In 1866, the founding archbishop of San Francisco, a Dominican priest named Joseph Alemany, sent missionaries to this newly established City of Milpitas. In the middle of all the farming grounds, all the milpas (cornfields) that the eyes can see, stretching from the port of Alviso to the hills of Mount Calaveras, the missionaries began to establish a mission church named after St. John the Baptist. St. John’s, the first Roman Catholic Church in Milpitas, officially became a parish in 1877.
Almost a hundred and forty years later, the small parish of a few hundred parishioners has grown to a few thousand. Over the years, the parish has changed in demographics and, more importantly, it has grown in numbers. There are over 2,500 people who gather every Sunday for Mass. We have over 1,300 registered families as well as unregistered families for whom we hold baptisms, weddings, funerals, and quinceañeras. We serve over 200 students in our school and in our religious education program. We have more than 500 volunteers serving over 15 ministries and parish groups.
Because of this, the needs of the parish also multiplied. The average number of 300-400 who gather at one Sunday Mass burgeons to more than 500 at Lent, Advent, Easter, Christmas, and other feasts year after year. Our parish hall does double-duty for our big Masses for Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday; it also serves as venue for many events on a weekly basis. We also cater to more than 100 Youth Ministry members. Seniors, the sick, and the less fortunate are also being served by our community.
It is auspicious and certainly very gratifying to realize that we’ve grown not only in years but in size and number. The timing is just right: as we near our 140th Year mark as a parish, we embark on making our church a more welcoming, celebratory, comfortable space for our worshippers in Milpitas and our nearby areas, recognizing our call to continue what our forbears have started. This is why you see several enhancements happening, and we look forward to many more improvements in our parish space in the next several years. These have been made possible by the greathearted generosity of our parishioners – you – in the recent past through our ADA, weekend collections, and kind donations. Your warm response, every time, has enabled us to mark small but significant beginnings that become visible signs of growth as the months go by. We hope and fervently pray this will continue.
We have identified short-term and long-term needs of the parish, which are listed below:
- Phase I [Completed 10/2016]
- Church re-roofing
- Enhancement of sanctuary and adjacent sacristy space
- Phase II
- Continued enhancement of the church interior
- Repainting of the ceiling
- Refinishing of floor
- Repainting of the back and side walls
- Restoration and refinishing of the church pews
- Replacement of the church sanctuary and interior lighting
- Phase III
- Asphalting of the existing parking lot
- Acquisition of the adjacent lot
- Expansion of the existing church
We would like to begin raising funds for the much-needed projects mentioned above. The cost to complete the projects is estimated $3.5 million. We realize that this is a huge amount, but with your help, we can begin saving to make our collective dream a reality. We fervently hope you will help us support our Church and its ministries. With the help of each parishioner, family, and benefactor of St. John’s, we believe there is nothing we cannot accomplish.
But we can’t have a 140th Year Anniversary solely by improving the things we see around us and enhancing our visual experience of our space. The more important part of reaching this milestone is experiencing the joy and jubilation of being a part of the 140-year-old parish, one of the oldest in the Diocese of San Jose!
Our 140th Year Anniversary is not a mere one-day celebration of our parish. We’ve launched “The Road to 140 Years” as a more-than-one-year-long sequence of parish events meant to celebrate this Anniversary. Our theme is “Remembering the Past, Celebrating the Present, Believing in the Future.” We’re having a Commemorative Parish Yearbook that chronicles our past as well as shows the families that make up St. John’s. A Marriage Enrichment Program, to be followed by a wedding to be participated in by several couples, is already scheduled. Our annual St. John’s Queen fundraiser will choose a special 140th Year Anniversary Queen from among several candidates. And of course, our annual Simbang Gabi will have it’s usual 9-day novena of Masses and fellowship events. Not even mentioned here are our usual yearly parish events: the Halloween Dance, the Christmas Boutique, our Thanksgiving Dinner for the homeless, and various Christmas drives.
As we celebrate the past, present, and future of St. John the Baptist Parish, we are going to have a 140th Anniversary Black and White Benefit Ball. This caps our 140th Year in a grand way, but we should remember that this is only the beginning of the wonderful things we wish to see in our parish. Our year-long celebration is not intended to end in 2017; “believing in the future” of St. John’s expresses our hope that all of us join our hands in building the future and be engaged in that growth. Join us in celebrating our 140th Year Anniversary and being a vital part of St. John’s vigorous present and bold, brave future!