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St. Johnís Church to celebrate 125th anniversary

St. Johnís Church, often called the spiritual heart of the Creighton University campus, will celebrate the 125th anniversary of the laying of its cornerstone this summer. Not only a historical landmark and collegiate chapel, St. Johnís has the distinction of being a parish of the Omaha Archdiocese since 1897. Several special events are planned to celebrate the anniversary.

Celebration Events:

June 3 - Reunion Mass for parishioners and alumni of the now-closed St. John Elementary School and High School, 10:30 a.m. at St. Johnís Church. Presiding will be the Rev. Andy Alexander, S. J.

July 26 - First Annual Ignatius Lecture, at 6:30 p.m. in Lower St. John Church. Mary Lee Brock, parish trustee, and the Rev. Pat Malone, S.J., pastor, will present, "How Can a Parish Find God in All Things?" The lecture is free and open to the public.

July 28 -The Annual Parish Picnic will take place for all parishioners

Aug. 23 - 125th Anniversary Service, 3 p.m. at St. Johnís Church. A reception will follow.

The Church is selling several anniversary items including a limited edition water color of St. Johnís, note cards and T shirts. Information is available at http://www.creighton.edu/ministry/stjohns/celebrating125thyears/index.php

Historical Background:

The first cornerstone of St. Johnís Church was laid June 26, 1887, establishing the new collegiate chapel. Designed by P.J. Creedon, it was made possible by the sale of land owned by the Jesuits, which the Rev. Roman Shaffel, S. J., had purchased when he was Creightonís first president several years earlier, along with a donation of 10,000.00 from John A. Creighton. The chapel was dedicated to St. John before the Latin Gate on May 6, 1888. In 1897 St. Johnís was established as a parish church.

It took 90 years for St. Johnís to complete most of the original architectural design of 1887. Many renovations and expansions were made during the years including replacing the wooden steps for stone, electric lights were installed and the cross was gilded. In 1920-23 additions were made according to the original design of the church, which included the extension of the worship space, 2 sacristies, rectory and current basement. In 1946-49 the installation of the stained glass windows were completed. A new pipe organ was installed in 1952. A few more features from the original design of St. Johnís were added in 1977, a steeple on the east tower; working parts for the clock and a carillon. St. Johnís Church was named a landmark of the City of Omaha on January 6, 1979.

Recent major renovations made at St. Johnís Church in 2007 included the interior of the church, a new orientation of pews, the altar of celebration moved closer to the congregation, and more. This spring a new carillon has been placed in the clock tower to help ring in the 125th year of St. Johnís.

There are currently 350 registered families at St. Johnís. In addition to Creighton University students, who are automatically considered parishioners while attending the university. The church sees the most weddings in the Omaha Archdiocese, almost 70 a year, including multiple generations of family weddings.