season. Everything was washed, scrubbed, and polished. In the process we even washed the light fixtures. If you remember Msgr. Jarboe you recall he was a very frugal administrator and cut all the corners he could, including removing about two-thirds of the light bulbs in all the light fixtures.
We purchased dozens of light bulbs and the main driving force in this endeavor, Joe Stinnet, proceeded to replace all the missing bulbs. Easter morning the lights came on and people saw for the first time, never before had there been that much light in the church! The next Sunday we were right back in the dark again. You never outmaneuvered Msgr. Jarboe for very long!
I also remember when we built the new convent for our sisters (now it is the priests' residence). There was a separate room for each sister and each room had a centrally-wired emergency button hanging from the ceiling, designed and installed by none other than Msgr. Jarboe. I have heard tales of the sisters getting up in the night and hitting their heads on the button and scaring the wits out of everyone in the house. It seems we had the healthiest nuns in the diocese! They were afraid to get sick because no one knew what would happen if they pushed the button.
One final note about Msgr. Jarboe. He used to require Fr. Hallahan, his associate pastor, to give fifteen-minute sermons. So, Fr. Jarboe would type a sermon for Fr. Hallahan to read and if the sermon went past fifteen minutes, Father was known to stop him in the middle of a sentence! Msgr. Jarboe loved to play cards and would make Fr. Hallahan play every night even though Fr. Hallahan hated to play cards. It was said that on the the Msgr. died, Fr. Hallahan was dealing the cards waiting for him. Speaking of the day he died, we carried Msgr. to his grave in a homemade casket, the one he built himself.
— Submitted by Bill Hayden
Blessed Mother Parish experienced much growth during the times of Fr. Clements. Padded kneelers arrived in Church in 1966, basketball goals shot up in the parking lot. In 1968, school renovations included four additional classrooms, a larger library , and a new cafeteria was built releasing room in our church and giving Blessed Mother "the longest aisle in the city." In 1969, Emma Dunbar recalls the sad day the school burned. Her oldest son ran home crying, "Blessed Momma is burning down!" In April 1971, the front doors of the church were recessed. In 1975, Fr. Clements welcomed the first Vietnamese family, the Van Luu's, to our parish. In 1977, the first Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion were installed (all of them being men).
In the fall of 1980, Drew Ward, the athletic director at the time, along with his wife Jeannette and Mark Sims, decided the time was right to build a gym. They sketched the plans on a white table napkin for a multi-purpose building. In 1981, the parish blessed the new Clements Hall which included a gym, kindergarten classrooms, and two upstairs meeting rooms.
Many recall Fr. Clements in his red sweater, even with temperature in the 90's he could be seen hitting a tennis ball up against the garage door behind the rectory. It is said that one year on vacation, he went to Gabe's Tower so he could watch over his church.
Fr. Clements will be long remembered by our parishioners for his address to the parish as "Dearly Beloved." Parishioners began counting how many times he would say it in his sermons. I think one Sunday he broke his record with 72 "Dearly Beloveds"!
— Submitted by Jan Storm
In 1984, under the direction of Fr. Charles Fischer, Blessed Mother entered into the "Renew Process." This was a new beginning for our parish. The laity were awakened to a new mission. Fr. Fischer's encouragement led parishioners to discover talents and leadership qualities that could be used in many ministries. Rich and meaningful liturgies brought about much spiritual growth, which continues today.
In 1985, computers were introduced into the Diocese of Owensboro. This forever changed the bookkeeping, the bulletins, the old way of doing things. The church truly was modernized! The computer age brought about the first full-time office worker into the parish: Jan Storm.
The first Parish Council was implemented under the direction of Fr. Fischer. That was the beginning of lay people becoming more involved in assisting our priest with parish management. The RCIA process was started around this time as well, and the church began a whole new way of welcoming new Catholics into the Church.
Fr. Fischer also opened doors for the people of God to experience a priest as a real person. His bubbly personality, his ready smile, his ability to bring fun into meetings and gatherings changed the way we interacted with our priests. Fr. Fischer will always be rembered as a compassionate and loving man. One of Father's favorite sayings was, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!"
Fr. Fischer moved to a different parish in 1989 and Fr. Phil Riney, his long-time friend, became our new pastor. Fr. Fischer went to his heavenly home on July 2, 2003. His name will live on at Blessed Mother for many years to come.
— Submitted by Jan Storm
We were able to tackle two big projects during my time at Blessed Mother.
The first was the consolidation of the Catholic schools in Owensboro. "Listening sessions" were organized throughout the parish in order to involve the faithful in the decisions that needed to be faced. When I arrived at Blessed Mother, the city was three weeks away from consolidating all the Catholic schools. Our parishioners were grieving for a part of us that would be taken away and that created a lot of turmoil. The priests were sharing their living quarters with four staff members since the Rector doubled as the parish offices. In 1990, the convent was converted into the Parish Office, a Library, and "the Great Room." The rectory was turned back into a home and all the while the parish progressed in the adjustment to the consolidation. It turned out that things weren't so bad after all.
The second big project was to do something about the church. The 150-ft. long by 50-ft. wide building was originally built to become a gym, as soon as the parish could build "a real church." There was much to be desired to have a good liturgy with full participation by the people. After several meetings with the Parish Council, it was decided to start a Capital Campaign and transform the building ito a T-shaped worship area. During this transformation, Mass was held in the school gym.
I had nine wonderful years at Blessed Mother and after celebrating 50 years as a priest in 1998, I retired to my home at Rough River. I experienced a church filled with deep, faith-filled, loving people during my years at Blessed Mother. I knew the parish would be in good hands with Fr. Freddie Byrd, my successor. Fr. Freddie had worked with me for two years as my Associate Pastor, from 1990-1992. Many thanks to the people of Blessed Mother for their dedication to Blessed Mother and to the Catholic Faith, and for their friendship and kindness to me. I continue to pray for all of you ... and have I told you lately that I love you!
— Submitted by Fr. Phil Riney
I am certainly grateful to Almighty God as I look back on my time at Blessed Mother. As a parish family we were able, with the grace of God, to do much. The physical landscape was changed with the building of the Family Life Center. This new building changed Blessed Mother forever. It increased our ability to serve and to offer more programs. St. Joseph Hall now serves as the social gathering space for the parish.
I am deeply proud of the fact that our Youth Ministry program continues to serve and teach our young people. Hundreds and hundreds of our young people have been a part of the program. Wit them, we learned to pray together, play together, and follow the example of Jesus by serving .
I am proud of the fact that as our parish grew in age, we began looking for ways to bring the ministry of the Church to our seniors. I am grateful to Sr. Alicia, who inspired us to start a Parish Nursing Program. This program challenged us to stay healthy and holy at the same time. The program also reached out to those who could not join us at Mass, but instead joined us in the Spirit of the Risen Lord.
I am proud of the fact that we were able to grow closer to Christ through the celebration of the Sacraments and the touch of Christ. We laughed together and cried together. We learned to love one another and to forgive as Christ has taught us. I pray, through the intercession of the Blessed Mother, that Blessed Mother Parish will continue to pray, work, and play for the honor and glory of her Son.
— Submitted by Fr. Freddie Byrd
In the short time that Fr. John has been with us, he has already made a substantial impact. We have witnessed his impressive knowledge of Scripture and his marked pastoral sensibility. He is becoming well known for his homilies, which are succint yet still packed with profound teaching. We look forward to many great things to come under Fr. John's leadership and spiritual wisdom.
For more on Fr. John and the rest of our current staff, see the "Meet the Staff" page.
To contact Fr. John, see the "Contact Us" page
— Submitted by Nicholas Hardesty