Sunday, September 8, 2013

St. Augustine Church, Elkridge, Maryland

St. Augustine Roman Catholic Church in Elkridge has a long history. Elkridge was originally Elk Ridge Landing--the Patapsco River was wider back then and ships delivered goods and picked up locally grown tobacco for sale in other markets. The community grew large enough that a Catholic church was built in 1844. Father Bernard Piot traveled from Ellicott City to offer Mass once a month. By 1846, the Bishop of Baltimore asked the Redemptorist order to staff the church. They sent priests from their main parish in Baltimore. One such priest was Father John Neumann, who worked here from 1849 to 1851. In 1851 he was asked to be bishop of Philadelphia, which he reluctantly accepted. He was a great and holy man who wound up being canonized in 1977.

In 1866 diocesan priests began to serve the community. Fairly soon, the first parochial school in Baltimore was opened at St. Augustine. In 1894 a project to build a new church was begun. The church was completed in 1902 and still stands on a hill just outside downtown Elkridge.

St. Augustine, Elkridge, Maryland

Front view of the church

Sadly, the Saturday morning I visited there was a wedding or a baptism going on inside so I did not get to see the interior. I remember it being very beautiful inside. You can see their stained glass windows here.

The church is built on a hill and the hillside has a small cemetery between the church and the main road.

St. Augustine Cemetery

I was delighted to find a little statue of St. Francis on the side of the church.

St. Francis preaches to the birds

Maybe on a future visit I will make it inside the church!

Who was St. John Neumann?

Born in Bohemia in 1811, John soon discerned his vocation to the priesthood. The only problem was his local diocese already had enough priests (something hard to imagine in this day and age). He applied to various dioceses all over Europe with the same response. He finally came to America to study for the priesthood after the archdiocese of New York welcomed him. As a priest, he worked in western New York traveling from community to community. The isolation became difficult for him and he asked to join the Redemptorist order, who were committed to serving the poor but also living in community. He became a Redemptorist in 1842 in Baltimore, where he again served small communities like Elkridge. In 1852 he was appointed Bishop of Philadelphia, where he invited various religious orders to come. He also expanded the parochial schools and established parishes for immigrant families. He died in 1860 and was canonized in 1977. His feast day is January 5.

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