President Benjamin Harrison designated April 22, 1889 as the day of the Homestead Run. Three million acres of western land were opened for settlement, thus marking the birth of what is now known as "Oklahoma." Although Catholic and Protestant churches existed in the territory before this event, the Catholic Parish of St. John the Baptist was the first church of any denomination built after the famous land run, thereby claiming the distinction as "Oklahoma's" first church.
Completed on June 24, 1889, the feast day of St. John the Baptist, the church was a one room building with a bell tower, seating 150 people and located at First and Boulevard. The Catholic population at that time was four families.
In 1900, a new church building was built to accommodate a growing congregation. It was located at the site of the original building which was sold, moved to the business section of town and used as a barbershop.
Many different priests directed the parish in its beginning. Of special note were Fr. Scallan who offered the first Mass in 1889, Fr. Pouey who purchased the first rectory in 1908, and Fr. Dannis who served as pastor from 1909 to 1924 and directed many improvements including the installation of electric lights and natural gas.
In 1936, a fire destroyed the belfry and roof of the church, necessitating a complete renovation of the building.
In 1955, the centennial year of the Diocese of Oklahoma City and Tulsa, the Parish was moved to its present site at Ninth and South Littler. Facilities included an old house, which served as a rectory, a feed store that converted into a parish hall and a new church building.
In 1973, the Diocese of Oklahoma was split and St. John Parish became a part of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City. As the congregation grew, additional changes were needed. The Parish Hall was replaced by the Annex, which is now part of the Learning Center. A new rectory was completed in 1973 and a large-scale renovation of the church was finished in 1977.
Today, our facilities include a beautiful church completed in 1982, under the leadership of Fr. Sam Leven, and a 20,000-square-foot two-story Learning Center completed in 1986. The Learning Center is home for St.
Elizabeth Ann Seton School, which opened in 1990, under the leadership of Fr. John Petuskey, and offers pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. The Learning Center also houses a library and the Religious Education staff offices. The Parish Center on the west side of the church houses a full-size gymnasium, kitchen, common area, nursery, Council & Board meeting rooms, and offices for the clergy and staff. This new building of 28,750-square-feet was completed in May 1994 and dedicated by Archbishop Beltran on June 26, 1994.
St. John the Baptist Parish continues to grow. Under the leadership of Fr. John Metzinger a major expansion of the church , which added a gathering space and increased the seating capacity to 1250, was completed in 2006. In 2007, an expansion of the school building was completed, adding a second gymnasium, a new youth center, a science lab, music room, art room, elective classrooms and a teacher’s workroom.