Parish History

Our parish history is unique and vibrant!

Columbia, Maryland was founded in the late 1960’s to be a home for economic and social diversity, and St. John the Evangelist was established in 1967 to be the Catholic parish reflecting and celebrating the diversity of the community.

We are pleased to share these parish history reminiscences on the occasion of our 50th anniversary in 2017.

Historical photo dancing
Parish History: Fr. Albert Smith

Our beginnings

Memories of early liturgies

Parish history: Mass in Room 1
Parish history: plant sale

Reflections on early ministries

Reflections on early activities that we continue to do

  • Hosting teens for peace – Summer visits from students from Northern Ireland, Cyprus, and Israel/Palestine
  • Give It a Second Life – Annual collection of bikes, sewing machines, musical instruments and more to benefit the needy at home and around the world
  • Prison Ministry – Over twenty-four years of parishioners visiting inmates at the Maryland Correctional Institute
Parish history: bike collection
Parish History: Sr. Mary Irving

Add to our story

We encourage anyone who would like to add to this published list of interesting activities started during the parish’s first 50 years to send your reminisces to Paul Gifford at

You will notice that some articles have no names mentioned, incomplete lists of people who participated in an activity, or no acknowledgement of a photographer.  We would love to add names to complete the stories for posterity. If you can fill in any blanks, please email with the information and we will post the corrections.

Check out the book

All footnotes found in these articles which cite “Creative Tension” refer to CREATIVE TENSION: MEMORIES OF EARLY INTERFAITH EXPERIENCES IN COLUMBIA, MARYLAND. Edited by Carolyn Arena and Elizabeth Martin. Etchings Publishing, Baltimore, Md., 2017. 

The book is available for $15, and all proceeds go to the Coalition for Compassion.  Copies can be purchased from the Wilde Lake and Oakland Mills offices (a check made out to OMI is preferred) or contact Carolyn Arena at   The book can also be bought at, or borrowed from, the Wilde Lake Interfaith Library which is open on Sunday mornings.

Creative Tension book
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