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St. John the Evangelist Church

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What is your parish’s charism?

St. John the Evangelist Church is oriented toward the family. The parish has more than 20 active ministries, providing opportunities and experiences for almost anyone. The school, encompassing both a preschool and K-8 elementary school, boasts a strong PTO that sponsors many family-based activities. The Home School Association provides opportunities for families to grow and learn together. The parish chapter of the St. Vincent de Paul Society supports local families in need. The Knights of Columbus host many fundraising activities that support seminarians and other causes. They provide support for parish-wide events in organizing, set-up, staffing and clean-up. The biggest of these events is the annual Oktoberfest. Although initiated as a fundraiser for building the school, it has become a community-wide event bringing many families to the parish campus every year.

What is the one unique thing visitors to your parish should do or see while there?

Unique to this parish is the corpus of the large crucifix above the tabernacle. Christ’s loving and forgiving eyes are open, depicting him prior to his death. Beneath the cross, a scene unfolds with beautiful statues of Mary looking at Christ and John the Evangelist gazing at Mary. One can almost hear the words “John, behold your mother,” as Christ gave Mary to all of us as mother. The Mary Garden next to the rectory includes both the Stations of the Cross and a rosary walk.

What is a new ministry that you have started?

Although not a new ministry, the Pro-Life Ministry has experienced an increase in both presence and programming to reach all ages. The ministry works to support and affirm life from conception to natural death. It sponsors spiritual adoptions to support the Warrenton Pregnancy Center. Family movie nights help to develop life-affirming family values. The ministry works with local agencies to support seniors and families by providing information and resources for support. It is also working on implementing Theology of the Body classes for teens.

Is there a special way your parish encourages and supports faith formation?

Faith formation is supported and encouraged by a very generous Mass and confession schedule. Adoration is also a very important practice. The parish supports and encourages a personal relationship with Christ developed in adoration available during the day on Wednesday and non-stop from Thursday through Saturday mornings. The director of Religious Education and the staff oversee faith formation programs for students and those wishing to enter the faith. They work in conjunction with the school’s teachers to provide sacraments for the parish. The parish provides opportunities to enhance spiritual life through bible studies, book studies and guest speakers.

How are you supporting the faith journey of particular cultures represented in your parish?

The strong Hispanic community participates in weekly Spanish Mass and enjoys special seasonal celebrations such as the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The stained-glass windows and artwork in the church were planned to represent the members of the parish. The Our Lady of Guadalupe window represents the Hispanic population. The portrait of St. Martin de Porres represents the African American members. A framed pencil drawing made by a local inmate reminds us to care for those imprisoned and additional stained-glass windows are dedicated to other groups of parishioners, such as military, missionaries and married couples. The priests work with the three deacons and several Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion to provide Communion to the sick and homebound.

What would a visitor say about your parish?

Visitors to the parish would be captivated by the beauty and history of the church. They will see the reverence and awe experienced upon entering the sanctuary. Many notice that the parish is a busy place with volunteers and parishioners coming and going at all hours including overnight adoration. One non-Catholic neighbor said he enjoys seeing through the windows into church at night but wondered about the glow of the sanctuary lamp. He was comforted to learn that the light signifies the presence of God. The local newspaper sponsors Warrenton’s Best of contest annually.  St. John the Evangelist was named the “Best Place to Worship” two years in a row.

What’s something we should know about your clergy?

Father Charles Smith has been the pastor since November 2019. He was ordained in June 2006 and this is his first assignment as a pastor. He is a graduate of Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington and studied at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pa. As pastor he works with all parish groups and juggles a busy schedule.  He has made room for summer seminarians and builds positive relationships with them. He continues to work to improve the parish, including updating the parish office center.

Father Nicholas Blank, parochial vicar, was ordained in 2019 and came to the parish last June from the Basilica of St. Mary in Alexandria. He was the 91st alum from Christendom College to be ordained. He enjoys working with the school children. Fluent in Spanish, he also serves the Hispanic community.

Is there a standout or longtime staff member or volunteer you’d like to tell us about?

The parish has many dedicated volunteers who help the ministries thrive. Roy and Norma Francis have been involved in the church in many ways. Roy, a Past Grand Knight, is still active in the Knights of Columbus, serves as chair of the parish finance council and works with parish facilities. He is helping lead the campaign for the renovation of the offices. His wife, Norma, has been a member of the Ladies Auxiliary Club and leads the Altar Society, which coordinates the cleaning and decorating of the church.  They both are Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. Norma previously served as the chair of this ministry and handled the scheduling. They exemplify the Catholic faith in their gift of service to the parish.

Quick Facts:

St. John the Evangelist Church

271 Winchester St.

Warrenton

sje1.org

540/347-2922

Pastor: Fr. Charles Smith

Parochial Vicar: Fr. Nicholas Blank

Mass Times:

Monday-Friday: 6:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m.

Saturday: 8:30 a.m., 5 p.m. (vigil) 7 p.m. (Spanish)

Sunday: 7:30 a.m., 9 a.m., 10:45 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 5 p.m.

School:

St. John the Evangelist Catholic School

111 John E Mann St.

Warrenton, Va.

sjesva.org/

540/347-2458

Preschool, K-8

240 students

Principal: Temple Macdonald

Preschool Director: Stephanie Lynch

Youth Director: Melissa King

Social media: facebook.com/www.sje1.org

Year established: 1874; current location 1964

Total parishioners: About 7,000

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021