The “Mass of the Feast of the Assumption” will once again be celebrated in the historic St. John, the Evangelist, Catholic Church at the intersection of WV/VA 311 and WV 3 in the village of Sweet Springs, Monroe County. St. John’s is the oldest standing Catholic church in West Virginia, having been constructed as early as 1839 but in full use by 1859.
Father Harry Winters, OMI, of St. Paul, MN, will be returning to Monroe County for this special Mass. He was the last resident priest in Monroe County and also is the former pastor of Holy Family Catholic Church in Pearisburg, VA. He will be joined by Father James Conyers, pastoral assistant for St. Charles Borromeo parish, White Sulphur Springs, and St. Catherine of Siena parish, Ronceverte, and chaplain of the Alleghany Highlands Council 8689 Knights of Columbus. Other area priests are expected to con-celebrated the Mass as well.
The Mass on Aug. 15 will be at 6 p.m. with an ice cream social on the grounds following the service. The chapel will be open by 4 p.m. for those who wish to tour the historic building which has just been restored this summer. The Mass will honor the memory of the late Lynn Spelman, the last direct relative in the area of the Governor Floyd and Lewis families who directed the construction of the chapel by the slaves on the Lynnside Plantation.
With funding from the Diocese of Wheeling Charleston through Bishop Michael Bransfield, the Chapel has a new roof, new ceiling, restored steeple with a crafted cross on top of the steeple, modeled after the original cross. The interior has been newly renovated as well. This will be the first service in the newly renovated church.
Music for the special Mass will be provided by the Hymns and Hers, the choir of St. Catherine of Siena Church in Ronceverte, which is directed by Mary Thompson. That choir presented a program of music Tuesday, Aug. 2, at the Springfield Nursing Center in Lindside.
The auxiliary of the Knights of Columbus and the Altar and Rosary Society of St. Catherine of Siena will be organizing the ice cream social following the Mass. The social was a tradition at the Chapel during the month of August which was considered “the month” to be at the Sweet Springs resort in the 1800s.
To reach Sweet Springs from the west, take I-64 to the Exit 183 Crows, VA, and proceed on VA and WV 311 to the intersection with WV 3; from the east, take I-64 Callaghan VA Exit 10 and follow VA 159 South to 311 South to Sweet Springs; from the south, take US 219 to Union and WV 3 to Sweet Springs.
For further information, telephone the office of the Catholic Churches of the Greenbrier Valley 304-536-1813 or the Knights of Columbus 304-645-1373.