North Omaha has been home to several Catholic parishes. However, one church had to fight for its standing, challenge white flight and continue its push into the future throughout its existence. This is a history of St. John’s Catholic Church in North Omaha.
Dedicated in 1888, St. John’s was designed by a local architect named P. J. Creedon in the English Gothic Revival style. Originally, priests involved at Creighton worked at Holy Family Church, which was just a few blocks from the campus. However, the Creighton family’s commitment to their college led to the construction of St. John’s Collegiate Chapel.
Unfortunately though, the building was only half-completed and was dedicated wrong, too, named in honor of John the Evangelist instead of John the Baptist, who was John A. Creighton’s patron saint.
Regardless, St. John’s served as a center for worship for the most influential and wealthy Catholics in the city. In 1897, the church became a parish, and expanded greatly in 1920, 1922, and 1977. Standing next to Creighton Hall, the two buildings were interconnected by a raised, covered bridge around 1902.
Today, the building has been completed, and the parish is open to members from across the city, as well as students from around the world who attend the university.
St. John’s School
St. John’s School opened in 1897 when the chapel formally became a parish. Operated by the Sisters of Mercy, St. John’s School got a new building at 2507 California Street in 1901, with a major addition 10 years later in 1911. St. John’s High School started operating in the same building that year as a girls school. In 1955, the high school closed, and in 1968 the grade school was closed permanently. The building was demolished soon afterward.
After it was closed, the school was renamed Bergan Hall and became home to the university office of public relations and alumni, the university’s foundation, a counseling center and offices for the faculty of the department of education. It was demolished in 1975 to make room for the Kiewit Physical Fitness Center.
The Parish Today
The church is in good condition today. It is included in a proposed Creighton University Historic District, but as of December 2019, it hasn’t been listed on the National Register of Historic Places or designated as an official Omaha Landmark by the City of Omaha Landmark Heritage Preservation Commission.