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 Jefferson, Ohio.

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 two hundred.

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 construction.

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. Father Matthew has brought life, energy, joy, enthusiasm and love to the parish. He has also brought "Max", his Basset Hound. Max has become the joy of all our youth in the parish. They run to say hello to him following Mass and Max just loves all the attention. During Father Matthew's short time here, we can see many improvements being done: we have painted the rooms in the rectory; in the church, we have added a votive candle rack, we have put up a space in the entrance way with religious material; we put up shelves for our statues within the church; we have added shrubs and flowers to the landscaping, flags hang from the church; and plans are in the making for a new church sign.

We look forward to see what will develop for us under Father Matthew's leadership. We ask God to bless us as we work to build up His Kingdom here and to fill us with His love and peace to enable us to be Christ for one another.

Our Lady of Victory Catholic Parish - Andover, Ohio