HISTORY OF OUR LADY OF VICTORY CATHOLIC CHURCH
The organization of the parish of Our Lady of Victory was the result of several years of mission
work by the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, who served St. Joseph's Parish in
The first Mass in the Andover area was celebrated in 1944 at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Ernest
Ejbl, in Cherry Valley. There were ten families in the beginning.
A double house on Chestnut Street in Andover was purchased and used as a temporary place of
worship until it proved too small to accommodate the increasing number of worshippers. At the
time of the dedication there were approximately twenty-five families.
A permanent Catholic Church in Andover was the dream of the Founder, the Reverend Joseph
Stanton, O.M.I. and Bishop James A. McFadden who was a summer visitor of Pymatuning Lake.
The land was purchased on South Main Street and Father Stanton designed the church and
guided its construction through to its completion with the help of the parishioners, many of
whom were summer residents of Pymatuning Lake and many others were friends in Ashtabula,
Jefferson, and the surrounding territory.
The new church, surmounted with a Celtic Cross was blessed and dedicated on Sunday,
November 6, 1949 by Bishop McFadden. The church has a seating capacity of approximately
In 1957, the house next to the church was purchased for a rectory and Father Patrick Murphy,
O.M.I. took residence as the first Pastor. During his pastorate, the house next to the rectory was
purchased and was used for Christian Doctrine Classes.
In 1963, Father Ramond Danehy, O.M.I. was assigned as Pastor and served until 1970. During
Father Danehy's pastorate, much was done to improve the church property. He had the parking
lot paved and the property was landscaped.
Father Joseph Pucci, O.M.I. came to Andover in 1968 to aid Father Danehy as assistant. Father
Pucci became Pastor in 1970 and remained until 1971. The interior of the church was
remodeled during his pastorate.
Father Daniel Finnegan, O.M.I. came in 1971 to be our new Pastor and served until 1977.
Father Daniel saw the need for a larger space for worship. The parish would swell in the summer
with the large numbers of summer visitors. The small church just could not accommodate the
number of people coming to Mass. Plans were made to build a hall to be used as another Church
during the summer to enable visitors and parishioners to take part in the Mass. The parish hall
was completed in 1977. This hall is also used as a parish social center and for the Christian
Doctrine Classes for our youth. The hall was dedicated as "Finnegan Hall" on August 7, 1977 in
sincere appreciation to Father Daniel Finnegan, O.M.I. who was the Pastor during its
In 1977, Father Francis Gorham, O.M.I. became Pastor and served until 1979. Our annual Ham
Dinner started under the leadership of Father Gorham.
In 1979, Father John Hogan, O.M.I. became Pastor and served until 1984 when the Oblates of
Mary Immaculate turned the parish back to the Diocese of Youngstown due to their number of
priests becoming smaller and smaller. Brother Frank Lenehan, O.M.I. also came to Our Lady of
Victory in 1979 and served with Father Hogan until 1984. During that time, the parking lot was
resurfaced and work on the interior of the hall was completed. In June of 1984, the parishioners,
friends and community gathered in Finnegan Hall to show appreciation to the Oblates of Mary
Immaculate or their forty years of service to Our Lady of Victory Church.
In 1984, Father Michael Smar became the first Diocesan priest assigned as Pastor of Our Lady of
Victory. Father "Mike" served until 1988. While he was here, plans began for the renovation of
the sanctuary and the new handicap ramp was added to the church. He also formed a new parish
council as well as adding many parishioners to the ministries of Lector, Special Ministers of the
Eucharist, Ushers, and Mass Servers.
In 1988, Father Tom Ungashick became our Pastor. He followed through with the renovation of
the sanctuary. An addition to the hall was constructed. It consisted of restrooms, classrooms
for C.C.D. and a storage room. An outdoor Shrine to the Blessed Mother was made to the south
of the church. Father Tom added flowers, bushes, and trees to the landscaping of the property.
In 1989, the parish celebrated their 40th anniversary.
In 1995, Father Larry Frient became our Pastor. During his pastorate many things were
accomplished. The church parking lot was resurfaced; the hall boiler was replaced; new roofs
were put on the main hall and kitchen; central air-conditioning was added to the church,
rectory, and hall; the rectory and church offices were remodeled; the chandeliers in the church
were restored; the interior of the hall was painted; and new steps were added to the church.
Father Larry encouraged the parishioners to participate more fully in the needs of the parish.
He added parishioners to the various ministries of the church. He conducted Adult Education
classes each year.
In May of 2003, Father David Misbrener became our Pastor. We repainted the church, and put
in new kneelers and carpeting. Looking to the future, we purchased adjoining land to our
property to use as an extended parking lot. Also Father David upgraded the landscaping.
Beautiful flowers could be found by the rectory, church, and hall. In the rectory, he purchased
various items to update the furnishings. In the church, icons of the American saints were added
to the walls, as was a beautiful picture of the Divine Mercy. In the hall, he added an icon of the
Blessed Mother. We number 215 families.
Fr. Kevin McCaffrey became our Pastor in 2006. He led us for six years through difficult times
and happy times. He asked of us three things: 1. To thank God always for what He has done for
not only us personally but also for our parish community. 2. To remember to pray for all the
members of our parish and 3. To resolve to form friendships with one another. During Father
Kevin's pastorate, we built the pavilion to the back of the property and plans were begun to
develop a "prayer garden" on the land purchased behind the church. He replaced the Risen
Christ statue in the church with a crucifix in the center of the sanctuary. The corpus was
purchased by the Altar & Rosary Society in memory of deceased parishioners and the cross was
made by James Stoffel. We began to pray the rosary before all the Masses on the weekends
asking our mother, Mary, to protect us.
In 2012, Fr. Matthew Albright became our Pastor. He was installed as Pastor on August 5, 2012.
During Father Matthew's tenure, improvements were done including the painting of the rooms
in the rectory; in the church, a votive candle rack was added, shelves for the statues within the
church were added; flags were hung from the church; and a new church sign was installed.
In July of 2015, Fr. Jeffrey Stealey became our pastor. Sadly his time with us was too short, as
he died unexpectedly on April 6, 2017. "If we can laugh together, we can love together," was his
motto. We hope to carry on this legacy in his memory.
In January of 2018 we were blessed to have Fr. Michael Mikstay join us as pastor. After having
spent 25 years as a Navy Chaplain, he retired from his military career and now joins us in
Andover and Kinsman. We are looking forward to the future with a grateful heart and confidence
in Christ's presence among us.
Our Lady of Victory Catholic Parish - Andover, Ohio