We are a Roman Catholic parish, centered in Christ through the celebration of the Eucharist. Through the grace of this sacrament, we are empowered as individuals and in community to imitate Christ through prayer, outreach, fellowship and education. Through the grace of this sacrament, we are empowered as individuals and in community to imitate Christ through prayer, outreach, fellowship and education.
THE HISTORY OF ST. JOHN NEUMANN CATHOLIC CHURCH
Though most parishes first establish themselves and later their parochial school, the history of St. John Neumann in Powhatan County, Virginia is actually the reverse! Our roots began with the two schools established by the Drexel daughters, Louise Drexel who married Colonel Edward Morrell and Louise’s sister, Saint Katharine Drexel, founder of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. In 1894 the Morrells purchased Belmead, a 1600 acre estate formerly belonging to Confederate General Philip St. George Cocke. Upon this site they built St. Emma’s Industrial and Agricultural Institute for young Black men. In 1899 a school for Black ladies, St. Francis de Sales, was opened by Saint Katharine. These schools were served by various orders of brothers and priests and Powhatan’s first Catholic communities began there. In 1928 a beautiful memorial chapel, St. Edward’s, was built by Mrs. Morrell in memory of her husband.
This chapel served students, faculty, and Powhatan Catholics until its destruction in 1970. At that time, with desegregation, St. Emma’s could not financially continue and its beautiful and sound classrooms, labs, shops and mills were destroyed. The parish then moved to St. Emma’s chapel. Records of Baptisms, First Communions, etc. were kept at St. Francis de Sales, which became the parish church for St. Edward’s and now being staffed by priests of the Diocese of Richmond. In 1976 the name of the parish was changed to St. John Neumann in honor of the fourth bishop of Philadelphia. From 1976 to the present the parish has worshipped in the following sites: St. Francis de Sales (1976-1982), Powhatan Rescue Squad (1982-83), the original Powhatan United Methodist Church (1983-86) and the present facility at Flat Rock since its dedication on November 2, 1986.
The Flat Rock site began modestly with a multi-purpose center hall serving as both the worship area on Sundays and Holy Days and a social hall for parish functions. A full service kitchen adjoins that room and the parish chose to utilize the rest of the space as a small chapel, classrooms, an office for the pastor, (Father Val), and a large narthex, again for multi-purposes.
Since that time the parish has had two more building campaigns: the first focused on more classrooms and the second on a worship center, pastor’s office, business office, formal multi-purpose room appropriate as a parlor for brides or for families during funerals. The parish’s generosity and commitment to building campaigns has allowed us to provide a fully operative building that serves religious education, various parish committees and clubs, and the Boy Scouts.
As the parish continues to grow it has seen a Columbarium and Prayer Garden, an expansion of its parking facilities, and a garden and gazebo area out behind the fellowship hall.
More importantly, as St. John Neumann parish grows, it chooses to focus on its ability to serve the goals of the parish and of Christ: to show Christian love.