Featured, Local History, The Centennial History of Hurricane

Centennial History of Hurricane: Church Histories: Catholic Church of the Ascension

In 1988, The Centennial History of Hurricane, WV was published to commemorate the town’s 100th anniversary. The publication included the histories of 16 Hurricane area churches. This week’s selection is the 14th of the church histories which were published in 1988.


During the mid to late 70’s, several inquiries had been made about the possibility of establishing a Catholic church in Putnam county. In the spring of 1979 Bishop Joseph Hodges re­ quested the pastor of St. Francis of Assisi parish in St. Albans to develop requirements necessary for the creation of a Mission in Putnam county. The Mission would be located in the Hurricane area. The initial requirements were put together by 5 couples at a meeting in a parishoner’s home in Hurricane. This was the start.

The highlights of the development of Ascension parish are as follows:

  • In July of 1979 Fr. Laurence Wrenn was assigned to St. Francis as an associate pastor with the primary responsibility of developing the Mission.
  • On October 18, 1979 a public meeting was held at the Hurricane High School Cultural Center to bring together all interested people and create an advisory council.
  • Later that same month the Catholic community began holding services on Thursday nights. The services consisted of a Mass followed by Bible Study. A large debt of gratitude is owed to the members of St. Timothy’s in the Valley, Episcopal church and their former pastor, the Reverend William Kirkland. Their graciousness in sharing their facility allowed us to get off to a fast, successful start.
  • A residence was purchased and during the Christmas holidays of 1979 Fr. Wrenn and members of the Mission worked to get his new home ready for occupancy. When he officially moved in, Fr. Wrenn became the first Catholic priest to reside in Putnam County.
    *On the first weekend in February 1980, we began having our Sunday services at St. Timothy’s. A Mass was held at 6:30pm on Saturday evening and at 8:30am on Sunday morning.
  • Starting Thursday night of that same week we began holding religious education classes for our school children.
  • In September of 1980, the Mission was raised to the status of an independent parish and given the glorious name of “Ascension.”
  • On November 2, 1980, the ground breaking was held at the site of our future home.
  • On May 28, 1981, the Feast of the Ascension, (our feast day) we held our first Mass at the new but far from completed church. We never left. We stayed at the uncompleted site and watched it come together around us.
  • On September 13, 1981 Ascension church was officially dedicated and consecrated by Bishop Hodges.

The dedication was 6 years ago and the growth and development continue. We have enjoyed a prenominal growth in numbers (now over 350 families), but more important is our growth as a Christian community. The scope of our programs continues to grow and we have become a vital force in the community. For the members of Ascension Parish it is truly a dream made visible.

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