On June 26, 1904, the late Father E.E. Gelhof met with a group of men from the Perryopolis area to begin the founding of the new parish of St. John the Baptist. On October 9, 1904, the church was dedicated. In May 1905, the late Father J.V. Vrana was appointed as pastor of the newly formed parish, and that same year acquired property for the cemetery. Father Vrana built a rectory and parish school in 1906, but financial problems forced the school to close in 1908.
Father Vrana served as pastor of the parish community until April 1906, when the late Father Michael Tusek replaced him. Father Tusek served until July 1908, and the late Father Stanislaus Moravek became pastor until September 1911. The late Father F.C. Shea was then appointed as pastor and served until November 1916, when he was replaced by Father Charles J. Rosicki, who served the parish for 10 years. After his tenure, Father Rosicki was replaced by the founder of the parish, the Father E.E. Gelhof, who served once again until March 1929. The late Father S.M. Simko began his pastorate amidst the Great Depression, and served until his death June 16, 1934. During the two months until a new pastor could be appointed, the sacramental duties of the parish were assigned to a newly ordained priest with the same surname as Father Simko. A new pastor, the late Father Michael J. Conroy, was appointed in August 1934 and served until February 1935. He was succeeded by the late Father A.J. Suran, who served the parish community for 13 years. Father Suran formed the Altar Society of St. John the Baptist, which celebrated it’s 80th anniversary in 2016. The late Father John A. Stofcik arrived as pastor in January 1948. He remodeled the parish church and school rooms during his tenure, and also purchased five and one-half acres of property bordering the church. On the newly purchased land, Father Stofcik raised funds to build a new parochial school.
The school opened in 1956 with three grades, and more were added each year after. Father Stofcik also built a new convent in 1961. His pastorate ended in 1962, with the late Father James Miller being appointed pastor. Father Miller served in that position until 1967 and was succeeded by the late Father Edward Curry who served until May 1974. It was during Father Curry’s pastorate that discussions were initiated for building a new church. In May 1974, the late Father Francis Lesniowski was appointed pastor, and Msgr. Lawrence Kiniry was named assistant pastor.
A campaign to raise $200,000 to build a new church then began. A budget of $700,000 was approved to begin construction of the church and rectory on the parish grounds that was used as the school playground. Construction began in November 1975 and concluded in November 1976, with the church being dedicated November 28, 1976. Father Lesniowski served until 1981, when Father William Rathgeb was appointed pastor. Father Rathgeb served the parish for 15 months, when Father James Petrovsky was appointed pastor. Father Petrovsky served until 1991, when Father John T. Euker was appointed pastor. In 1994, with Diocese of Greensburg facing the prospect of closing many of its schools, and beginning plans of regionalization, and encouraging ways for parishes to share resources, St. John the Baptist School was closed. Father Euker initiated a debt reduction program, which was successful. He served until July 2007, and Father Robert T. Lubic then arrived as pastor of the community. During Father Lubic’s pastorate, St. John the Baptist was partnered with St. Hedwig Parish, Smock, in October 2008. Father Lubic then became administrator of St. Hedwig Parish, in addition to serving as pastor of St. John the Baptist Parish. He served until March 2012 and was succeeded by Father Anthony W. Ditto as pastor. Father Ditto was also appointed as administrator to St. Hedwig Parish at that time.
Citing the ongoing diocesan strategic planning process that was started nearly eight years ago to address a variety of issues that include aging and declining numbers of priests and parishioners in the Diocese of Greensburg, and nearly five years after implementing a comprehensive parish restructuring in the diocese, Bishop Lawrence E. Brandt on May 3 announced a series of closings, a merger and three partnerings that affected 14 parishes in the diocese. He announced his decisions at a media conference at the Christ Our Shepherd Center in Greensburg after meeting with priests of the diocese and informing them of the decisions. Announcements of the changes, which were effective June 25, 2013, were made in diocesan parishes at Masses May 4-5. St. Hedwig Parish was closed as part of this diocesan restructuring, and a Mass of Welcome and Remembrance was celebrated, June 27, 2013, at St. John the Baptist Parish by Bishop Brandt.
Father Ditto continued to serve until July, 2018, when Father Alvin E. Cabungcal was named pastor. Father Cabungcal was one of the numerous International Priests from the Phillippines that now serve the Diocese of Greensburg. Father Cabungcal was officially installed as pastor by Bishop Edward Malesic on December 22, 2018.
In August, 2019, Father Efren Ambre, a Filipino Priest, was name Administrator when Father Cabungcal returned back to his homeland. In July, 2020, Father David Nazimek was name Administrator of the Parish with Father Rodolfo (Rody) Mejia as the Priest in Residence.
In July, 2022, Father Rody was installed as Pastor. Under Father Rody’s guidance, we are beginning to plan ahead for the 50th Dedication Anniversary of the current church building in November, 2026 and even further to the 125th Anniversary of the Parish in October, 2029.
Sanctuary of the Church in 1904
Sanctuary of the Church in 1954
Sanctuary of the Church in 2023
The lamb in the center of the Altar is from the original Altar in 1904. The center was found, refinished and placed into the current Altar in 2011. The Tabernacle currently in the sanctuary was previously in the original church as well. The tabernacle tower is a replica of the bell tower from the original building.
The Baptismal Font at the entrance to the Church was used in both buildings. The font was refinished and placed into the current church in 2011.
The bells from the original bell tower were refinished and mounted, along with the orginial cornerstone, in 2002. They now sit outside the main entrance to the church.