History of St. John the Evangelist Parish
1890: Up until the early 1890s North Cambridge and West Somerville were part of Saint Peter’s parish. The members from this section of the parish would travel long distances to attend Mass on Sunday. Because of rapidly growing industries and the growing number of immigrants, Father Flately, the pastor of St. Peter=s Parish, worried that the young children would not get a proper Catholic education. In 1890, he purchased an acre of land on Spruce Street (now Rindge Avenue).
1891: The Wilson Estate adjacent to this site was purchased and a three-story brick building was erected, with a Chapel on the first floor and school classrooms on the second two floors, costing $50,000.
1892: February 28 - The Chapel was blessed and Mass celebrated for the first time by Father Flatley, as a Mission of St. Peter=s parish.
1893: January 1 - St. John the Evangelist became a separate parish, with Father. John B. Halloran as its first pastor. Each Sunday a Children’s Mass at 8:30 a.m. and a High Mass with Choir at 11:00 a.m. The original rectory was a small wooden cottage at 122 Rindge Avenue.
1893: January - First Baptism (C. A. Igo) and first Nuptial Mass (Thomas F. Riley and Grace I. McCrehan). Baptisms held in the rectory on Sundays at 7 p.m.
1893: Spring - The first parish lawn party.
1893: August 24 - The first parish picnic held at Spy Pond Grove, Arlington.
1894: February - Father Welch, the first curate, was assigned to the parish.
1894: August 5 - First meeting of the Temperance Society.
1894: September - Father Welch makes a parish visitation to take a census and increase the Church Debt Society.
1894: October 1 - First meeting of the Ladies’ Sodality.
1894: October - First mission given by Redemptorist Fathers Doyle and Crosby. 1686 parishioners participated. Sunday Masses now at 7:30, 9:00 (Children), and 10:30 (High). The last Sunday of each month was "Church Debt Sunday," with special collection to pay off parish debt.
1898: March 27 - The estate of the late Horatio Locke, on the Corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Hollis Street was purchased for $18,000 as the site for the new church. The Locke house was moved to 8 Hollis Street and became the second rectory in November, 1904.
1902: Summer - Father Halloran died suddenly of a heart attack while vacationing at Old Orchard Beach in Maine. Reverend James Kelly became second Pastor in August, 1902.
1902: September 28 - 125 men of the parish formed the Holy Name Society.
1904: November 30 - Work began on the new church, with Mr. Stephen Brennan as the builder.
1905: February - Fire in the original church on Rindge Avenue damaged the Stations of the Cross.
1905: Bishop John Brady laid the cornerstone of St. John’s Church at the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Hollis Street. Sermon preached by Fr. John Ryan of St. Paul’s Church, Cambridge. Over 1000 people attended.
First service held on Easter Sunday. Church dedicated by Cardinal O’Connell. Sermon by Msgr. P. J. Supple.
1907: September - The Woodridge estate, next to the church, purchased by the parish.
1913: September - The parish school opens with the first grade. Each year another grade is added. The original rectory, in front of the school, became the convent for the Dominican Sisters assigned as teachers.
1916: September - Housewarming and inspection of additions made to the convent. Originally 4 sisters lived there. By the 1920’s there were 30. The number eventually reached 48.
1919: The women of the Sodality placed a set of chimes in the church tower in memory of Fr. Murphy, who spent all 19 years of his priestly life in the parish and whose love of music was well known.
1921: June - First 8th grade graduating class, with 82 students.
1921: The parish high school opens.
1925: First graduation class of High School, numbering 48.
1929: Fr. James Kelly, the second pastor, died and is succeeded by Fr. Hugh Blunt.
1930: To alleviate over-crowding, admittance to the parish school was restricted to only those from Saint John’s parish.
1932: Parish High School reached record enrollment of 435, with 1160 in grammar School. Two portable buildings erected next to main high school building.
1930: December 7th: Under the auspices of the Cambridge Chronicle, the K of C, and the Holy Name Society, a monthly adult forum began with guest speakers on various topics such as the "The Good Citizen’s Duty in His Home City," "The State Banking Situation," "Some Aspects of Adult Alien Education," " St. Patrick and Ireland," "Some Aspects of Present Economic Conditions, " "The Motor Vehicle Problem in Massachusetts," "Some Real Dangers to the Nation," "The History of Irish Music," "Federal Housing," "American and the Catholic Church," "Some Present Day Challenges," "Soviet Russia," "Observations on Ireland," and "America’s Problems."
1933: Mass celebrated in North Cambridge Catholic Cemetery on Memorial Day to commemorate its 100th anniversary.
1930: The third and present rectory built of yellow brick at 2254 Massachusetts Avenue on the site of the Woodbridge House. Architect was William B. Colleary; builder was Walsh Brothers. Cost - $68,000. Two and one-half stories with five bay windows. Prance (Dutch) School Style with Moorish windows. Old rectory at 8 Hollis Street was razed.
1933: Monstrance made of gold, silver, diamonds and other precious stones donated by parishioners used for a Holy Hour to begin the Holy Year. Reputed to be the largest monstrance in the United States of America.
1942: Father Edward Maguire became pastor of St. Zepherin’s in Cochituate, and Father Bernard J. Smith replaced him as parish assistant.
1945: Father Henry Barry was appointed assistant.
1948: Two basement entrances were built for Saint John’s Church for $22,000.
1949: The State Department of Public Safety demanded $20,000 in repairs to parish school buildings.
1953: Parish Census showed 2,560 families; 9,600 souls.
1955: Father John J. Keohane became pastor of Saint Mary’s in East Walpole. Father Lawrence Cronin appointed as assistant here.
1956: Letter from Sister Mary Julia, Mother General of the Dominican Sisters, to Archbishop Cushing requested pastor to engage some lay teachers for the coming school year because of the current shortage of Sisters.
1956: December 7-8, Fire destroys the parish church. The Fitzgerald School’s auditorium on Rindge Avenue is used as a temporary chapel. A re-building drive begins.
1957: Msgr. Hugh Blunt, the third pastor, dies and is replaced by Reverend Edward Horan. The former Sleeper school property is purchased for a new convent. Archbishop Cushing separates Saint John’s High School from the parish for financial reasons, designating it a diocesan central high school. The abandoned Ellis School on Norris Street is purchased from the City of Cambridge for $25,000 and opens in September 1957 as North Cambridge Catholic High School.
1960: Ground is broken for the new convent. Father Thomas Williams dies. The Fatima Shrine on the site of the original convent is built in his memory.
1962: A Parish Reunion celebrates re-building of the church and completion of a new convent. Saint John’s middle school students moved into the former parish high school building.
1968: Msgr. Edward Horan dies and is replaced by Father Henry Barry, the fifth pastor.
1985: Father Henry Barry is replaced by Father Joseph J. Fusoni as the sixth pastor.
1988: Father Joseph Fusoni dies and is replaced by Father Thomas M. Curran as the seventh pastor.
1989: Saint John’s parish Grammar School re-opens.
1990: Father Thomas Curran is replaced by Father William J. Cummings as the eighth pastor.
1991: Parish Pastoral Council formed - meets each month
1991: Parish Census taken
1991: Plans to celebrate 100th anniversary of the Parish started to take place
1992: Father Charles Collins assigned to Parish as Administrator
1993: Father Cummings becomes ill.
1993: Gala 100th Anniversary celebration during 1993 culminating with a grandiose function at the Cambridge Marriott with hundreds attending.
1994: May 21, Father Cummings passed away.
1994: Father Charles Collins succeeds Father Cummings as the ninth Pastor.
1995: A finance committee is formed with the primary goal to launch a vigorous campaign to fund a complete renovation of the church building.
1996: Renovation pledge drive is started by the finance committee and the parishioners respond with much enthusiasm.
1997: Guild of Saint John celebrates their 40th Anniversary. Father Barry returns to participate as well as Father Cronin’s nephew, and pastor of Saint Catherine’s Church in Somerville, Father Brian Manning.
1997: August - First phase of major renovation project covering the exterior of the church and the tower including resetting the front stairs.
1998: March - Outside renovations completed
1998: April - Second work phase begins. Includes installation of elevator and liturgical upgrade to the upper church. Church hall is cleaned and converted to appropriate worship environment for all liturgical celebrations throughout the Summer months.
1998: August- Renovation Completed