Historical Highlights of Saint Joseph's Parish


The turmoil resulting from the Protestant Reformation in sixteenth and seventeenth-century Europe created a wave of religious persecutions for both Protestants and Catholics on the European continent resulting in the immigration of people seeking religious freedom in the New World.


One such group of Catholics from England founded the colony of Maryland. George Calvert, (?1580-1632), the first Lord Baltimore, became the virtual founder of Maryland when he obtained a land grant from King Charles I. The name of Maryland appeared in the Charter for the first time. Maryland (Terra Mariae) was named after his wife Henrietta Maria. His brother, Cecil Calvert, (1606-1675), the second Lord Baltimore, organized an expedition comprising more than 200 adventurers bound for Maryland but Cecil did not accompany them. Another brother, Leonard Calvert, (1606-1647), led the colonists on their long voyage of four months to America and became the first proprietary governor of Maryland. The first Eucharistic celebration in the original colonies was offered March 25, 1634, at Saint Clement's Island, Maryland, in thanksgiving for the safe arrival of the Ark of London and The Dove.

The colonists landed at the mouth of the Potomac River and founded Saint Mary's City on Saint Mary's River in Saint Mary's County. This was the beginning of the Maryland Colony. The purpose of this colony was to provide toleratance for all religions that believed in Jesus Christ. Unfortunately circumstances changed when William and Mary made the Church of England the official religion of Great Britain. Subsequently an era of religious intolerance and persecution began in the colony of Maryland during the governorship of Charles Calvert II, fifth Lord Baltimore.

In 1692 an "Act of Religion" was passed whereby all the penal laws of England existing at that time against the Catholics were declared to be in force in the colony. This Act established the Church of England as the Church of the province, and provided for conformity with its worship and discipline. By the Act of 1704 Catholics were prohibited from practicing their religion; priests were debarred from the exercise of their functions; priests and parents forbidden to teach Catholic children their religion; and the children encouraged to refuse obedience to the rule and authority of their parents. Rather than be forced to observe the religion chosen by the Crown, many colonial families of persecuted Catholics started to move northward and west to find religious freedom.


It was under these circumstances that William Elder and his wife Ann Wheeler Elder left Saint Mary's County along with Robert Owings, Joseph Livers, and several other Catholic families. They formed a Catholic community in northern Frederick County near what is now Saint Anthony's Church, between 1728 and 1734. According to tradition Elder named Saint Mary's Mountain. The surrounding area is Saint Mary's Valley.

The Missionary Period  1786-1805

1729 Charles Carroll obtained 10,000 acres of land which included Poplar Fields (or Carrollsburg), the original names of Emmitsburg.

1757 Samuel Emmit, an Irish immigrant, arrived in this locality with his brother-in-law, William Shields, among the third influx of immigrants. Emmit obtained a patent for 2,250 acres on May 17, 1757. The land was originally owned by the famous Charles Carroll of Carrollton. Emmit's property extended about four square miles, from Middle Creek to Toms Creek to Friend's Creek to Pennsylvania. The genesis of Emmitsburg dates to influx of settlers in 1730, 1746, and 1757. The town was laid out in 1785. [To learn more about Emmitsburg's History, visit the Emmitsburg Historical Society section of Emmitsburg.net]


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 educational endeavors.

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 Places.


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, Baltimore.


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 bishops.


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., (1818-1915).

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 Assembly.

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 also redecorated.


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 (2000).

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, 1959.


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 Historic Places.


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 attended.


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 served better.

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 pupils.

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."