SIDNEY — The Rev. Dennis Jaspers will be one of five inductees into the Lehman Hall of Fame during festivities on Saturday, Aug. 6.
Father Jaspers, a priest of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, served as principal of Lehman from 1976 to 1984. He is currently pastor of All Saints Parish and St. Vincent Ferrer Parish in Cincinnati, and celebrated the 50th anniversary of his ordination this past May.
Hosted by the Lehman Catholic High School Alumni Association, the 10th annual induction also honor three alumni and a school board president who was instrumental in merging Holy Angels High School and Piqua Catholic High School to form Lehman.
The evening will begin with Mass at 5:15 p.m. in the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Chapel on campus. Mass will be concelebrated by the Rev. Benedict O’Cinnsealaigh, a former Lehman chaplain who currently serves as Rector of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Cincinnati, and Father Jaspers. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres will be served at 6:00 p.m. with dinner to follow at 6:30 p.m. in the Cianciolo Family Gymnasium. The dinner will be catered by The Spot.
During his 50 years as a priest, Father Jaspers has been very involved in Catholic education. In addition to his time at Lehman, he was a teacher and guidance counselor at Purcell High School in Cincinnati, served as assistant superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese, and has been pastor of several parishes with grade schools.
Father Jaspers was nominated for the Hall of Fame by Alan Gusching, Lehman graduate and local orthodontist, and Paul Gutmann, parent of four Lehman graduates and retired attorney who was inducted into the Hall of Fame himself in 2014.
In his nomination Alan Gusching wrote, “Father Jaspers’ service to Catholic education has been a lifelong endeavor. In the years since he was at Lehman, he has served as pastor in parishes in Middletown and Cincinnati, parishes which were intimately involved in supporting their local Catholic schools. He has not forgotten his Lehman tenure as he is frequently seen at various Lehman events.”
Unlike today when schools have a diverse staff of individuals, each specializing in specific functions like bookkeeping, development, marketing, guidance, etc., Father Jaspers wore multiple hats. He was not only responsible for the day-to-day operations, including developing curriculum choices, working with teachers, and handling discipline, but he also needed to raise money and be the face of the school in the community. All of this was done while he was fulfilling his duties as a parish priest.
Father Jaspers became principal at Lehman when the school was just beginning to find its identity after the consolidation in 1970. There were persistent rumors that the school was in danger of closing so it was important to work for financial solvency.
“In those days, the principal functioned not only as the chief educator in our Catholic school, but also was responsible for managing the entire operation which included strengthening the financial support and representing the school in the community,” said Gusching. “With his amicable style, he was able to develop the kind of relationships with individuals in the community which resulted in substantial gifts to the school.”
On the advice of Archbishop Bernadine, Father Jaspers began the Lehman Foundation and the annual Foundation Banquet, which is still held today.
“As the longtime secretary of the Lehman High School Foundation, I saw Father Jaspers nurture that fledgling organization, helping it grow,” said Paul Gutmann in his nomination letter. “He worked to develop lasting relationships with individuals who were to become some of Lehman’s strongest supporters, including both of Lehman’s million dollar contributors, Bob Dickas and Herb Schlater.
“Father was patient with critics, steadfast in faith, honest in his dealings with others, optimistic in the face of adversity, inspirational as a preacher – in short, he was what Lehman needed at the time he was assigned to serve the school as principal. Perhaps his most important contribution, in addition to nurturing the Foundation, was putting in place a successful plan of succession – one that ensured the school would continue to be a light on the hill – the values of Catholic education shining brightly.”