Why should we save St. Patrick?
· It is the second oldest Catholic worship site in Cecil County, Maryland
· Built in 1819, the chapel is a testimonial to the impact of the Bill of Rights and the American Constitution. This chapel was built by Irish immigrants working on the Susquehanna canals and the local lumbering industry. In Ireland, the Penal Laws denied suffrage to Catholics. They were not allowed to have schools and the ownership of property was carefully restricted. Rentals and taxes were designed to drive Catholics off the land. In their new country, they had the freedom to worship, and to build their own church, rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. It is note worthy that these immigrants, who certainly were not wealthy, used their meager savings to build a worship site, an investment that as Americans they felt secure enough to do.
· It is one of the oldest public buildings in Cecil County and is part of the heritage and history of the county as well as the state of Maryland.
· In 1978 the site was considered valuable enough by the state of Maryland to be placed on the register of the Maryland Historic Trust as a historic site.reserving monuments and buildings for the future.
In 1819 the Rev. Roger Smith, a priest from St. Ignatius Church in Hickory Maryland, purchased a half acre from Daniel Glackin for a church and a burial ground. The church was built and the first religious service was held in 1819. The congregation consisted mostly of Irish immigrants working in the lumbering operation bordering the Susquehanna River and the canals on both sides of the river. They called it St. Patrick’s Chapel.
St. Patrick’s Chapel is a testimonial to the toil and faith of the early nineteenth century residents of Cecil County. Old Conowingo was a busy thoroughfare; a major crossing of the Susquehanna River. Here Lafayette and Compte de Rochambeau, with their troops, crossed the Susquehanna in 1781 on their way to Yorktown. Here, lumber operations were established and canals created to foster the growing economic life of the county and here people built their church telling us that their faith was as important as their commerce. For these reasons alone, the chapel is an important landmark deserving preservation.
With the advent of the railroad, canal commerce diminished and the population shifted away from Pilottown. The chapel was abandoned several times during its’ 188 year history. In spite of sporadic “restoration” attempts, the chapel frequently experienced neglect. A passerby in the 1920s remarked that the grounds were overgrown with brush, the front door swinging on its hinges, and the interior invaded by animals. Most old wood framed buildings would not have withstood such an assault. However, this building refused to collapse; refused to die. In 1934 a Mass Commemorating the chapel's 125th Anniversary was celebrated. Plans were made to restore it but the Depression and World War II sidelined those goals. In 1947 Good Shepherd Parish assumed responsibility for the chapel and repairs were made. In the early 1970's, more work was continued and a Mass was celebrated in 1972. In 2004, the St. Patrick's Historical Association was established and the chapel was once again restored. In September 2010, the newly renovated chapel was rededicated by Bishop Malooly. It still stands, a witness to our past, and a potential refuge to future generations. This is a humble, courageous building, but it needs our help! It stands there saying “I’m part of your history, I won’t let you forget me.”
Other important dates:
1832 – First wedding, between John Poole and Mary Ann
1859 – Chapel administered from St. Patrick’s, Havre de Grace
1864 – Chapel administered from St. Teresa, Port Deposit.
1881 – First “restoration” by Rev. Joseph Barry
1892 – Chapel under jurisdiction of Wilmington Diocese
- Fr. Peter And, St. Teresa, continues “restoration”
1908 – 1925 – Chapel abandoned.
1934 – Last public Mass for many years.
1960 – Fr. William Couming, Good Shepherd, undertakes
1971 – Fr. Thomas Peterman renovates chapel.
1972 – Bishop Mardaga celebrates first Mass since 1934.
1978 – St. Patrick’s registered as a site in the Maryland Historical
1990 – Fr. Raymond Forrester continues restoration work with small grant from the Cecil County Historical Society
2005 –-2006 - St. Patrick’s Chapel Historical Society
incorporated in the State of Maryland. and acquires
Federal tax free status under Section 501 (c) (3) of the
Internal Revenue Code.
How can I help?
We seek your assistance in this valuable project. You can obtain additional information by contacting the Society’s resident agent,
187 Harrisville Rd.
Colora, MD 21917
Also Visit our Facebook page for upcoming events! https://www.facebook.com/StPatricksChapel/?ref=bookmarks
Masses are held in March, September and December. Please check our Facebook page for dates. The community is welcome to attend. Other events may be scheduled by contacting Mr. Pare.
We rely on the generosity of our supporters. We are especially grateful to William & Marilyn Pare and Jack Scarbeth who began this labor of love and have continued with it thru trials and tribulations. We are also indebted to our board of directors who keep the vision alive: President Jack Scarbath, Secretary JoAnne Bierly, Treasurer Bill Pare and members Jerry Callaway, Bud McFadden, Ken Miller, Kathy Lay, Robert Rando, Chris Quinn, The Rev. Jay McKee, Tom O'Hara, Jim Zabmbuto and Erika Quesenberry Sturgill.
The chapel is thankful to St. Kevin's Ancient Order of the Hibernians, the Irish Jasper Greens, Good Shepherd Parish and countless others that donate their time, talent and treasure to ensure that St. Patrick's Chapel stands for many generations to follow.
April 7th Mass & 150th Anniversary Celebration
Mass will be celebrated at St. Patrick’s Chapel on Saturday, April 7th at 12 noon as part of the Diocese of Wilmington’s 150th sesquicentennial anniversary celebration. St. Patrick’s Chapel was selected as one of nine historical worship sites in the diocese to participate in this year long celebration.
Mass will be celebrated on the first Saturday of each month starting this Saturday and ending on March 2nd 2019. The chapel will be open at 10 AM. Individuals will be available to distribute printed historical information regarding the chapel’s long history. Information will also be provided regarding the schedule of events in the diocese’s sesquicentennial celebration. Pilgrimage information for the other historic churches will be available.
Since the weather forecast calls for cold weather, hot coffee and refreshments will be served after Mass. Visitors will also be informed about the preparations being made for St. Patrick’s Chapel 200th anniversary celebration which will start in September 2018.
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Contact us at:
St. Patrick's Chapel Historical Society
Attn: William Pare
187 Harrisville Road
Colora MD 21918
287 Pleasant Grove Road, Conowingo, Maryland 21918, United States