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About Our Parish

The Saint John the Baptist Parish was established in 1871, some three years after Peabody became the established and settled name of what was formerly known as South Danvers and the "South Parish" segment of Danvers, and 150 years from this Jubilee Year. The following history was recorded by the Rev. Wm. Byrne (Very Rev. Wm. Byrne, DD, History of the Catholic Church in the New England States, p. 309 (1899)):

PEABODY, formerly South Danvers, received its present name in 1868. It is a place of about 10,000 inhabitants and a seat of the leather industry.

Before 1868 the Catholic residents of the town went to St. James' church in Salem. With the separation from Danvers, a new era in church affairs began. Rev. John J. Gray, who was pastor of St. James', encouraged the local members of his parish to take steps for the collection of a building fund. His suggestions were carried out and a fair held in Mechanics' Hall, Salem, which realized over $7,000. A lot of land was purchased, and, August 20, 1871, the cornerstone of St. John's church laid amid imposing ceremonies. Bishop Williams officiated at the services, and Father Hecker of the Paulist Community delivered the sermon. Christmas Day of the same year Father Gray celebrated Mass, though the basement was still unfurnished and no heating apparatus had been introduced. In September 1872, this portion of the building was completed, and services were held regularly from that time forth by one of the Salem priests. In 1874 Rev. M. J. Masterson, curate for three years in St. James' parish, Salem, under Father Gray, was appointed resident pastor of Peabody. He immediately purchased a house in the rear of Chestnut street and applied himself to the task of finishing the superstructure of the church. November 30th, 1879, this labor was accomplished, and Bishop McMahon, of Hartford, performed the rites of dedication.

The structure is of brick with granite trimmings, 72 feet wide and 140 feet long, with a seating capacity of 1200. Its cost was $100,000.

In 1891 the erection of a large brick school-house was begun. The building was opened in 1893, under the charge of the Sisters of Notre Dame. About 160 boys and 330 girls are enrolled in its catalog at the present time, and the dozen or more sisters also manage a flourishing Sunday school. With its fine church and school, its devotional and benevolent societies, and its congregation of 5000 souls, St. John's parish is by far the most important church religious organization in the town.

Two curates, Rev. Patrick Masterson and Rev. James J. Murphy assist the pastor in his manifold duties. The present year, 1899, witnesses the quarter centenary of his connection with St. John's as its pastor.

The natives of Catholic countries in Peabody are as follows: Irish, 1701; French, 56; Portuguese, 61; Italians, 9. There are over 400 English- speaking Canadians.

Parish Stewardship:

Since the founding of Saint John's Parish in 1874, the stewardship of Saint John's Parish has resided in the following Pastors for some 140 years at the direction and service of the Archdiocese of Boston:


Dates of Stewardship

Number of Years

Rev. Michael J. Masterson



Rev. Nicholas J. Murphy



Rev. Thomas McGinn



Rev. W. George Mullin



Rev. John R. McCool



Rev. Henry C. Reardon



Rev. Timothy Cavan



Rev. John J. Murray



Rev. John D. Clark



Msgr. Mimic B. Pitaro



Rev. Thomas E. MacLeod



Msgr. John P. McDonough



Rev. John E. MacInnis



Rev. Derek Borek 2021-


At the present time, Saint John the Baptist Parish is in a collaborative with Saint Thomas the Apostle Parish.


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St. John the Baptist Parish

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