TOLEDO—At Toledo Little Flower of Jesus, parishioners and staff have been working on an ongoing adventure — reinventing much of the 84-year-old Catholic community.
Father David Nuss, pastor of Toledo Little Flower, offers a solemn blessing over the construction site for a 2,200-square-foot addition that will include new offices for the church and school and the renovation of the entrance with a presence visible on Dorr Street. The parish celebrated a groundbreaking ceremony for the project with a Eucharistic procession to the site after Mass Aug. 18. (Chronicle photo by Laurie Stevens Bertke)
The parish has a new pastor, new liturgist-music director, a new logo, a newly-designed Sunday bulletin, new email addresses and a new website. The parish also announced itself to the neighborhood a few months ago with a state-of-the-art electronic sign at the corner of Dorr and Olimphia streets, where the church has served Toledo since 1928.
And none of all that is the most visible change of all.
Before the year is out, a 2,200-square-foot addition is to turn the entire front of the church around and feature new offices for the parish and school.
It was not planned for all those things to happen in one swoop, but they did. Some changes are abrupt but others have been considered for years.
The building project has occupied committees, pastor, staff and an outside consultant for more than six years. Now, schoolchildren are routed around construction in the third year for St. Benedict Catholic School, a collaboration of Little Flower and Toledo Our Lady of Lourdes parishes.
The most visible new sight is to be a three-story tower entrance off Dorr Street. For years, entering the church has been from Olimphia, a residential side street, through an entrance sometimes difficult for visitors to find.
“It’ll finally look like a church entrance,” remarked one parishioner, looking at drawings that show a front that now will be seen from a major Toledo street.
The new entrance and a wide gathering space will lead to staff offices for parish and school and into the worship space. Plans call for a future transformation of church interior when funding allows.
A long self-study of parish needs, called “Seeds of Faith,” revealed what ministries are deemed important. Plans were drawn, redrawn and drawn again to reflect the reality of fundraising in a slumped economy.
The plan will fulfill much, though not all, of what people said the parish needed, said parishioner Paul Figliomeni, co-chairman of a steering committee.
Little Flower’s previous pastor, Father Joseph Steinbauer, who oversaw the long process, began a new assignment to a three-parish pastorate in Sandusky in July, and Father David Nuss, former pastor of Sandusky St. Mary, became Little Flower’s new pastor.
“This [Seeds of Faith] will continue … no matter who the pastor is,” says Fr. Steinbauer. “It has been a journey of faith and still has its challenges, but it is the right thing to do.
“I know the new pastor will be welcomed by the parish, and may we all continue the work that God has blessed us with,” he adds.
Fr. Nuss stepped up to support the “Seeds” project just as he has had to step around construction machinery.
“A terrific moment of God’s own design is upon us,” Fr. Nuss wrote in a parish newsletter before arriving at Little Flower. “Change never is easy, and it always is necessary for growth. The building project indicates the growth continuing at Little Flower. Truly, ours is a future full of hope, and I am eager and honored to share the journey alongside you. ”
Parishioners began seeing a new Little Flower logo in July. Before arriving, Fr. Nuss initiated its creation. The design shows flame-like flower petals soaring from the parish title. “The leaves sprouting from the letters embrace an image of a flower shaped like a heart which represents St. Theresa's mission, to make God loved,” says Joe Pinciotti of UlrichPinciotti, the design group.
In early summer, parishioners found that not a beat was lost with the arrival from Canton, Ohio, of new music man Tom Williams. He replaced retired liturgist and music director Dan Meyer.
The first step in a new main-street visibility was made with erection of a colorful electronic sign on Dorr Street, which flashes Mass times and special messages for passers-by.
A new parish website has been eagerly awaited, with parish news and pictures, replacing a previous site grown unstable.
“I’m excited about how it looks and its ease of use,” says parish secretary Lynn Harman. “Fr. Dave’s weekly broadcast on Annunciation Radio will be available on the site, along with — eventually — a homily podcast.”
Mr. Tressler is a member of Little Flower and the parish steering committee.