A century after St. Anthony Shrine Church was dedicated on October 26, 1897, the Parish publishes this book as a record of how the beautiful stone church was built, how the parish was administered over the years, how the buildings and grounds have changed, and how it has all been made possible by the support of a faithful congregation.
Actually, the story of our faith community is a much older story. The parish now known as St. Anthony Shrine dates back to Colonial times. By about 1740, Catholic settlers in northern Frederick County were gathering at a site less than a mile from the present church to receive the sacraments from traveling priests. This long history includes three distinct periods: The Missionary Period, 1734-1805, The College Period, 1805-1894, The St. Anthony Shrine Period, 1894-present” “The first two periods are briefly summarized in the following account. They provide a historical background for the events of the third period. The events of the third period, the past hundred years, are reported in greater detail since they lead directly to our centennial celebration.”
THE MISSIONARY PERIOD
“The congregation now known as St. Anthony Shrine Parish began 250 or more years ago when Maryland was a colony of the British Crown. Maryland, founded by Cecil Calvert, Lord Baltimore, in 1634, was at first a place of religious freedom. Many Catholics, persecuted and oppressed in England, settled with a sigh of relief in Southern Maryland. The relief was short. Freedom of worship ended in 1692 when the Church of England became the established religion of the colony. Catholics were double-taxed, forbidden to worship in public, forbidden to hold office or bear arms. Many decided to flee persecution once again and seek safer territory. One such westward-bound group pushed as far as the Blue Ridge Mountains and then settled in the fertile Monocacy Valley in northern Frederick County” “The leader of this group was William Elder who moved about 1728 from St. Mary’s (PG)
County. He was soon joined by the Livers, Owings, Wheelers, and other Catholic families. The Brawners, already on the scene, became fervent converts. Some other family names from this period are Delosier, Brooke, Ogle. and Neale. The early settlers were able to sustain their Catholic faith because they were served by missionary priests. These circuit-riding (or walking) priests, many of whom were Jesuits from Conewago Chapel, said Mass and administered the sacraments in private homes since it was against the law to build a Catholic church. Whenever a priest arrived, a signal was sent to the Catholics in the area. In the archives at Mount Saint Mary's College is a boatman's or conch shell said to have been brought from Southern Maryland and used to call the faithful settlers of the valley to
worship.” “William Elder, whose home stood about half a mile from the present church, set aside a large room for worship. Tradition tells that the first Mass in the neighborhood was celebrated in the Elder "house chapel" in 1745. Other records suggest that Mass was said in what is now St. Anthony's district as early as 1734. It is a happy fact that William Elder's Great grandson, Archbishop William Henry Elder of Cincinnati, said the Mass when St. Anthony's Church was consecrated in 1897.”
THE COLLEGE PERIOD
“The missionary period ended when Rev. John DuBois came to the parish as a resident pastor in 1805. That same year he bought land from the Elder family and started building a church on the side of St. Mary's Mountain. In
1808, he founded Mount Saint Mary's College. From that time until 1894 the local congregation and the college/seminary students worshiped together at St. Mary's Church, also known as "The Mountain Church" or "The Old Church on the Hill." The College president was also pastor of the church."
"By this time the new Constitution of the United States guaranteed freedom of religion to the "papists." Also, the bias against Catholics lessened because of their ready participation in the Revolutionary War. Certainly, St. Mary's
Church on the Hill seems to have been built in a fine spirit of ecumenism”
“In The Story of the Mountain there is a heart warming account of the ground breaking: Some 50 or 60 men of the neighborhood were present-women and children, white and black, on that 19th day of November 1805, many Protestants also, among them Mr. Hoover, a Mennonite preacher, conspicuous by his long beard. All worked together. Father DuBois himself took an axe.., gave the first blow and down went the trees on all sides."
There were few but were eager to have a hand in the work... A good old fashioned barbecue with an ox roasted whole closed the happy day's proceedings and the Catholic Church on the hill was assured. Fr. Dubois was resident pastor at St. Mary's Church for 21 years. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton came to the area in 1809 and was among his early parishioners”….