A Roman Catholic presence in the Shenandoah Valley since 1932

History of St. John the Evangelist Church

History of St. John the Evangelist Church


Around the turn of the century, the first Catholics came to Waynesboro during the expansion of the railroad in the valley. At first these people traveled to St. Francis of Assisi Church in Staunton for Mass. The number of Catholics increased in the nineteen-twenties, with the establishment of new industries especially Dupont and Crompton-Shenandoah. During this period St. Francis Church provided a priest for Mass in Waynesboro on a regular basis. Mass was held at the Old Star Theater in 1929.

Miss Margaret Burns of Staunton bequeathed funds in 1925 for the erection and maintenance of a worthy mission within the Diocese of Richmond. Part of this bequest was used in 1931 for the construction of a Church in Waynesboro. Bishop Andrew J. Brennan dedicated the new Church to St. John the Evangelist on May 30, 1932. The first Mass was celebrated on June 4, 1932. St. John’s remained a Mission of St. Francis until 1946 when Rev. Eugene P. Walsh was named the first Pastor.

Children from Waynesboro had long attended St. Francis School in Staunton. However, in 1953 a kindergarten class was held in St John’s Parish Rectory and by 1956 the school had grown to include fourth grade. These classes held in the Church basement and in the house on Eleventh Street soon reached capacity. The former Waynesboro Community Hospital (now McDow Funeral Home) was purchased and used as a school until September 4, 1962 when the new building adjacent to the Church was completed for the beginning of the 1962-63 school year. Bishop Russell dedicated the new school on January 27, 1963. 

In 1967, a wing was added to the west side of the Sanctuary to relieve the overcrowded conditions. Major renovations to the exterior and interior of the Church were begun in 1988. Reverend William O’Brien was assigned as pastor to St. John’s in 1990 and under his direction renovations were completed in 1992.

30 May 1932 St. John the Evangelist Church at Maple & 11th Street dedicated
1946 Established as a parish / Rev. Eugene F. Walsh, Pastor
1955 Rev. Henry E. Hammond, Pastor
1959 Rev. George J. Gormley, Pastor
1961 Rev. Julius J. Cilinski, Pastor
1964 Rev. John Cilinski, Pastor
1965 Rev. Edward P. Browne, Pastor
1967 Rev. N. Robert Quirin, Pastor / Rev. Robert Warren, Parochial Vicar
1969 Rev. Antonio Malabad, Pastor / Rev. Robert Warren, Parochial Vicar
1970 Rev. Ralph Hamlet, Parochial Vicar
1971 Rev. Louis Berry, Pastor / Rev. Anthony Dinges, Parochial Vicar
1976 Rev. James M. Noto, Pastor
1977 Sister Mary Christine Zindel, Pastoral Associate
1980 Rev. James F. Kauffman, Pastor
1982 Sister Ann Daniel Belmonte OP, Pastoral Associate
1987 Rev. John J. Foster, Pastor
1990 Rev. William S. O'Brien, Pastor
1993 Sister Marguerite Brennan SC, Pastoral Associate
2001 Rev. Louis Ruoff, Pastor
2003 Rev. J. Stephen Hickman, Pastor
2006 Rev. Rolo B. Castillo, Pastor
2010 Rev. Mr. James Tubbs, Permanent Deacon
2013 Rev. Mr. Edward Handel, Permanent Deacon
2018 Rev. Mr. David Kohut, Permanent Deacon