In the late 1970’s, a group of lay people, who for several years attended weekend Mass at St. Leonard College Seminary, began to form a lay community which shared a desire to live their Catholic faith and increase their understanding of the Franciscan tradition. Those who became part of this community were challenged by the Franciscan model of faith and love and joined in community with the Franciscans who taught and studied at St. Leonard College.
This lay group continued to worship with the Franciscans and established strong community ties. They called themselves the “Sunday Community,” participated in the liturgies, engaged in discussion, joined study groups, and listened to the Word. Trying to understand their role in the post-Vatican II church, members began to realize that they were called as a “priestly people” to bring Christ more fully into their lives.
When the decision was made to close the Seminary in 1981, a period of serious self-examination followed. The formal and informal discussions and small group meetings involved everyone in the community. Through continuous prayer the community’s members began to see themselves as a model of what the church could become.
They learned that an active laity could handle the organization and structural aspects of community live. The mission statement, developed by a group within the community, reflects that confidence. The community experienced both a turning inward in a strong sense of fellowship, participation, and commitment and a turning outward toward community service.
In 1983, St. Leonard Center became a home for low income seniors. The Faith Community continued to celebrate Sunday Liturgy in the St. Leonard Chapel. Also in 1983, the Faith community began to seek recognition from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. The strong sense of fellowship and participation in liturgies made the community confident that this was where the Holy Spirit directed them. Finally, in late 1989, approval was granted to the St. Leonard Faith Community to be a Quasi-Parochial Association of the Christian Faithful. Responsibilities to the larger church community were outlined and the Archbishop blessed our efforts to live the life of a Catholic faith community.
From the mid 1980’s through today, the St. Leonard Franciscan Living Community has grown immensely into a residential and long term care retirement community. By mutual agreement between the St. Leonard Franciscan Living Community and the “Sunday Community,” now know as the St. Leonard Faith Community (SLFC), we share office space, classroom space, and the Chapel.
The SLFC assists the St. Leonard residential and long term care community in a wide variety of volunteer services, as well as assuming responsibility for various chapel purchases and other collaborative ventures that have benefited the St. Leonard Franciscan Living Community in numerous ways.