Thanks to a little creativity, a parish in Greece is living up to its name — St. John the Evangelist — while responding to the coronavirus pandemic at the same time.
The parish is conducting a fundraising sale of face masks bearing its logo. Costing $5 each, the cotton masks are available with black, white or dark blue backgrounds, and offer adjustable ear loops as well. According to Marcia Parsons, parish secretary, sales have been brisk with a little more than half of the masks having been sold by early March from the original shipment of 500 that arrived in early January.
“I’m very, very pleased,” Father Peter Enyan-Boadu, St. John the Evangelist’s pastor, said of the response.
The idea for conducting a mask sale stemmed from an advertisement for customized masks that Parsons saw in late 2020. Once she found out that a design could be devised featuring St. John the Evangelist’s logo, the prospect of ordering masks in bulk received enthusiastic backing from Father Enyan-Boadu, and a parish fundraiser was born.
Parsons said the selling of masks makes good practical sense because it encourages safety during the COVID-19 crisis. At the same time, she said, the masks — which prominently feature St. John the Evangelist’s distinct church exterior — are an ideal way to promote the parish. She also observed that having a mask sale is a positive way of dealing with the many sobering circumstances brought on by the pandemic.
“As much as we are all anxious to do away with mask-wearing, we will make the best of the situation,” Parsons said.
Parsons and Father Enyan-Boadu said they’ve already seen the specialized masks being worn by a number of church-goers. In addition, Parsons observed that the masks will be noticed by the wider community when parishioners wear them in stores and other public places.
“After all, we are St. John the Evangelist Church. So it’s another way for us to evangelize, even during a pandemic,” Parsons remarked. “We never know who may see us wearing one of these masks. That could send a message to someone about coming back to church, or it could plant a seed and encourage someone on their faith journey. You may not even have a conversation, but you can still plant a seed.”
“We try to attach evangelization to everything we do here,” Father Enyan-Boadu added.
Although most of St. John the Evangelist’s masks sold thus far have gone to current parishioners, Father Enyan-Boadu noted that the masks are available to all, particularly folks who have past ties to the parish. Parsons added that the masks are ideal for gift-giving, with some people having purchased multiple masks. Anybody who is interested in placing an order may use the order form in the parish bulletin or contact St. John the Evangelist’s office at 585-225-8980.
St. John the Evangelist Parish, 2400 Ridge Road W., was founded in 1865, and the church building featured on each mask opened in 1964. The church was designed by noted Rochester architect James H. Johnson, whose other works include the Liberty Pole in downtown Rochester, St. Januarius Church in Naples and Temple Sinai in Penfield.