St. Thomas the Apostle Church celebrates 120 years

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A parish in Columbus celebrates its history while looking to the future and the betterment of its community.

What You Need To Know

  • St. Thomas the Apostle Church is at the corner of 5th and Cassidy avenues on Columbus’ northeast side
  • John and Ida Wagner founded the church in 1902
  • Current parishioners hope to complete a community revitalization project

“The Cassidy’s on 5th Avenue donated this land for the church to be built. My father and mother came here in horse and buggy,” said Colette Compton, a life-long parishioner of St Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church. 

Compton, 90, is a Columbus resident who still remembers the day her father, John Wagner, walked her down the aisle in 1955. 

In 1902, Wagner and his wife, Ida, founded St. Thomas the Apostle Church, a cornerstone of 5th and Cassidy avenues on Columbus’ northeast side. 

“Joy to know I’ve been a parishioner here all my entire life and my father and mother started it,” said Compton. “And I’ve taken care of the flowers outside here. I use to serve in the mornings with father.” 

Colette Compton (left) and Sister Margaret Hoffman pray during an adoration service at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church. (Dennis Biviano/Spectrum News 1)

While the school has since closed, and many pastors have come and gone over the years, another constant over the last six decades is Sister Margaret Hoffman.

Hoffman is an English teacher, who began her devotion to the church in 1960. 

“We were a very mixed immigrant community,” she said. “I think the greatest picture of America is in this parish on a Sunday morning and I hope we can continue that because that is a big, big part of who we are at St. Thomas.” 

And during uncertain times, both Sister Hoffman and Compton agreed St. Thomas the Apostle must continue its outreach to younger generations in the community. 

One of their hopes moving forward is a neighborhood revitalization project. 

“That this intersection is going to be revitalized and that for the first time, in the history of this church, there’s going to be a sidewalk for people to walk from 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th avenue to come here. Because that has been a need,” said Hoffman. 

A quilt in the church basement contains a part of Compton’s wedding veil and dozens of other prized mementos from parishioners past and present. 

It’s a tribute to her parents, and a building block for generations to come. 

“They were dedicated in seeing that we had a Catholic education here,” said Compton. “It means a lot to me to have a nice memory like this.” 

St. Thomas the Apostle Church office is located at 2692 E. 5th Ave. in Columbus. 

The church may be contacted, including regarding its revitalization project, by calling its office at 614-252-0976.