GATHERED BY GOD: HISTORY AND HARVEST
The history of Saint John's in Clinton, Maryland is deeply rooted in the history of the Catholic Church in the United States. It was here in Southern Maryland that the first Catholics settled. Father Andrew White, S.J., the first Jesuit priest in this country, offered Mass in 1634 for the Piscataway Indians, a mere six miles from the present site of Saint John's Church. In 1875, the Cardinal Archbishop of Baltimore, James Gibbons, directed the founding of a new parish in what is now Clinton, under the patronage of Saint John the Evangelist. Rev. John J. Conway, Pastor of Saint Peter's and Saint Mary's, also headed the newly established Saint John's Parish. In 1889 six and three quarter acres of land were purchased, and a church was built on the east side of Old Branch Avenue.
Since its inception, Saint John's had been a parish of cultural and ethnic diversity, with families from Native American, African and European descent. In the 1950's, the Filipino community began bringing its faith to Saint John's parish, participating and leading in a variety of ministries. During the pastorate of Rev. Thomas Kelley ((1986 - 1993), additional lay ministries took root. The Family Rosary Crusade, Senior Lunch Bunch, Gospel Choir, Cursillo, and a long-running support group, Project Hope, began. Lay minister Maria de los Angeles Michelitch began ministering with and advocating for the growing Spanish-speaking population, which let to the celebration of the first Spanish-language Masses.
In 1993, Rev. Thomas Pollard was appointed Pastor. Father Pollard brought a special in the liturgy and music, and under his pastorate, the catechumenate and liturgies of the RCIA flourished; girls became altar servers; a digital organ was purchased, and the fledgling contemporary, gospel and Spanish choirs became well-established alongside the traditional choir. The Spanish charismatic prayer group began. St John's Council 11171 of the Knights of Columbus was started during this pastorate; parishioners also initiated the soup kitchen and outreach committee ministries. All buildings became wheelchair-accessible, and an elevator was installed. The Religious Sisters of Mercy moved into the parish in 1998, and began participating in ministry at the parish in addition to their other ministries. Pastoral Associate Jane Mericsko initiated the Arimethean Ministers to assist at the Mass of Christian Burial.
After Father Pollard's retirement in 2011, Rev. Jaime Hernandez was made Pastor. While still culturally diverse, the parish has also become the focal point of local Spanish-speaking Catholics as a place of worship, education, and social interaction. During his pastorate, Saint Andrews School of Evangelization, originally brought to Saint John's by Father Francis X. Russo, OFM, has flourished, and has been offered not only in Spanish, but in English. English classes began, a second Spanish music ministry was initiated, and numerous physical plant improvements were undertaken. A chapter of the Legion of Mary began, the Precious Blood Apostolate was established; and the Missionary Catechists of Saint Therese were hired to direct the CCD Program.
In Unity and diversity, the community of Saint John the Evangelist continues to gather its life, like wheat ready for harvest, from the ends of the earth into God's kingdom. Where are you in its history? where are you in its future?
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (St. John the Evangelist, Apostle; John 1:1-5).