Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church
If one in four residents in Aboite Township in Allen County is a Catholic – as the population demographics suggest at the turn of the twenty-first century – it suggests the need for an exciting, vibrant and burgeoning parish. It may be true that Catholics flock in numbers to their Eucharist-centered Masses, however, serving their spiritual and social demands requires a myriad of activities.
For Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church, it began in the late 1970s when Aboite Township people began talking about the need for a parish. Until that time, Aboite was part of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Fort Wayne. Families, however, were also choosing Mass schedules at St. Patrick in Arcola, St. Joseph in Roanoke and Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception downtown. Before the population expansion of the area, it all seemed to be a satisfactory arrangement.
Beginning in the summer of 1984, parish priests traveled to a St. Joseph mission in Aboite to begin celebrating Mass in Haverhill Elementary School. The neighborhood faithful responded, gathering together each Sunday morning in a large semi circle around a makeshift altar in the school’s auditorium. A year later Religious Education classes began within the school and in parishioners’ homes.
Rapid increases in population continued. At last, Aboite Township residents received the news that on January 1, 1988, Bishop John M. D’Arcy had appointed Rev. Robert C. Schulte as the founding pastor of a new parish to be called St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church. On January 3, 1988, the feast of the Epiphany, the first Mass as a new parish was celebrated at Haverhill School with 375 families forming the new community.
Soon building and development committees were organized and a fund raising drive netted over $800,000 in pledges for the construction of a new church. On August 6, 1989, groundbreaking ceremonies took place in a crop field donated by the Frank Gallucci family on the northeast corner of Aboite Center and Homestead roads. Bishop D’Arcy led the congregation in prayer, followed with a single shovel of dirt that kicked off a major construction effort. On Saturday evening, September 8, 1990, the first Mass was celebrated in a new church that was not totally completed. Religious Education classes also began that weekend. The entire complex included a church, daily Mass chapel, Eucharistic chapel, parish hall that could serve as classrooms, and a parish office all surrounding a large gathering area. By the late September dedication, one half of the $2.2 million construction costs had been paid from offertory income and a substantial donation.
An additional fourteen acres of land was purchased in March 1992, east of the church, to allow for future expansion. By December 1994 ground was broken for the rectory, which was completed on August 4, 1995.
As St. Elizabeth continued to grow in membership, interior space became critical. A 1995 study led to a February 15, 1998, dedication by Bishop D’Arcy. Included were a new ten classroom catechetical center, a new parish office center, an Atrium for Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, a new nursery, a music room and a church basement expansion. The church sanctuary was enlarged increasing seating capacity from 800 to 950 and a larger Daily Mass Chapel was created in the former office area.
In 1997, the St. Joseph School administration proposed the sponsorship of a joint school. Because of the increasing enrollment on the St. Joseph campus, expanded by a large percentage of St. Elizabeth students, it was suggested that the St. Elizabeth Religious Education classrooms be used during the school day by kindergarten, first and second grade students, while the upper grades would remain at St. Joseph School. Both Rev. Schulte and Rev. Larry Tippman, pastor of St. Joseph Church, gained Bishop D’Arcy’s approval to establish a joint school beginning with the 1998-99 school year. Two busses were purchased to facilitate transportation between the two campuses.
When Father Schulte was elevated to Vicar General of the diocese, Father Jim Shafer was appointed pastor on September 5, 2000. The parish continued to grow. By the end of the 2000 school year, over 400 students were enrolled, and by 2007 the school population stood at 484.
Today, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church, with an over 7,000 member parishioner base and representing 2,100 families enjoys a myriad of programs and opportunities on a daily basis. More than 840 students are currently enrolled in Religious Education, which uses all available meeting spaces. The parish continues to grow with a net gain of about one hundred families each year amid requests for more adult education, bible study offerings and family events. A study indicated that growth would continue and a building and campus expansion capital campaign to raise $7,000,000.00 began 2000.
Ground was broken for a new 55,000 square feet addition by Bishop John D’Arcy on August 12, 2006, during the parish’s annual Seton Fest. Father Jim Shafer had successfully led an extraordinary effort expanding the total facility to over 85,000 square feet. Unveiled were four additional classrooms for K through 4th Grade adding to existing ones and a state-of-the-art secure environment. If a lockout ever became necessary this parochial school is ready. Classrooms are supported by a computer lab, sick room, scout space, high school youth room and a concession stand.
Christ crucified on the cross dominates an expansive Atrium that welcomes the visitor to spacious parish activity center. Featured here is a generous-sized gymnasium complete with locker rooms, storage space, a performance stage, and connected by an elevator. A cafeteria supported by a full commercial kitchen is adjoined by a loading dock. Outside of the cafeteria is a spacious amphitheater ready for use when an outdoor setting is most appropriate.
Truly answering a need for a Catholic presence in the growing Aboite Township, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church parish offers a beautiful setting for worshipping our Lord, learning about Christ, and celebrating God’s love.
Priests and Deacons assigned to
or in residence who have served
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
Father Robert Schulte, founding pastor, January 1, 1988 to September, 2000.
Father James O’Connor, retired, assisting priest, May 1992 to July 2002.
Father Charles Mutyaba, associate pastor, March 1993 to October 1994.
Father Mutyaba died January 26, 2002.
Father N. George Fernando, associate pastor, January 1996 to September 1997.
Monsignor Robert Contant, retired, in residence, August 1997 to November 1998.
Deacon and Father Jack Overmyer, associate pastor, August 1997 to September 2000. Father Overmyer was ordained on November 29, 1997.
Father Matt Kafka, associate pastor, August 1999 to July 2000.
Father James Shafer, pastor, September 5, 2000 to present.
Father Dominique Carboneau, associate pastor, October 2000 to July 2002.
Father Eugene Eburuche, SMMM, associate pastor, October 2000 to June 2003.
Father Thomas Kodakassery, OSB, associate pastor, July 2003 to August 2004.
Father Bernard Ramenaden, OSB, associate pastor, February 2005 to July 1, 2008.
Deacon and Father David Ruppert, associate pastor, June 2005 to August 2007.
Father Ruppert was ordained on October 29, 2005
Deacon and Father Andew Curry, associate pastor, June 17, 2008 to present.
Father Curry was ordained Ocober 25, 2008.