In 1865, the Right Reverend John Loughlin, the first bishop of Brooklyn, invited the Order of the Mission of St. Vincent de Paul (the Vincentians) to found a Catholic institution of learning in Brooklyn. Led by the Reverend Edward M. Smith, C.M., a small community of Vincentians purchased a large plot of land for the college, on which was a small house for the brothers. The name originally chosen for the college in 1868 was Mary, Queen of the Isles, but by 1869 was
changed to St. John the Baptist, Bishop Loughlin’s patron. The college grounds would include a parish church, also run by the Congregation of the Mission. The cornerstone of a wooden-framed church was laid in 1869. This wooden church was soon rendered inadequately small by the growth of the parish, and in 1888 the cornerstone to a new church was laid. This new church, designed by the famed architect Patrick C. Keely, was based on Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
It took six years to build the stone structure, which was finally dedicated in 1894. When St. John’s College (later, St. John’s University) moved to Queens in the late 1950’s, the direct affiliation was ended. However, it continues to serve as an active parish and as the main church of the Vincentian community that was founded in 1868.
This collection contains various programs, correspondence, newspaper clippings, photographs, and other documents relating to St. John the Baptist Church and the Vincentian community in Brooklyn. Of note are the detailed Sunday Announcement books dating from 1873 to 1936 which list upcoming masses, meetings and events of various parish groups including the college,
parochial school, and Sunday school classes; as well as marriage banns and prayer requests for ill and deceased members of the parish.
Finding Aid (PDF)
This scrapbook contains memorabilia and newspaper clippings related to St. John’s University and to the Catholic community in Brooklyn, including events held at the Lewis Avenue, Brooklyn Campus at St. John’s College Hall, the Church of St. John the Baptist, the St. John’s Seminary, the St. John’s Parochial
School, and events in celebration of John Loughlin, the first Bishop of Brooklyn (1817-1891). There are also programs for various events relating to the centenary celebration of the Miraculous Medal in 1930. A number of St. John’s University presidents, church officials, and other prominent persons related to
early St. John’s history are represented in the scrapbook.
It is inferred that Joseph W. Carroll, a student at St. John’s University from 1870-1874, was the original creator of the scrapbook because of a penmanship sample which matches the remains of correspondence long ago ripped out of the
scrapbook dating to 1870 when he was a student at St. John’s, as well as Carroll’s involvement in the various events for Bishop Loughlin included in this scrapbook.
Finding Aid (PDF)
The Moore Family Papers include correspondence between John William Vincent Moore, seventh president of St. John’s University from 1906 to 1925, and various members of his family. Also included are several pieces of ephemera and a candlestick rumored to date from the Reformation, when it was used by priests who offered Mass surreptitiously, in secret chapels in the homes of Catholic Scots by the documentation provided. The letters from Fr. Moore detail his life as a seminary student in Germantown, Pennsylvania, his first time visiting St. John’s College in Brooklyn (a temporary assignment before he eventually became President), visiting New York City and touring several churches and other famous sites in New York for the first time, including St. Patrick’s Cathedral and “the Great Bridge of Brooklyn.” He also writes about family life, including the death of his father, whose funeral he was not able to attend, and marriage advice for his sister. Letters from July and August 1914 provide information on Rev. John W. Moore in Europe (Germany, France, and Spain) at the breakout of World War One. A letter dated February 5, 1911 from “Bud,” Fr. Moore’s nephew, to his mother, Mary Weber, provides a description of his last months at the seminary in Germantown, and the reasons why he left to be with his uncle and study at St. John’s College.
Finding Aid (PDF)
On View November 25 – December 19, 2014
St. Augustine Hall 4th Floor
In honor of the 10th anniversary of St. Thomas More Church on the Queens Campus, this exhibition revisits the many churches and chapels that have been a part of St. John’s. The elaborate stone Church of St. John the Baptist in 1894 on the original Brooklyn campus at Lewis Avenue (and the wood frame church that stood before it), and the Chapel of St. Vincent de Paul in 1952 at Schermerhorn Street in downtown Brooklyn, were the first two sacred spaces to serve the St. John’s community. The dream of building a freestanding church as illustrated in the original 1955 master plan of the Queens campus evolved from a temporary chapel in St. John Hall, to the Chapel of Our Lady of Lourdes, and finally in 2004 St. Thomas More Church. Also highlighted are the faculty residence chapel in St. Vincent Hall, and the Chapel of St. Vincent de Paul on the Staten Island campus, which was originally part of Notre Dame College of Staten Island.