[opening words given by Fr David Ryan, at the Mass of Jubilee Lights]
"Today we celebrate the beginning of our Jubilee Year, marking 150 years since the opening of the new Church of St John the Evangelist, which took place on the 10th October 1863. I welcome you to our special celebration to begin our year of Jubilee and share with us the great works that God has and is doing here in the heart of the City of Bath. Today is also the beginning of the new liturgical year and the season of Advent offers us a fresh opportunity to allow God's Holy Spirit to fall afresh upon us. We welcome Bishop Declan to begin our year by blessing the Jubilee Candle, the symbol of Jesus, the Lord of Jubilee and the Light of the world. We give a warm welcome too to our fellow religious leaders and local civic leaders with whom we share our mission to build a better world.
For 150 years the Parish has served the local community in a rich variety of ways. In the early days the Benedictines founded the Church from Downside Abbey and developed a love of the liturgy through prayer and fine musical singing of the Divine Office. They built St. John's spire - which at 202 feet is half the height of Salisbury, the highest spire in England. In 1932 the Diocese of Clifton was handed the Pastoral Care of the Church. With the help of the Congregation of La Sainte Union Sisters, the work of Catholic Education in Bath was very successful. St John's Primary School, the Bath Convent School and St Gregory's Catholic College have their roots in St. John's. The Parish has helped in birthing the Catholic Churches of St Alphege's and St Joseph's, Peasedown.
Our Jubilee Year allows us to celebrate our Parish Story and give thanks to God for the many parishioners who have handed down to us the Christian faith and example of service and self- sacrifice. We give thanks to God too for our remarkable Church , a source of inspiration and an oasis of peace in the centre of our vibrant city. At the same time we rejoice that the living stones of the Church are very much alive, offering friendship, welcome and a loving community to all who visit this place. Please join us in praying that as we celebrate the beginning of our 150th Jubilee we will continue to be a source of hope and inspiration for future generations."
Father David Ryan, Parish Priest. 1 December 2012.