Parish History

 

History of Catholic Church of Saint Mark

 

Catholic Church of Saint Mark was established on May 29, 1978, as the eighth Catholic parish in Virginia Beach.  Bishop Walter F. Sullivan appointed Father Joseph L. Clark as the first pastor.

There were 253 families registered within the newly created boundaries of the parish (initially called the Indian River Catholic Community).  54 families of those commenced the registration process to form the nucleus of the new Church. By the end of 1978, that number grew to 239 families and became identified as Saint Mark Catholic Church.

In the beginning, Liturgy was celebrated in backyards, and garages. With steady growth, local schools were rented to accommodate the larger number of parishioners.  Brandon Junior High School and Indian Lakes Elementary School were used for weekend liturgies while Community United Methodist and Hope Lutheran Church accommodated our needs on Holy Days and other occasions.

At the end of the first year, the Parish Council developed the first of several questionnaires to solicit parishioner’s opinions. They sought expectations on such areas as worship, music, parish growth, and ministry. The synthesis from the responses dictated that the first priority would be to build a multi-purpose facility to create a worshipping community (Phase I) then followed by the permanent worship building (Phase II).

As the parish grew, the need for a permanent place of worship grew as well.  In February 1981, the Diocese purchased 6.58 acres of land on Kempsville Road for St. Mark’s use, our current location. On November 6, 1983, ground was broken for the Great Hall, daily chapel, commons area, and administrative offices. On October 6, 1984, Bishop Sullivan dedicated Saint Mark Church, Phase I was completed.

As 1986 began the parish had grown to 863 registered families. Superb financial management by Father Cark kept the parish on track to complete its primary goals of retiring of the building debt and raising funds for the Phase II building program. At the annual parish picnic on July 24, 1988, a mortgage burning ceremony was held. The debt on the multi-purpose building had been retired in three years and five months.

By the beginning of the year 1989 saint Mark had grown to 1120 registered families. At this time parishioners initiated several hallmarks of service to the community. The food pantry became well stocked to provide food for the needy. Giving of food baskets at Thanksgiving and Christmas to the needy and local charities became a practice of the parish.

Father Daniel N. Klem became the second pastor of St. Marks in June of 1990. He continued pursuing the goal of completing Phase II, the worship space. Plans were approved by the city and Diocese, and ground was again broken on September 22, 1991 for the new church. Bishop Walter F. Sullivan dedicated the new worship space on May 24th, 1992. With physical construction complete, the Saint Mark community then began to re-identify itself on how its energies would sustain parish programs and impact the community beyond its walls.

In the summer of 2002, Father James Griffin became the third pastor of St. Marks. In this timeframe the parish began a twinning relationship with Maison Fortune’ Orphanage in Hinche, Haiti. Financial and material support, along with parishioners making personal visits to the orphanage has sustained a bond between the children and the parish.

A pastorial need for deceased loved ones to be closely remembered was addressed. In the summer of 2007, a Columbarium was constructed adjacent to the church building and dedicated by Bishop Sullivan. Saint Mark’s continues to grow in numbers to 1400 plus families and in ways to support their needs.

While the written history St. Mark Catholic is short, the joys, sorrows, and experiences of those who have been part of the community are indelibly etched in their hearts. The parishioners present today embrace and look forward to sustain St. Mark’s mission:

 

Rooted in the Word… Nourished by the Sacraments… Guided by the Spirit…
We, the people of Saint Mark, are united in our desire to serve those who are in need,
to give our gifts and talents… to build the Kingdom of God by imaging Jesus Christ.