Parish Registration

 

THE NEW SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST PARISH

PARISHIONER REGISTRATION FORM

 

Welcome, all members to our new parish family!

All are encouraged to participate  fully in both the spiritual and social life of St. John’s, and  join our parish  Ministries & Organizations.  If you would like to share your talents, organize or chair a Parish Organization, or just want to become more involved and informed, please contact the rectory and we will get you in touch with a parish volunteer.

Weekday masses are Monday – Thursday at 6:30 am & Friday 8:30 am in the All Saints’ Chapel located in the Rectory.  Weekend masses are:  Saturday Vigil at 4:00 pm, Sunday morning at 9:00 & 11:00 a.m, & 6:00 pm.  Confessions begin at 3:00 pm before the Saturday Vigil mass.  Holy Day Masses are at 6:30 & 9:00 a.m., and 7:00 p.m. (no holy day vigil.)  Our church is handicapped accessible with handicapped parking in front of the church and the setback in front of the lower school building nex to the church.  On-street parking is also available, and a parking lot is located directly behind the Rectory.

Please notify the rectory if you are moving from the parish, or if you have changed your address or telephone number.

 

A Brief History of St. John the Baptist Parish and Church

The tenth oldest parish in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, St. John the Baptist Parish’s humble beginnings started in the home of Jerome and Eulalia Keating in the small milltown of Manayunk.  In the winter of 1829-30 it is believed that the first Catholic Mass in our area was celebrated in the Keatings’ home.  Mrs. Eulalia Keating was said to have held a weekly Sunday school for a dozen or so neighboring children.  The Keatings’ residence was the former convent, still located on Cresson Street.   

Eventually when about 20 families (about 100 people) were attending masses at their home, Jerome Keating, a cotton mill owner, proposed the start of a parish, and made a gift of the ground for a church and cemetery.  The original church opened in 1831, and stood adjacent to the cemetery, where (the former) Upper School stands.  It was the first Catholic Parish established outside of Center City.   In 1833, Jerome Keating passed away.  Afterward, Eulalia Keating joined a convent.  Their daugther Amelia received her First Holy Communion on Christmas Eve midnight Mass in 1832 with 11 other children.

The Growth of the Catholic Community continued in the area.  St. John’s became the “mother church” to St. Patrick in Norristown (1835), St. Mary of the Assumption (1848), Holy Family, (1885), St. Josaphat (1898), and St. Lucy (1907).  Eventually the rapid growth of the church and beginnings of a school at St. John the Baptist became too small for the manufacturing town, calling for the building of a new cathedral-like church.

The current church was designed by architect Patrick Charles Keely of New York, and dedicated on April 1, 1894.   It was built with a legacy gift of $100,000 in 1881 from Bernard McCane and his wife.  Combined with the help of the local community, the Church was built at a total cost of $250,000.  Over the following decades, it was outfitted with interiors, the stations, and many of the sculptures the work of eminent sculptor Joseph Sibbel of New York.  The church organ is the original from 1906, also when bell tower was completed.  The main altar is adorned with statues of St. Bernard and St. Cecelia, in honor of the Church Benefactors.

It is believed our cemetery has buried more Civil War Veterans than any other small cemetery in America.  Our first founders, the Keatings, are also buried there, near the Rector street entrance.  Our school buildings served as a Parish Hall, Boys and Girls’ High Schools, and elementary school.  When visiting our Social Hall, please note our Honor Roll on either side of the hall, listing parish veterans who served our country during World War II.  Before the Social Hall was turned into a gathering place for events, it served as a chapel, and lower church.  It was for a time used for mass during neighboring parishes’ Church remodeling, and new construction.  The first organist of the parish was none other than Francis M. Drexel, grandfather of Saint Katharine Drexel.  This devoted Catholic and esteemed banker would travel seven miles on foot, along what is now Kelly Drive, from his Center City home to our church in Manayunk, to play the organ for an annual salary of $150.

The past ten years have been pivotal in the Manayunk Catholic community.  In 2005, neighboring parish elementary schools – St. Mary of the Assumption, St. Lucy, and Holy Family Schools – closed.  Then in 2006, St. Josaphat, and St. John the Baptist Schools followed.  Holy Child school emerged the following school year, as a combined elementary for the Catholic Parishes.  The closing of five parish schools within two years, along with demographic changes in the neighborhood, was a precursor of things to come.

Sadly in 2012, neighboring parishes, St. Jospahat’s (Polish), and St. Mary of the Assumption (German) closed, along with St. Lucy Parish (Italian), after over 100 years of  tradition in the Manayunk Catholic community.  Then in 2013, Holy Child, the only Catholic School in Manayunk, closed.  The two parishes now for Catholics in Manayunk are Holy Family, and St. John the Baptist.