About Us

Saint John the Evangelist Catholic Church, affectionately known as "St. John's" by its parishioners, warmly welcomes you to our website.

We are located in the heart of Center City, providing spiritual enrichment for local residents, daily commuters, and visitors to our city of brotherly love.

St. John the Evangelist has been bringing the Good News to Philadelphia for over 186 years. Two canonized saints have ties to St. John's: St. John Neumann and St. Katharine Drexel. In 1941, St. John's established Holy Redeemer Chinese Catholic Church as a mission chapel. Twenty years later we opened St. John's Hospice to serve the homeless.

Our parish is a community of communities. There is a group for everyone -- from young adults, to healthcare professionals to the musically inclined.

Stop by anytime. We'd love to see you!

From the Pastor's Desk
From the Pastor's Desk

It is with great pleasure to warmly welcome you to St. John the Evangelist Parish here in Center City, Philadelphia.

I'm in my seventh year as pastor and it has been my experience that the parishioners of St. John's are warm and welcoming and strive to make the parish a vibrant, life-giving, community of Faith.

I know you will find that St. John's is an active community where we live our faith as parishioners through worship, religious and social ministries; the Mission Statement expresses our commitment in how we live out the message of the Gospel. We are a stewardship community recognizing the gifts and talents God has given each of us and using those gifts in strengthening the Body of Christ.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or if we can be of help to you.

Peace and God's blessings,

Father John Daya, O.F.M. Cap.

Pastor

Parish Mission Statement
PARISH MISSION STATEMENT
God calls us from many diverse backgrounds, cultures, professions, lifestyles and hope to be one in the Lord. Under the leadership of the Capuchin Franciscan friars, and in union with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia, St. John the Evangelist Church welcomes all people to join us in praising God and serving God's people. We bring the light and compassion of Christ to those who live in darkness and despair. We provide pastoral care to the homeless, poor, aged and abandoned, to patients in area hospitals in need of comfort, prayer and healing, and through special mission to the Asian-American community.

We are a welcoming oasis of prayer and a haven of fellowship for commuters and neighbors, transients and friends, tourists and visitors.

As it has been for over 180 years, our mission today is to be a community without bounds, proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ, in both word and deed, from the Heart of Philadelphia to a world aching for God's boundless love and mercy.

Parish Organizations

The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA)

RCIA is open to adults who have not been Baptized and are considering becoming members of the Catholic Church and to those Catholics who have not completed their sacraments of initiation (Communion and/or Confirmation).

Contact the RCIA Coordinator by:

Phone: 215- 563-4145 ext.14 or

Email: rcia@stjohnsphilly.com

Jacksyacs

St John’s Young Adult Community (20s and 30s) host the 6pm Mass on the 2nd and 4th Sunday of each month. We also sponsor guest speakers, prayer nights, Bible studies, socials, and service events for young adults.

If you would like to get involved or find out more, contact by:

Email: contact@jacksyacs.com

Website: Jacksyacs.com

O. F. S. – Secular Franciscans

Meets the 4th Sunday of every month.

Contact Vince Iezzi OFS at:

Phone: 215-755-0196 (evenings)

Health Care Ministry-Eucharistic Ministers

St. John’s serves the pastoral needs of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and Center for Neuroscience and Liberty Court – Elder Care.

To volunteer call the parish office.

Phone: 215-563-4145

The Lily’s Voice

The Lily’s Voice is a faith-sharing & discussion group for women of all ages. Our mission is to discover how to live out Catholic femininity in our lives.

Email: lilysvoice@gmail.com

Facebook Page

Legion of Mary

Legion of Mary – Mother of Mercy Praesidium at St. John’s

Meets on Wednesdays at 7:10 p.m. at the Parish Center. Mission: To find Jesus through prayer, works of mercy and evangelization through Mary and commitment to the Holy Spirit.

Contact the Legion of Mary by:

Phone: 215-457-6343 or

Email: SJLegionofMary@gmail.com

Facebook: facebook.com/sjlegionofmary/

Sacraments

Celebrating the Sacraments at St. John's

BAPTISM
BAPTISM

Who can be baptized?

Jesus Christ came to save all people, and told the Church to preach the Gospel to all nations, 'baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them all that I have commanded you.' (Matthew 18b-19a).

Therefore, all over the age of 7 may be baptized if they sincerely ask for baptism, intend to live a Catholic life, and have not previously been baptized. Usually, there is a period of instruction in the faith. This instruction is called catechesis (same root as the word catechism). The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is the usual process of catechesis. Individuals who have participated in the RCIA are usually baptized at the Easter Vigil. Right after their baptism, they are confirmed, and then receive Holy Communion for the first time.

The Church does not 'rebaptize' anyone. If a person has been validly baptized in another Christian community, the Catholic Church recognizes that baptism. Such persons become Catholic by making a public profession of faith that they believe all that the Catholic Church believes and professes as having been revealed by God.

For children younger than 7, the parents or legal guardians must ask for the baptism of the child. A child may not be baptized against the wishes of the parents or legal guardians. A priest may delay the baptism of a child if he believes that he/she is unlikely to be raised in the Catholic faith.

Of course, in danger of death, there is no time for catechesis, and a person should be baptized immediately. All too often, the priests at St. John's are called upon to baptize sick newborns. In an emergency, when no priest of deacon is available, anyone can perform a baptism by pouring ordinary water over the head of the person while saying the words: 'I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.'

What are the requirements for godparents and sponsors?

When a child or an adult is to be baptized, he or she must have at least one godparent or sponsor (the terms are interchangeable). It is customary for children to have two godparents. When there are two, one must be male and the other female. Godparents must meet all of the following criteria, which are established by universal Church law and which do not vary from place to place. Godparents must:

(a) be Catholic
(b) have been baptized, confirmed and receive Communion
(c) be 16 or older (although there may be exceptions to this rule at the discretion of the bishop)
(d) must be living a life consistent with their own baptismal vows.

This means that they must be practicing the faith, cannot be engaging in notorious sin, and cannot have taken public positions in opposition to Catholic faith or morals. If a sponsor is married, their marriage must be recognized by the Church. In general, if a potential sponsor is not a member of the parish where the baptism is to take place, he or she must obtain a letter or certificate from their own pastor which affirms that they meet the above requirements.

People sometimes object to the requirements for a sponsor. They argue that parents should have freedom to choose the sponsor of a child who is to be baptized. In order to understand the Church's position, several points must be kept in mind.

Baptism is not a private act. It is a public, official liturgy of the Church and welcomes someone into the Catholic Church. Therefore, the Church has the duty and obligation to require reasonable criteria for being a sponsor. The sponsor is to assist the parents and the child in living a Catholic life. In order to do so, the sponsor needs to provide good example of living that life. A person who is not Catholic, or who is not living in a way consistent with the faith, obviously cannot provide the example that is part of the task of being a godparent. The role of godparent is a role of service done in the name of the Church, and the person who is a sponsor should be capable of performing that service.

If there is one godparent, Church law does permit, but does not encourage, the appointment of one 'Christian witness' to the baptism ceremony. This witness must be a baptized, upright, non-Catholic Christian. This 'Christian witness' takes part in the ceremony but is not a godparent. A former Catholic, a non-baptized person, or someone who does not live a virtuous Christian life can never be a Christian witness.

What is a Scrutiny?

This is the somewhat arcane name given to the three brief ceremonies for those who are preparing for baptism at the Easter vigil. These ceremonies are celebrated on the third, fourth, and fifth Sundays of Lent. At the scrutiny, these people are presented to the Church community, which prays for them, so that they may defeat sin and Satan, successfully endure temptation, and be strengthened in Christ.

Unbaptized persons over the age of 7 who wish to join the Church are ordinarily enrolled in a process called the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). Those who have never been baptized are called catechumens for most of the RCIA process, which lasts at least six months. At the beginning of Lent, the catechumens are presented to the bishop at the Cathedral and are enrolled in the Book of the Elect, after which they are called the elect. Our catechumens were taken to the Cathedral on the First Sunday of Lent.

Did you know that Lent originated as a time of prayer and fasting for those who were preparing for baptism? The entire Church quickly caught on to the season, but unfortunately the baptismal roots of Lent were forgotten. Following the reforms of Vatican II, the RCIA process was re-introduced. The Church once again walks with the elect toward the great feast of Easter.

In addition to the elect, persons who were baptized into a Protestant church will make a profession of faith at the Easter Vigil. The Church recognizes and respects all valid baptisms in Protestant denominations, and therefore never 'rebaptizes' a person unless it is unsure that the person was validly baptized in the first place. Those making a profession of faith at the Easter vigil will also participate in the scrutiny.

There is one other category of persons who has been participating in the RCIA: Catholics who have never received Communion or Confirmation. Participation in the RCIA provides the instruction they need in order to understand the sacraments they will receive.

Why all this fuss? Why not do all this quietly and privately? Because we are the People of God welcoming new people to our midst. When a person is baptized or received into the Catholic Church, they are received by Christ into his body, the community of faith. We would think it odd to receive someone into our family when they marry, but to do it quietly without any communal celebration. It is the same with the family of faith: we have great cause to rejoice that men and women wish to be part of us, and we celebrate that fact.

It also is a good time to remind ourselves that we have been given the faith by the grace of the Lord acting through the people who brought us to faith. Every time someone joins the Church, it should prompt us to consider whether we are providing encouragement and good example to them. Further, we should pause to remember and to thank God for the good people who taught us the faith, whether they are parents and grandparents, teachers, friends or neighbors. God has worked through them mightily. May he also mightily work through us to share our faith to others!

Baptism Inquiries:



CONFIRMATION
CONFIRMATION

CONFIRMATION

"At Confirmation, our faith and membership in the Body of Christ is confirmed, or strengthened. In the Rite of Baptism, we become new members of the Body of Christ, but our journey does not end there. The decision to be baptized is followed by continued growth, learning, and witness as members of the Body of Christ. Our desire to continue to grow and develop as Christians finds expression in Confirmation, when we renew our baptismal promises and receive in a new way the gift of the Holy Spirit, which strengthens our “bond” with the Church and its members (CCC, no. 1316, and Pope John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio [On the Permanent Validity of the Church’s Missionary Mandate], no. 26)."

Read more here at USCCB.ORG website:
Confirmation: Strengthened by the Spirit, Called to Action (PDF)

EUCHARIST
EUCHARIST

Who may receive Holy Communion?

Scripture teaches: 'Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and the blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself .' (1 Corinthians 11:27-28a). In order to worthily receive Holy Communion in a Catholic Church, a person must:

(1) be Catholic (either by baptism or by being received into the Church;

(2) have attained the age of reason (about seven) and be aware of what they are doing, and

(3) not be aware of grave unconfessed sin.

The first two criteria are clear. But what is 'grave unconfessed sin?'

A grave sin, also called a mortal sin, is a sin which is objectively serious as defined by the Church, and which has been committed after sufficient reflection with full consent to the will. It is important to note that it is the Church, not the individual, which pronounces whether a sin is grave or not. The Church makes this determination based on its Scripture and its Sacred Tradition, not on the basis of individual choices or opinions.

While the gravity of a sin is objective, o nly the individual can assess whether the sin was committed after sufficient reflection and with full consent of the will. A priest in confession or counseling can help a person to sort out the seriousness of his or her sins.

People who come to receive communion are presumed to be acting in accord with Church teaching. In general, clergy and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion do not 'read' the state of a person's soul when they come up to receive Holy Communion. It is not known when the person went to confession last, whether they have truly repented their sins. The priest may not know whether a person is in a marriage recognized by the Church. A priest may refuse Holy Communion to a Catholic only when he has a good reason to believe that the sacrament would be profaned, or when serious public scandal may result from giving Communion to a particular person because of that person's notorious public sin. Such circumstances arise very infrequently.

It may be that the bishops will provide some guidance in the future about the reception of Holy Communion by some public persons who have taken positions contrary to Catholic faith and morals. That remains for the future.

The more important question, for each of us, is 'What is the state of my soul?' We should always encourage each other in faith, hope and charity, and pray for all persons to grow in holiness. We ought not to be preoccupied with the real or presumed sins of others.

CONFESSION
CONFESSION

How do I perform confession?

Some Catholics have been away from the sacrament of Confession (also called Reconciliation or Penance) for a long time. Many who have not taken advantage of this sacrament feel awkward when they consider going to Confession. But there is no need to feel awkward or embarrassed. This sacrament is an encounter with the loving Lord, who looks for us to turn to him and who is always ready to forgive. When a person returns to Confession after a long absence, the angels dance!

If you've been away for a while, or even if you go regularly, a brief review of what to do may be helpful.

First, the priest and penitent often exchange a greeting, or make the sign of the cross. Then the penitent tells the priest approximately how long it has been since his or her last confession. The penitent then may share any fact about himself or herself that is relevant to the confession. For example, I tell the priest that I am a member of a religious order and a priest.

The penitent then confesses his or her sins. The sins are identified by general type, with some indication of how frequently the sin was committed. You don't have to include details, except when the detail affects the gravity of the sin. For example, if a person confesses 'fighting' they might add whether this was a verbal fight, or a physical fight, and whether injury resulted.

The priest may give words of advice or encouragement. Some priests do this frequently, others do not. If the penitent desires a more conversational discussion with the priest, it is best to schedule an appointment for confession rather than to try to do this during the scheduled times 'in the box.' The priest then gives a penance. The penance is usually a prayer or prayers, although the priest may give a penance of a work of charity or restitution based on the sins that were confessed.

The penitent says an Act of Contrition. So many people are afraid to go to confession because they cannot remember the Act of Contrition! But even if the penitent cannot remember a single word of a memorized prayer, the priest will help him or her with this. And anyone can just 'make up' an Act of Contrition on the spot. It just must express sorrow for sin and an intention to try to avoid sin in the future. Some Acts of Contrition are included at the end of this column.

The priest then says the words of absolution (forgiveness), speaking in the name of Christ himself: 'God the Father of Mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; though the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.'

Acts of Contrition:

"My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart. In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good, I have sinned against you whom I should love above all things. I firmly intend, with your help, to do penance, to sin no more, and to avoid whatever leads me to sin. Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for us. In his name, my God, have mercy."

Or - "O my God I am heartily sorry for having offended you, and I detest all my sins because of your just punishment, but most of all because they offend you my God, who are all good and worthy of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of your grace to sin no more and to avoid whatever leads me to sin."

Or - "Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner."

MARRIAGE
MARRIAGE

What preparations for marriage does the archdiocese require?

Each diocese has its own specific requirements, but there is general agreement among dioceses.

As soon as a couple has decided to marry in the Church, they should call the parish immediately to 'get on the schedule' of the parish church and the priest. Couples should never book a place for the wedding reception until after they have reserved the church and made arrangements with the presider.

The church requires that couples attend either a Pre-Cana program or an Engaged Encounter program. These can be taken in this archdiocese or elsewhere. These programs are designed to highlight information and skills that will be helpful to the couple, and to present Church teaching on the subject of marriage. It is important to schedule a Pre-Cana or Engaged Encounter program as early as possible.

A standardized 'test' to assess the couple's agreement on significant issues is often part of the Pre-Cana or Engaged Encounter program. If it is not, such a 'test' is done separately. At St. John's, we use a copyrighted assessment instrument called FOCCUS. This instrument, containing about 180 items, surveys the extent to which a couple agrees or disagrees about specific issues. It also often uncovers differences or consistencies in basic styles of thinking and acting. No couple 'fails' or 'passes' the FOCCUS. It is designed to prompt conversation between the bride and groom.
There are forms to fill out! The couple must supply information about who they are, their sacramental history, and their beliefs about marriage. In order for a couple to be married in the Catholic Church, one or both of them must be Catholic, and they must agree with the Catholic Church's understanding of marriage. A Catholic marriage must be seen by both parties to be:

1) lasting until death
2) requiring mutual fidelity
3) believing that openness to having children is an essential aspect of marriage.

If either the bride or groom disagrees with one or more of these teachings, the marriage cannot be celebrated in the Catholic Church. The bride and groom must each provide a recently issued copy of their baptismal certificate.

There are more forms to fill out! The bride and the groom must each supply two witnesses who can testify in person that they are free to marry, and that they believe what the Catholic Church believes about marriage. This testimony must be done in person, either with the priest or deacon who will preside at the wedding, or another priest or deacon elsewhere.

Finally, the wedding ceremony must be planned with the priest or deacon. The wedding is a public, official liturgy of the Church, and therefore there are strict limits to the amount of individualization that may be included. For example, the couple may not write their own vows (although there are some variations among the authorized vows). Music in the church must be liturgical, i.e. music of worship. Further, there are commonsense rules in every church about flowers, decorations, preparation time, policies about photography, etc.

Marriage Prep/Pre-Cana information:

phillycatholiclife.org

Wedding inquires:



HOLY ORDERS
HOLY ORDERS

Diocesan priest and Religious order

The large majority of priests worldwide are diocesan priests. These men are ordained to work in a particular diocese or archdiocese. At the time of their ordination as deacons (usually about a year before their ordination as priests) they promise respect and obedience to the diocesan bishop and his successors. They also promise to live in chastity, and according to the status of clergy (which includes a comparatively simple life). Diocesan priests do not make vows, technically speaking, and do not promise poverty. Therefore, they may own their own property, such as cars, and handle their own financial affairs.

At deaconate ordination, the bishop accepts the promises of the deacon and priest, and thereby incardinates them into the diocese. This gives the transitional deacon and diocesan priest certain rights - such as the right to be supported by the diocesan church - and imposes on them the obligation to work for the diocesan church under the leadership of the bishop. This is a life-long commitment of mutual responsibility, although there are procedures in place by which a diocesan priest may choose to seek a transfer to a different diocese. Because most of the work of a diocese is done in parishes, a diocesan priest usually works in a parish. Some diocesan priests work in Catholic schools, as hospital chaplains, in administrative offices of the diocese, or in other places. Sometimes diocesan priests are called secular priests, because their main work is pastoral, i.e. to assist people who work in the contemporary world (Latin saeculum=world, the times).

Some priests are members of religious orders or institutes. A religious order or institute is an association established by the Church to promote a particular style of life or expression of spirituality, or to perform a specific type of work. Most religious communities of men work in more than one diocese, and many work worldwide. Each religious community has its own constitutions, and its members live according to a rule of life. All members of a religious community make vows or promises of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Some religious communities of men work in parishes, others do not. Religious priests work as hospital chaplains, retreat givers, teachers, itinerant preachers, parish priests, missionaries and in many other fields. Each community has its own charism, or gift of the Spirit. Priests who are members of a community bring that charism to their work.

The diocesan bishop supervises religious order priests when they are engaged in active ministry in his diocese, and no community can work in a diocese without his permission. The religious community's superior supervises the internal workings of the community. If a religious community serves the needs of a particular parish, it does so based on an agreement with the diocesan bishop.

What are some of the Catholic religious communities?

All religious communities of men and women must be authorized by the Church and cannot exist apart from such authorization. Each community follows a rule of life, and constitutions that implement the rule. Some approved rules are hundreds of years old and are very general in nature. The constitutions are updated periodically, help define the spirit and charism of the community, specify its organization and governance.

Some religious communities are contemplative. These groups separate themselves from the world in order to engage in a full time ministry of prayer and reflection, supplemented by work done internally within the cloister in order to support themselves. Examples of such communities are the Trappists (both monks and nuns), and Poor Clare and Discalced Carmelite nuns. Members of contemplative orders seldom leave their monastery, and they almost never engage in parish ministry. Some communities have strong contemplative traditions, but over the years have accepted some outside work, including parishes. This is particularly true outside of Europe. In the US, for example, Benedictine monks and nuns regularly work in parishes and other active ministries.

Other religious communities are active. Their rule and constitutions oblige them to work in the world. Many of these communities were founded to do some particular job, such as teaching, care of the sick, etc. For example, the Salesians of St. John Bosco were founded to work with poor and working class young men, and they staff orphanages and schools. Other active communities are more generalist in their approach, and their members take on a wide variety of tasks. Many communities of sisters that were originally founded for one particular work are now working in many areas of life.

A third type of religious community strives to live a mixed life. Their members work in active ministry, but also try to balance their activity with a strong contemplative focus. St. Thomas Aquinas called this the best and most difficult type of religious life. Examples of communities trying to live a mixed life are the Dominicans (St. Thomas Aquinas was a Dominican) and the Franciscans, including the Capuchins. Members of these communities work in many areas.

Many religious communities are worldwide (such as the Capuchins), and are organized into geographic units called provinces. Many other communities exist in only one country, or in even only a particular diocese.

Communities of men may consist of priests and lay (unordained) brothers. Some communities are nearly entirely lay (e.g. the Christian Brothers), and others have very few lay members (e.g. the Jesuits). The Capuchins consider themselves to be a community of brothers, many of whom are ordained.

Are you being called?

Go to https://heedthecall.org/ to find out.

ANOINTING THE SICK
ANOINTING THE SICK

When and how is the Annointing of the Sick administered?

This is perhaps the most misunderstood of the seven sacraments. It is - and it is not - "last rites?" for the dying. This sacrament heals the sick spiritually, and is intended for anyone who is seriously ill. The Anointing of the Sick may be given to the dying, but is certainly not limited to the dying. The sacrament is commonly administered. Seldom does a priest go a week without anointing at least one person. The sacrament can be repeated each time a person falls seriously ill, or when an illness takes a turn for the worse. Certainly anyone diagnosed with cancer, another life-threatening illness, or who faces major surgery should be anointed. Only a priest or bishop may administer this sacrament.

Anointing of the Sick is authorized by Scripture. We have, of course, multiple instances of praying for the sick in the ministry of Jesus himself, as well as many other Old and New Testament examples. The clearest warrant for the sacrament comes from the Letter of St. James: "Is anyone among you sick? He should summon the presbyters (priests and bishops) of the church, and they should pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up. If he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven" (James 5: 14-15).

This sacrament may be celebrated anywhere, and the ritual book gives the priest longer or shorter options for its celebration. The essential part of the sacrament is the placing of a small amount of blessed oil on the person (usually on the forehead and the palms of the hands when that is possible), while saying the words: "Through this Holy Anointing, may the Lord in his love and mercy help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit. May the Lord, who frees you from your sin, save you and raise you up."

What are the effects of this sacrament? The Council of Trent said that the sacrament provides: "the grace of the Holy Spirit, whose anointing takes away sins, if any still remain, and the remnants of sin. This anointing also raises up and strengthens the soul of the sick person, arousing a great confidence in the divine mercy. Thus sustained, the sick person may more easily bear the trials and hardships of sickness, more easily resist the temptations of the devil . . . and sometimes regain bodily health, if this is expedient for the health of the soul."

If you or someone close to you is a proper candidate for this sacrament, please do not wait until you are hospitalized or dying to request anointing. Modern hospitals work efficiently, and there usually is not time for anointing between admission to the hospital and surgery. It is always better when the anointing takes place while the recipient is conscious and aware, and when they are surrounded by family and friends who are praying together. If you need this sacrament, talk to one of the priests here at St. John's, or the priest in your own parish if you are a visitor.



Our Friars

History of St. John's

St. John's Parish Community has fostered two American saints, caught fire twice (destroyed once), withstood anti-Catholic riots, fed the hungry, educated poor children and adults, and served as the proto-cathedral for the Diocese of Philadelphia. As the history below shows, we have always adapted to the needs of God's people in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. At one point in the 19th Century, we even had a 2:45 AM Mass for those who worked on the newspapers (the 'Printers Mass').

** most of this history has been compiled by anonymous parishioners of St. John the Evangelist Church. We note, however, that the architects at Atkin Olshin Schade have provided tremendous insights into the history of St. John the Evangelist Church.

Timeline

1800's

1800's

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New Church

Bishop Francis P. Kenrick Feast of St. John the Evangelist. Francis P. Kenrick, Third Bishop of Philadelphia, authorizes Rev. John Hughes to build a new church, which will become the proto-cathedral for Philadelphia.

December 27, 1830
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A lot in the "western" part of Philadelphia is chosen as the site. It is on the east side of 13th St. between Market and Chestnut Streets.

1831
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Passion Sunday St. John the Evangelist Church is consecrated.

April 8, 1832
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First Fresco

Nicholas Monachesi completes what is probably the first true fresco in the United States in the interior of the church. He later becomes a famous Philadelphia portraitist.

1832
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Fr. Hughes befriends Marc Frenaye, who lived for three years in Mexico. Fr. Hughes develops a great affection for Mexico and establishes a long-term and informal connection between Mexico and St. John the Evangelist Church. Many wealthy Mexican merchants living in Philadelphia help retire the debt from building the initial church.

1832 - 1834
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Mozart's Requiem Mass

The American premier of Mozart's Requiem Mass takes place at St. John's.

April 29, 1834
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A large fire breaks out on 13th Street above Chestnut. The church catches fire several times but is not destroyed. St. John's School established by Fr. Hughes in the basement of the church. Classes continue in the basement until 1899.

August 1834
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St. John's was designated as the Proto-Cathedral for Philadelphia for the next quarter-century. Bishop Kenrick takes up residence.

January, 1838
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Anti-Catholic violence erupts in Philadelphia

St. Michael's and St. Augustine's Churches were burnt. Public masses are suspended by the bishop. A detachment of militia (now National Guard) under General John Cadwalder defends St. John's from destruction in a battle at the corner of 13th and Market Streets. Forty people are killed in these riots.

1844
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St. Katharine Drexel

St. John's is a flourishing residential parish. Parishioners at that time include Anthony Drexel and his family. One of his daughters, Katharine, is confirmed and receives First Holy Communion at St. John's. She later becomes a nun, founds the Congregation of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, and later becomes known as St. Katharine Drexel.

1850's
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St. John Neumann

Bishop Neumann is welcomed to Philadelphia at St. John's and becomes the fourth bishop of Philadelphia on April 4th, Palm Sunday. He takes up residence at St. John the Evangelist Church and is later named a saint.

1852
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Catholic Philopatrian Literary Institute

Fr. Sourin establishes the Catholic Philopatrian Literary Institute, which is still active today.

Visit thephilo.org

1855
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St John's joins the Jesuits when the pastor, Fr. Sourin, becomes a Jesuit. The Jesuits assume responsibility for the rest of the debt as well as running the parish.

December 8, 1855
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The blessing of the Statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception.

May 16, 1857
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Jesuits relinquish administration of the parish.

April 27, 1860
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First Empress of Mexico

Madame Anna Maria Huarte de Iturbide, the First Empress of Mexico, dies and is buried in Vault IX of the Churchyard at the age of 79. Her husband, Mexican Emperor Augustin de Iturbide, overthrew the Spanish rule, but General Santa Ana forced his abdication on March 19, 1823. The Iturbide family was initially exiled to Italy. The former Emperor returned to Mexico to rally his forces, was captured instead, and executed on July 19, 1824. His family moved to Philadelphia, where they lived on Spruce St. near 13th, and later at 226 Broad St. A son Augustin J. Iturbide, a daughter, Sabina are also buried here. Two additional (unnamed) children are reburied in the vault in 1849.

March 21, 1861
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Cathedral opens near Logan Circle and St. John's reverts back to a parish. The parish is becoming less residential and more of a business district.

Visit cathedralphila.org

1864
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The original rectory is torn down and the current friary is built on the same site. By this time, John Wanamaker has built a large retail store near the church and City Hall is being built nearby.Much of the neighborhood around St. John's at this time is residences and small businesses.

1895
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A great fire burns part of the block around Market Street and 13th Street. The church and part of the rectory are lost in the fire. Three firemen are killed fighting the fire when a building collapses on them. A fourth fireman later dies of pneumonia, contracted while fighting the fire. After the blaze is extinguished, the Blessed Mother statue remains standing amid the rubble.

February 16 - 17, 1899
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Mass for the firemen killed in the fire is held at the Academy of Music.

February 26, 1899
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The Sisters of St. Joseph assume responsibility for the school. The school is moved out of the basement of the Church and from this time the basement is used as the Lower Church.

September 10, 1899
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The First Bulletin

First parish bulletin, The Monitor is issued. The first bulletin notes the issue of paying "pew rent." The school children received instruction for First Holy Communion at 3:30 in the afternoon, while working children received their instruction at 8:00 PM. Fr. Fisher becomes the new pastor. Among his innovations is 2:45 AM Sunday Morning Mass for night workers. Most of these were newspaper workers, so the mass was known as the "Printer's Mass." The history notes that 300 workers were present for mass on November 5th, 1904.

September 1899

1900's

1900's

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Lower Church Opened

The first Lower Church is opened, dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes. The lower church was made possible by sinking the pillars supporting the main church through the basement and into the ground. The basement floor was lowered three feet to accommodate the Lower Church. Two openings at the front of the towers were made to access the Lower Church. The original basement entered from the side of the south tower on Clover St., which is a window today.

1902
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Major renovation

A major renovation of the Upper Church takes place to celebrate the diamond jubilee of St. John's.

The upper balconies are removed at this time and the exterior walls are covered with a facing of granite. The towers are also extended higher.

1907
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Fr. Fisher buys 1218 Vine street for use as a day nursery.

1912
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Church Closed

St John's is threatened by an underground river that was diverted into the foundation of St John's by construction of the Adelphia Hotel. The river undermines the foundation to the point of noticeable settling. The church is closed for three weeks for fear of collapse.

January 1913
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World War I

Father Lallou, one of the curates at St John's, leaves St. John's for service in World War I. The parish bulletin attempts to track the names of all of the men leaving for military service. Many of these names can be seen today on the plaque in the graveyard.

1917
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The influenza epidemic forces the day nursery to close. In its place, a hospital for infants and children up to 7 years of age is opened.

1918
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After this time, St John's is less of a parish church and more of a shrine church.

1920
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Father Wastl becomes pastor

He institutes regular weekly confessions on Thursdays to meet the needs of the "living-out girls" on their day off.

May 1920
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The Holy Name Society of St John's becomes very active in setting up athletic leagues (especially basketball).

1924
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Sisters of the Visitation are exiled during persecutions of the church in Mexico. They come to Philadelphia and live in church property for several years before moving to their current monastery site on City Line Avenue.

1925
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Humanitarian Award

With the onset of the Depression, St John's becomes active in feeding the hungry. About 700 men per day are fed at St John's. The pastor, Monsignor Wastl, is given a humanitarian award by Philadelphia, but declines to accept.

1929
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Centenary Mass

Centenary Mass is celebrated by the rector of St. Charles Seminary, Rt. Rev. Joseph Corrigan. He describes St. John's as "a heart in the very breast of a great city, throbbing with faith and hope and love."

April 10, 1932
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46,089 visitors a week

Msgr. Wastl counts 46,089 visitors to St. John's in one week even though there are no special devotions.

1932
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Pamphlet Room

Msgr. Wastl opens the Pamphlet Room in the rear of the basement, run by the Information League. It sells about 150,000 Catholic pamphlets a year, one of the largest services in the country. As part of their service, they take questions on the Catholic faith. They average about 200 inquiries per week from across the country.

January 1937
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Daily Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament begins.

October 1, 1939
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Chinese community

Bishop Yu Pin visits Philadelphia and encourages the Chinese community to become involved in the Memorial Day services at St John's. Over 400 Chinese Catholics attend. So many Chinese become involved in St John's parish that a separate chapel of St John's is created in Chinatown. This chapel later expands to Holy Redeemer Church, which is opened on October 5, 1941.Fr. Tom Betz, the current Administrator of the chapel, resides at St. John's.

1939
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Msgr. Wastl dies

He served St John's for over 30 years.

April 11, 1943
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Fr. Kavanaugh becomes pastor

Among his innovations is the display box. Nine out of ten people who walk along 13th street stop to see what is in the display box, usually an explanation of some church doctrine. He also renovates the rectory, starts daily scheduled confessions, and installs air conditioning in the Lower Church. He dies in 1949.

April 1943
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Fr. Boyle becomes pastor

He initiates the St. John's Night School for Adults, which later becomes the St. John's Evening School. He dies in 1954 from a heart attack.

1951
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Fr. Anthony O'Neill becomes pastor

His concern for the poor and homeless in Center City leads to the establishment of St. John's Hospice for Transient Men, which is blessed in September 1963.

1959
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The Upper Church is redecorated and the lower chapel is renovated.

1963
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St. John Neumann is canonized.

Visit stjohnneumann.org/life.html

June 19, 1977
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Fr. Greg Chervenak

The Capuchin Franciscan Friars accept responsibility for managing St. John's Parish. Fr. Greg Chervenak is pastor.

1991
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Fr. Fred Krause

Fr. Fred Krause serves as pastor of St. John's.

1995-1997
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Fr. Jim Menkhus

Fr. Jim Menkhus serves as pastor of St. John's.

1997-2001
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Fr. Francis X. Russo

Fr. Francis X. Russo serves as pastor of St. John's.

Taken from NPR.org

2001-2004
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Fr. Frank Yacobi

Fr. Frank Yacobi becomes pastor. St. John's receives over 300,000 visitors per year.

August 28, 2004
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175th Jubilee

St. John's celebrates its 175th Jubilee

2004-2005
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Firefighters Memorial Mass

St. John's institutes an annual Memorial Mass to honor the four firefighters killed as a result of the 1899 fire.

February 16, 2008
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Fr. John Daya

Fr. John Daya is installed as pastor of St. John's.

October 30, 2010

 

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DIRECTIONS & PARKING INFO

Parking Info

Parking

Park for just $15 every weekend and weeknight at the Loews Hotel Parking Garage

(depending on availability).

Just mention St. John the Evangelist Church.

 

Eastbound I-676 / Vine Street Expressway

Eastbound I-676 / Vine Street Expressway
(from western PA, from I-76)

  1. Take the Broad Street exit.
  2. Bear right at exit ramp, turning onto 15th street.
  3. After passing City Hall, turn left onto Chestnut Street.
  4. Pass Macy's department store.
  5. Turn left onto 13th Street.
  6. Saint John's will be on the right.
Westbound I-676 / Vine Street Expressway

Westbound I-676 / Vine Street Expressway
(from NJ, from I-95)

  1. Take the Broad Street exit.
  2. The exit ramp curves onto 15th street. Continue straight onto 15th steet.
  3. After passing City Hall, turn left onto Chestnut Street.
  4. Pass Macy's.
  5. Turn left onto 13th Street.
  6. Saint John's will be on the right.