Local Church History

A regular Church Guy passed this along:

Some Local Church History


For more details, seehttp://www.stpatricksmd.org/page.php?id=11


The first Mass celebrated in the colonies was on March 25, 1634, on St. Clement’s Island, by Father Andrew White.  For about 15 years Maryland was a haven for Catholics and others.  When Puritans from Virginia took over, Catholics were placed under various legal disabilities, even extending in 1654 to deprivation of civil rights for Catholics and the prohibition of Masses.  After the Revolution, Catholic Americans found their condition much improved.


Up to the time of the Revolution Catholics in America were subjects of the Vicar Apostolic of London, who was himself either a fugitive in England or an exile in France.  Obviously, the needs of the new country required that a hierarchy be established in America.  The Reverend John Carroll was appointed Prefect-Apostolic by Pope Pius VI in 1784, and then Bishop of the newly created Diocese of Baltimore in 1789.  Bishop Carroll was the bishop of the entire United States as it then existed. In 1808 new dioceses were created, which relieved some of Bishop Carroll’s burden, and Baltimore itself was raised to an Archdiocese.


St. Mary’s Church in Rockville, was established in 1813 with Father James Redmond, S.J., appointed as the first pastor by Archbishop Carroll.  For the next 47 years St. Mary’s was the only Catholic church in Montgomery County; the priests who resided there were responsible for a gradually expanding Catholic population spread widely over the county.  Eventually mission parishes began to be established; the first St. Peter’s church was built at Hawling’s River (Mt. Zion), two and a half miles west of present-day Olney. The first church was built in 1860, and a new church was built in Olney 1898.  St. Peter’s remained a mission of St. Mary’s until 1953.


During the welcome lulls in the fighting of the Civil War, soldiers often worshipped with the local congregations that would meet at St. Mary’s Church in Rockville or in private homes around the county.  Catholic soldiers in both armies were the beneficiaries of the Catholic heritage of Maryland and Montgomery County.  Indeed, Maryland was the home of Catholicism in the United States.
The Archdiocese of Washington, at first encompassing only the District of Columbia, was established as a separate diocese in 1939, though Archbishop Michael J. Curley continued as archbishop of both Baltimore and Washington until 1947, only the second time in the history of the Church that such an arrangement was made.  In 1947 the Washington archdiocese received a new archbishop, Patrick Aloysius O’Boyle, and was expanded to include five Maryland counties:  Montgomery,Prince George’s, St. Mary’s, Charles and Calvert.


In the 1950’s and 1960’s, Montgomery County saw a rapid expansion in population, and this necessitated the establishment of several new large parishes and schools. The farmland around the Hannan property the site of St. Patrick’s and most of Flower Valley, was gradually being developed as suburbia expanded  along Georgia Avenue, Veirs Mill Road, and the Rockville Pike.

In the 1970’s, St. Francis of Assisi entered the picture . . . but that story will have to wait for a later post.


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