Why We Are Called St. John’s

Residents, staff, family, and friends gathered for a family portrait on a summer Sunday in 1904.


St. John’s was founded by a collection of German-speaking churches in Rochester (Lutheran and Congregational). Out of their Christian heritage, they knew well the story presented in the Bible of Jesus’ last week. In the portion of the story in which Jesus is hanging on the cross, the Gospel of John says that Jesus looks down from the cross and he sees “his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Dear woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.” (John Chapter 19, verses 25-27, emphasis added).

The “disciple whom he loved” was named John. Knowing his mother would be vulnerable in a time and culture where women very much depended on the provision of men, Jesus trusts the care of his mother to John. John was a follower of Jesus who could well be described as Jesus’ best friend. Notice that the passage reveals that John honored Jesus’ request and he took Mary, Jesus’ mother, into his home.

The German-speaking Lutheran and Congregational churches wanted to establish a home where their aging and vulnerable mothers and fathers would receive good care and all that goes with it – safety, love, good food, community, faith, physical and medical care, friendship… And so, after the example of John (later called “St. John” by the church) the “Altenheim of the St. Johannes-Stift,” that is, “the Home for the Elderly of the St. John’s Association” was created. In time, our name was shortened to “St. John’s.”

After the example of John, we welcome our mothers and fathers today into this place to provide for them the best of care in their later and more vulnerable years. As we move into living the fullness of The Eden Philosophy, we can serve our elders with the following question always in our minds and hearts: Would I want my mother to move into St. John’s Home? When the answer is “yes” then we are honoring our history and heritage, we are living The Eden Philosophy, and we are giving our elders the care they seek, need, and deserve.

And that is why we are called “St. John’s.” 

Rev. Darryl Powell,

Spiritual Care Coordinator

Note: St. John’s is non-denominational. 

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