WASHINGTON (July 2, 2014)—As part of the year-long celebration for the 75th anniversary of the Archdiocese of Washington, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, celebrated two special Masses at historic sites in Southern Maryland this weekend. The two sites, the historic Brick Chapel in St. Marys City and St. Clements Island, both serve as powerful reminders of the areas legacy as the birthplace of religious freedom in the United States. During the Masses, Cardinal Wuerl recognized several individuals and organizations with special awards on the occasion of the archdiocesan anniversary.
Saturdays Mass at the Brick Chapel was where in 1667 Jesuit missionaries built a brick chapel in Maryland's first capital. The chapel was the grandest building in Maryland at the time and stood as a sign of the religious freedom in the colony. However, in 1704 by order of the royal governor, the sheriff of St. Mary's County locked the doors of the Brick Chapel, which was later dismantled. Catholics at the time could no longer worship in public in a colony that had been founded on the principle of religious freedom. In 1997 a campaign was launched to raise funds to rebuild the Brick Chapel; scholars used historic detective work in designing the rebuilt chapel on the original foundation, based on archaeological evidence uncovered at the site and on what Jesuit mission churches looked like in the 17th century.
On Sunday, June 29, Cardinal Wuerl celebrated Mass on St. Clements Island, the location of the first Catholic Mass by Fr. Andrew White, S.J. in the English-speaking colonies on March 25, 1634, when the Ark and the Dove landed in Maryland. Today a 40-foot white cross stands at the southern end of the island, honoring the establishment of religious tolerance in America.
The first Mass on St. Clements Island in 1634 marked the beginning in this land of an unbroken line of continuity in faith, celebration and service that goes back 2,000 years. Today, this legacy is manifest in so many ways today in the Archdiocese of Washington through its parishes, missions, schools and social service agencies. This diamond jubilee presents an occasion to acknowledge and thank those who have generously given their time, talent and treasure to our family of faith, as well as to our sisters and brothers whom we are called to serve in the greater community, said the Cardinal.
75th Anniversary Cardinals Award
The Historic St. Mary's City Commission preserves, educates and protects the precious and historically significant site of St. Marys City, which has been a National Historic Landmark since 1969. It is because of the efforts of the commission that St. Marys City, the first capital of Maryland, has been recognized as one of Americas best-preserved colonial archaeology sites.
-- The St. Clements Island Museum focuses on Marylands earliest history and Potomac River heritage. It acquaints visitors with the religious and political issues of the 16th and 17th centuries that led to the founding of the colony of Maryland and the historically significant sites that go back to the first settlers in the colonies.
Archdiocese of Washingtons 75th Anniversary Medal
Muffin McCoy Padukiewicz formerly served with the Historic St. Marys City Foundation and was instrumental in the planning of the archdiocesan celebration at the Brick Chapel. Her parents, Fred and Beth McCoy, led the initial fundraising effort for the archaeological survey of the chapel.
The Honorable Timothy Cameron is the sheriff of St. Marys County. In September 2009, along with Cardinal Wuerl, Sheriff Cameron reversed the action taken by his predecessor sheriff more than 300 years earlier and unlocked the doors of the Brick Chapel.
-- Millie and Mike Huseman represent an extended family and a long line of active supporters of the Catholic Church and its rich history in Southern Maryland. It was their vision that led to the creation of the Mother of Light Shrine, which overlooks St. Clements Island and has become the site for an annual Easter sunrise service.
-- The Knights of Columbus, St. Andrew White Assembly #377 was named after Jesuit Fr. Andrew White, the Apostle of Maryland. The Knights here have for more than 60 years been at the service of others through social and intellectual fellowship, charitable works and support of education.
-- The Optimist Club 7th District Southern Maryland, located in Bushwood, strongly believes in their "Friend of Youth" motto, as shown by their strong community involvement, scholarships and youth-driven activities.
-- The Knights of Saint Jerome Council 1 is the oldest Catholic fraternal organization in our local Church, originally founded by the Jesuit fathers around the year 1874 as the St. Inigoes Beneficial Society. The Knights of St. Jerome contribute to scholarships, Christmas in April and other charitable causes.
-- For more than a century, the Knights of St. John International 1st Maryland Regiment under the patronage of John the Baptist has sought to care for the spiritual, social and physical needs of their members and neighbors, including formation of youth, support of education and acts of mercy and charitable benevolence.
-- From its first days, nearly a century ago, the Sodality Union of the Archdiocese of Washington has been at the heart of our local Church, devoted to prayer and many good works, including Marian devotion, the support of parish ministries and Catholic schools, charitable outreach and assistance for the Sunday TV Mass.