The oldest Catholic Church in West Virginia still in use will be the site of the Mass of the Feast of the Assumption on Sunday, Aug. 15, at 6 p.m.
St. John, the Evangelist, Catholic Church in Sweet Springs, northeastern Monroe County, was built as early as 1839 and was in full use as a part of the Diocese of Richmond by 1859. It was built by slaves on the Lynnside Plantation, owned by the Virginia Governor John Floyd, Jr. and his wife Leititia Preston Floyd, and was served by priests stationed in Wytheville, VA.
Father Harry Winters, OMI, the last resident priest in Monroe County (1982-91) plans to return to Sweet Springs to officiate at the Mass on Aug. 15 and to hold book signings in the area for his recently published book, “Clouds of Wilderness: The Floyd-Lewis Chronicles.” A limited number of books will be available at the Sweet Springs church as well as copies of Mary Williams of Paint Bank, VA, newest book on the Sweet Springs resort and Valley.
For Aug. 15, the church will be open at 4 p.m. for those who wish to tour the church and there will also be an ice cream social on the grounds following Mass.
The annual Mass attracts worshipers from throughout West Virginia and Virginia and as many as six priests from four dioceses to concelebrate the Mass.
To travel to Sweet Springs from the west, take I-64 to the Crows, VA, exit and VA 311 to the intersection with WV 3 in Sweet Springs. From the south, take US 219 north to Union and WV 3 east to Sweet Springs intersection with WV 311.
From the east, take I-64 to the Callaghan Exit and VA 159 south to VA 311 South to the intersection with WV 3 in Sweet Springs.
For further information, telephone the Office of the Catholic Churches of the Greenbrier Valley 304-536-1813 or the GV Knights of Columbus 304-645-1373 and leave a message.
The Aug. 15 observance at St. John, the Evangelist, and Chapel is hosted by Father James Conyers, pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Church in White Sulphur Springs and St. Catherine of Siena Church in Ronceverte, Greenbrier Valley Council 8689 Knights of Columbus, and the Altar and Rosary Society of St. Catherine of Siena Parish.
Casual dress is advised for those attending this special service.