Immaculate Conception Catholic Church History




Information comes from the Church files at the Campbell County Historical & Genealogical Society in Alexandria



Immaculate Conception Catholic Church was the first Parish in Newport for English speaking Catholics and was a daughter parish of Corpus Christi Parish. Land on Fifth Street, which as the time known as Madison Street, was purchased in March 1855. And on April 15, 1855 the cornerstone was laid by Bishop George Carroll and the structure was dedicated Dec 23, 1855.

John Force was the first pastor who served until 1857, when Patrick Guilfoyle 1871-1892) at native of Kilkenny, Ireland was appointed. Some referred to him as a "brick and mortar" pastor, but failed to know the real Father Guilfoyle. His memory is cherished for those things which posterity does not permit to die.

In 1857 the parishioners financed the construction of a three story brick school building for boys. That same year, the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth arrived in Newport and opened a school for girls on York Street. The Sisters also established a private school near the church which they named Immaculata Academy. Over time Immaculata Academy evolved into a grade 1-12 school.

Most Catholic soldiers assigned to the Newport Military Barracks attended services at Immaculate Conception. As the congregation grew a new church was needed and the cornerstone for it was laid on Oct 3, 1869. That church building was dedicated in 1873.

In 1878 the parish was saved from serious financial stress by generous contributions from Irish Catholics such as Peter O’Shaughnessy and James Walsh. Two of its outstanding priests were Father James McNerney )1878-1915) and Reverend Gerhard H Geisen (1933-1965)

By the 1950s Immaculate Conception had about 900 families but like many churches its membership declined sharply by the end of the decade as families moved to the suburbs. In 1967 the Kentucky state fire marshal declared the school building unsafe and the parish elementary school closed the following year.

The last church service was held there on Aug 3, 1969 and the building was later torn down to make way for the construction of a Shell gas station.


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