Frequently Asked Questions

For questions on the Saint Mary Church & School Capital Campaign, please refer to this FAQ. For any questions unanswered by our FAQ, please write our Campaign Team at:

How has Saint Mary served the Community?

Saint Mary was created in 1865 as a German Catholic Church and School, only the third Catholic church in Columbus. Originally, both the church and school were housed in what is now called The Monsignor Specht Center, the oldest structure in German Village still used for its original purpose. This building now contains the Saint Mary Museum on the first floor and visual arts and music classrooms for the Saint Mary School on the second floor. The present church was completed in 1868, and it retains an iconic stature in historic German Village. The Parish now provides a place for worship, education, and ministry for people in 53 different ZIP codes in Central Ohio. Saint Mary School is the only Diocesan Catholic school serving the “South End” of Columbus, the downtown, and the near North, East, and West sides of the city.

Why is the Church closed?

Saint Mary Church was “temporarily condemned” and closed to the public on October 7, 2016 when it was discovered by structural engineers that the roof trusses in the church had shifted after decades of wear and fatigue. The discovery was made in a thorough inspection of the 150 year old structure after lightning struck the church on August 25, 2016. 

Who has assessed the damage?

In close consultation with the Diocesan Building Office, a highly-respected structural-engineering firm was brought to inspect the structural integrity of the entire church. It was determined the church was structurally weakened and was not safe for occupancy.

Why isn’t the damage covered by insurance?

The church is 150 years old and engineering studies concluded the roof trusses have been shifting for many years, if not decades. This is an issue of age and fatigue, and, as such, is not covered by insurance. Insurance did cover replacement of the Church’s sound system and the Parish computers which suffered a total loss from the lightning strike.

How long will the Church restoration project last and what will it cost?

Phase One of the project is Stabilization of the building, which was completed in mid-May 2017. Phase Two of the project, the Rebuild Phase, began in January, 2018, when nearly $2.5M had been raised.  Phase Three, the Restoration of the interior of the Church will begin when an additional $3.0M of the Capital Campaign goal has been raised.  The repair and restoration timeline has been predicated on Saint Mary raising sufficient charitable funding to keep the work moving. The present timeline calls for the Church to be ready for worship by Easter of 2019, but the timeline is contingent on generous people stepping forward to make it possible through their donations.    

Is an Expansion of Saint Mary School part of this Campaign?

The Capital Campaign will raise the funding necessary to refurbish and improve the Specht Center so it can be used as an impactful educational space and a supportive multi-purpose community center. The renovated Specht Center will house high-tech classrooms for students that will also serve as versatile and productive meeting spaces for adult and children’s programming and community gatherings. Additional capital will also cover important improvements to the stained glass windows, parking lots, and outdoor perimeters of the church and the Specht Center.

When the work on the church and the Specht Center are completed, St. Mary also intends to conduct a second phase of the capital campaign for the expansion and improvement of the school.  Conservative estimates indicate that the school’s organic enrollment growth could soon increase from 280 to 400 students. Thus, there is not only a pressing need to add classrooms, but also a great opportunity to modernize the existing classrooms to meet the highest technology and learning standards. 

Where is Mass being held?

Mass is currently being held in the school gymnasium, with the exception of Funeral Masses, Weddings, First Holy Communion, etc. which are being celebrated at St. Leo’s Church on Hanford Street, and occasionally at Holy Family Church on West Broad Street.

Why aren’t we moving all Masses to St. Leo’s?

St. Leo’s is home to the Korean Catholic Community and their Mass schedule conflicts with some of our Mass times. Like the Israelites of ancient times, we are “in a foreign land” but our exile will end and there will be great joy when beautiful Saint Mary’s is repaired, restored, and re-opened.

Who at Saint Mary Church is making the decisions on the Campaign and its building project?

Fr. Kevin Lutz, Pastor, and members of the Church Finance Committee are working in close consultation with a team of volunteers on the Campaign Steering Committee to help guide our parish through this project. We are also working in close consultation with the Diocese of Columbus Building Superintendent’s Office. All plans are reviewed and approved by Bishop Campbell and Bill Davis of the Diocesan Finance Office.

What is the relationship of the Diocese of Columbus to this project?

Our Church has secured permission from Bishop Frederick Campbell to move forward on the design and construction timeline. Father Lutz, the Finance Committee, and members of the Saint Mary staff have been in constant communication with the appropriate offices of the Diocese of Columbus. The Diocesan Facilities Office has been and will continue to be involved in each stage of the assessment, design, and planning. Permission to move forward with our Capital Campaign was granted by the Diocesan Finance Office and Development and Planning Office.

How Can Parishioners Provide Feedback on the Restoration and Building Campaign?

There have been three Town Hall meetings, two Parish surveys, and several update meetings open to parishioners where they can comment and provide ideas and input. Also, there are several committees open to any and all interested members of the parish community. 

What is the Capital Campaign and When Did it Start?

The capital campaign is a special building-fund appeal financed and conducted by Saint Mary Church to pay for the stabilization, rebuilding, and restoration of our historic church. During the St. Mary Church & School Capital Campaign, parishioners and members of the broader community are invited to make a financial pledge, potentially payable over a period of 5 years.  For parishioners, this pledge is above and beyond current giving to the parish’s weekly offertory and Bishop’s Annual Appeal.  The Capital Campaign officially opened to the public in December of 2017.

Who is leading the Capital Campaign?

Parishioners Peggy and Mike Hartshorn have been gracious enough to step forward and Co-Chair our Capital Campaign with Father Lutz.  There is a Campaign Steering Committee headed by Father Lutz and Mike and Peggy consisting of members of the Parish and some of the Parish staff.  

How Can I Support the Church and School?

Everyone is asked to pray for the success of this project. Aside from the momentous undertaking in 1865 when Saint Mary was being created as the third parish in the Diocese of Columbus, this project is the most significant undertaking in the 152-year history of our parish.  Please make the most generous donation possible (over a period of 5 years) to make the renovation and re-opening of St. Mary Church a reality.  There is a Donate button this this website!  Consider a Commemorative Gift for you or your family or someone else you love, or make your donation in memory of someone who has had an impact on your life and faith.  See “Ways of Giving” on this site.

How Can Local Businesses and Residents of German Village Show Support?

A beloved pastor of Saint Mary Church once said of his parish’s proud standing in historic German Village: “While not everyone belongs to Saint Mary, Saint Mary belongs to everyone!”

Businesses that have a close connection to Saint Mary Church and School have already begun supporting the Campaign with cause-related marketing promotions. If you own a business, or operate a restaurant, etc., and would like to promote the Saint Mary’s capital campaign with proceeds on sales, please contact our Director of Development, Sheila Lutz at (614) 648-2016.  Local businesses can have copies of our campaign brochure in your business and share your commitment with your customers (contact Sheila Lutz for campaign brochures).  The campaign also needs corporate gifts and pledges (payable over 5 years), at all levels.  A strong St. Mary Church and School help make German Village a vibrant and beautiful community!

Was there an Emergency Loan provided?

Yes. Since this was an unexpected emergency, the Diocese of Columbus loaned Saint Mary Church nearly $500,000 for the Stabilization Phase, Phase One, when the church was temporarily condemned and closed to the public. All funds from this loan were held at the Diocese and all invoices were paid through the Diocese. The entire loan has been re-paid through the Capital Campaign so that the Rebuild Phase and Restoration Phases could begin.

Why do the Stained Glass Windows need restored?

Upon a closer inspection of the Church’s historic stained glass windows by a local expert, it was determined the glass has started to sag and the leading in the windows is failing. The frames are also deteriorating and must be replaced soon or a total loss could be experienced. 

How much should I give to the capital campaign as a Parishioner?

Our leadership is respectful of each family having different financial means and abilities to give but we are striving for 100% participation among parishioners. A gift of $3,000 would be a gift of less than $2 a day over 5 years in order to ensure a promising future for Saint Mary Church and for the Catholic Church in central Columbus and the “south end” of the city. This should not pose a burden for most parishioners.  All of us have been blessed by the Lord with material means.  A heartfelt appeal is made to parishioners to reflect on their ability to make a very generous gift to this campaign to Save Saint Mary Church.  We ask those who are capable of making gifts of $25,000 to $250,000 to have a major impact on our success. 

Is a gift to the Campaign in addition to my weekly Offertory and Bishop’s Annual Appeal?

Yes, a gift to the Campaign would be separate, and is considered above and beyond your Sunday offertory and the Bishop’s Annual Appeal. Tithing from our parishioners provides the funds necessary to maintain the current level of operations, including staff salaries, utilities, maintenance of our buildings and grounds, and our core parish ministries. It is essential that your Sunday donation continues at its present level to pay for the programs and daily needs of Saint Mary parish.

Is my contribution to the Campaign tax deductible?

Yes, a charitable gift to Save Saint Mary Church is tax deductible to the fullest extent provided by law. This requires the donor to itemize deductions by using the appropriate tax forms. Parishioners are encouraged to consult their accountants and financial advisors to ascertain the tax advantages their gifts may create – especially gifts of appreciated stock and securities.

Is my Campaign pledge legally binding?

A pledge is not legally binding; it is merely a statement of your intentions. If a family’s financial situation should change, you will always have the ability to amend your pledge, simply notify the Saint Mary Parish Office of the change.