Baltimore, Maryland Historical Summary
Archbishop Martin J. Spalding of Baltimore invited the Passionists to the archdiocese in 1865. After settling first at St. Agnes Parish in Catonsville, by 1868 the Passionists had dedicated St. Joseph’s Monastery in Irvington on Baltimore’s West Side as their permanent foundation. In 1883 St. Joseph’s Monastery burned to the ground. During the same year St. Joseph’s Church was dedicated. The Passionists dedicated a new monastery in 1886.
Throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries the primarily German and Irish parish experienced consistent growth. The School Sisters of Notre Dame began to staff the school in 1890, its second year of operation. The new Whiteford Hall Grade School was dedicated in 1890 and modernized in 1913. An adjacent convent was added in 1923. A new and magnificent church was dedicated in 1932 and continues to serve the people of the area, which after World War II saw a large influx of African-Americans.
From the time the first prayers were chanted in the monastery chapel, Passionists went out to preach parish missions and devotions. They served as chaplains to the Visitation Nuns in Catonsville; Mount St. Joseph’s College, conducted by the Xaverian Brothers; St. Mary’s Industrial School (where they ministered to the spiritual needs of Babe Ruth); as well as to St. Agnes and Bon Secours Hospitals. The monastery served as a preparatory seminary in the first part of the 20th century. The St. Joseph’s Spiritual Center for retreats was built and dedicated in 1966. By the mid-1980s, the monastery and spiritual center, due to lack of finances and personnel, were closed. Both buildings became home for a drug rehabilitation center.
Since the mid-1980s, the convent has served as the rectory and residence for the Passionists who minister at St. Joseph’s Church. There is a strong desire to develop models of ministry that include the unchurched and materially poor. Faith-sharing groups meet weekly and reflect the energy and potential among parishioners. Special goals of the parish are excellent liturgy and outreach to the neighborhood.