Archbishop of Cincinnati Dennis Schnurr was the principal celebrant at a dedication Mass for the parish of St. John the Baptist’s new church on Carolina Trace Road. An estimated 900 people attended the first Mass on Saturday, June 1. Sydney Murray/The Harrison Press
St. John’s ‘packs the house’ for new church dedication
More than 800 people gathered in the new St. John the Baptist church on Saturday, June 1, to celebrate a dedication mass that was many years in the making.
The church was packed full and chairs had to be added in the back.
“I am absolutely thrilled with it,” said Reverend Jeffrey Kemper of the number of people who attended.
Four people who were witness to this important event in the history of the parish were Beth and Andy Marks, as well as their children, 8-year-old Emma, and 5-year-old Joshua.
Andy and Emma sang in the choir during this first mass, and it was all four family members’ first-ever dedication mass.
“Our faith is such an important part of our lives,” said Andy.
The family had also previously attended the church’s groundbreaking ceremony in 2017, and an event where parishioners got to sign the floor near the alt ar.
Beth said it’s amazing to walk into this new church and know that her children will be receiving sacraments there.
Even 8-year-old Emma said she was a bit in awe when first walking into the church, which she described as “amazing.”
Andy said he thinks the parish did a good job of incorporating elements from the old church into the new one.
The new church features larger stations of the cross, which were originally created for the parish’s third church, but were later replaced by new stations of the cross.
The third church is the still-standing church building at the corner of Hill Street and Park Avenue. Construction began on that building in 1922.
For this new church on Carolina Trace Road, construction began in 2017, and this is the fourth church building in the history of the parish.
Along with the stations of the cross, the stained-glass windows were also transferred from the third church. These windows had also originally been bought for that church building.
Some differences in the new church include a different seating layout, the absence of a balcony, more technological advancements, and everything is handicap accessible.
There is also a chapel in the back of the church behind the altar, and Kemper said he thinks this chapel will be a blessing.
The chapel is open during the day, but also available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Anyone who wants to visit outside of “open hours” needs to contact the parish to get a passcode.
One other change that Kemper said might take a little getting used to is the reduction of mass times.
On Saturdays, there will be a 4 p.m. mass, and on Sundays there will be 8:30 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. masses.
Reverend Edward Shine will also continue to celebrate a Spanish mass on Sundays at 2 p.m.
Kemper took over the role of pastor at the church 11 years ago and was told by former Archbishop of Cincinnati Daniel Pilarczyk that he had to build a new church.
Discussions of a new church had begun as early as the 1970s, according to Kemper.
Current Archbishop of Cincinnati Dennis Schnurr was in attendance on June 1 as the principal celebrant for the dedication.
“This church has been beautifully designed and constructed,” said Schnurr.
After all these years, Kemper said it was the work of the people that brought the church together, and said the list of those involved is too long to thank everyone.
“It is hard for me to believe it’s actually here,” said Kemper.