Old Holy Trinity

Holy Trinity Church started as a mission of St. Mary’s Church in downtown Norfolk. In May 1917, Fr. Robert B. Kealey was appointed to St. Mary’s as an associate pastor. Fr. Kealey and Fr. George Dunn, also of St. Mary’s, realizing the spiritual needs in Ocean View, celebrated Mass on alternate Sundays in the Old Casino Theater, and later in the dance hall located in Ocean View Park. Early in 1919, a vacant store on A View Avenue, the site of the present VFW home, was utilized as a chapel. Fr. Kealey was appointed first pastor of Holy Trinity August 28, 1919.

Property was eventually purchased on the northeast corner of First View St. and Government Ave, and construction began on the new church on St. Patrick’s Day, 1920. The first Mass was celebrated the same year on Trinity Sunday, even though the church was not yet finished. Bishop O’Connell dedicated the church on June 5, 1921.

Fr. Kealey began to plan for a school and to search for nuns to staff it. He presented his request to Mother Aquinas of the Holy Cross order, and the General Council accepted the invitation to staff Holy Trinity school. On September 3, 1924, four sisters arrived and the school opened with a student body of 103.

Holy Trinity experienced rapid growth. In 1927, a parish high school was opened with 30 students. In 1939, a gymnasium was constructed.

On December 13, 1953, the present church and rectory were blessed and dedicated to the service of God and His people under the pastorate of Fr. Martin J. Harrison.

Church exterior (photo by Jay Paul Photography: www.jaypaulphoto.com)

In 1958, other additions were made to the school under the direction of Msgr. Michael J. Cannon. Several houses near the church were also acquired and torn down to make use of present parking facilities. Msgr. Cannon retired from active ministry in May, 1967, and was replaced by Fr. Henry Stragesher, who remained until June 1968.

He was succeeded by Fr. Joseph L. Leitch, who served as pastor until May, 1976, at which time Fr. George Zahn was installed as pastor. Fr. Zahn remained for five years, and was succeeded by Fr. Joseph Slattery, who renovated the inside of our church in 1984. This renovation included the addition of a 17-rank pipe organ built by W. Zimmer & Sons.

Pipe organ (photo by Max Van Hecke)

Fr. Slattery left in 1990 and was succeeded by Fr. Lou Ruoff, who remained as pastor until August, 2000.  Fr. David V. McGuire, joined us in June, 2003. but was then released to military service in May 2007. In 2007, our parish entered into a shared ministry experience with St. Pius X Church in Norfolk for one year.

In June 2008, Fr. Dan Beeman was assigned as pastor of Holy Trinity, where he served until 2019.  During that time, after a declining enrollment and demand for Catholic education in our neighborhood, Holy Trinity School closed its doors, while the parish began to see a strong upswing in military families and young families joining.  After a successful capital campaign, the old parish house and gymnasium were razed to make way for Saint Michael Park, a sprawling outdoor commons dedicated to the memory of our fallen military.

St. Michael Park (photo by Max Van Hecke)

In July 2019, Fr. James Glass was appointed pastor of Holy Trinity. During his time here, he has led a large capital campaign for church and pastoral center repairs. For more information about the campaign, click here.

Fr. James Glass (photo by Jay Paul Photography: www.jaypaulphoto.com)