St. John the Evangelist Church
Early in 1914, the Most Reverend Thomas Hickey, the second Bishop of Rochester, decided that Brighton needed a new parish. The City limits were at Culver Road at that time. Reverend John Sullivan was assigned to organize, build, and be the first pastor of St. John the Evangelist Church. It was not until 1922 that large parts of the parish were incorporated within the City limits.
In July of 1914, Fr. Sullivan began taking a survey of the new parish. It included large parts of what are now Our Lady of Lourdes, St. Thomas More, and St. James parishes. St. John’s started with 68 families.
Construction of the first building began in late 1914. Families of the parish gathered at the end of the Park Avenue line on East Avenue on Sunday October 4, 1914 for the cornerstone ceremonies. Bishop Hickey rode down East Avenue in an automobile, which was very unusual at the time. Families joined him at Winton Road and processed together to Humboldt St and set the cornerstone. By 1916, a simple building with a basement auditorium and first-floor church was completed, and the Sisters of Mercy opened the elementary school in the four second-story classrooms that September.
In 1922, the parish purchased a house at 340 Winton Road North for use as a convent to house the nuns who taught at the school.
By 1926, it became clear that the parish needed a larger church, and a cornerstone was set for a church that would seat 750. Plans were scaled back to accommodate 500. The modified Gothic structure with beautiful stained glass windows, red tapestry brick, slate roof, and white limestone trim was soon completed. The parish continued to grow under Fr. Sullivan’s leadership.
In 1947, Fr. Sullivan was named Monsignor. A new rectory was constructed in 1952, which continues today as the rectory of Peace of Christ Parish. In 1953, the Tellers Company installed the pipe organ, which is still in use today. In 1955, a new convent was constructed in the southwest corner of the property, which is today called the “Sullivan Center.” In 1959, a new school building with 16 classrooms was completed. Monsignor Sullivan’s amazing work was complete, and he retired that same year after 45 years of dedicated service. He was succeeded by Monsignor Charles Boyle, who had been the superintendent of Catholic Schools. Monsignor Boyle served until 1973, when he moved on to St. Anne Parish on Mount Hope Avenue.
As the parish continued to grow, Monsignor Boyle was succeeded by Reverends James Boyle and John Mulligan. Fathers Boyle and Mulligan led the parish through the changes of the Second Vatican Council. During this time, a parish council was established, religious education programs were modified, and lay persons took on more responsibility for the life of the parish. As a sign of these changes, the interior of the Church was remodeled in 1976. The sanctuary and side chapels were removed to make room for a daily mass chapel, and the altar was placed forward in a more prominent place among the people. A new entrance was constructed and the parking lot was expanded.
In Spring 1981, Reverends Peter Clifford and Kevin Murphy were appointed co-pastors. Reverends Clifford and Murphy served until 1991, when Bishop Matthew Clark appointed Fr. Clifford to lead the Diocesan Office of Urban Ministry. Fr. Murphy remained as “sole” pastor and served until 1996.
Fr. “E.Z.” Edward Zimmer moved in at St. John’s in 1992 and began his retirement masterpiece, the Peace Garden located on the south side of the Sullivan Center. Fr. E.Z. taught all the value of saying “Please," "Thank you," and "I love you.” Fr. Zimmer is remembered every year in the numerous summertime Masses held in the garden, and the garden remains a peaceful place for reflection and prayer today.
In 1994, the “parking lot” entrance was constructed, and a planted garden was added the following summer. In 1996, the entire church interior was repainted and the carpeting was replaced.
In 1996, Fr. William Spilly was appointed pastor. He served until 2004, when St. John the Evangelist formally became a part of the Winton-Culver Catholic Community under Fr. Robert Schrader. Sadly, St. John the Evangelist School closed in June, 2005, but the next fall St. John Neumann School opened at the former St. Ambrose School building. St. John Neumann School was to become a sign of the unity of St. Ambrose, St. James, and St. John’s communities. On May 18, 2007, Winton-Culver Catholic Community officially became one parish: Peace of Christ.