Over the many years and changes that have taken place in Morgantown, one of the most consistent and never moving places in the city is St. John's University Parish. After the first Catholic church in Morgantown was St. Francis de Sales over in Sunnyside Morgantown in 1898 to 1924, the Catholic grew to large for the small church that was by McLane Avenue. The congregation moved to 44 Beechurst Avenue, expanding to a larger church known as St. Theresa, and eventually becoming St. John's University Parish. St. Theresa church was the starting point for many great things that aid and help grow the community of Morgantown, such as Christian Help, Sarah's Table and Campus Ministry.
The history of St. John's University Parish is extensive and vital to the history of the Catholic community and to the community of Morgantown. In 1924, St. Francis de Sales moved to 44 Beechurst Avenue, Morgantown due to the demand and growth of the Catholic community in Morgantown. When moved to the new site, St. Francis became St. Theresa's (now St. John's University Parish) and became a large congregation the for the next 70 years served the Morgantown area and the residence that reside in it. St. Theresa's opened their doors to many and had a goal of helping those less fortunate in the area.
One of the great things to come out of St. Theresa's was the nonprofit organization called Christian Help. The Ursuline sisters working with the community of St. Theresa's, aided and created the organization to help those less fortunate who could not afford simple items and food. Most of the sisters were teachers at St. Francis Central Catholic school and wanted to give more back to the community. The sisters saw a need and filled it. Now Christian Help is crucial part of the community of Morgantown and would not have been possible without St. Theresa's.
In 1998, St. Theresa's was changed into St. John's University Parish, but the helpful culture that was established at St. Theresa's carried over to the new parish. St. John's University Parish continued to reach out to the community of Morgantown with the help of the students and the Benedictine Monks who had been put in charge of the parish. St. John's University Parish has become a symbol of Catholicism in downtown Morgantown and has been the home for University students.
One of the major service projects that St. John's Parish outs is Sarah's Table, a community outreach feeding food to the homeless in Morgantown. Christian Help aids in filling the pantry of St. John's for Sarah's Table, giving the proper food to help those less fortunate. This project has been one of the most successful for St. John's in helping those who are in need and with Christian Help, there is one less hungry person.
Another part of St. John's Parish is the Campus Ministry which helps students on the West Virginia University campus. The students apart of Campus Ministry help the local community around them. Many help serve with Sarah's Table, other help form donations of clothing for those around Morgantown who can not afford warm clothes. One drive helps donate clothes to the closet at Christian Help, giving the great outsource to reach those who need clothes. Campus Ministry is an integral part of the mission in helping in Morgantown.
Although it may seem like years ago when St. Theresa was the beginning of many wonderful services, St. John's has continued that mission through today. The University Parish will continue to be a sign of hope, openness and welcome of all who enter its doors.