Archbishop Edward F. Hoban established the Mission Church of St. Bede the Venerable on June 11, 1964 to serve Catholics living in the northeastern portion of Mentor. Archbishop Hoban appointed Father Herman B. Peters, then serving as assistant pastor at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Cleveland, as the first administrator for the new mission. With 475 families, Masses were celebrated at nearby Mentor Shore Elementary School. In his first homily to the parishioners of St. Bede's, Father Peters said, "I can only say God loves you very much because he is calling you to great sacrifice." God's love and call have manifested themselves in abundance through the following decades.
In July of 1964 Father Peters and the parishioners purchased a house and 11 acres of land at the corner of Meister Road and Lake Shore Boulevard. Shortly after, Archbishop Hoban transferred Father Peters and appointed Father Walter J. Tulley, Chaplain at St. John's Hospital, as the mission's second administrator. Father Tulley soon organized the first Confraternity classes, and by January of 1965 a Building Fund Drive was underway. The mission was raised to the status of Parish on January 31, 1965 and Father Tulley was appointed as its first pastor.
Soon after purchasing the church property, volunteers had undertaken renovation on the house to include an office for Father Tulley and a small chapel, where daily Masses were held until the church was completed. The house remained in service, first as rectory and later as parish office, until it was demolished in November 2002.
Ground was broken for the new church on January 16, 1966 and Bishop Clarence E. Elwell laid the cornerstone for the building on October 30th. The first Mass in the new church took place on July 16, 1967. The altar, containing relics of third century Roman martyrs Ss. Innocent and Donatus, was consecrated by Bishop Elwell on April 20, 1968, and Bishop Clarence G. Issenmann blessed and dedicated the church building on April 28th.
Father Tulley and St. Bede parishioners recognized that building a permanent church structure was only one small part of creating a vital worship community. Shortly after its establishment, St. Bede obtained the services of the Sisters of Notre Dame; they served as administrators and teachers for the Parish School of Religion from its inception until 1991. The parish also hosted a variety of outreach programs, including a chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous which continues to meet here weekly. As the parish continued to grow, educational programs were increasingly crowded; to meet the need for space, the Father Tulley Center was constructed in 1975.
In 1974, a fire broke out in the kitchen, damaging the rectory. The parish secretary rescued the parish's sacramental registers--the records of the life of the parish. The parish continued to grow as the population of Mentor grew exponentially. Father Tulley died unexpectedly on October 3, 1981, leaving a community of 1,200 families.
The second pastor of the Parish of St. Bede the Venerable was Father Joseph A. Goebel, who served from December 1981 until June 1986. During his pastorate, the parish improved its ministry to the sick and shut-ins. The practice of anointing of the sick during the celebration of Mass was initiated during Father Goebel's tenure.
Father Thomas A. McGovern became St. Bede's third pastor, serving from August 1986 until June 1988. Strongly committed to organizing the parish's daily affairs, Father McGovern oversaw the hiring of a parish business manager, and the parish negotiated a plan for retiring the parish debt. As the parish's silver anniversary approached, Father McGovern authorized renovation of the church's interior.
In August of 1988 Father John J. Sullivan became pastor. As the community continued to grow at the same time as the Diocese's pool of priests declined, Father Sullivan invited the parish to greater lay involvement. He approved the creation of the Parish Pastoral Council, appointed one lay liturgist and pastoral ministers, and secured the services of three permanent deacons. A neighboring property was purchased and became the new rectory; the church and the Father Tulley Center were both remodeled.
During the decade that followed, the parish continued to grow, taxing the available worship and meeting facilities. A committee, Parish 2000, was formed to evaluate the parish's future physical needs. Under its aegis, plans were drawn up for a church expansion to include additional space for weekend Masses, a chapel, a library, a choir room, youth ministry space, and storage for the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry, as well as a new Administration Center. The capital campaign to raise the necessary funding, called Building Upon Community, was underway by the spring of 2000.
On the Feast of Venerable Bede, May 25, 2002, Bishop A. Edward Pevec broke ground for the church addition, and on July 1st construction began. Staff moved into the new Administration Center on November 2, 2003. By the spring of 2004 weekday Masses were being celebrated in the new chapel, and new church spaces were in use. During the summer the new baptismal font, in the Gathering Space, were completed, and the grounds were landscaped.
The Reverend Timothy Plavac is the fifth pastor to lead our parish. One of Father Tim's guiding principals is that the Church should not only nourish the spirit, but the mind and body as well. St. Bede's Church offers many opportunities to involve members of all ages.
We are most thankful for the many blessings our parish community has received. We have grown to 1780 families. We have been lead by 5 pastors, 7 associate pastors, 4 deacons, and several lay ministers who have brought their many gifts to the parish. Our parish has over 50 ministries serving the needs and concerns of our parishioners and the community.
The monastic simplicity of our church remains a constant. Our future as a parish continues to evolve as we seek to live out our call to be “People of God”.