“History is not a burden on the memory but an illumination of the soul.”
As a result of population growth in the Town of Clay in the late 1960’s, Bishop David Cunningham decided a new Catholic Church was needed. The new parish would draw parishioners from Christ the King in Liverpool, St. Mary’s in Baldwinsville and St. Stephen’s in Phoenix.
The founding families decided the church would be named in honor of Pope John XXIII and he would be its patron when he became canonized. St. John’s Roman Catholic Church was officially founded on July 1, 1971 and Father James O’Connell was appointed as its first pastor.
An agreement was signed between Kabeth Properties and the Diocese to transfer land on Soule Road with the stipulation being that a parish would be established on it. With a donation from the O’Donnell family and a loan from the Diocese, construction of the rectory and church began.
While the church was being built, masses were held in the Bayberry Theater and other venues, while funerals and weddings were held in neighboring parishes. Construction was completed in the fall of 1973 and the dedication ceremony was held on Christmas Eve that same year.
As the parish membership grew, several additions and renovations were made to the original building. These included the addition of eleven classrooms in 1979 to accommodate religious education needs; the construction of the Parish Center in 1993; and the movement of the parish offices to the church building in 2011.
From the inception of St. John’s Church, there was an immediate commitment to volunteerism and evangelization by its lay people in which that allegiance remains great today. Parishioners have been active in liturgy, the Faith Formation program, the maintenance of the church along with many other ministries and committees needed to run such a large parish.
Throughout the years there have been many community-building activities including dances, breakfasts, dinners, movie nights, and picnics. Some special activities have included the celebrations of the 25th and 35th anniversary of St. John’s Church as well as Father O’Brien’s 45th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood.
As the parish concluded its yearlong anniversary celebration in 2012, the vision of its founding members was finally realized with the renaming of the parish to Pope John XXIII Roman Catholic Church of Clay, NY.
With the retirement of Msgr. O’Brien we welcomed Father Zach as the new leader of our community. At the same time, we became linked with our neighboring parish Christ the King and are moving forward in new and wonderful ways.