St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Everett is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. On September 1, 1971, then Bishop James Hogan of the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown established the mission parish of St. John the Evangelist as its own parish. The church celebrated its 50th anniversary this year with an anniversary Mass on August 29th, with Bishop Mark Bartchak.
The beginnings of St. John the Evangelist parish go back a long time ago, when there was a log cabin church located in Clearville which was named St. John the Evangelist. As the log cabin church proved insufficient in time, plans for a new church were developed and the cornerstone for a new church in Clearville was laid on October 10, 1853 by Fr. Heyden from St. Thomas in Bedford. Construction continued for two years until finally the church in Clearville was dedicated in 1855. Fr. Heyden came to visit the church in Clearville once a month on weekdays. A map of Bedford County made in 1861 lists the Catholic church in Clearville. However, the new church only lasted seven years and had to be sold in 1862. The church was later razed. After 1881, the Mass was offered in the homes of some of the Catholics in the area.
For a long time, Catholics in the Everett area had to attend St. Thomas church in Bedford. Over a hundred years after the church of St. John the Evangelist in Clearville was sold, a mission church was begun in Everett in 1965. This mission church belonged formerly to the Church of God and was then renovated. The mission church was dedicated on December 19, 1965 by Bishop J. Carroll McCormick. This mission church was staffed by the priests in St. Thomas in Bedford. The mission church is the one which is still standing on the corner of East First Street and North Hopewell Street, which remained active until 1989.
Shortly thereafter, some of the members of the mission church petitioned the new Bishop, Bishop James Hogan, to begin a new parish, which would no longer be a mission parish but its own independent parish. There were many fundraisers in order to raise the money needed to begin the new parish.Less than six years after the mission parish began, St. John the Evangelist ceased being a mission parish out of St. Thomas in Bedford and became its own parish. On September 1, 1971, Bishop James Hogan established St. John the Evangelist as an independent parish. The first pastor was Fr. Paul Robine. This was Fr. Robine’s first assignment as pastor. When Fr. Robine first came, along with Molly, his dog, there was no rectory for him to live in, so he had to live temporarily in the motel in town. Eventually, a rectory was bought next to the old church in 1972. The old rectory is also still standing today.
Fr. Robine began the Legion of Mary in the parish, which lasted many years. There was even a junior Legion of Mary for the children and teenagers. Fr. Robine also oversaw the growth of the parish in the early years. Fr. Robine was pastor for five years, and then he moved in 1976. Fr. John Elias was the second pastor. Fr. Elias continued to oversee the growth of the parish for four years. After his retirement, Fr. Elias continued to live in Everett for many years, helping the pastors and continuing to nourish the faith of the people.
In 1980, Fr. Charles Rager was named the third pastor. Fr. Rager had come from St. Andrew’s parish in Johnstown, where he brought a great devotion to the Infant of Prague. The Infant of Prague statue in the current church owes its prominent presence to him. Fr. Rager was especially known for his preaching style.
Shortly after his coming, plans were made for a new church, since the old mission church on East First Avenue and North Hopewell Street was no longer large enough. Also, Bishop Hogan, in establishing the new parish in 1971, had noted that the old church was in need of repair. In 1981, the grounds for the current church and rectory building were purchased. Four years later, in 1985, the rectory building, including the CCD classrooms, was built and blessed. Four years after that, the current church building was built. On November 12, 1989, Bishop Joseph Adamec consecrated the current church.
Fr. Rager oversaw the construction and dedication of the new buildings. He had continued the tradition of the Legion of Mary and the May Crowning. The church continued to grow under his leadership. Fr. Rager did much for the parish. He moved in 1993. He has since passed on to his heavenly reward.
After a brief but difficult period for the parish, Fr. Joseph Orr was named parish administrator. He lived at the rectory at St. Stephen in McConnellsburg, but he would drive over for Mass in Everett. Fr. Orr was administrator for over a year. However, he did much to help grow the parish in his brief time.
In 1995, Fr. Angelo Patti was named the fifth pastor. Fr. Patti brought the pews in the church from a parish in Johnstown. Fr. Patti did much to improve the rectory as well. Perhaps most famously, he was pictured riding a horse during the annual parish festival.
In 2000, Fr. Norm Imgrund was named the sixth pastor. Fr. Imgrund brought candy making to the parish, a tradition that continues even today. Under Fr. Imgrund, the bell tower was erected and the bells put in place, where they ring now twice a day, at noon and 6:00 p.m. They also ring before Saturday and Sunday Mass, and before Mass on Holy Days. Beginning in 2003, Fr. Imgrund also began the renovations in the church that included the marble sanctuary, the windows, and especially the sacred art that adorns the church now. Fr. Imgrund left in 2010 and since then has passed on to his heavenly reward.
In 2010, Fr. Richard Tomkosky was named the seventh pastor. He brought a renewal of spirituality to the parish, adding the Friday afternoon Holy Hour, the Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet after Mass during the week or before Mass on Saturday and Sunday, and increasing the people’s devotion to the Divine Mercy. He also made a number of improvements to the rectory.
In 2013, Fr. Derek Fairman was named the eighth pastor. One of the first things that happened was the building of the meditation area. Through an anonymous donor, the walls have been filled with more sacred art. Fr. Fairman continued some of the renovations begun in 2003. Fr. Fairman also began the annual devotion to Mary during the days between the Assumption on August 15th to the Coronation of Mary on August 22nd.
The Ladies of St. John has been a part of the parish from the beginning. The Ladies have been present to provide for the needs of the parish, including funeral luncheons, fundraising, planning and hosting social events, and much, much more.
The church is known for its extraordinary beauty. In more recent years, efforts have been made to beautify the outside of the church, which now includes a meditation area. One of the distinguishing features of St. John the Evangelist is its bell tower. The bell tower is quite noticeable outside and the bells ring at noon and 6:00 each day, as well as before Mass on weekends and Holy Days. In autumn, winter and spring, the bell tower is lit and provides some light for those travelling on East First Avenue.
St. John the Evangelist is known for its welcoming and friendly environment. Members enjoy staying after Mass is finished and catching up with each other. Of course, the church welcomes visitors. Especially in the summer months, the church welcomes visitors travelling the Turnpike near Breezewood and elsewhere on vacation. New members are always welcome! Please contact the church to find out more.
St. John the Evangelist is known for its beauty in the church, and its friendly environment, but also for its candy making. The candy is a way to raise funds, but it is also a way to reach out to the community. People in the Everett area and beyond have enjoyed the homemade candy at Christmas and Easter time. This tradition of making candy continues today.
The parishioners of St. John the Evangelist try to imitate their patron by drawing close to the Lord Jesus as St. John did. There is a great devotion to the Divine Mercy novena and chaplet. The parishioners also have a great devotion to the Mother of God. Each year, from Mary's Assumption on August 15th to her Coronation on August 22nd, the parish celebrates and prays to the Mother of God. There are special candles, flowers, prayers and music during this time.
St. John the Evangelist is also known for its charitable giving. The church donates to the Haiti Missions, as well as New Hope Hospital, a ministry which provides eye care in Haiti. The church also gives to a number of local charitable groups, including the Saint Vincent de Paul Society, Love Inc., the Breezewood Trucker Traveler Ministry and the local food pantry. The Ladies’ Group in the parish provides meals to shut-in parishioners for Thanksgiving, and participates in an angel tree program at Christmas. The parish partners with the Saint Vincent de Paul Society to provide meals for its friends for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. The church also participates with Everett Elementary School’s backpack program.
There are prayer cards in the vestibule to pray for the parish, and magnets to celebrate this milestone. Those who wish to leave a message of congratulations may do so using the form below.
I can only thank God for the opportunity I was given to become a Pastor of a new Parish. I’m sure that God will reward and bless every family who helped and worked for the new Parish family.
Being so small in number, at the beginning, helped each one of us to appreciate the value of each individual. I began to see how God provides. We had the Holy Eucharist; I tried to walk the streets of downtown every day. Some people had very strange ideas about a priest! I lived above the restaurant – (next) to an apartment in Dr. Sipes’ building. After a year the Diocese bought the house next to the old church.
We had the opportunity to walk daily before an old illicit book store, which settled on the highway. Eventually, they (robed) themselves on Wednesday (eve) and they had a fire on Friday evening. We drove to Downingtown to the owner’s (bank) to get information for the Newspaper and State Police.
God was present with us. It has been a humbling, beautiful, blessed experience. Thank you for thinking of me.
Fr. Paul Robine
Congratulations to the parishioners of St John!
Shortly after I arrived at St John in Everett, a drifter rang the doorbell seeking a handout. He found me in an excitable mood. The guy asked for some cash and I heatedly exclaimed: “You want me to give you money? I have only $10.99 in the bank. I should be asking you for money!” He stammered an apology and quickly left.
The parish had suffered greatly under poor administration. Parish records were missing. The parishioners had been driven into bitter factions. There were tens of thousands of dollars in overdue bills. And corporations were threatening to cut off service. As the weeks passed by, I was very impressed with how diligently the parishioners pulled together to save their parish. In less than two years the parish was out of debt and ready to welcome a full-time pastor.
During this time, I remained the pastor of St Stephen in McConnellsburg. It was a winding 26-mile drive over the mountains. By necessity I spent half my week living in Fulton County and half the week living in Everett. It became confusing and I’d wake wondering where I was. To alleviate the problem, I placed the alarm clock on one side of the bed in McConnellsburg and on the other side in Everett so that, when the alarm went off in the morning, I knew which parish I was in as I struggled from sleep.
God bless you,
Fr Joseph Orr
Pastor, Holy Spirit Parish, Lock Haven
Administrator, St. Joseph Parish, Renovo
Dear Father Fairman and parishioners of St. John the Evangelist Parish,
On the happy occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the establishment of Saint John the Evangelist Church in Everett, Pennsylvania, it is my distinct honor, as the parish’s fifth pastor, to offer my heartfelt congratulations and prayerful good wishes to you and the entire parish community.
For 50 years, Saint John the Evangelist Church has treasured and preserved a rich Catholic heritage in Everett, Pennsylvania. The growth of the Catholic Faith, which started from humble beginnings in this beautiful area of Bedford County, was due in large part to the faith-filled efforts and good example of faithful priests, laity, and parishioners who bore witness to the Catholic faith and the Eucharistic presence of Jesus Christ through kindness, good works, and service to God and neighbor.
You, the pastor and faithful parishioners of Saint John the Evangelist Parish, continue to this day to show that love is more powerful than hatred; that hope is more enduring than despair; and that faith is more powerful than any force of prejudice or evil in the world. The celebration of Holy Mass, Prayer, Eucharistic devotion, and the power of the Sacraments, continues to bring about this abiding and loving presence of God in the Everett area.
I am most grateful to have been a part of your great history from 1995 to 1999. May God continue to bless your wonderful parish for many years to come.
I congratulate all of you as you celebrate your Golden Jubilee.
May God Bless you abundantly,
Father Angelo J, Patti, V.F.
Pastor, St. Peter Parish, Somerset
Dear Parishioners of St. John the Evangelist,
As your Pastor from 2010 to 2013, I always pray daily for all the parishioners of St. John the Evangelist, and I pray in a special way on this momentous occasion of celebrating 50 years as a Parish Family that God, through the intercession of Our Blessed Mother Mary and St. John the Evangelist your Parish Patron, draw all of you close to His Heart and enable you to serve Him ever more faithfully in the years to come.
God bless you always,
Fr. Richard B. Tomkosky
Pastor, St. Thomas the Apostle Parish, Bedford
Pastor, Seven Dolors of the BVM Parish, Bean’s Cove
Thank you and congratulations for the wonderful celebration of the 50th year of our parish. Father Fairman you are to be commended for providing an appropriate Mass that included Bishop Mark, our former parish priests, history and music. The liturgy was full of thanksgiving and inspiration for us to continue for the years ahead. God bless the anonymous donner and the others who contributed to the success of the event. I'm enjoying all the mementos that you generously gifted us. My favorite is the magnet, of Jesus, Mary, and St. John. My prayers are with you and our parish as we go forth fulfilling the will of our Father.
Below is a video on the diocesan Proclaim! concerning the 50th Anniversary.
Below is the program from the 50th Anniversary Mass.
161 E First Avenue
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