In 1953, after two years of searching for a desirable site, his Excellency Archbishop E. J. Fitzmaurice and the Monsignor John J. Lynch decided to purchase a nine-acre farm on Milltown Road, which included a nine-room house. Boundaries of the proposed parish were loosely drawn up and some 500 families began congregating at the armory on Kirkwood Highway for Sunday service. Bishop Fitzmaurice appointed Rev. John J. Sheehy, the founding pastor of the parish, to select a new name for the community, to organize a building program and to establish various parish committees. During this time, a contract for the design of the school was confirmed.
Construction began in the summer of 1956 and in August 1957, seven Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia moved into their new home and began preparations for students to enter their new school. On September 4, 1957, Sister M. Eutropia, the grade school principal, along with four sisters and four lay teachers, opened the doors to approximately 500 students. The school at this time was a nine-classroom structure.
With time and the expansion of surrounding suburbia, St. John the Beloved’s much-heralded school became increasingly crowded. Enrollment increased from 500 in 1957 to 940 in 1963, requiring the scheduling of split academic sessions, under the principal-ship of Sister Edward Augustine, OSF. To meet the demands of this growth a new junior school was built and on September 6, 1964, it opened to provide much-needed classroom space.
In its first 15 years of growth, St. John’s experienced many clergy changes; the second and third pastors respectively were the Rev. Alex Gorski and the Rev. Monsignor John H. Dawson, and the third principal was Sister M. Synesia, OSF. Later, in 1971, Sister M. Rita Thomas, OSF, assumed the principal-ship of the school and introduced updated teaching methods in reading and mathematics.
In 1974, the first true church was built. The fulfillment of a promise made to the parishioners since 1955 was realized on December 21, 1976 with the dedication of the church. Shortly afterward, in the spring of 1978 the Rev. Daniel W. Gerres became St. John’s fifth pastor and in the fall, Sister Patricia Hutchinson, OSF, assumed principal-ship of the school.
The school’s population continued to increase and once again in 1983, the need was recognized to enlarge the school. With the help of Rev. Gerres and Sister Hutchinson and the aid of the parish council, plans to renovate the existing junior and senior school were developed. Under these plans, an extension was to be built in the vacant areas between the two schools thus joining the educational buildings. The extension would house a new library/media center, two small reading centers, a religious education center, the principal’s office and multi-purpose office. The previous library would now become the much-needed computer center. At the same time, other facilities were remodeled and/or relocated. The new building was approved by both the
Parish Council and Bishop Mardaga. Construction began in the winter of 1983 and was completed by the fall of 1984 when Sister Ursula Tisdall, OSF, assumed principal-ship of the junior and senior school.
In 1985, the school’s Long Range Planning Committee was established to promote the development of the school. The goal of the committee was to provide for the future needs of the school in such areas as: budgeting, maintenance, funding, public relations, and development. In 1986, the Christian Formation committee was established. The task of this committee was to promote and review educational policies and programs that support total Catholic education. Another milestone was reached in 1987-88 with the completion of the Middle States process for school certification. Both faculty and administration made this process a reality.
In the fall of 1987, the Rev. John Kavanaugh became our parish’s sixth pastor. In September 1988, Sister Elizabeth Doyle assumed principal-ship of the junior and senior schools. In January 1989, the school was granted full accreditation.
A Development committee was also formed in 1989 to meet the long-range educational needs of St. John the Beloved so that the parish could continue to provide quality spiritual and educational enrichment that would not be cost prohibitive for its parishioners.
Mrs. Joanne Capodanno became the principal in 1994. The 1998-99 school year brought more changes to the school. The Eagles Club, an after-school extended day program, opened it doors in September 1998. The process for the Middle States Certification was undertaken in the fall of 1998 and re-accreditation was given in the spring of 1999. The computer lab was upgraded with new computers and a technology committee was formed. The building was also wired to provide access to the Internet. In 2006-07, Strategic Planning and Marketing Committees were formed to advertise and promote our school. An internet website was created.
Rev. Charlie Brown III was installed as the seventh pastor of St. John the Beloved Parish in the fall of 2005.
Mr. Richard Hart assumed principalship in 2008.