Emmit deeded portions of his property to numerous individuals, including family members.
Then he sold off lots of land to incoming persons for two pounds, ten shillings, or rented them for seven
shillings, six pence in gold. Samuel Emmit first gave his son William 35 acres (1785) then an additional 55
acres the next year. A plat made by Andrew Smith in 1808 shows the lay out of additional lots possessed by
others, including Robert Fleming. William Emmit was one of the witnesses to the purchase of the Fleming property
for Mother Seton by Samuel Cooper.
Emmitsburg was primarily woods in the fall of 1785/6 when Captain Richard Jennings, a
merchant, built the first house in the town, a one-story log house, and later, on the adjoining property he also
built the first brick house. Captain Jennings, along with Henry Arnold, and the Hughes brothers, (James and
Joseph), are considered the founders of Saint Joseph's Parish.
In 1786 James Hughes (1797-1864), a Catholic, arrived with his family in Emmitsburg and
built on the northeast corner of the present "square." It is this house which is rightfully called the "Cradle
of the Emmitsburg Parish." A large room in it was set aside as a chapel within the house where the Eucharistic
liturgy was celebrated as well as where all the faithful could convene for devotions. Unfortunately this house
was destroyed in the great fire of June 15, 1863, which leveled over fifty buildings on East Main Street. House
chapels served as a discrete camouflage for colonial Catholics when public worship was forbidden.
Pope Pius VI chose Baltimore as the location for the first Catholic Diocese in the
United States, and appointed Father John Carroll, (1735-1815), of Upper Marlboro, Maryland to serve as the first
Catholic Bishop on November 6, 1789. This Diocese encompassed all of the United States until 1808 when the
Dioceses of Boston, Bardstown, and Philadelphia were established. Baltimore was also the first archdiocese in
the United States, with metropolitan authority over other dioceses until 1846.
Reverend Matthew Ryan, (1743-1817), came from Frederick to be the first resident pastor
of the parish. He persuaded James Hughes, an architect and building contractor, to construct the first church in
1793. Located on land donated by the Hughes family, the building lasted until it was torn down to make way for
the present church . Father Ryan died on January 5, 1817, and is buried in the parish cemetery.
The Pastorate of the Mount Priests 1805-1852
Reverend John Dubois, S.S., (1764-1842), founder of Mount Saint Mary's College (1808)
and future bishop of New York (1826-1842), became the second pastor. He was also pastor of Old Saint Mary's
Church on the Mountain. He planned to incorporate the two churches as one congregation under the name of Mary
and Joseph. The people of the two local congregations at the Mountain and in Emmitsburg, built a one-story, two
room, log house for Father Dubois at the Mount.
That dwelling was the first structure of Mount Saint Mary's College and Seminary and
also became the temporary home for six weeks of Mother Elizabeth Ann Bayley
Seton, (1774-1821), and her companions when she arrived about Saturday, June 24, 1809, before they moved
into the old Fleming farmhouse (the Stone House). According to tradition, Mother Seton named her property Saint
Joseph's Valley. The formal establishment of the
Sisters of Charity of Saint Joseph's
by Mother Seton was made on Monday, July 31 in The Stone House. The first candidates to enter the Sisters of
Charity at the Stone House were Ellen Thompson, (1788- 1813), and her sister Sarah (Sally) Thompson, (1778
-1850), natives of the Emmitsburg area. The Sisters of Charity are the first native community for religious
women established in the United States.
Mother Seton and the Sisters of Charity opened Saint Joseph's Academy and Free School in
Saint Joseph's House (the White House). Although two pupils from Mother Seton's small school at Paca Street
moved to Emmitsburg with her and had classes in the Stone House, the first day pupils were admitted February 22
at the White House. The first boarders arrived in May of the same year and were all from Frederick County. This
is the cradle of Catholic parochial education and was the first free Catholic school for girls which was staffed
by sisters in the United States. It served children from Emmitsburg and the surrounding area All ministries
sponsored by the Daughters of Charity flow from the original charter granted in 1817 to the Sisters of Charity
of Saint Joseph's by the State of Maryland for the care of the sick, the infirm elderly and persons in need, and
Saint Joseph's Academy and Free School developed into Saint Joseph College High School
(1890-1946), Saint Joseph's High School (1946-1982), and Saint Joseph College (1902-1973). Education for
elementary day scholars from the Emmitsburg area continued in the brick school constructed by Mother Seton in
1820 and later in the White House (for a time) but eventually these pupils attended
Saint Euphemia's School
(1878-1956) and Saint Anthony's School (1903-1956). In 1956 the consolidation of both these schools formed
Mother Seton School.
Saint Joseph College High School, a Class A boarding school for girls, discontinued
admitting boarders in 1945. The next year its secondary education program was relocated to the new Cribbins
Memorial Building (after the late Reverend John P. Cribbins, C.M.) and became Saint Joseph's High School,
located on DePaul Street next to the rectory. At that time the school became a co-educational program for day
students which continued until 1982.
The original charter was amended February 26, 1902, for Saint Joseph's to confer
degrees, collegiate and academic. Saint Joseph College conferred its first degree for completion of a three-year
program on June 21, 1906. The College held its first baccalaureate graduation on June 18, 1914, and its last on
May 27, 1973.
The White House where Mother Seton lived was relocated in 1845 west of its original site
and then in 1917 relocated again and restored. In 1976 it was placed on the National Register of Historic
The War of 1812 with Great Britain lasted until early 1815. This occurred during the
pastorate of Reverend Charles Duhamel, (1753-1818), pastor at Saint Joseph's (1810-1818), and a former
missionary who had ministered in Hagerstown before coming to Emmitsburg.
Mother Seton sent Sisters Susan Clossey, Theresa Conroy, and Rose White to Philadelphia
to manage the first Catholic orphanage in the United States, October 6, 1814. After 170 years of service, the
institution closed in 1984.
In order to provide support at the Mount for Father Dubois, who was also pastor of Saint
Joseph's Parish, president of Mount Saint Mary's College and Seminary, and superior general of the Sisters of
Charity, Mother Seton sent Sisters Bridget Farrell, Ann Gruber, and Anastasia Nabbs to manage the Domestic
Department and Infirmary, effective August 12, 1815. The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth assumed this
responsibility in 1851.
The first Vincentian Priests and Brothers arrived
Wednesday, July 26, at Baltimore for ministry in the United States. Reverend Simon Bruté, S.S., (1779-1839),
welcomed them and provided hospitality during their stay with the Sulpicians at Saint Mary's Seminary,
Mother Seton sent Sisters Rose White, Cecilia O'Conway, and Felicitas Brady to New York
in response to the request by Bishop John Connolly for sisters to begin the New York City Orphan Asylum (later
Saint Patrick's) which began August 13, 1817. It was the first child care institution in New York. The work was
transferred to the Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul of New York in 1846.
Reverend Samuel Sutherland Cooper, (1769-1843), served as pastor 1818-1819. A former sea
captain prior to entering Saint Mary's Seminary in Baltimore, Cooper donated funds to purchase property for
Mother Seton and her Sisters of Charity but specified that the location be near Emmitsburg. Mother Seton wrote
that Cooper wished to establish "an institution for the advancement of Catholic female children in habits of
religion and giving them an education suited to that purpose -- he also desires extremely to extend the plan to
the reception of the aged and also uneducated persons who may be employed in spinning, knitting, etc. so as to
found a manufactory on a small scale which may be very beneficial to the poor." A memorial to the generosity and
foresight of Samuel Cooper stands on the path between the Stone House and the White House on the grounds of
Saint Joseph's Provincial House.
After the departure of Father Cooper, Saint Joseph's Parish was blessed by the apostolic
labors of one of the holiest ecclesiastics in the history of our country, the saintly Reverend Simon Bruté,
S.S., the first bishop of Vincennes (1834-1839) in Indiana. He is considered by many, who know of his life of
heroic virtue, as a fitting candidate for canonization. Father Bruté's name is inseparably joined to that of
Mother Seton, whose confessor and spiritual director he was for many years until she died. Father Bruté died as
the bishop of Vincennes in 1839. Two of the first four resident pastors of Saint Joseph's Parish died as
Death of Mother Seton. The following entry written in Father Bruté's own hand may still
be seen in the first parish register of Saint Joseph's Church. Mother Seton died January 4. She was buried at
Saint Joseph's, Ann Elizabeth Seton, the 1st Mother of the Daughters of Charity come to be established in the
parish in 1809. Let her rest in peace. She lived and died in the utmost peace and good will of this
congregation-and I thought it proper and according to the feelings of all to enter this memorandum of it here.
Reverend John Hickey, S.S., (1789-1869), pastor (1825-1841), was the first priest
ordained at Mount Saint Mary's and the first American member of the Society of Saint Sulpice in Baltimore.
Father Hickey enlarged the original church.
A Daughter of Charity novice, Sister Catherine Labouré, (1806-1876), received a vision
revealing the Medal of the Immaculate Conception and was asked to have a medal struck according to this model,
November 27. The medal came to be known as the Miraculous Medal because of extraordinary favors and graces
received by those who wore it. Pope Pius XII canonized Saint Catherine Labouré, July 27, 1947.
Father John McCaffrey, (1806-1881), pastor (1841-1851), built the new and vastly
improved church. The same building that stands today is a monument to his labors. Father McCaffrey was also the
president of Mount Saint Mary's College; he was a native of Emmitsburg and his brother, Thomas, also a priest,
helped him in the parish. The cornerstone of the new church was blessed on May 6, 1841, by Samuel Eccleston
(1801-1851), archbishop of Baltimore (1834-1851). The archbishop returned on September 29, 1842, the feast of
Saint Michael the Archangel, to dedicate the finished church , which was a well proportioned structure of
Italian Renaissance style measuring about one hundred feet long by fifty feet wide and forty-five feet high
designed and built by John Teen of Frederick costing about $5,500.
Father Thomas Augustine McCaffrey, (c.1812-1853), was pastor on several different
occasions and was much loved by his people. The church bell was cast in 1849 and remained in service until 1940
when it required restoration as a result of accidental damage. He was the last of the pastors from the Mount
before the Vincentians assumed responsibility for the parish in 1852 when it was entrusted to them by a
directive of Francis Patrick Kenrick (1797-1863), archbishop of Baltimore (1851-1863), on Pentecost Sunday.
The Pastorate of the Vincentians (Congregation
of the Mission)
The First Fifty Years 1852-1902
Mother Seton had been dead for almost thirty years when the Sulpician priests
successfully concluded negotiations for the community she had founded, the Sisters of Charity of Saint Joseph's,
to unite with the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul of Paris. The union took place March 25, 1850.
The Sisters in Saint Joseph's Valley changed from wearing the black cap and cape like Mother Seton for the
blue-grey habit and white cornette of the French Daughters of Charity, December 8, 1851. Along with the 45,000
Daughters of Charity around the world, the sisters in Emmitsburg changed to a simplified navy blue dress and
coif, September 20, 1964.
The reason for the priests of the Congregation of the Mission, the Vincentians, coming
to Emmitsburg was to be the spiritual directors of the Daughters of Charity, a ministry they had always
performed since the time of Saint Vincent de Paul, (1581-1660), and Louise de Marillac, (1591-1660) cofounders
of the Daughters of Charity at Paris, France, in 1633. In 1849, Reverend Mariano J. Maller, C.M., (1817-1892 ),
was sent to Emmitsburg to be the first director of the Daughters of Charity Province of the United States.
For the information of all, Vincent de Paul founded the Congregation of the Mission on
January 25, 1625, for service to the clergy and for evangelization of the poor and charity throughout rural
areas. Members of the community are also referred to as Vincentian Priests and Brothers.
In the middle of June 1852, Archbishop Samuel Eccleston offered Saint Joseph's Parish,
Emmitsburg, to the Congregation of the Mission. Father Maller became the first Vincentian pastor of the parish.
On November 9, 1852, he, Fathers John Masnou, C.M., and Angelo Hippolyte Gandolfo, C.M., purchased the present
priests' property from Jacob Harner. Soon afterward the house was built for $4,500. The deed was made out to the
Congregation of the Mission of Baltimore for the use of the director of the Daughters of Charity, their chaplain
or confessor, and for the convenience of the pastor of the parish. Saint Vincent's House faced the church on
Green Street (also known at one time as Church Street), the present DePaul Street. The front entrance of the
church faced "Gettysburg Road" presently known as North Seton Avenue.
In 1857 the large gold frame for the painting of Saint Joseph, which hangs behind the
main altar, was purchased from Hadian and Rosensteel of Baltimore for sixty dollars on January 14.
The Great Fire of
Emmitsburg, which started in the livery stable of Guthrie-Beam in Emmitsburg, rapidly spread to destroy most
of the homes in the east side of town on June 15.
The Daughters of Charity faced the possibility of death and the destruction of Saint
Joseph's Academy and Central House on June 27-30,1863, if a battle would be fought on their property, when about
80,000 soldiers from the Army of the Potomac encamped in Saint Joseph's Valley immediately before the decisive
encounter at Gettysburg. General Otis Howard had his headquarters in the rectory, while other generals and their
troops were in and around the Central House of the Daughters of Charity. Shortly after the departure of the
Union troops some detached regiments of the Confederate Army also arrived. The Sisters prayed for peace and
protection hoping that Emmitsburg not be the site of battle. Emmitsburg as well as Saint Joseph's Valley was
under martial law during this period.
Of approximately eight hundred Daughters of Charity, at least two hundred-seventy
sisters served as nurses at more than sixty sites in fifteen states during the Civil War. They nursed and
offered spiritual assistance to victims from both the United States Army and the Confederate Army. This was
especially evident after the battle of Gettysburg. [Read
more about Emmitsburg in the Civil War]
The addition of the church steeple was completed under the supervision of Reverend James
Francis Burlando, C.M., (1814-1873), the frescoing under Reverend John J. Dwyer, C.M., (1835-1867), and the
organizing of the Sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary during the pastorate of Reverend Francis Lasco, C.M.,
1870 Pope Pius IX convened the First Vatican Council which ended the same year.
The Daughters of Charity began one of their first schools for people of color in 1886 by
establishing a school in the sisters' residence for African-American children. It closed in 1944 when these
pupils began attending
Saint Euphemia's School. Since about 1920 the Frederick County Board of Education
contributed funds toward the support of this important program under authorization from the Maryland General
1887 An earthquake affected the Emmitsburg area, January 3.
Reverend James Rolando, C.M., (1816-1883), Father A. H. Gandolfo, CM., and Father
Raphael Capezutto, C.M., had entered into an agreement in 1857 with some men in the parish to build a
combination school and hall for a literary and social center. This building became known as Saint Vincent's
Hall. Reverend Henry J. White, C.M., (1835-1912), pastor from 1878 until 1893, invited the Daughters of Charity
to begin teaching boys in Saint Vincent's Hall (1878-1893). Girls were taught at Saint Joseph's Academy in the
valley. In 1889 the Daughters of Charity constructed a new facility for both boys and girls and opened Saint
Euphemia's School on Green (DePaul) Street. When it closed in 1956, the building was used by Saint Joseph's High
School. Saint Euphemia's School and Sisters House were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in
1984. Eventually the building was sold and converted into the Schoolhouse Apartments, managed by Sunshine
Management of Frederick.
During Father White's pastorate the new marble altar replaced the wooden altar and was
consecrated on December 11, 1892; a new organ and new pews were installed and the interior of the church was
The Spanish-American War lasted from April 1898 through February 1899. During it the
United States government employed two hundred Daughters of Charity to nurse the sick and wounded in military
hospitals located in eight states, Puerto Rico, and Cuba. After the war, sixteen Daughters of Charity hospitals
in eleven states and the District of Columbia continued to provide quality health care for injured military
personnel and prisoners of war.
The Second Fifty Years 1899-1952
In 1899 Reverend Francis H. O'Donoghue, C.M., (1849-1976), became pastor but due to his
illness, his assistant, Reverend Edward Quinn, C.M., (1862-1913), carried on the work of the renovation of the
church which was closed for six months during 1902. The three pictures which decorated the ceiling were painted
by Lorenzo Scattaglia of Philadelphia. The ceiling pictures of Saint Vincent and the Daughters of Charity also
include two Vincentian martyrs, John Gabriel Perboyre, (1802-1840), and Francis Regis Clet, (1748-1820), who
died in China. Pope John Paul II canonized Saint John Gabriel Perboyre (1997) and Saint Francis Regis Clet
The two side altars were erected by the Charles F. Hall Company of Boston which was the
same firm that had erected the main altar in 1892. The windows, sanctuary lamp, and the Stations of the Cross of
metal were imported from Munich. A new baptismal font was installed in the back of the church . The latest style
of pews was purchased and a new roof was added which lasted until 1938. The old floors were replaced and the
small basement was enlarged to accommodate a steam boiler for the new heating system. Other repairs and
improvements were made in time for opening of the renovated church on Sunday, July 6, 1902.
Reverend John Oliver Hayden, C.M., (1856-1938), began the longest pastorate in the
parish when he arrived in September 1902, remaining until 1926. His arrival coincided with the Golden Jubilee of
the Vincentians coming to Saint Joseph's parish as pastors. During his pastorate the spiritual life of the
parish flourished. During his years of service, a new church organ was installed as well as the clock in the
church steeple. A cement walk was built around the church and a portico was constructed in the front of the
church. The latter was a gift from Brook Ignatius Jamison, M.D., of Emmitsburg, as a sign of his gratitude to
Father Hayden and the people of Emmitsburg for their kindness to him during his long and almost fatal illness.
The Bruté Council, Number 1860, of the Knights of Columbus, was organized at Saint
Joseph's parish for the purpose of assisting widows and poor persons in need within the parish.
Reverend Charles Stouter, C.M., (1893-1982), a native son of Emmitsburg, replaced
Reverend Henry J. Connor, C.M., (1876-1954), as pastor. Father Connor had completed the renovation of the church
initiated by his predecessor, Reverend William Groeninger, C.M., (1884-1943), who had begun his pastorate
(1932-1938) by painting the interior of the church and putting on a new roof. Father Stouter is buried at the
entrance of the church and is the only Vincentian pastor so honored.
In October, 1939, Reverend Francis L. Rogers, C.M., (1890-1951), returned to Emmitsburg
as the pastor. He had been chaplain to the Daughters of Charity for some years before his appointment as pastor.
Father Rogers established the Miraculous Medal Perpetual Novena, enhanced the liturgical services with the aid
of the seminarians from the Mount, liquidated the $7,000 parish debt, recast the damaged old church bell,
electrified the organ, and procured a safe new tabernacle for the main altar. He also, installed a tile floor,
new lights, and purchased new candelabra, linens, and vestments. In 1943 he had a wall built around two sides of
the old cemetery by the church.
At the end of World War II, Reverend Francis J. Stauble, C.M., (1893-1985), who had
recently returned to the United States after twenty-five years as a missionary in China, accepted the post as
the new pastor. Through the generosity of the Daughters of Charity who donated the land, Father Stauble was able
to procure property for the new parish cemetery on South Seton Avenue. He personally drew up the plans and
supervised their execution. This fitting tribute to the deceased of our parish was completed in 1948.
Reverend John D. Sullivan, C.M., (1888-1960), returned to the parish as pastor. He had
previously served here for twenty-two years as a curate and chaplain to the Daughters of Charity. Father
Sullivan began a major program of redecoration of the church and completed needed repairs in
Saint Euphemia's School. Funds
for these renovations came not only from the parishioners but from Father Sullivan himself.
The Third Fifty Years 1952-2002
The Daughters of Charity opened Mother Seton School in a pre-fabricated building on
Route 15 (South Seton Avenue). The new school traces its roots to the educational curriculum begun by Saint
Elizabeth Ann Seton in 1810. Mother Seton School is a consolidation of Saint
Anthony's School and Saint Euphemia's School.
Reverend James T. Twomey, C.M., (1894-1985), was the pastor at this time and vigorously
supported having a Catholic educational system in the community and making many of the sports programs available
to the youngsters.
On January 25, 1959, Pope John XXIII announced his intentions to call an Ecumenical
Council. The Second Vatican Council opened October 11, 1962, and was closed by Pope Paul VI December 8, 1965.
Pope John XXIII proclaimed the heroicity of virtues of Mother Seton and declared her Venerable, December 18,
In September 1962, Reverend Louis B. Storms, C.M., (b.1913), a former missionary from
Panama, was appointed the new pastor. He began a vigorous program of implementing the pastoral and liturgical
directives of the Second Vatican Council. A youth center was set up in the old Saint Euphemia School; Vincentian
seminarians from Mary Immaculate Seminary in Northampton, Pennsylvania, came for the summer to offer programs of
liturgical renewal and recreation; the CYO became very active as did the Altar Boys Society which increased to
sixty members; CCD programs were developed under the direction of the Daughters of Charity with the help of
students from Saint Joseph College; the activities of the Sodality and the Holy Name Society increased; the
liturgical norms for the Sacred Liturgy were implemented with an altar being constructed to face the people; a
new pulpit and audio system were installed as well as an all-electric heating and air conditioning system
adjustable for all seasons. After he finished his pastorate in 1968, Father Storms continued his effective
ministry by returning to Saint Joseph's in 1992 as an associate which enabled him to be near his sister,
Barbara, a Daughter of Charity at Villa Saint Michael until 2001.
Mother Seton was beatified by John XXIII, March 17, 1963.
The Daughters of Charity moved into the newly constructed Saint Joseph's Provincial
House, September 12. The Daughters of Charity around the world changed from wearing the traditional
seventeenth-century French habit and cornette of white wings to a simplified navy blue dress and coif, September
20, 1964. The elderly and infirm Daughters of Charity who resided at Villa Saint Michael, which had been located
in Baltimore since 1952, were transferred from there to their new residence at Saint Joseph's Provincial House,
July 17-18, 1972.
Patrick O'Boyle, Archbishop of Washington, preached at the dedication of the new
building by Lawrence J. Cardinal Shehan, Archbishop of Baltimore, May 1, 1965. Mother Seton School moved into a
new facility on Creamery Road.
The Emmitsburg Council of Churches was formed to "provide
the framework whereby the member congregations worship and work together." Ecumenical services rotated among
member congregations: Saint Anthony's Catholic Church, Elias Lutheran Church,
The National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton (Daughters of Charity),
Incarnation United Church of Christ, Saint Joseph's Catholic Church, Mount Saint
Mary's Chapel, Trinity United Methodist Church, Toms Creek Methodist Church, and
the United Presbyterian Church.
he Daughters of Charity opened Seton Center in the former Mother Seton School and first
offered Early Childhood Education and Day Care Programs. Subsequently social services as well as other
educational and outreach programs were added. In 1996 the day care program was transferred to the Emmitsburg
Child Care Center.
The Daughters of Charity began operating a Thrift Shop at Seton Center.
Saint Joseph College closed because the Daughters of Charity no longer had the personnel
and financial resources to sponsor the historic institution which was recognized nationally for its quality
programs of higher education for women.
On September 14, 1975, Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton was canonized by Pope Paul VI. She is
the first canonized saint in the Roman Catholic Church who was born in the United States. This event has brought
thousands of pilgrims annually to visit her shrine located on the grounds of Saint Joseph's Provincial House in
Saint Joseph's Valley, Emmitsburg. Members of this parish and other parishioners from congregations belonging to
the Council of Churches formed an ecumenical group of the Emmitsburg Community Chorus, under the direction of
Sister Jane Marie Perrot, D.C., which sang at the Vatican for the canonization along with the Sistine Choir.
Solemn dedication of the Chapel and Altar in honor of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton in the
chapel of Saint Joseph's Provincial House and future basilica August 28, 1976, by William (later Cardinal)
Borders, (b.1913), archbishop of Baltimore (1974-1989). The Stone House was placed on the National Register of
The Stone House was relocated in a grove at the front of Saint Joseph's Provincial House
from its original setting on a bluff near Toms Creek. Saint Joseph College and former provincial house was
sold to the United States Government for the National Emergency Training Center (Fire Academy, Emergency
Management Institute, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency).
Saint Joseph's High School closed. The building was sold and converted into DePaul
Village Apartments managed by Sunshine Management of Frederick.
Reverend Alfred R. Pehrsson, C.M., (b.1929), appointed pastor (1989-1996). He formed the
first parish Right-to-Life organization.
The new Parish Hall was started by Father Pehrsson and through the generous efforts of
the parishioners, the debt of $475,000 for its construction was paid off in only four years. William Cardinal
Keeler, archbishop of Baltimore, dedicated the building March 22, 1992. This facility has proved to be a
blessing to the parish and the local community.
The Armata Bianca (White Army), a world-wide organization inspired by Blessed Padre Pio,
was formed in 1991 as a children's prayer group with the purpose of praying before the Blessed Sacrament for
world peace and the salvation of sinners. They meet once a week.
A few parishioners received permission from Father Pehrsson to form a prayer group in
1991. They held their meetings in the rectory chapel on Wednesdays. As the membership increased the sessions
were transferred to the church and held in conjunction with a celebration of the Eucharistic liturgy. During the
recitation of the rosary "alleged apparitions" of the Blessed Virgin Mary may have occurred in which messages
were given by her. On September 8, 2000, the Archdiocese of Baltimore "directed that the Thursday night prayer
group meetings held at Saint Joseph Church in Emmitsburg, Maryland, be discontinued at this time . . . following
a careful examination of recently available information relative to the alleged apparitions." In June 2001
Cardinal Keeler formed a Commission to investigate these "alleged supernatural experiences."
In 1992, the associate pastor, Reverend Charles E. Jacobs, C.M., (1913- 1999), formed
the first Legion of Mary Presidia in the parish. He nurtured this group as its spiritual director until his
death in 1999. The Junior Legion of Mary eventually sprang from this source. The town of Emmitsburg, founded in
1786, was honored by being listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Saint Catherine's Nursing Center, sponsored through the Daughters of Charity National
Health System, admitted the first resident October 18, 1994. This sixty-nine bed skilled nursing facility,
located on the campus of Saint Joseph's Provincial House, serves parishioners and the broader community by
providing quality nursing care to residents.
Father Pehrsson re-introduced the Holy Name Society in 1995. The organization now plays
an active role in parish affairs. Saint Jude's Garden, a gift from a grateful parishioner, was erected on the
grounds beside the parish hall and features a statue of Saint Jude.
Reverend Michael J. Kennedy, C.M., (b.1922), became administrator of the parish and
served for four years. During his tenure, he organized the first Saint Vincent de Paul Society to serve the
parish. He had a portrait of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, parishioner of Saint Joseph's, hung in a prominent place
in the church, and through the kindness of a parishioner, Joseph Vance, the six large gold candle holders and
the gold Crucifix above the Tabernacle on the main altar were re-gilded.
Amid all the regular duties of his busy parish, Father Kennedy was also responsible for
overseeing the Archdiocesan Heritage of Hope Campaign in Saint Joseph's Parish. The goal set by the Archdiocese
for Saint Joseph's was to raise $190,000, 80% of which would be for diocesan-wide projects and 20% for parish
use. In addition any amount over $190,000 was totally designated for parish use. The parishioners responded very
generously to the challenge and contributed $260,000 in pledges and donations. Some of the improvements made as
a result of this income included replacements of the air-conditioning system and exterior covers of the stained
glass window, and an upgrade of the office computer system.
The Great Jubilee Year 2000 and its call to "OPEN THE DOORS TO CHRIST" was welcomed in
by the parishioners with Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament from 11 p.m. to midnight in the church,
followed by the Sacred Liturgy at midnight in the Basilica of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton. Both services were well
Reverend James O. Kiernan, C.M., (b.1942), began his term of office as pastor on July 1,
returning to the parish where he had served as a seminarian some thirty years before. Father Kiernan began to
evaluate the current programs and policies in order to see how the parishioners and local community could be
He initiated some financial adjustments with the appointment of a Finance Committee to
advise him on how to manage the parish finances better. Father Kiernan was blessed with the voluntary services
of Mr. Gene LaCroce, CPA, a former treasurer of Mount Saint Mary's College and Seminary. With his help Father
Kiernan formulated a realistic budget and reduced the deficit spending by over 60%. He presented a financial
statement to the parish which showed the details of current expenses and income. The data highlighted the need
to increase the weekend collection, if the parish was to reach a balanced budget and be able to finance
necessary programs in the future. Looking forward, Father Kiernan is planning a Stewardship Program, in
cooperation with the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
Father Kiernan has introduced adjustments into the liturgy which reflect more accurately
the directives of the church as expressed in post-Vatican II liturgical documents such as opening up the
opportunity to girls to become altar servers, and training programs for Eucharistic ministers and lectors. He
has also purchased new vestments, liturgical books, and altar linens; cleaned the sacred vessels; and had the
sacristy and foyer both cleaned and painted. He accepted a deacon, Reverend Mr. Peter O'Leary, from Mount Saint
Mary's Seminary to participate in parish life by preaching at the Sunday liturgies and teaching the parents of
the children attending Sunday CCD classes.
He hired Sister Eileen Healey, a highly qualified Daughter of Charity with extensive
experience, to supervise the various religious education programs in the parish. Father Kiernan has also
increased his contact with Mother Seton School by teaching the religion class each week to the eighth grade
Father Kiernan and the associate pastor Reverend Stephen P. Trzecieski, C.M., (b.1932),
commenced a Parish Visitation Program on November 1, 2000. The two parish priests visited 237 of the 641
registered families in seven months. The program will continue as scheduled. The purpose of the Parish
Visitation is for the two new priests to get to know the families personally and to give the parishioners an
opportunity to express their concerns and to offer their suggestions about the parish to the priests.
Using Vincentian funds, Father Kiernan has begun to refurbish Saint Vincent's House, the
current rectory, which is the property of the Congregation of the Mission.
Since the first Catholic settlers moved into the Emmitsburg area, God has blessed Saint
Joseph's Parish abundantly, especially by the gift of so many dedicated and generous parishioners. The first
canonized saint born in the United States is but one example. Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton ministered to people in
need and worshiped in this parish.
Encouraged by the Lord's generosity to our parish over the past two hundred and eight
years, we eagerly continue our journey of faith into the New Millennium confident that God will be with us until
the end of time.
Look down and favor us, O holy Joseph, Our beloved Father,
Look down in charity on our valley . . .
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, July 19, 1813
Meditation of Saint Vincent's Day
First Vow Day, Sisters of Charity of Saint Joseph's
"One Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."