Rev. Joseph T. Duerstock

Fifth Pastor, 1916-1941

Father Duerstock was born in Oldenburg, Germany on September 13, 1874. Shortly after arriving in this country, Father Duerstock entered the seminary. Upon his ordination by Archbishop Moeller on June 15, 1904, he was assigned as assistant at St. Paul’s Church. From there he went to St. James the Greater Church in White Oak and in 1916 was made pastor of Old St. Mary’s Church. He was pastor of Old St. Mary’s for 25 years and died only a few short months before the centennial celebration on December 2, 1941. The funeral Mass was celebrated by Bishop George J. Rehring and many priests from the city.

In his will, Father Duerstock left his “soul to the merciful God and his body to the earth until the day of resurrection.” He left all his vestments to Old St. Mary’s, one half of the sum of his estate was left for Mass intentions for his soul and the remainder was given to Old St. Mary’s. He was interred at St. Joseph Cemetery on the West Side.

Father Duerstock served the Old St. Mary’s community during the much of the First World War, a very difficult time for the people in “Over-The-Rhine,” a predominantly German neighborhood. Prior to the War, German was the primary language spoken in the public schools, numerous German-language newspapers were being published, and many streets in the area were named after cities in the “old country.” Within a very short time, all this changed. Newspapers folded, streets were renamed, e.g. Bremen Street became Republic Street, and German was not spoken openly.

One parishioner, Joseph Hinnenkamp, in his will, left considerable money to Old St. Mary’s and other Catholic charities, and, in addition, had a proviso that if US law prohibited a portion of his estate going to the “enemy,” e.g. his brother and sister still living in Germany, the money would be given to Father Duerstock, his executor, to do as he deemed necessary.