St. John rectory completed for Fr. Shoffner

Published 11:30 am Saturday, May 20, 2023

‘Chi Ro’ house brings church, parishioners closer

An exemplar of love and care, St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church has provided shelter and assistance to the downtown Oxford area for nearly 80 years. This time of service, however, has not seen shelter be provided for the leader and priest of this parish.

Staying in a condo on Anderson Road for much of his first year in Lafayette County, Father Mark Shoffner was finally able to move into his completed rectory on May 4. The 1,900-square-foot residence sits perfectly in front of the church itself, allowing Fr. Mark to have some semblance of privacy.

Email newsletter signup

Fr. Shoffner did clarify, however, that he enjoys the ability that he now has to
connect with the community: “I love that I can just walk downtown and run into parishioners, meet people on my way,” he said.

The rectory provides a terrific sense of both privacy and connection it has allowed Fr. Shoffner to create a healthy work-life balance for himself, which he considers to be important for a priest to maintain.

When he does have time for the life part of this balance, Fr. Mark said, “I love growing things. I’m trying to get a garden started out back. I love being able to cook with the vegetables and herbs that I grow, as well.”

Along with this, Fr. Shoffner buys locally produced furniture for his house. Some examples include high-quality, sturdy chairs from some Amish vendors who were set up in the Sugar Magnolia market, or a table that is currently under production by John Haltom from Roxie Woodworks.

Fr. Shoffner’s main objective of late, however, has been to clean his new place of residence and decorate it. Many images that Fr. Mark has left on the walls are intended to “call to mind places that you know you’ve seen on campus, so as to support Ole Miss without being in-your-face about it.”

This can help accomplish his goal of making the rectory a “happy and comfortable place, without making it feel like an Airbnb.”

In reference to the local fraternity and sorority houses, Fr. Mark has decided to name the rectory the “Chi Ro” House, or the “Christ” House in the Greek alphabet.

While Fr. Mark has only spent a year in Lafayette County, the impact he is in the process of making has been tremendous. He is glad to call Oxford his “happy little valley” and is anxious to see what the future brings to this parish and the surrounding residents.

The hallowed groves of Ole Miss are excited to house him.