Who We Are Today at “St. Ben’s”
We are a Catholic faith community in the Benedictine tradition. We welcome Jesus Christ and build His kingdom as we believe, celebrate, and live the mystery of God’s love.
With more than forty different ministries, we work hard to build the Kingdom of God. Many of these ministries are aimed at assisting us in our prayer. And prayer and work always stand at the center of any community in the Benedictine tradition. In our prayer and work, we seek peace in our own hearts and in the world around us by being faithful disciples of the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ our Lord. With a rich and vibrant history and a future full of hope, we press forward with courage today to grow in gratitude, to become gratefully generous, to further the essential mission of the Church: the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth.
The parish community has worked hard to become a community of welcome, peace, and joy. Please feel welcome to take part in the life of our community.
St. Benedict Parish was established in 1912 on the far east side of Evansville. The pastoral care for the parish was given to Benedictine Monks from St. Meinrad Abbey from the beginning. The founding families set out immediately to gather on Sundays for Mass and to provide for the education of their children, guided by the efforts of the Benedictine Sisters of Ferdinand.
In 1913, construction was begun on a building that would house almost all the functions of the parish: a church, classrooms, housing for the Sisters, and a cafeteria. We now call this building St. Meinrad Hall. In short order, the founding pastor, Father Martin Hoppenjans, OSB, led the community in putting up a convent and a rectory. The present church building was completed in 1928 in the Lombard-Basilica style. It was dedicated March 18, 1928, by Abbot Athanasius Schmidt, OSB. The cathedral features ceilings that are 65 feet high, a baldachin over the altar and a seating capacity of over 900 people. A second school building, St. Scholastica Hall, including an auditorium, cafeteria, and gymnasium, was completed in 1953. The most recent construction, St. Benedict Hall, was completed in 2004 and houses offices, classrooms, and parish meeting rooms.
The church was renovated after the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council. The baldachin was moved forward about 25 feet and the former high altar was dismantled and the new altar was created. Two of Evansville’s bishops were ordained and installed in St. Benedict’s before it became a cathedral; Francis R. Shea in 1970 and Gerald A. Gettelfinger on April 11, 1989.
On October 21, 1944, Pope Pius XII established the Diocese of Evansville. Assumption Church, Evansville’s oldest Catholic parish, was chosen as the first cathedral. The property was sold to the city of Evansville who demolished it in 1965 for the new civic center. Holy Trinity, Evansville’s second oldest parish, served as the Pro-cathedral from 1965 to April 11, 1999, when St. Benedict’s was consecrated as the third cathedral for the Evansville Diocese.