Parish History

Church Top

In April, 1850, Archbishop Norbert Blanchet, the first Archbishop in Oregon, granted authority for a Mission in Milwaukie.

Church 02After fourteen years as a Mission, in 1864, Lots 3 and 4 of Block 27 in Milwaukie were purchased for $60 from three local residents, and a framed one-room wooden Mission Church was started on the corner of 21st and Washington. It was dedicated on July 23, 1864, by Archbishop Blanchet. It was blessed for St. John the Baptist and continued for 47 years.

By the end of the first decade of the new century, Milwaukie had outgrown the little church, and Archbishop Alexander Christie (the 4th Archbishop), felt that the time was ready for St. John’s to be a parish. Accordingly, in February, 1911, a $500 grant was secured form the Catholic Extension Society. One acre of land was purchased for $3500 on 25th Street between Monroe and Washington Streets. The new church was 44’x92’. On Christmas Eve, 1912, Midnight Mass was celebrated for the first time.

In the Spring of 1918, Fr. John Bernards secured the services to two Sisters of St. Mary’s to open the grade school. On September 8, 1919, Sister Mary Imelda and Sister Mary Mechtild registered 62 pupils in the rectory. At its peak, 750 students were enrolled.

Church 03In 1928 a high school was built and started classes. Sister Mary Crescentia succeeded in making St. John’s an accredited high school in 1932 and was the first accredited co-educational Catholic high schools in the Archiocese. The high school remained open until 1948.

In 1964, construction of the new church and rectory began and was competed in 1966. Archbishop Edward D. Howard (our 5th Archbishop) dedicated the church on June 18, 1966. Built to accommodate 960 people, it was the first church in the Archdiocese which met the requirements of the liturgy based on the Second Vatican Council.

The “Daily Journal of Commerce” on June 17, 1966: “The form, with the unusual roof structure rising high above the stone walls, is symbolic the walls of rock represent man, rough, massive and real. The ceiling and roof are symbolic of God, white and pure, relating to man but rising upward to greater heights and displaying a hint of the Majesty. A gigantic crane was used to set the tower into place, and a helicopter flew the steeplejack into position to place the lightning rod.”

To complement the Church and School, a Parish Center was completed in January, 1975.

St. John’s is a very active Franciscan parish community serving all aspects of parish life, guided by Fr. Jorge Hernandez, our pastor.

Former Pastors

01 Bernards
Father John Bernards
Pastor 1915-1944
02 Raleigh
Father Michael Raleigh
Pastor 1944-1946
03 Dooley
Father William Dooley
Pastor 1946-1947
04 Larkin
Father John Larkin
Pastor 1947-1954
05 Wachter
Father Carl Wachter
Pastor 1954-1968
06 Saalfeld
Father Lawrence Saalfeld
Pastor 1968-1983
07 Kiernan
Father Patrick J. Kiernan
Pastor 1983-1985
08 Beltrami
Father Robert Beltrami
Administrator 1985-1986
09 Neuville
Father Joseph Neuville
Pastor 1986-1998
10 Brown
Father Bruce Brown
Pastor 1998-2000
11 Steiner
Bishop Kenneth Steiner
Pastor 2000-2002
12 Molinari
Father Todd Molinari
Pastor 2002-2007