In the spring of 2008, the idea of forming an Oratory in Cincinnati was born. Seeing the city as a perfect place for such a foundation, Fr. Jon-Paul Bevak, Br. Adrian Hilton, and Mr. Bill Wilson decided to approach Fr. Lawrence Juarez about the idea. Fr. Lawrence, having previously come to Cincinnati to join Fr. Al Lauer’s ‘Fathers and Brothers of Pentecost,’ was graciously open to exploring the idea. It was during Tenebrae on Good Friday at Old St. Mary’s Church, of that same year, that the group truly felt the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to pursue this holy endeavor. Having received help from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and the Procura in Rome, as well as various Oratories from around the world, we received much information and assistance on how to proceed. Fr. Jon-Paul and Br. Adrian continued on in their own respective formation programs. In the summer of 2010, the Oratory Delegate, Fr. Mario Avilés C.O., visited Cincinnati to assist with the establishment of a Community-in-Formation. This visit resulted in decrees from the Archbishop of Cincinnati, Most Rev. Dennis M. Schnurr, and the previous Procurator General of the Congregation, the Most Rev. Edoardo Cerrato C.O. in 2011. These decrees allowed the Community to proceed to the Formative Stage with the title Community-in-Formation of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in Cincinnati. The Archbishop blessed and gave to the Community its new habits on March 24th, 2012. With the support of the Archbishop of Cincinnati, the Bishop of Jaro, Philippines (where Fr. Juarez is from), the Bishop of Youngstown (where Fr. Jon-Paul is from), the Congregation of the Oratory, and our family and friends, the Community was able to come together officially and begin working towards Canonical Establishment as a house of Pontifical Right. We are guided by our delegate, the Very Rev. Mario Avilés C.O. (the current Procurator General), and the Constitutions of the Congregation of the Oratory. We are also inspired the ancient Constitutions of the Congregation (1565 and 1612) as well as the Excellencies of the Oratory.
Currently, Fr. Lawrence serves as the Superior of the Community as well as Parochial Vicar of Old St. Mary’s Church. Fr. Jon-Paul was ordained to the Priesthood on May 19th, 2012, and serves as Parochial Administrator of Old St. Mary’s Church and Chaplain of LaSalle High School. He is also the Vicar of the Community. Br. Adrian has two more years of seminary formation left and will be ordained to the Diaconate in 2014 followed by the Priesthood in 2015. He serves as the Master of Ceremonies of the Community.
The main apostolate of the Community is the building up of a Catholic Culture in Over-the-Rhine and metropolitan Cincinnati, as the means of promoting holiness and sanctity. The Community accomplishes this through parish work, school work and in the future can see more involvement in chaplaincies in hospitals, prisons and the acceptance of additional parishes. The Community has a special focus on the Sacred Liturgy and Sacred Music. We are in the process of formally establishing the Secular Oratory. When the Community is established as the Cincinnati Oratory, Old St. Mary’s Church will become the Oratory Church.