Tioga County church celebrates its 143-year history - Catholic Courier
The inside of a church.

Father Jeffrey Galens, pastor of Blessed Trinity/St. Patrick parishes, leads a dedication prayer service Jan. 7 at St. John the Evangelist Church in Newark Valley in celebration of the 143rd anniversary of the church’s dedication and founding. (Photo Courtesy of Ruthanne Orth)

Tioga County church celebrates its 143-year history

On Jan. 7, 2024, St. John the Evangelist Church in Newark Valley celebrated the 143rd anniversary of its dedication and founding. The church is part of Tioga County’s Blessed Trinity Parish.

The Jan. 7 celebration started with Mass, followed by a presentation about the church’s stained-glass windows by Mrs. Marty Schneider, a longtime St. John parishioner and Newark Valley historian. Father Jeffrey Galens, pastor of Blessed Trinity/St. Patrick parishes, then led a dedication prayer service, which was followed by a celebratory luncheon in the church hall where historical pictures, articles and books were on display.

The history of St. John the Evangelist Church revolves around immigrants who came to America during one of the great famines of Ireland that began in 1846. Newark Valley was an attraction for the Irish immigrant who was told about the opportunities for work, especially at Endicott Johnson shoe factories. Although written records do not exist stating when Catholics of Newark Valley came together as a congregation, an undated article published in the Tioga County Herald states, “Early records tell of tannery workers of the Catholic faith meeting for services in the (Whig Street) home of Mrs. Bridget Fahey.”

On April 20, 1880, work began on the construction of the Catholic church in Newark Valley. Samuel Loring built the church from the Loring Brickyards, which was located across from the former George’s Greenhouse on Route 38 in Newark Valley. The church measured 34 feet by 45 feet. On Jan. 8, 1881, the new church was dedicated by Bishop Stephen V. Ryan of Buffalo. Now that Newark Valley had a church of its own, its rank was raised from “mission station” to “mission church.” The duty of providing for its spiritual needs fell upon the shoulders of the priests at St. Patrick Church in Owego. Father John O’Mara was the pastor of St. Patrick from 1877 until his death in 1883. He is interred at St Patrick’s Cemetery.

When the recent dedication service at St. John the Evangelist was originally planned, the first question that many people asked was, “Why celebrate 143 years?” The answer was simple: “We are so proud of our loving and caring church community that we wanted to celebrate!”

Sunday Mass is celebrated weekly at St. John the Evangelist at 11:15 a.m., with our folk group providing uplifting music. All are welcome!

Tags: Tioga County News
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