“...it is really lovely to be in a company, to journey on in a large company of all the centuries, to have friends in Heaven and on earth and to be aware of the beauty of this Body, to be happy that the Lord has called us in a Body and has given us friends."
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
4 March 2011

1634 - Jesuit Father Andrew White arrives in southern Maryland at Saint Clement's Island and celebrates the first Mass.

1674 - Saint Mary Church established in Newport by English Franciscan Father Basil Hobart. Saint Mary Church is the only Franciscan-founded parish in southern Maryland.

1689 - Maryland becomes a Royal colony and Catholocism could no longer be practiced freely. Due to persecutions, Father Hobart spent a number of years in Virginia. He later returned and served the people of Newport until he died in 1698.

1697 - First permanent chapel constructed in Newport.

1698 - Jesuit Fathers William Hunter and Robert Brooke arrive and serve at Newport after Father Hobart's death.

1706 - Maryland Council orders all Catholic churches closed and forbids the celebation of Mass throughout the colony.

1784 - Native Marylander Father Henry Pile, S.J. begins serving as pastor of Saint Mary Newport.He served until 1813.

1840 - Father Aloysius Mudd, pastor, begins construction of a permanent brick church. This building, finely decorated for such a remote location, remains on the property today, although it is no longer used for worship. This chapel, on the National Register of Historic Landmarks, is the oldest, non-renovated, pre-Civil War building in Maryland.

1855 - Father Barnardin F. Wiget, pastor, builds the first rectory, a simple house containing two rooms downstairs and two upstairs. The kitchen was separated from the house, as was common during the time.

1906 - Father John Fannon, pastor, spearheads the effort to build another church on the property, a white frame building with a stucco finish, tin roof, cellar, bellow tower, stained glass windows, marble altar and balcony.

1928 - Father William Baldus, pastor, becomes pastor. He served as pastor for nineteen years.

1931 - America's first shrine to Saint John Vianney, the universal patron saint of clergy, was dedicated at St. Mary Newport. A front page article in The Washington Times, dated August 30, 1934, reported that over a hundred physical cures were reported and verified at the shrine.

1947 - Father Baldus died suddenly and was buried in the parish cemetery.

1948 - Archdiocese of Washington established and Monsignor Patrick O'Boyle appointed the first resident Archbishop of Washington. Five of Maryland's counties were added to the District of Columbia to form the Archdiocese.

1956 to 1986 - Parish administered by Father J. Kelly Reese and Father Gerald Cole.

1986 - Father Aloysius Newman becomes pastor. Under his direction Saint Mary formed its first Parish Council and Finance Committee.

1991 - 1840 church and cemetery recognized in the National Register of Historic Places.

1993 - Father Michael Murray appointed pastor. He organized the parish's 300th anniversary celebration.

1996 - Father Fred MacIntyre appointed pastor. Father Fred organized renovations in the church and built our new parish community center, which was completed in 2003.

2006 - Monsignor Oliver McGready appointed as pastor.

2010 - Father Mark Ervin appointed as pastor.

2014 - The Shrine of Saint John Vianney rededicated by His Eminence Donald Cardinal Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington.

2016 - Father Michael Briese appointed as pastor.

 

 

COMMUNITY: Living His Communion Together

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History of Parish

The history of Christ’s presence here in the St. Mary's boundaries includes the persons who have gone before us, and those who are to come. All continue to participate in this eternal work of grace. In addition to the following history of St. Mary's parish, kindly download more history about our local area HERE.


Saint Mary Church, located off the rural roads in southern Charles County, was built in 1954 upon a historic tract of land, which was first colonized by the English in the 17th century. Most of the region’s Catholic families lived in the area at that time—the Boarmans, Neales, Brookes, Edelens, Simpsons, Wathens and Lancasters.

After the Jesuit, Father Andrew White, arrived in 1634, he and others of his congregation spanned out throughout the area to provide spiritual care for Catholic families. They served in Charles County for more than 30 years, but their numbers never exceeded four priests among a community of thousands, including non-Catholics and Native Americans.

In 1669 the Jesuits appealed both to the Church in England and Rome for additional missionaries. The Holy See formally requested that the English Franciscans send priests to southern Maryland, and two priests were sent in 1672. Two years later, in 1674, Father Basil Hobart and Father Polycarp Wickstead arrived to expand the missionary activities.

The earliest records of the Newport parish are few, and sometimes confusing and contradictory. Yet, it is certain that Father Hobart established Saint Mary shortly after his arrival in 1674.

A local landowner and devout Catholic, Major William Boarman lived in Newport on his plantation “Boarman’s Rest”, which was near the present church. He was a major influence in the establishment and maintenance of the parish.

The end of the 17th century was a difficult time for area Catholics. The Protestant Revolution, underway in Great Britain, curtailed the practice of Catholicism in Maryland. The British Crown confiscated Church land and forbade the practice of the faith, including the celebration of Mass and the education of children. These attacks on religious liberty lasted until the American Revolutionary War.

Remarkably, the period of religious persecution established some of the earliest surviving records of Saint Mary. In 1697, upon the command of the Crown, Maryland counties were ordered to report to the Governor the names of all Catholic priests and religious brothers that resided in all area churches, chapels and other places of worship. The local Sheriff in 1697 submitted his report indicating that there were “three Romish priests and one lay brother.” Father Hobart was mentioned by name. The Sheriff also reported that, “one chapel, near Newport Town about 40 feet long and 20 feet wide, has been built above 20 years. Also another chapel at Major Wm. Boarman’s about 30 feet long and 20 feet wide, being within two miles of the aforesaid . . . has been built about 16 or 18 years . . . also a place of worship used as Priest Hobart’s own dwelling house, about a mile and a half from the aforesaid Chapel.”

Father Hobart, along with a number of other priests, fled Maryland for Virginia. Father Hobart returned to Newport and served the people here until he died during an epidemic in 1698. Records indicate that he was buried here, but the location of his grave was lost.

Father Hobart replaced the primitive chapel at Newport with a frame building about a year prior to his death. The Jesuits assumed spiritual responsibility for Saint Mary after our founder’s death and continued to serve here, though they lived in houses elsewhere, for 183 years.

The Jesuit Fathers William Hunter and Robert Brooke succeeded Father Hobart. They lived at St. Thomas Manor at Chapel Point (site of Saint Ignatius Church). They were called before the Maryland Council in 1704, accused of “dedicating a Popish Chapel and saying Mass.” Afterward all chapels and schools were ordered permanently closed. Queen Anne granted permission in 1706 for the celebration of Mass in private dwellings. Wealthier families subsequently built small chapels for the celebration of Mass and less affluent families invited priests to celebrate Mass in their homes.

It appears, from records, that the Church in Newport continued to be used for worship, even though other sacred buildings were closed. In 1704 Jon Wathen witnessed to the transfer of tobacco, which was part of Captain John Bayne’s “subscription toward finishing the Church at Newport.” Richard Edelen, who purchased portions of “St. Thomas”, bequeathed to Reverend George Hunter one acre, “it being our families burying place and whereon our Chapel now stands.” In 1757 Edelen sold 115 acres to John Corry. The document of sale indicates that, “there is a reserve of one acre of land round the chapel, it being for a place for the congregation.”

The Jesuit Father Henry Pile served as pastor in Newport for almost 30 years (1784-1813). Father Pile was born at Sarum Manor near Newport and entered the Jesuits, having lived abroad for many years before returning to his native Maryland and becoming pastor of the missions at Newport and Cobb Neck.

The Catholic faith in southern Maryland was renewed after the American Revolution. The Jesuits established themselves once again and parish communities flourished. There are documentary indications that the chapel built by Father Hobart was replaced sometime toward the conclusion of the 1700s. In 1818 Archbishop Marechal came to Newport to celebrate Confirmation. He described the church as a frame building about 15 years old and stated that it was “extremely neat and ornamented with extraordinary taste.” Bequests leaving money for the building of a “cathedral” at Newport at the end of the century indicate that another church was built.

Construction on a new church began in 1836, with the cornerstone laid in 1840 (the unoccupied church building remaining on the property today). Several parishioners at the time donated money towards the construction. Alexius Lancaster mentioned in his diary (1818-1856) that a  great variety of work was done at the church, though he does not mention a “new church”. Research conducted for our application for listing on the National Register of Historic Places (1990) reveals evidence of a “reconstruction” of an earlier building on the same site. It appears therefore that the 1840’s chapel on our site today, was raised on the foundation of a previous church.

Saint Mary was a thriving and busy parish in the 1800’s. There are records of numerous missions, jubilees, picnics and fairs. It was common to have large Confirmation classes, such as those in 1852, which numbered 218 persons. Parish events raised significant funds for the parish. A Maryland Independent ad in August 1877 promoted the parish’s two-day festival, where “every delicacy the human appetite can crave will be at the disposal of guests and no pains spared by the fair waiters to furnish anything on the bill of fare.” The event included Washington-area bands and a 25-cent admission charge.

The Reverend Barnardin Wiget built the first permanent rectory in 1855. It was described as “containing two rooms downstairs and two upstairs. The kitchen was separated from the house.”  It was also during this time (1881) that the Jesuits ended their work at St. Mary and the first archdiocesan priest, Father Joseph Cunnane, was appointed pastor. At the time, Newport was part of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

Father William Baldus was appointed pastor in 1928 and served here for 19 years. During his time of service, Father Baldus promoted veneration to Saint John Vianney and established the first public shrine to the Saint in the Archdiocese. A great many people made pilgrimages to Saint Mary, some claiming cures of their various illness and disabilities. The Washington Times reported in 1934 that over a hundred physical cures had been reported and verified.

Father Baldus died suddenly in 1947 in Washington D.C. He was waked at St. Mary, with parishioners keeping vigil through the night. He was buried, at his request, in the parish cemetery. Parishioners served as pallbearers.

The Archdiocese of Washington, consisting of the District and five Maryland counties, was canonically established in 1948 and Patrick Cardinal O’Boyle was appointed its first archbishop.

Our history is well represented in the older part of our cemetery. Large sections of the cemetery, which were overgrown with trees and underbrush, were cleared in the 1990’s. Stones, some of which are fragmentary, date to the late 18th century. The old part of the cemetery is the largest and most intact pre-Civil War Catholic cemetery in the country. It contains a large number of artistic monuments. A number of notable Marylanders are buried here: the only US Senator from Charles County William Merrick (1793-1857), Jane Matthews Merrick, and George Brent. Also, Confederate agents who aided John Wilkes Booth, Thomas A. Jones and Col. Samuel Cox are buried at Saint Mary.

Saint Mary has been part of Maryland history for more than 300 years. During the dedication of our present church in 1954, Monsignor Edward McAdams said, “this Church will stand for many years as the center of your religious life and of your spiritual growth. It will be with you and your children’s children for many generations.” So it is and will be.

-Father Baldus with parishioners Nanny Dorsey and Jim Bennett


 

NEWS & EVENTS

Good Shepherd Food Pantry, October 21

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Fall Bake and Buy Sale, Oct. 28-29

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Bulletin/Register

Prayer to Mary

Powerful, sovereign Queen, come to our aid. Speak for us to Our Lord Jesus Christ. Who can do it better than you, who conversed so intimately with him here on earth, and now so fully possess him in Heaven? Speak to your Son for us! Amen.

-St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153)

Ministries

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