In May of 2007, we marked the 60th anniversary of the founding of St. John Fisher Church. There are still some among us that were present on May 11, 1947, for the first Mass in the temporary chapel, an out building on the “Turpin” estate in the back of the church property. At that time it was the residence of the Evans family. In fact, even before the founding of the parish, Catholic families from Newtown and Clough Pike had joined together in the early forties to transport their children to Our Lady of Loretto School.
Many more parishioners have memories from the fifties and sixties when the development of the Turpin Hill subdivision brought additional members to the congregation. Similarly, property development in the last three decades has added to the size and diversity of our parish.
The first Pastor, Fr. Joseph Wolfer, (1947 – 61) was a faculty member of St. Gregory Seminary and worked at the Chancery in addition to his duties at the parish. During the celebration of our 50th anniversary the original church was named “The Wolfer Education Building” in his honor. It had been converted into much needed offices and meeting rooms,
Fr. Charles Rohrkemper (1961 – 65), Fr. Vincent Bramlage (1965 – 68), and Fr. Donald Behler(1968 – 71) had the care of both St. Ann Church in Williamsburg as well as St. John Fisher. However, as the congregation grew and developed, not only was the attention of a full time resident pastor required, but there was regular assistance on week-ends by one of the priests from the nearby Saint Gregory, now Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary. Fr. George Berwanger and Fr. James McWilliam served in this capacity for many years. Fr. Mike Seger was the last of Seminary faculty to provide regular Sunday assistance to the parish.
Fr. Bernard Felix served as pastor from 1971 – 77.
Under the pastorate of Fr. Paul Galvin (1977-96) the congregation addressed the needs of its expanding membership by the construction of a church and social hall (1981). Many of the early traditions of parish life were continued, such as the Cana Dinner, the summer picnic, Solemn Annual Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, and the involvement of parish volunteers in a variety of activities and ministries. To honor his service to the parish, before his retirement the social hall in the church complex was named Galvin Hall in his honor.
Father Giles Pater served as pastor from 1996 through 2006. During these years a remarkable expansion of programs and parishioner involvement continued. The growth of the parish was especially noticeable on Sunday mornings and special times of the year when the overflow of those attending Mass viewed the Mass on a television in Galvin Hall.
During these same years the religious education program grew, too, under the able leadership of Sr. Marie Re, Suzanne Schneller, and Joseph Shadle. And in 2003 it was necessary to arrange for some classes of the Summer Religious Education Program to meet off campus. Jim Crosby, our current Pastoral Associate for Faith Formation continues to build on the foundation of this well established program.
Under the leadership of Fr. Giles Pater providing adequate physical facilities for our growing parish became a top priority. With the dedication and involvement of the entire parish a new worship space was dedicated in December of 2005.
In July 2006, Fr. Steven Walter became pastor. The Sunday liturgy remains a high priority for the parish. Our Liturgical Music program, under the direction of Mark Friedman is a source of pride and inspiration for the parish as we gather to worship God and live the gospel message. May God continue the good work begun in those who have gone before us!