The oldest Catholic parish in Baltimore County celebrates two centuries of faith.
St. John the Evangelist Parish in Hydes has its roots in its first Mass, celebrated on May 19, 1822 by Sulpician Father Jean Marie Tessier, Superior of St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore. The priest presided over the dedication of a small wooden church on the west side of Long Green Valley.
Previously, Jesuit priests from the Deer Creek Mission Farm would visit Catholic families in Long Green Valley a few times a year to provide for religious needs and celebrate Mass in private homes.
Today, the parish remains a vibrant community of faith.
“The people (of St. John) are very proud, very generous and a very welcoming community,” said Edward Dalton, a longtime parishioner.
Dalton, 70, along with three generations before and two after him, was a faithful parishioner of Saint-Jean all his life. He served as an altar boy and attended St. John the Evangelist Catholic School in Hydes. His three children and granddaughter also attended school.
He noted that Father Pete D. Literal, pastor, is the first to greet parishioners at the start and end of Mass.
“When Father Pete became a pastor, he came to our house to introduce himself and chat with us to get to know each other better,” Dalton noted. “He seems to go above and beyond expectations.”
Similarly, when Dalton’s mother and sister died a few years ago, Dalton said Father Literal was available and staff members helped with funeral arrangements.
Doug Byerly came to the parish 27 years ago when he was hired as a choir director. He found a community of love and acceptance in the parish, which inspired him to become a Catholic.
“The parish pastors, who believed and saw something in me, led me to conversion,” he said.
His father was a Presbyterian minister and he was brought up in the music ministry from an early age.
“St. John continues to be a vibrant parish rooted in missionary discipleship, and part of that is liturgy with great music,” Byerly said. the liturgy.”
The Department of Music in St. John mixes contemporary and traditional music. It includes brass, strings, organ, piano and percussion instruments with the choir. The members of the choir are between 30 and 85 years old.
Byerly said some members joined the choir 50 years ago when they were children. Christian brother Maurice Albright, now Father Robert “Bob” Albright, was then music director at St. John Hydes, while teaching at Calvert Hall College High School in Towson.
“Parishioners love a wonderful liturgy rooted in the Roman Missal, but with vital, vibrant music that matches the season,” the music ministry director added.
According to Father Literal, parish priest since 2018, the parishioners’ love for the church is what makes the parish unique. “When there is a need,” he said, “they respond quickly.”
“St. John is a hidden parish, a very quiet but vibrant community,” Father Literal said of the parish of 1,044 registered families. “I sense something big will come out of St. John.”
He introduced a new pastoral plan, mission and vision, centered on a vibrant Catholic community of missionary disciples.
Father Literal said the parish had three main goals for its bicentenary celebration: “to honor our past”, “to celebrate our present” and “to secure our future”.
The parish has prepared a history book and exhibit on St. John’s two centuries of ministry. It also kicked off the Bicentennial celebrations in April 2021 with a year of events including a family run/walk, North Baltimore County Wine Festival, Christmas raffle, mass, and St. Valentine’s Day, a series of special speakers and a bicentennial prayer.
The Bicentennial celebration will culminate with a Bicentennial Gala on May 20 and a Bicentennial Mass celebrated by Archbishop William E. Lori on May 22, followed by a time capsule planting and outdoor reception.
Looking to the future, St. John launched a fundraising campaign to meet the building and facility needs of the parish. The parish surpassed its goal of $1.5 million with $1.9 million raised.
Some of these projects include the repair of the chapel, the installation of a new security system for the church, the improvement of audio and video inside the church and the development of church space for people with physical disabilities, especially with adequate parking.
In its early years, St. John was a Jesuit St. Ignatius Mission in Hickory. In 1855, a fire destroyed the wooden frame church and the parish built a new church, which serves as the current chapel, freeing itself from the Jesuit parish.
In addition to St. Ignatius, the parish has been associated with three other parishes: St. Stephen in Bradshaw (1866), St. Philip Neri in Dulaney Valley (1866) and St. Mark in Fallston (1887). Saint-Jean has been an independent parish since 1968.
The parish opened its first school in 1858, which closed and reopened twice. The School Sisters began running the school in 1947. Today, St. John’s Catholic School is recognized for its excellence and was named a 2017 National Blue Ribbon School.
Saint John flourished during the 20th century when a general migration from the city to the suburbs in the 1950s and 1960s greatly increased the population of the parish. Cardinal Lawrence J. Shehan dedicated a new church in 1969.
Email Priscila González de Doran at [email protected]
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