St. John Neumann Catholic Church
Charlotte, North Carolina
- In the mid 1970’s, Lawrence Newman, Monsignor of Our Lady of the Assumption at the time, foresaw a need to establish a parish in the Southeast Charlotte – Mint Hill area to serve the growing number of Catholics living there. Up to this time the nearest parishes available to the Catholics in this area were St. Gabriel’s and Our Lady of the Assumption. Monsignor Newman, therefore, approached then Bishop Michael Beagly and suggested a new parish be built.
- Bishop Beagly agreed and in 1977, the parish of St. John Neumann was formed with Monsignor Newman being named its first pastor.
- At the time of formation, St. John Neumann consisted of 250 families formerly members of Our Lady of the Assumption. During the planning stages for a church, the parish held masses at Cokesbury Methodist Church on Saturday’s, and at Idlewild Country Club on Sundays. Weekday masses were held at the rectory.
- The site for the church proper was established at 8451 Idlewild Road. Bishop Beagly dedicated the first structure on June 17, 1979. This structure consisted of a sanctuary, six classrooms, and a small hall and was sufficient for the size of the congregation at that time.
- Monsignor Newman continued to serve as pastor of the parish until his death on January 21, 1981.
- Father Francis O’Rourke succeeded Monsignor Newman as pastor of a parish that had now grown to 300 families. By 1984, the number of families had grown to 800 and discussions about expanding began.
- The result of those discussions was the construction of a new sanctuary and additional classroom and social space intended to service 1200 families. Bishop John Donoghue, the second bishop of the Diocese of Charlotte, performed the dedication service on June 23, 1985.
- Father O’Rourke continued to pastor St. John Neumann until his reassignment in 1987.
- Father Richard Bellow of the Conventual Franciscan Friars succeeded Father O’Rourke as pastor of the parish. During his tenure as pastor, the parish continued to flourish and by 1995, the number of registered families at St. John Neumann ranged between 1400 and 1500 families. In 1997 a major milestone was reached when the parish retired its mortgage debt. On June 8th of that year, a Mass was said followed by a mortgage burning to celebrate the occasion. Father Richard and his fellow Franciscans continued to serve the parish of St. John Neumann until their reassignment in October 1997.
- In 1994, while Fr. Richard was still pastor at St. John Neumann, the Augustinian Province of Villanova began evaluating its existing ministries at the various parishes within their diocese to determine which ones still needed their presence and which ones they could return back to the control of diocese. Their reasoning for doing this was to send the priests from those parishes returned to the diocese into areas in the south that were in need of priests. After three years and returning thirteen parishes back to the control of the diocese, the Augustinian Providence of Villanova sent notice to various dioceses throughout the south of their willingness to send their priests to serve those parishes in need of priests. The Diocese of Charlotte was the first to respond and invite the Augustinians to come and evaluate various parishes within the diocese served on the East coast.
- In December of 1997, upon completing their evaluation, the Augustinian Province of Villanova assigned Father Thomas Meehan pastor of St. John Neumann for a five-year term. Father Thom and the Augustinians began their service at St. John Neumann March 1, 1998.
- During the period between October 1, 1997 when the Franciscan Friars left and March 1, 1998 when the Augustinians came, the Diocese of Charlotte assigned Father Anthony Marcaccio interim pastor of the parish. Under the direction of Father Thom and the Augustinians, the first five years of their assignment saw the parish continue to grow to between 1,700 and 1,800 families, the religious education program and existing ministries continued to flourish and new ministries were formed. The Parish began its internet debut with a website in October 1999 to increase communications of activities and ministries.
- The parish reached another milestone by celebrating its 25th Anniversary on August 25, 2002 with a special Mass followed by a picnic on the church grounds. …updated in 2003 and 2008…. Upon completion of the five year term in 2003, the Augustinian Province of Villanova approved extending Father Thom’s service for another five year term.
- Father Russell Ortega became Parochial Vicar when Father Arthur Johnson left in May 2006. Father Thom returned to the Augustinian Province of Villanova, Pennsylvania in 2006.
- Father Anthony Tomasulo joined the parish in March 2007 as Parochial Vicar.
- On March 11th, 2007, Bishop Peter Jugis installed Fr. Russell Ortega as Pastor. The parish celebrated his installation with a Mass and luncheon. Under the direction of Fr. Russ, SJN established a Mass for the Spanish speaking people of our community.
- On September 15th, 2007 SJN celebrated its 30th anniversary with a Founders and Family Dinner Dance.
In 2009, after prayerful consideration, the Augustinian Friars moved their ministries where they were needed. SJN became a diocesian parish under a new pastor, Father Patrick Hoare with Fr. Peter Pham joining our Parish leadership.
- In July of 2017, Father John Starczewski arrived as our new pastor.