May 13, 2022

Mass Excursions

After legal battle to exist, St. Luke the Evangelist thriving six decades later

St. Luke the Evangelist Church, built in 1961 on the north side of Indianapolis, is shown here during a summer sunset. (Submitted photo)

St. Luke the Evangelist Church, built in 1961 on the north side of Indianapolis, is shown here during a summer sunset. (Submitted photo)

By Natalie Hoefer

The year was 1959, and the Archdiocese of Indianapolis decided the time was right to build a new parish and school on land it had purchased 11 years prior in the town of Meridian Hills on the far north side of Indianapolis.

The Meridian Hills zoning board disagreed. They denied the archdiocese’s petition in February 1959.

So began a two-year legal battle for the establishment of St. Luke the Evangelist Parish and its school.

According to The Town of Meridian Hills: An Early Legal History, an Indiana Superior Court judge overruled the decision that September. The zoning board appealed to the Indiana Supreme Court.

The Court unanimously ruled in favor of the archdiocese in February 1961.

St. Luke the Evangelist parish and school were established the same year.

Six decades later, both are thriving.

Education, evangelization, stewardship

Now with nearly 2,000 members, the parish is one of the largest in the archdiocese, says Msgr. Joseph Schaedel, its pastor.

With about 600 students, “Our major ministry is in the field of education,” Msgr. Schaedel says. And in the spirit of the faith community’s patron, the school “has been a great tool of evangelization.”

For example, he says, “This Easter, we received 21 new Catholics into the Church, and 11 of them came through the school—parents of students or students who came here and weren’t Catholic.”

Msgr. Schaedel says he is “pretty proud of our adult education efforts.” With its Rite of Christian Initiaton of Adults (RCIA) program, active Bible study groups and year-round adult education opportunities, “I think our educational ministry for all ages is really our strong point,” he says.

But parishioners do more than learn, Msgr. Schaedel adds. Among the “Christian social efforts” the parish supports are the St. Vincent de Paul Boulevard Place Food Pantry, the archdiocese’s Holy Family Shelter, Beggars for the Poor and the local Interfaith Hunger Initiative.

Msgr. Schaedel says the parishioners are “a very active community. A lot of our people practice stewardship not just in the parish or Church, but in the civic community as well.”

He is proud of new physical additions to the parish—new meeting rooms, new classrooms and a new lobby for the school and a doubling-in-size of the sacristy.

But he is also “very proud” of the parish’s spiritual offerings.

“We have a beautiful eucharistic adoration chapel that is open 24/7,” says Msgr. Schaedel. “We have Mass twice a day and confession seven days a week,” and the parish’s Mary’s WAY event for Women and St. Joseph MVPS (Men Valuing Prayer and Service) event for men each draw more than 300 participants.

“I think we’re a very welcoming parish,” he says. “We’re a little bit traditional in terms of worship and liturgy and music. If you would enjoy that, we certainly welcome you here.”

For information on Mass and confession times, go to or call 317-259-4373.

Catholic gifts, nature and walleye

The best time to visit St. Luke is for their annual parish festival in September. The dates for this year’s festival have not been set yet, so keep an eye on their website closer to September.

Indianapolis offers plenty of opportunities for a day trip. But if you want to stick close to St. Luke, two destinations within or close to the parish boundaries are The Celtic Cross Catholic Gift Shop and Holliday Park.

“We are passionately Catholic,” states the website for The Celtic Cross, located on the west side of the road that marks St. Luke’s western boundary.

The store is a one-stop-shop for all things Catholic. Art, books for children and both young and older adults, medals, rosaries, statues, jewelry, baby items, gifts for receiving sacraments, seasonal items, music—it’s difficult to walk away without a purchase in hand. For hours, go to or call 317-777-0059.

Toward St. Luke’s southern boundary is Holliday Park. The 94-acre park offers all of the following at no charge: spacious lawns for picnics and recreation, an expansive playground, 3.5 miles of wooded trails with paths leading to the White River, a large nature center, sculpted gardens, an arboretum and a unique area featuring column-facade remnants of a former New York City building made with Indiana limestone. For more information, go to

If you favor a sit-down meal over a picnic, Msgr. Schaedel suggests Daddy Jack’s on the north side of the parish’s boundaries.

“I always see St. Luke people there,” he says.

But don’t expect him to give a rundown of menu items.

“I love the walleye,” says Msgr. Schaedel. “About 95% of the time, I get the walleye.”

(Mass Excursions is a monthly feature highlighting an archdiocesan parish and local attractions, encouraging a trip to the area that includes Mass with the members of that parish. Each month will highlight a parish in a different deanery to showcase faith communities throughout central and southern Indiana.)

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