Saint John Nepomuk Parish of Yukon, Oklahoma dates back to 1889 and a small Indian Territory called Frisco, the forerunner of the present city of Yukon. The initial Catholic pioneers of the area were of mostly Bohemian, German, and Irish blood. The church at that time was known as Assumption of the Blessed Virgin.
The mission grew and was served by several priests. In June of 1894, a small frame building with a tower and no sacristy was built in the town of Yukon under the direction of Fr. Lanslots, near what is now 1st and Birch Streets. They built a rectory and a shed where the priest could keep his horse and buggy.
On November 7, 1894, Bishop Meerschaert dedicated the church and administered the sacrament of confirmation to its first class. Fr. Vander Aa performed the first baptism on record on April 7, 1895. He also performed the first marriage ceremony in the new church on September 2, 1895.
In 1901, Fr. Metter began a drive to build a new church, since the original was now too small. The church was built in what was then a field west of Yukon. It was completed in 1902 and dedicated to St. John of Nepomuk on the 13th of May, 1903 by Bishop Meerschaert. The building was capable of holding 250 parishioners.
The church continued to grow and was ministered by several priests during the early 1900’s. Land was purchased to add a rectory in 1907. In August of 1920, more land was purchased and a new rectory was built, as the old one had become unfit. During the early years, many groups were formed within the parish. The oldest, formed in 1902, was called the Katolicky Delnik, or Catholic Workmen. Next came the Apostleship of Prayer in League with the Sacred Heart in 1921. The first Altar Society of St. John Nepomuk Church was organized before 1920, but it soon disbanded. It was re-formed in November of 1923.
During the 1920’s and 30’s, the parish continued to grow. In the 30’s, Frs. O’Keefe and Van Dorpe began Bible schools on the front porch of the rectory and later at the Yukon Central Grade School.
On April 26, 1952, Fr. Meis was appointed resident pastor and was responsible for instilling a new spirit in the parish by urging the parishioners to work toward the realization of a long standing goal-that of a Parochial School. Ground breaking was held on October 13, 1952.
The school spoke well for the future of the parish. Before it was built, religious teaching was provided for the children by ladies of the parish teaching Baltimore Catechism, then by Sisters of the Orphanage, and later by two Carmelite Sisters from Villa Teresa.
Bishop Eugene McGuinness dedicated the new $38,000 school on April 26, 1953. A house across the alley from the school was purchased for $6,700. There were 50 children enrolled in the first six grades on September 1, 1953, and the two Carmelite Sisters staffed the four-room schoolhouse. Later, eight grades were being taught. The first eighth grade graduation was celebrated in 1956.
St. John School soon began to outgrow itself, so construction of the present school building, cafetorium, and Sisters’ convent was started. The new school was completed in 1963 and dedicated by Bishop Reed. Sister Imelde, C.S.T., was the first principal in the new building. The rectory was completed in 1968. Landscaping has made the grounds some of the most beautiful in Yukon.
As before, the 1980’s and 90’s saw the city of Yukon and St. John parish continue to grow, leading to discussions of another church building to fill the needs of the parish. Instead of starting over, the church planners and architects were able to combine the existing church with new facilities. In 1997, the old sanctuary became our chapel, and the old seating area is our new gathering area. The new church was designed to fill our needs for spiritual and community growth for many years. With the addition of furniture and new décor, it has become a popular area to meet.
After the new church building was completed, the Parish Activity Center was added. It includes a gym, classrooms, and meeting rooms that give parishioners a place for many activities. We also have a full kitchen to serve the students at our school. Moving the school cafeteria to the Parish Activity Center allowed us to convert the old gym/cafeteria into a beautiful new hall. Marian Hall includes a smaller kitchen and is perfect for more formal gatherings.
In 2010, we added more parking and a beautiful new plaza at the front entrance of the church. The Marian Shrine was moved to create an area where the faithful are invited to offer a prayer of intercession to the Mother of our Lord. The central focus of the plaza is the bell tower that contains the bell that was cast in 1904 by the Stuckstede Foundry of St. Louis, MO and hung in the first Catholic Church in Yukon. Thanks to modern technology, the bell rings digitally to summon the people of God to worship. It reminds us of our past and those early Catholics who came to Yukon and established a parish which continues to thrive today.
In 2011, the chapel was renovated to allow for more seating, an additional confessional, and a space better suited for celebration of the sacraments. It is a sacred space used exclusively as a place of prayer, both public and private. The construction and design of the chapel consist of fine material, craftsmanship and furnishings that reflect the dignity of worship and give praise to God. The renovation of the chapel was made possible by the generous contributions of the people of St. John Nepomuk Parish. We named our renovated chapel Assumption Chapel to honor those who first came to this area and established a parish in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
In the summer of 2014 the Parish Office, the former convent, received a complete renovation, down to the studded walls. All electrical wiring and sewer lines were upgraded to existing code and abounded bathrooms redone to enlarge office and storage space. Allenton Homes, owned by parishioners Steve Allen and his wife Megan, was the prime contractor as well as several other contractors that made the renovation possible. Funds for our Building Fund offertory was also used to enable the renovations; many thanks to all the parishioners that continue to support our Building Fund projects. In addition, the Parish Activity Center Gym floor was upgraded with a “Tarkett, 8.3mm” covering that allows for shock absorption. The flooring is a simulated wood floor in maple color for the court and a reddish color for the perimeter.