Parish History

History of St. John Capistran Parish

The first St. John Capistran Church was a sectional building erected on land donated by John H. Hoffman, the son of a farmer who settled in the area in 1860.

December 1923: The chapel, a mission of St. Agatha Church in Bridgeville, was dedicated. Mass was celebrated there once a month.

January 1938: Mass was celebrated every Sunday at St. John’s.

June 1947: Bishop Hugh C. Boyle merged St. John’s with the newly established Our Lady of Grace Church to form one parish. Rev. Oliver D. Keefer was appointed Pastor.

August 1948: St. John Capistran reverted to the status of a mission of Our Lady of Grace Church.

February 1953: A public school adjacent to the church was purchased from Upper St. Clair Township, remodeled and dedicated as St. John Capistran Church.

December 1968: St. John’s became a separate parish.  Rev. Eugene J. Dougherty was the first resident Pastor.    July 1971: Rev. Edward F. Sweeney was appointed Pastor.

February 1972: Ground was broken for a new church. The first mass celebrated there was the Christmas mid-night mass.

March 1975: Rev. Bernard M. Harcarik was appointed Pastor.

April 1982: Ground was broken for Capistran Hall and for the total refurbishment of the original school building. The new construction was formally dedicated by Fr. Harcarik and Msgr. Keefer in October.

Spring 1985: The new Rectory was completed.

May 1986: Rev. John M. O'Toole was appointed Pastor.

July 1991: Rev. Robert J. Reardon was named as Pastor.

June 2003: The Pastoral Room, constructed earlier, was dedicated and renamed the Reardon Room.

July 2003: Rev. James J. Chepponis was named as Pastor.



The Life of Saint John Capistran

Saint John Capistran was born in the Italian town of Capistrano on June 24, 1386. He studied law in Perugia, and for a time was governor of that city.

John entered the Order of Friars Minor (Franciscans) and was ordained a priest. He was known as a great speaker, and his preaching throughout Europe touched many hearts. John often preached about devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus.                                                                              

John was a great defender of the faith, and worked to refute heresy. He died on October 23, 1456, and was canonized a saint in 1724. John is the patron saint of judges, jurists, and military chaplains. His feast day is celebrated on October 23.