Mary, Help of Christians

954 North Maple Avenue, Fairborn, Ohio  45324

(937) 878-8353, Fax (937) 879-8800

Pastor, Rev. Thomas A. Nevels


Parish History

Mary statueOur parish has a long tradition as a Christian community, dating back to 1862 when a missionary priest from the Society of Mary organized the Catholic population into a parish congregation in Fairfield, Ohio. Parishioners met in and old schoolhouse until 1868 when Father Charles Hahne helped the congregation build a permanent church about a mile away in the larger town of Osborn. It was officially dedicated to Mary, Help of Christians on August 22, 1869. The cost came to $5,000, most of which was paid by the time of the dedication.

That "country" church served the parish of 20 families well and in 1918 they celebrated their golden jubilee, but with mixed feelings as the Miami Conservancy, formed after the 1913 flood, had designated the area as a retarding basin to check against future devastating floods. The parish sold the church to the conservancy for $6,000 but continued to rent the building for services until it was demolished several years later. The new church on Pleasant Street was erected in 1923 as part of the relocated town of Osborn. The 150-seat structure cost the parish $18,000 and incurred a debt of $7,500.

The church struggled through the depression years, but, during the 1930's, the 40-family congregation started a building fund that grew over many years until, in 1954, it totaled &98,000. By then, the towns of Fairfield and Osborn had merged to form the city of Fairborn (1950) and Mary, Help of Christians had blossomed into a parish of 500 families, much too large for the church on Pleasant Street.

Over the next few years, with the help of an intensive fund drive, the parish (now 566 families) raised a building fund of $356,000 and purchased 11 acres of the Layton farm at the north end of Maple Avenue. Another fund drive raised an additional $100,000 for the combined school/church project. Ground was broken in 1956 and the building completed in 1957 for our school. The altar was located at the north end of the present All Purpose Room which accommodated 500 for Mass and 700 when the entire cafeteria was used. This church was officially dedicated in November 1957. The church on Pleasant Street was eventually sold to the city of Fairborn to become the Municipal Court Building. The parish complex continued to grow and in 1962 the convent (now called St. Francis Hall) was completed for the five Franciscan Sisters who had been living in the old Layton family farm house. The rectory was completed in 1964. By then, the parish had once again become too large for the church. Enrollment totaled over 800 families with 2,200 people attending Mass on an average Sunday.

Mary with childrenOnce again, a tremendous fund drive was launched to finance the new church to be designed by W.W. Wurst Architects of Dayton. The five-sided structure, capable of seating 1,000 parishioners, was estimated at $500,000, but the completed cost was a little over $600,000 causing the parish to borrow $325,000. Through the tremendous generosity of MHC parishioners, the parish paid its debt and burned the church mortgage on September 19, 1984. Our present church, the fifth building to serve our parishioners since 1862, was dedicated on December 13, 1970. As a physical link with the past, the bell in the steeple is the same one which first called parishioners to services at the Osborn Church in 1868.

After 50 years of service our parish school closed following the '07-'08 school year. The building is now used as our Parish Center.

Today over 860 families call Mary, Help of Christians Parish "home". Over 1,100 people attend Mass here on a typical weekend. Our parishioners represent a cross section of Fairborn, Enon, Medway, and the surrounding areas of Green, Clark and Montgomery counties.

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