In the middle of Bedford Stuyvesant, at 333 Hart Street, you will find a Vincentian church with a history as rich and remarkable as the landmark building in which it is housed. It is St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church or St. John’s as it is affectionately called by its parishioners. Father Astor Rodriguez, a Vincentian priest, is the current pastor.
In 1868, the Congregation of the Mission, a religious order of priests and brothers also known as the Vincentians, founded the parish, “Mary, Queen of the Isles” and was renamed St. John the Baptist Parish in 1888. This was also the original site of St. John’s University. From the very beginning, the Vincentian priests of this parish strove to carry out the mission of their founder St. Vincent De Paul, To love and serve the people, especially the poor, in ways that were both spiritual and practical.
In 2006 the parish of St. John’s merged with the neighboring parish of Our Lady of Good Counsel. This merging of two parishes became quite common in recent years as a way of coping with financial pressures and the shortage of personnel. The marriage of these two parishes has been quite successful, thanks to the generosity and openness of their parishioners and the Christ centered leadership of priests like Father Astor.
Father Astor has taken an active role in promoting the Annual Catholic Appeal in both churches and in helping the new ‘parish’ achieve its annual goal. Some of the ways St. John’s serves the community is through their food pantry which receives donations from Catholic Charities, their very active and dynamic faith formation program consisting of RCIA classes for adults, catechesis for children, as well as their Eucharistic Ministry program which ministers to homebound parishioners and those that are in nursing homes. They also have a dynamic Youth and Young Adult Ministry.
Congratulations to St. John’s on consistently achieving their ACA goal! This past year, they went beyond their goal which helped the parish in completing special projects. We look forward to collaborating with St. John’s this year united in communion, united in charity.