St John the Evangelist, Mill End

From 1886 the Catholic people of Mill End and Maple Cross were served from Rickmansworth.  In the 1950s Mass was celebrated for a time at the “Camp”, one of the old wartime nissen huts that stood in Denham Way where the offices of the Cementation Group of Companies were later to be built.  Between 1962 and 1964 the Catholic community of Mill End and Maple Cross was given permission to use the disused Ebenezer Chapel in the Uxbridge Road as a Mass centre on Sunday mornings.  From 1965 until 1967 the community worshipped in the Guides Hall in Springwell Avenue.  From May 1967 Mass was celebrated in the hall of St John’s School and the following year the adjacent site in Berry Lane was cleared to enable work to begin on building a church.  Work finally began, under Fr Philip Lemmon, on the erection of a permanent church in Mill End in 1970.  The new church was opened as a chapel of ease by Cardinal Heenan on 27th June 1971.  In 1974 St John the Evangelist became a parish in its own right and Fr Thomas Gardner was appointed as the first parish priest. 

During his time as parish priest Fr Dan Magnier did extensive work in the parish, adding the new parish centre for both the parish and local community to come together. 

Fr Shaun Church became parish priest in 2013, as well as parish priest of Rickmansworth and Chorleywood.  The Church was solemnly consecrated by Cardinal Vincent Nichols in a Mass of Dedication on Saturday 30th April 2016. During this time work was also done on the sanctuary area of the Church, adding a stained-glass window of remembrance and a Lady Chapel. Fr Shaun also spent much of his ministry bringing our parish communities together, particularly trying to focus on moving from being solely focused on maintenance to rediscovering our mission to spread the good news of the Gospel. Fr Shaun left the three parishes in 2021, and was replaced by Fr Andrew Gallagher. Fr Andrew continues to work with the parishioners to bring the three parishes together, whilst maintaining their independent character. 

Our Patron – St John the Evangelist 

Feast Day – 27 December 

 John was the son of Zebedee, and his mother’s name was Salome [Matthew 4:21, 27:56; Mark 15:40, 16:1]. They lived on the shores of the sea of Galilee. The brother of John, probably considerably older, was James.  

John and James followed the Baptist when he preached repentance in the wilderness of Jordan. There can be little doubt that the two disciples, whom John does not name (John 1:35), who looked on Jesus “as he walked,” when the Baptist exclaimed with prophetic perception, “Behold the Lamb of God!” were Andrew and John. They followed and asked the Lord where he dwelt. He asked them to come and see, and they stayed with him all day. 

John apparently followed his new Master to Galilee, and was with him at the marriage feast of Cana, journeyed with him to Capernaum, and then never left him, except when sent on the mission. He, James, and Peter, came within the innermost circle of their Lord’s friends, and these three were invited to remain with Christ when all the rest of the apostles were kept at a distance [Mark 5:37, Matthew 17:1, 26:37], including in the Garden of Gethsemane. The mother of James and John, knowing our Lord’s love for them, made a special request for them, that they might sit, one on his right hand, the other on his left, in his kingdom [Matthew 20:21]. There must have been much impetuosity in the character of the brothers, for they obtained the nickname of Boanerges, Sons of Thunder [Mark 3:17, see also Luke 9:54]. At his Passion, John was committed by our Lord to the care of his mother [John 19:27]. John [the “disciple whom Jesus loved”] and Peter were the first to receive the news from the Magdalene of the Resurrection [John 20:2], and they hastened at once to the sepulchre, and there when Peter was restrained by awe, John impetuously “reached the tomb first.” 

In the interval between the Resurrection and the Ascension, John and Peter were together on the Sea of Galilee [John 21:1], having returned to their old calling. When Christ appeared on the shore in the dusk of morning, John was the first to recognize him. The last words of the Gospel reveal the attachment which existed between the two apostles. It was not enough for Peter to know his own fate, he must learn also something of the future that awaited his friend. The Acts of the Apostles show us them still united, entering together as worshippers into the Temple [Acts 3:1], and protesting together against the threats of the Sanhedrin [Acts 4:13]. They were fellow-workers together in the first step of Church expansion.  

John probably remained at Jerusalem until the death of Mary, though tradition asserts that he took her to Ephesus. When he went to Ephesus is uncertain. He was at Jerusalem 15 years after Saint Paul’s first visit there [Acts 15:6]. There is no trace of his presence there when Saint Paul was at Jerusalem for the last time. 

Tradition completes the history. Irenaeus says that John did not settle at Ephesus until after the death SS. Peter and Paul, and this is probable. Saint Jerome says that he supervised and governed all the Churches of Asia. He probably took up residence in Ephesus in 97. According to St Jerome and Tertullian in the persecution of Domitian John was taken to Rome, and was placed in a cauldron of boiling oil, outside the Latin gate, without the boiling fluid doing him any injury. He was sent to labour at the mines in Patmos. At the accession of Nerva he was set free, and returned to Ephesus, and there it is thought that he wrote his gospel.  

In his old age, when unable to do more, he was carried into the assembly of the Church at Ephesus, and his sole exhortation was, “Little children, love one another.” 

The date of his death cannot be fixed, but it is certain that he lived to a very advanced age. He is represented holding a chalice from which comes a dragon, as he is supposed to have been given poison. Also, he is also often picture with the symbol of an eagle.