Historic Monroe County Catholic Church to celebrate 170 years of service

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The oldest standing Catholic Church in West Virginia, St. John, the Evangelist, Catholic Chapel,  will observe its 170th anniversary of service on Aug. 15, the Feast of the Assumption, with a 6 p.m. Mass and an ice cream social on the grounds following the service.

Located on the former Lynnside plantation owned by the Lewis and Virginia Gov. John Floyd’s families, the “family” church was associated with the Catholic communities in Wythe and Tazewell counties in Virginia and the St. John’s church in Summersville in its early history as a part of the Diocese of Richmond, VA, and then the Diocese of Wheeling, and then the Diocese of Wheeling/Charleston.

The Aug. 15 Mass commemorates the busiest month at the old resort when the Floyd’s and Lewis families would entertain on the grounds after the Feast Day Mass with homemade ice cream.

Father Harry Winters, OMI, of St. Paul, MN, will officiate at the Mass with other area priests con-celebrating, and on the morning of August 16 will be the guest of honor at a Dutch-treat breakfast at the Kalico Kitchen in downtown Union. Father Winters was the last priest to serve a Monroe County Catholic parish.

Music for the Mass will be provided by the Hymns and Hers, the choir of St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church in Ronceverte and the social is being hosted by parishioners of St. Catherine of Siena and St. Charles Borromeo Church in White Sulphur Springs and the Alleghany Highlands Council 8689 Knights of Columbus.

For those who would like to tour the historic church before the Mass, the church will be open at 4 p.m. Aug. 15 and will remain open until after the ice cream social.

Additional information can be obtained by telephoning the Office of the Catholic Churches of the Greenbrier Valley Monday-Wednesday-Fridays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. or the Alleghany Highlands Knights of Columbus 304-645-1373.

To find the village of Sweet Springs from the West, take I-64 to the Crows Exit 183 then follow VA/WV 311 to the intersection with WV3. From the East, take I-64 west to the Callaghan Exit and State Route 159 south to Crows  and WV/VA 311 to the intersection with WV3 in Sweet Springs; from the south follow US 219 north to Union and WV3 East to Sweet Springs and  from the Roanoke/Salem area of Virginia, VA 311 north to the intersection of VA/WV 311 and WV3.

Because of the warm weather, those attending the Mass are encouraged to dress casually. A few history booklets about the church will be available at the Mass, compliments of the Knights of Columbus.