By learning and living God's words, we the parishoners of St. Mary's are motivated through worship to meet the needs of each other with acceptance and forgiveness.
We strive to continue the mission of Jesus Christ by proclaiming the Eucharist as the center of our faith.
The History of St. Mary.
Around the middle of the nineteenth century, Catholics residing in the area known as "Barrons" or as "Clermont Mills" became impatient about the lack of a church and the infrequent visits by the pastor stationed at St. Ignatius in Hickory. On March 2, 1844, Captain Henry Macatee drafted his last will and testament indicating his strong desire for the need of a church. It reads: "It is my will and desire in that whenever the Archbishop of Baltimore shall determine to have a church built on the Lot of ground laid off by me for that purpose and surveyed for one acre, the said Lot being on the southeast corner of what is called Richardson's Cross Roads, being part of the same tract heretofore deeded to my son Clement, my Executors shall make a Deed to the said Archbishop or his successors for use of a church. It is my wish and desire that the neighbors wishing to build a school house on said Lot shall have the privilege to do so on one corner so as not to intefere with the side of the church. I further enjoin it on my Executors that they take care of the wood on said Lot and see that it is not cut down and destroyed under their care." Captain Macatee died in 1851 and no decision had been reached concerning the church and its location. He was laid to rest in the graveyard at St. Ignatius.
In 1855 the brick church, the first St. Mary's, was constructed. However not on the original acre but on a more eligible spot on the summit of a knoll which commands an extensive view of a very charming landscape and also the acre was doubled. The cornerstone was laid on August 19, 1855 but the interior of the church was not completed until a year later. The pastor of St. Ignatius, Rev. J. A. Walter officiated on the occasion assisted by William Street, a student of St. Mary's Seminary, Baltimore. The church seated three hundred persons and was erected on lands donated by several members of the Macatee family. A fair was held for a week commencing on Tuesday, August 26 to raise funds to finish the building, obtain necessary articles for the altar and sanctuary and procure a musical instrument for the choir. About a thousand dollars was raised. On Sunday, October 19, 1856 Archbishop Francis Patrick Kenrick dedicated the church and also concecrated the altar.
On February 5, 1870 three additional acres were donated to the Archbishop of Baltimore by Ignatius & Margaret Macatee and Clement and Rachel Ann Macatee. This land adjoined the land acquired fourteen years previously. In 1870 a parochial residence was planned and built under the supervision of Rev. Patrick O'Conner. The cost amounted to about $4,000. In 1872 the parish was appointed Rev. Joseph A. Gallen as their pastor. When he received his appointment the rectory was hardly yet finished. He established a day-school, added a suitable belfry with a bell to the church and proved himseld an efficient organizer, which largely by his efforts the parish was made self-supporting.
Rev. J. Alphonse Frederick, the second pastor, served from 1876 to 1880 and returned in 1883 to 1889. He purchased five acres on April 17, 1876 for $500. This ground adjoined the five acres acquired from the Macatee family. It is on part of this land that the present church of St. Mary was erected. After many years of indifferent results the day-school was closed. Fr. also furnished the new house, fitted the sanctuary, laid off the grounds, cleared and graded the extensive lawn and planted a variety of shade trees.
The interval betweem Fr. Frederick's first and second term Rev. John J. Conway was in charge of St. Mary. He enlarged the sanctuary of the old church to which he built an addition to serve as a sacristy.
In 1889, Rev. Gerard H. Nysson became Pastor. After much discussion about the need of a new church, it was decided not to repair the old structure but to erect a stone church. The cornerstone was laid on August 10, 1890. The cost of the construction amounted to more than twelve thousand dollars. Cardinal Gibbons dedicated the new church on Sunday, September 15, 1895.
Rev. Richard Paul Kane was ordained and sent to St. Mary's in 1899. Fr. Kane started St. Mary's mission church, St. Paul in Cardiff, Maryland. The need for a mission church arose with the bringing of electrical equipment to the slate quarries employing many operators of the Catholic faith who had no means of transportation to St. Mary's Church. On September 10, 1905 Cardinal Gibbons officated as St. Paul's was opened and dedicated. In June 1967 St. Paul's church was closed because it was determined that the building was unsafe by the Archdiocesan builder inspector.
During Rev. Bernard W. Prosise's stay as pastor a hall was erected adjacent to the old church building. Rev. Timothy Mullen was responsible for the return of the famous St. Mary's Tournament which dates back to the early history of the church. Rev. William J. Scally established St. Mary's CCD program.
In June 1968 Rev. Simon E. Kenny, retired Lieutenant Colonel and Chaplain in the U. S. Army came to St. Mary's. In 1969 the ground was broken for the new Educational Buidling and was dedicated on October 25, 1970 by Cardinal Shehan. Fr. Kenny was concerned about the future needs of the parish and increased the land holdings to approximately 13.5 acres. He also instituted a scholarship fund to students of St. Mary's to attend a Catholic high school. Fr. Kenny was installed a Monsignor on Sunday, September 26, 1982. Msgr. Kenny is buried in St. Mary's cemetery.
Rev. Robert Harnett was installed a pastor on February 26, 1989. In that same year the Knights of Columbus was organized and installed Mason Dixon Council #10100.
In 1993 Rev. A. Henry Kunkel, III became pastor and celebrated his silver jubilee in 1996. After a through engineering review of the old church and addition the parish decided it best to dismantle the old building rather than try to restore it. In1995 the old church was taken down to make room to expand the cemetery. Additions and renovations still continue such as the historic bell tower renovation, the church pew restoration (2003), the addition of a commercial kitchen to the hall (1998), and the addition to the Parish Center (Education Building) to house the offices and also the upgrade to the building to bring it up to code and improvements (2009).
The first parishioner ordained as a permanent Deacon was Mr. John H. Simpson, Jr. on Septemer 13, 1986, and the second parishioner was Mr. Simon Driesen on March 21, 1992. We now have three permanent Deacon's, Rev. Mr. Simon Driesen, Rev. Mr. Gary Dumer and Rev. Mr. Phillip Seneschall. St. Mary's is also blessed with two visiting priests on the weekends; Rev. Paul Henry and Rev. George Lloyd.
St. Mary's today stands as a thriving testimony to the growth of Catholicism in rural Harford County. The 13.5 acres (a significant increase over Captain Macatee's original grant) still remains outside the outermost fringes of urban and suburban bustle and is nestled amoung cultivated fields, meadows and wooded hills.