St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church was founded in 1839 by a group of German Catholic immigrants who had settled in Western Kentucky several years earlier. These first parishioners were visited by Fr. Elisha J. Durbin who had been assigned the missions throughout the territory that today make up the diocese of Owensboro. Fr. Durbin’s headquarters was at Sacred Heart Church, in Union County, Kentucky and his missionary duties took him to several surrounding states. Accordingly, the privilege of Mass and the Sacraments was not available to the people of the St. John community on a regular basis for some time.
The first church, a log building, was raised by the parishioners under the direction of Fr. Durbin around 1849. The log church burned and was replaced by a larger frame structure in 1869 under the direction of Fr. Peter Haeseley. The frame church was used for sixty-three years, until the construction of the present church building in 1932-1933 during the pastorate of Fr. Paul Barrett. All three churches were located on the same site.
Few changes occurred to our church since 1933. The main update occurred in the
1960’s following Vatican II which included the removal of the tall canopy and
the high altar.
In 2003, with guidance from Fr. Bruce McCarty, the parish undertook a general
renovation project consisting of substantial exterior and interior repairs and a general updating of building systems. It also included the construction of an addition to include handicapped accessible restrooms, a reconciliation room and sacristy. A concerted effort was made to maintain and enhance the architectural and artistic integrity of the structure while bringing it in line with the liturgical needs of a 21st century parish.
On February 19, 2006, a Mass of Thanksgiving and Dedication of Altar was
held with The Most Reverend John J. McRaith, Bishop of Owensboro, as
Since 1839, St. John the Evangelist Church has stood as a pillar of the
Catholic community within the Louisville Diocese and later the Owensboro
Diocese. The church renewed again, continues to house and nourish the
people of Western Kentucky as they live out their faith.