By Carolyn Kesterman, Communications intern
Communications intern Carolyn Kesterman (pictured on right with Barb Letts) visits the campus of SC sponsored ministry DePaul Cristo Rey High School, the former home of Concordia Lutheran Church and School, where Carolyn and her family have many fond memories.
When introducing me to a group of Sisters that I was to interview two months ago, SC Communications Director S. Georgia Kitt, mentioned that I had attended Concordia Lutheran Church and School before the Community bought the property in 2009 and started DePaul Cristo Rey High School. This news was met with smiles from all in the room, and one Sister suggested that S. Georgia take me back to my old home for a story. Two weeks ago, we did just that.
My family has a long history with the property and the congregation that was once housed there. My paternal grandmother, Garlan, attended church and grade school at Concordia in its original location in Over-the-Rhine, and my father went through several grades at the building in Clifton before the sanctuary had even moved there. Aunts, uncles, and cousins all had parts in its workings, my Uncle Howard Huber being the property’s caretaker for many years. I grew up surrounded by photos of the familiar stained glass at the front of the church where my parents’ marriage, my baptism, and my confirmation had all taken place. Concordia was a special congregation and a wonderful school. It was difficult to leave when they went bankrupt at the end of my sixth grade year.
When S. Georgia and I walked into the lobby, much had changed, but a familiar face came out to greet us. Barb Letts, who was the church secretary in Concordia’s time, remained with the property to work as DePaul Cristo Rey’s IT manager. Barb walked with us through all of the buildings that had been around while I was there, explaining what was new and reminiscing with me about what once had been. So many warm memories flooded back as I walked the halls, the tiniest of details prompting a tug at my heart. The banisters were one such surprising source of joy; as I ran my hand along the unaltered wood, it was as though no time had passed since I was a second grader with a lunchbox in hand.
I have always been glad that Concordia was purchased by the Sisters of Charity and that such an exceptional school was being created there with their sponsorship. I’d heard great things about the work that was being done, but having the chance to step inside the buildings and see the revamped classrooms and abundant resources left me feeling quite impressed. Barb was constantly telling us about new advancements and planned improvements. It is clear that DePaul Cristo Rey is run by a group of caring and determined individuals. The work they’ve done to help students become their very best was easily evident during our tour.
“Concordia was such a special place. At the end of the day, the kids never wanted to go home,” Barb told us. “The same is true today at DePaul. That spirit lives on in this building.”
After visiting, I got out an old VHS tape that Concordia had put together back when they were trying to raise funds for the gym during my kindergarten year. The video is titled with a phrase that used to be on banners around the property: “God’s House, Our Home.” Naturally, I felt some sadness and longing for the past as I entered the sanctuary again for the first time in years, but there was also a feeling of thankfulness. Concordia’s old motto still stands. God is still very present on these grounds and it will always be my home; that home has only expanded its family.
Carolyn Kesterman’s parents were married in Concordia’s church, which is now DePaul Cristo Rey’s resource center.
Carolyn was baptized at Concordia Lutheran Church, and has fond memories of attending the church and school.
Much has changed, but the property’s spirit remains.