About Us

Our parish is a community of FAITH, GRACE, and SERVICE within the Roman Catholic Church and is part of the Archdiocese or Cincinnati, actively building a Catholic presence in the Southwest section of Dayton, OH.

The unique charisma of Parishioners of St. James, Resurrection, St. John the Baptist, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, The Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers, and the African-American culture have created this community of hospitality witnessing to the redeeming Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We acknowledge our dependence on and our indebtedness to God for the redemptive grace in the death and resurrection of Christ. We spread our faith through action by sharing our God-given gifts of caring, teaching, and serving in every aspect of our life.

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Pastor's Anniversary Message

The Lord Has Made a Way

There is this song we sing: "When I look back over my life and I think things all over, I can truly say I have been blessed...". Isn't that the truth? I remember the many stories I was told when I was perusing to build. Comments like, "Father don't worry yourself, it is not going to happen. How is it going to happen when we have not broken ground? Oh, it is not true that the land even belongs to us or we bought it." Yes, if you tell folks all the things that they said and the comments they made they may not believe it, but in all this, God has made a way for us. One person who was very much supportive and encouraging was the late deacon Jernigan, may God have mercy on his soul. He suggested that I put a sign on the property and he will pay for it, and that may encourage parishioners to contribute to the building. He was supportive of the groundbreaking even though the money was not ready. Here we are in 2020 celebrating this wonderful event of 15 years of togetherness: St. James, St. John, and Resurrection Parishes, in a new building built by us, a predominantly black Catholic community of faith. St. Benedict the Moor Parishioners, one of this kind in Ohio and one of four churches built by people of color in the nation.

As we are being grateful to God for what has made a way for us, we are thankful to all who supported us in this journey: foundations and their grants, Dayton Catholic parishes, supporters of our Cardinal Bernardin Banquets, our friends from other denominations, individuals and anonymous donors, the list goes on. Thank you to all who helped pave the way for us.

Over the years our church has been joining other churches in making life better for the people in Dayton, and the west side in particular. St. Benedict the Moor Church with Leaders for Equality of Dayton (LEAD) took action in making sure that people from the west side get easy access of transportation to and from North Fairfield for work, health, education, and shopping by advocating for RTA to extend bus services to the Mall of Fairfield Commons. We also advocate for the second chance program for the ex-convicts with City of Dayton to change its ordinance. Five years ago we made a conscious decision to reclaim our school, Resurrection, Mary Queen of Peace, now St. Benedict the Moor Catholic School, putting our resources, extending school hours and granting tutoring, improving the grades of students and passing the proficiency test. Today, the school has changed the life of many students, in and around our community, with good grades. The door was opened for them to compete with their counterparts in the suburbs for a brighter future. Through our Social Action Group we are able to serve about 400 people every two weeks with groceries and pay utility bills for others. Once a month we also feed the residents at the St. Vincent de Paul Homeless Center with Brunch. Yes, the Lord has used us to bring about his mission of changing his people and bringing about love. As we look back over our life in our faith journey as church, in many ways we can sing this song, say we have a true testimony that the Lord has used us to build his church. Yes, indeed, we have become an icon on this corner of 35 and Liscum Drive. For many years we strive to be a church whose mission is to evangelize the west side of Dayton, which we do well. As we look forward to our next celebration (25 years?) we should not forget the fact that our numbers are becoming more and more seniors. Even though we have new members coming in, it doesn't keep up with the sick and dying members we unfortunately lose every year. May the Lord listen to our prayers by showing us the way to bring more people into joining his mission.

History of St. Benedict the Moor Church

St. Benedict the Moor Catholic Church is the congregational repository of three Catholic churches in the Dayton Community: St. John the Baptist, St. James, and Resurrection of Our Lord. St. John the Baptist was founded in 1894, St. James in 1919, and Resurrection of Our Lord in 1920. St. John was the first to embrace African Americans as they migrated from the South to the Dayton area. In the meantime, Resurrection Parish was working diligently to find a home in response to the growing number of parish families in the western part of Dayton. St. James Catholic Church was striving to meet the needs of people in the Edgemont area of Dayton.

In the early 1920s, Resurrection of Our Lord obtained property in the area of West Third and Kilmer Streets, where a church and rectory were constructed. Two rooms in the rear served as the school. The first mass celebrated at Resurrection took place on Easter Sunday, hence the name of the church. Two years later, the property on Gramont was acquired, and the current church and school were built.

Meanwhile, in response to the growing Catholic African-American Community of St. John's, the Holy Ghost Fathers, known for their work in such communities, were assigned to the parish in the late 1920s to service what was then called "mission community." The Holy Ghost Fathers made great strides and took pride in creating, by its evangelistic efforts, a parish community in the surrounding neighborhood.

In the Edgemont area of Dayton, St. James Catholic Church was erected on land donated by the grandfather of our current Montgomery County Prosecutor, Matt Heck. Mr. Heck's distant cousin, a Glaser, was the first to wed in the new church with another relative, Leo B. Glaser, as one of the founding fathers.

With the onset of the 1950s and an effort to connect the hinterlands of America with an interstate network of highway systems, change challenged old established neighborhoods. St. John Catholic Church was lost to "progress" and was demolished in 1963 to make way for the new interstate highway construction program (Interstate 75 and U.S. State Route 35). Parishioners of St. John transferred their memberships either to St. James Catholic Church or to Resurrection of Our Lord. Throughout all the changes, the Holy Ghost Fathers remained steadfast and committed to the St. James Parish community. The 1960s whisked in more changes with integration and Vatican II. With the integration, neighborhoods changed from predominantly Caucasian to predominantly African-American. With Vatican II, the newly required changes caused a split among the parish faithful impacting many families. It was then that the prayer of one day reuniting as a people of God was born.

Through the years, both parishes, St. James and Resurrection, persevered, nurturing their surrounding communities with schools for the children and on-going outreach ministries that brought many to the faith and provided spiritual support during challenging times. Many of those programs and activities exist today through such organizations as the Knights and Ladies of St. Peter Claver, the Altar Rosary Societies, Cursillo Retreats, Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA), St. Vincent DePaul Food Panties, and the Health Care Ministries, among others. Also, a source of pride was the production of two priests from the St. James Parish: Fr. Martin Curtis and Fr. Joseph Davis.

Two priests who rest in the hearts and minds of Resurrection's parishioners are Fr. William Schissel and Fr. Edward Conlon. Fr. Bill left the parish and went to Over the Rhine Neighborhood in Cincinnati to serve the poor and dispossessed. Fr. Conlon realized his lifetime dream of serving as a missionary priest in Granada, West Indies. At St. James, during the tenure of its first black priest, Father Egbert Figaro, the talk on the opportunity to construct a new parish ensued. The site was in the area of what is now the Job Corp. Center on Germantown Street. A building campaign was launched but couldn't come together.

With the dwindling number of priests and the increasing costs of maintaining parish structures within the Archdiocese, Parishes across the nation collided with the optimism of rebuilding. As a result, faith communities began to develop strategies that would ultimately require consolidation and closure of parishes. The impact of these activities started with the sharing of priests. For the St. James and Resurrection Parish Communities, it was in the person of Father Freddy Washington in 1994. In 1999, the two communities reunited at one location at Resurrection Church, 138 Gramont Avenue, and combined the parish names to St. James/Resurrection. During Fr. Freddy's tenure, the idea of building a new home resurfaced.

Father Francis Tandoh, C.S.Sp., July2000, as the Administrator, pursued this idea of building a new parish, with a campaign named, "Vision to Victory." The Vision to Victory Campaign galvanized and energized this combined parish community toward realizing that vision.

On February 2, 2003, the parish community of St. James/Resurrection broke ground on eleven acres of property at the corner of Liscum Drive and McLain Parkway (State Route 35). Under the tenacious leadership of Father Francis Tandoh, C.S.Sp., a Holy Ghost priest from Ghana, St. Benedict the Moor celebrated the "homecoming" of a faith journey that started many years ago on May 14, 2005, when the Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk dedicated the church.

Just as the Israelites struggled, stumbled, and endured the test of faith and time to arrive at the promised land, the faithful of St. John's, St. James, and Resurrection will take its place in history as a community of believers continuing the work of bringing people closer to Christ. Through continued payers, work, and faith, St. Benedict the Moor has established itself as a parish community that embraces the challenge of God's work in its journey toward the vision and victory of salvation.

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Mass Schedule:

New Year's Day, January 1 - 10 AM

Regular Mass:
Sunday, 11 AM


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