About Us

History of Holy Name

The Church of the Holy Name of Jesus was established in South Louisville, at the first parochial Mass, Sunday, March 1, 1891, by Louis G. Deppen, Rector. He celebrated Mass in his own home at 2823 S. 3rd St. The entire parish at that time numbered less than twenty souls. The Bishop of Louisville purchased the square block bound by Third Street, O street (now Heywood), Fourth Street, and N Street (now Iowa Avenue). Three of the four street corners still sport large concrete boundary markers.

In May, 1891, a lovely frame Gothic church was completed on the northeast corner of Fourth and O Streets. The parish grew so fast that within two years Fr. O’ Connor, the pastor, found it necessary to make an addition to the small church, doubling the seating capacity still sport large concrete boundary markers.  The pastor found it necessary to make an addition to the small church, doubling the seating capacity from 160 to 320.  The parish originally extended as far south as Shepherdsville. The first death recorded in the parish was of a resident of Bullitt County.

Holy Name Parish grew rapidly in the last decade of the 19th century. When the freight terminal of the Louisville and Nashville railroad was moved to South Louisville, the membership of the parish increased so rapidly that within twelve months both the Church and School were inadequate. Permission was granted to build a combination church and school, the first brick building structure erected on the church property, at an estimated cost of $ 13,000. The building was ready for occupancy Oct. 1, 1902. When the need for more school rooms was urgent, preparations were begun to build a permanent church, our present church. The hall in the school building was used for worship services from February, 1903 until October 27, 1912, when the new, magnificent church was completed at a cost of $ 61,000.

Rev. John T. O’ Connor, dearly loved by his parish, was appointed February 3, 1932. He served faithfully as pastor 38 years from 1893 to his death Feb. 10, 1931.  His face appears in several of the church windows.

Father, later Monsignor Francis J. Timoney, sometimes known as the Mayor of the South End, was appointed pastor February 2, 1932. He served for 34 years, until 1966. During these years he built a convent for the Sisters, renovated the school, and was active as Spiritual Director of the Holy Name Society. He organized a branch of the Society in every parish in the diocese with the help of the respective pastors.

During his tenure, the Holy Name Society sponsored the Corpus Christi Procession at the Churchill Downs, the Holy Name Band and Choral Club, Holy Name Athletic Program and the Holy Name Salvage Bureau, now at several sites in the city and known as the St. Vincent DePaul Thrift Stores.

The Corpus Christi procession was held originally where Bellarmine College is now, but was moved to Churchill Downs. Men of each parish met under the stands and children sat in the stands. Devotional music was sung and the rosary was prayed marching men and boys from their parish. The parish with the most men had bragging rights until the next year. When all the men were on the track in position, Benediction was celebrated with the newly ordained priests serving as assistants to the main celebrant, usually the bishop or archbishop.  In the spring of 1936 all indebtedness against Holy Name Parish was cleared.

The parish grew so swiftly and so large that several other parishes were founded from it: Most Blessed Sacrament, 1937; Our Mother of Sorrows, 1937; St. Thomas More, 1944; Sts. Simon & Jude, 1950; St. John Vianney, 1951; and St. Jerome, 1953.  The early winter of 1937 found the city devastated by the great flood which covered much of the city. Most of the Holy Name area was on higher ground. Over 400 refugees found shelter and were cared for Holy Name.

The church, rectory, school and former convent (the latter two now used by Catholic Charities) were added to the National register of Historic Places May 13, 1982.  As time went by, parishioners grew older and their children married and moved from the parish. Churchill Downs bought the property of some parishioners. Enrollment in the school diminished until it was impossible to keep the school open and it closed in 1992. Pastors since Msgr. Timoney have been George Saffin, R. E. Hommrich, Henry Stuecker, Edwin Scherzer, John Dalton, John Birk, and most recently Fr. David Sánchez.

Much of the University of Louisville and Churchill Downs falls within Holy Name parish, and the two have always had a close relationship. At present, Holy Name provides religious services and other pastoral care for the workers and horse owners on the back side.

Around the year 1985, Hispanic people from México, and Guatemala, have started moving into this area, partly because of the close proximity of Churchill Downs where many were able to obtain work.  Today people from Puerto Rico, Cuba, Brazil, Venezuela and other Latin American countries worship in our church.  This immigration has caused Holy Name to become the parish church for two congregations-parishioners who have been in the parish for years as well as the original parishioners and their descendants, and the Hispanic people.

In 2008, Fr. David G. Sánchez was appointed pastor.  

The Very Reverend J. Mark Spalding, JCL, VG, was appointed pastor October 1, 2016 while continuing as pastor of Holy Trinity Parish.

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