SWEET SPRINGS, W.Va. — The Mass on the Feast of the Assumption will be celebrated outdoors on the grounds of St. John, the Evangelist, Catholic Church, the oldest Catholic Church standing in West Virginia, on Saturday 6 p.m.
Those attending must wear a face covering or mask and social distance will be enforced.
Built as early as 1839 and in full use by 1859 as a part of the Diocese of Richmond, St. John, the Evangelist, Church was constructed by slave labor from the Lynnside Plantation in Sweet Springs for the family members of the late Gov. John Floyd of Virginia who owned the plantation.
“The priest from the parish in Wytheville, Va., was assigned to provide ministry to the Governor’s daughters and wife who had converted to the Catholic religion,” notes Perk Berry Jr., grand knight of Greenbrier Valley Council 8689 of Knights of Columbus, previously known as the Alleghany Highlands Council, which makes the arrangements and hosts the Mass on August 15 annually at St. John’s.
Father James Conyers, pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., and St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church in Ronceverte, W.Va., will officiate at the Mass along with any visiting priests to the service. Music will be provided by the reduced “virus crisis” Choir of St. Catherine of Siena.
Following the Mass, the Altar and Rosary Society of St. Catherine of Siena parish will distribute small cups of vanilla ice cream and bottled water for those in attendance.
The front doors of the church will be opened but no one will be allowed in the church, and social distance will be observed for those wishing to view insides of the historic church.
This is the only regularly scheduled service in this historic church for 2020.
Directions to the Church
From the east, visitors take Interstate 64 Exit 10, Callaghan, to Va. 159 to Va. 311 south to Sweet Springs. From the west, take Interstate 64 Exit 183, Crows, and follow 311 to Sweet Springs. From the south, take U.S. 219 North to Union and W.Va. 3 East to the intersection with Va./W.Va. 311 in Sweet Springs.
The Mass of the Feast of the Assumption will be celebrated outdoors on the grounds of St. John, the Evangelist, Catholic Church on Saturday at 6 p.m. The church is located in Sweet Springs, W.Va. (Photo Courtesy Mike Williams)