St. John the Evangelist History

St. John the Evangelist History

St. John’s celebrated its 175th anniversary in 2013. It is the oldest Catholic Church in Missouri west of St. Louis and served the needs of Sedalia before they had their own church. Sacred Heart and St. Patrick’s of Springfork were both missions of St. John’s. The first Catholic settlers in the southeastern area of Pettis County, known as Lake Creek, were in the late 1830’s, from the Rhineland of Germany.

The spiritual needs of the settlers were met by prayer meetings and religious instruction held at the homes of various members of the community. Occasionally, they were attended by priests who came on horseback from Jefferson City and Westphalia, a distance of over 70 miles. Among the first priests to come here were Fr. John Joseph Hogan (1845) who later became Bishop of Kansas City and the most renowned was Fr. DeSmet, the Jesuit explorer and Indian missionary.

The parish received its first resident pastor, Fr. William Schmitt in 1880. He remained only several months, owing to the division in September of that year of the St. Louis Archdiocese, and the establishment of the Kansas City diocese under Bishop John J. Hogan. The little parsonage built by Fr.  Schmitt was left vacant. Lack of priests in the new diocese brought St. John's the Fathers of the Congregation of the Precious Blood, from Ohio in 1881. The last of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood priests during this time, was Fr. Thomas Meyer, from April to July in 1898. St. John’s was again given over to the secular clergy of the diocese in 1898.

Just seventy-five years after St. John the Evangelist parish had been organized, a new school building was erected and equipped at a cost of approximately $2,000.00. The diamond jubilee celebration was held at Bahner, October 29, 1924. Visitors included in the gathering were two bishops, one monsignor, and twenty priests, some of whom had been pastors to the parish. The festivities included the Bishop's mass at 8 A.M. after which a class of forty-seven was confirmed. The new school was blessed and the Purgatorial Requiem High Mass was said.

1931 saw the arrival of two Benedictine sisters. Their job was to provide religious and educational instruction for the school children. They took up residence in the old rectory which was replaced by a new rectory. Funds for the sisters' support were raised by sponsoring chicken dinners each year through 1958. These were very popular and drew large crowds. The sisters remained at Bahner unti1 1955 when the school was closed because of a lack of teachers. However, the Precious Blood sisters from Sacred Heart School in Sedalia continued to hold Sunday school classes and summer school. This continued until the mothers in the parish received catechetical training under Sister Laura Will in 1974. The mothers still teach CCD classes on Wednesday evenings.

There were thirty families that were active members of St. John’s in 1988 and in 2012 that number increased to 34.