Our History

Oklahoma’s First Church

President Benjamin Harrison designated April 22, 1889, as the day of the Homestead Run.  Three million acres of western land were opened for settlement, thus marking the birth of what is now known as “Oklahoma.”  Although Catholic and Protestant churches existed in the territory before this event, the Catholic Parish of St. John the Baptist was the first church of any denomination built after the famous land run, thereby claiming the distinction as “Oklahoma’s” first church.

St. John the Baptist Church, which was a one room building with a bell tower with a capacity of 150 people, was located at First and Boulevard.  It was completed on the feast day of St. John the Baptist, June 24th, 1889. The Catholic population at that time was four families.

In 1900, a new church building was built to accommodate a growing congregation.  It was located at the site of the original building which was sold, moved to the business section of town, and used as a barbershop.

Many Different priests directed the parish in its beginning.  Of special note were Fr. Scallan who offered the first Mass in 1889, Fr. Pouey who purchased the first rectory in 1908, and Fr. Dannis who served as pastor from 1909 to 1924 and directed many improvements including the installation of electric lights and natural gas.

In 1936, a fire destroyed the belfry and roof of the church, necessitating a complete renovation of the building.

The parish was moved to its present site at Ninth and South Littler in 1955, the centennial year of the Diocese of Oklahoma City and Tulsa.  Facilities included an old house, which served as the rectory, a feed store that converted into a parish hall and a new church building.

In 1973, the Diocese of Oklahoma was split and St. John Parish became a part of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City.  As the congregation grew, additional changes were needed.  The Parish Hall was replaced by the Annex, which is now part of the Learning Center.  A new rectory was completed in 1973 and a large-scale church was finished in 1977.

Our facilities include a beautiful church completed in 1982, under the leadership of Fr. Sam Leven, and a 20,000-square-foot, two-story Learning Center completed in 1986.  In 1990, the Learning Center became home to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School, under the leadership of Fr. John Petuskey, and offers pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. Dedicated in June of 1994 by Archbishop Beltran, the 28,750 square-foot Parish Center, on the west side of the church, was completed and houses a large kitchen, commons area, nursery, meeting space, and offices for the clergy and staff.

By the turn of the millennium, the parish had grown and, under Fr. John Metzinger, a major expansion of the church was completed in 2006 and now seats over 1250 people.  The following year, 2007, an expansion of the school added a gymnasium, new youth center, science lab, music room, art room, elective classrooms, and a teacher’s workroom.

Today, yet more renovations of the church are underway to meet our growing parish, with Fr. Ray Ackerman leading the efforts.

Our Mission Statement

We are a Catholic Christian community, called to be faithful, caring, enthusiastic Disciples.  We build up the Kingdom of God by worshiping and praising Him, proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ in word and witness, giving loving service to our neighbor, and strengthening our Parish community.

Parish Logo

The Communications Committee is proud to share our newly designed logo for the Parish.  This Committee felt it was the perfect time to transition from the 125th Parish Anniversary logo to something that reflects our new pillar structure, still keeping the iconic cross tower as part of the design.

This logo was shared with Fr. Ray and the staff resource leaders and we will slowly start incorporating this logo into various communications and our website.  The committee is currently working on having these electronically available for use, as well as developing stationary, business cards, etc....

A special thank you to Mariana Hernandez who developed the design and Heather Cain for explaining the below symbolism behind it.

The Circle—a never-ending ring, represents the eternal life we have through Christ and how God’s love encircles us as we strive as individuals and as a Parish to be more Christ-like in our words, actions, and thoughts.

At the heart of the logo is the iconic Parish Cross Tower—it represents the people of the Parish, as together, we are the Church.  The gold layers behind the cross tower image symbolize our Parish Pillars:  Worship, Formation, Outreach, Stewardship & Community Life, Administration, and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.  These pillars form the foundation for all that our Parish is.

The Shell—a traditional symbol of baptism, is a tribute to our Parish patron saint, St. John the Baptist.  The shell’s placement in the logo signifies how the sacrament of baptism is the light, like the sun, that guides our hearts to God and nourishes our souls.

The Water—signifies life.  The life of the Parish as it flows through the community.  The life of each Parishioner, whose faith and energy flow though the Church; sharing our gifts and talents as stewards of God’s love, creating our vibrant and thriving Parish.