Seeking livelihoods as fishermen and trappers, white settlers came about 1823, and later on Father Joseph P. Machebeuf served the Catholics by celebrating Mass and the Sacraments at the Germainia House, local downtown hotel.
The Cleveland Diocese was formed in 1847 and claimed the lake region. Father Louis Molon regularly ministered to twelve Catholic families living in Port Clinton. Two lots were purchased and a wooden frame church was built. Father G.A. Verlet became the first resident pastor of Immaculate Conception Church in 1862.
During the next decade, six different priests served the parish with brief appointments as missionaries, but the cholera epidemic took a heavy tool on the clergy attending the sick.
Parishioners built and operated a school from 1875-1880 for forty French, German, Irish, and Swiss students, but closed because of financial difficulties. However, the parish grew, constructed a new church — dedicated in 1902.
By the early 1920, under Father R.I. Kinnane, the parish bought a printing press and printed monthly bulletins called “The Immaculate”, built a garage, paid its debts and built a “new school”.
Father Karl Brand came to Port Clinton in 1927 and during his 38 years as pastor, he made a lasting impression on the entire Port Clinton community. He tackled anything, especially assisting many in the community through the Great Depression. A Marian shrine was erected on the east-side of the church in his memory.
Marian shrine located on the
east-side of the Church.
Because of the World War II effort, Erie Proving Grounds, and Camp Perry, the community saw a rapidly growing population, including a rapidly growing parish. Fr. Paul Mueller was appointed the first associate pastor. Later, Fr. Earl Schmit was appointed as overseer of the building project which attached the church and school, enlarged the sanctuary and added church seating capacity. Through this effort the school held 500 students and the church hel 800 mass attendees.
Fr. C.J. Dobmeyer was pastor from 1965-1977 and implemented some of Vatican II. Next came Fr. James E. Risacher as pastor and Fr. Clancy Yeager as associate pastor. During their time, Christ Renews His Parish, small prayers groups and several lay ministries developed and flourished.
Fr. James K. Say served as pastor from 1986-1992. He established “Our Lady of the Lake” chapel used for daily masses. Our school continued to provide Catholic education for grades K-8 along with a strong academic curriculum. Parish census registered 1400 families with 150 Catholic school students.
Arriving in 1992, Fr. Raymond Ensman promoted continual growth and change. Parishioners were served well by numerous ministries, along with liturgies that were inviting and prayerful for the diverse membership and ever increasing influx of summer visitors.
Emerging were the creation of a Pastoral Council, pre-school, extension of all-day kindergarten, development of the parish nurse ministry, youth ministry, and a business manager along with the purchase of additional properties.
Presently, Fr. John Missler is serving as pastor since 2006. Through a parish study with St. Joseph, Marblehead, which was initiated by Bishop Blair, we are researching avenues to better serve the Catholics in our area along with our many summer visitors. The results of this study will soon be presented to the Bishop.
A recently purchased house is being renovated for a rectory as well as a present discernment process addressing a past “Building for Ministry and Worship” Campaign.
Newly developed ministry teams are : Bereavement Team Receptions, Building and Maintenance Committee, RCIA Team between the Catholic parishes at Marblehead and Port Clinton.
As a parish, we see continual development of ministries, community involvement, Catholic school education promotion, prayerful liturgies–through the living out of our mission statement.