February 19, 2018
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  • St. John the Evangelist School Principal Casey Buckstaff (top left), Archbishop William E. Lori (middle) and the Rev. Jim Proffitt were joined by students during a January 27 ceremony to celebrate the new parish activities center.
    Photo by Judy Tacyn
    St. John the Evangelist School Principal Casey Buckstaff (top left), Archbishop William E. Lori (middle) and the Rev. Jim Proffitt were joined by students during a January 27 ceremony to celebrate the new parish activities center.
  • Photo by Judy Tacyn
  • Archbishop William E. Lori was in Severna Park for a Mass on January 27 to celebrate the opening of the new 14,600-square-foot parish activities center.
    Photo by Judy Tacyn
    Archbishop William E. Lori was in Severna Park for a Mass on January 27 to celebrate the opening of the new 14,600-square-foot parish activities center.
  • “It was determined that a major thing that was lacking on our campus was a site where larger numbers of people could gather,” said the Rev. Jim Proffitt.
    Photo by Judy Tacyn
    “It was determined that a major thing that was lacking on our campus was a site where larger numbers of people could gather,” said the Rev. Jim Proffitt.

Archbishop Blesses New St. John The Evangelist Activity Center

Judy Tacyn
Judy Tacyn's picture
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February 6, 2018

Speaking before a standing-room-only crowd at St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church on Saturday, January 27, Archbishop William E. Lori said to those in attendance, “Your church is taking the call to missionary discipleship very seriously, and for that, I thank you … and I offer my wholehearted support.”

Lori and Bishop Mark E. Brennan were in Severna Park for a Mass to celebrate the opening of the new 14,600-square-foot parish activities center (PAC) and to lead a blessing of the new building and a reception.

“Transforming a parish into a vital center of missionary activity is not an easy thing to do,” said the archbishop, who was on hand in October 2016 for the ceremonial PAC groundbreaking.

The parish’s master plan was to have the building completed in 2008, just as the country experienced an economic downturn. The Rev. Jim Proffitt became St. John’s pastor in July 2009. The plan was then restudied and priorities re-evaluated.

“It was determined that a major thing that was lacking on our campus was a site where larger numbers of people could gather,” said Proffitt. “Outside of the church, the only existing site was the school auditorium, which was also the gym, so it was in high demand, and there was a lot of competition for use of the space.

“In proceeding with a campaign to build a parish activities center, our strategy was to create a flexible-use space that can now be used for not only athletics but also social gatherings and receptions, large group events and spiritual formation opportunities for adults, children and families,” added Proffitt.

The largest space is a nearly 9,000-square-foot multipurpose room that can be subdivided with a retractable wall. There is a full-size basketball court, bleachers, locker room facilities, meeting spaces and more. Giant windows allow natural light to flow into the nearly 2,000-square-foot lobby.

St. John the Evangelist School children and teachers were giddy with excitement after seeing the PAC for the first time. Every day for the last 11 months, two middle school students have taken a single photograph of the building from the same vantage point. As the building went up, so did the excitement of the student body.

“There was some noise and dust as trucks and machines made a blacktop court into a beautiful new building, no doubt about that,” said Casey Buckstaff, principal of St. John the Evangelist School. “The teachers have been so positive and excited as each new part of the project unfolded that the students felt they were part of the experience of building because of their proximity. People recognize the blessing this building will bring and [they] have maintained that focus rather than the dust and noise.”

Proffitt foresees the facility being used not only for physical education classes and other school events but also for youth ministry or faith formation programming, larger community and family-friendly events, fundraising groups or large social gatherings, larger retreats, or days of renewal.

“Hopefully, it will never be necessary, but I could also see it as providing emergency shelter in case of some major catastrophic event,” said Proffitt. “We will also occasionally use it for the celebration of Mass, particularly on Christmas Eve and Easter Sunday and, as we look at renovations to our church, it will become a regular site for Mass when it comes time to close the church building for renovation.”

Overseeing the first large-scale construction project in more than 18 years was Allen Jones, St. John the Evangelist Church director of parish operations. Jones said that despite occasional weather delays, the project was finished on time and within the estimated $4.2 million budget.

“A project of this size could never come together without the support of hundreds of people in our parish and school communities,” said Buckstaff. “Communication and collaboration have been key between the different offices on campus throughout the building, and because all our school families and parishioners will benefit from such an awesome new space, it’s been easy to grow enthusiasm.”

During the celebration, a pristine blue carpet was placed over half of the new wooden floor where guests assembled. School children wiggled with excitement in the bleachers. Flanked by sacristan Ben Oursler, the archbishop circled the area, sprinkling holy water on the walls and those assembled.

When he finished, he looked at Proffitt and joked, “Fr. Jim! I spilled water on your new carpet.” To which Proffitt replied, “I’ll send you a bill!”

And with that, the new St. John the Evangelist parish activities center received its blessing. “Congratulations on the completing this impressive facility. I know it will benefit the parish and the school for many years to come,” exclaimed Lori.

Proffitt said that church renovations are now underway. The parish’s goal is to create a friendly, welcoming space. Improvements in the church, which was built in 1964, will include adding accessibility for those with disabilities and adding more light.

To learn more about St. John the Evangelist Church or St. John the Evangelist Catholic School, visit www.stjohnsp.org.

“This really has been an exercise in cooperation and collaboration. There were many hands that worked together to bring this from vision to reality,” added Proffitt. “The combination of generosity of those who contributed financially to the campaign, those who assisted in the process of considering bids and providing oversight for construction, to coming to the moment of executing a celebration marking this occasion, it has been a great reflection of a large community composed of many constituencies pulling together to achieve a common goal.”


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