St. Joseph’s Monastery History: Celebrations—Further Growth

The first great historical milestone of the foundation to be celebrated officially was the Golden Jubilee in 1918. It is significant that this event was held under the rectorship of Father Hilarion O’Rourke, C.P., who is now the senior member of St. Joseph’s Community as the 100th Anniversary is celebrated.

The highlight of the week was the official Jubilee ceremony on Sunday, September 15th. A Solemn Pontifical Mass was celebrated by Bishop O. B. Corrigan, D.D. The Auxiliary Bishop of Baltimore, William A. Fletcher, rector of the Basilica, preached the sermon. Cardinal Gibbons presided. This fact was probably almost as singularly satisfying to the Fathers as the milestone itself. For this kindly prelate, whom historians in later years would rank as the most prominent figure in the American Church in his time, had officiated at every important Passionist function in the Archdiocese during the past fifty years. In addition, he had a month previous, almost to the day, himself celebrated the Golden Jubilee of his consecration as a Bishop by Archbishop Spalding in the Baltimore Cathedral.

As Father Felix Ward, C.P., Passionist historian, comments: “Perhaps there is not another incident on record where a Prince of the Church was present at the Golden Jubilee of an institution or church which he dedicated as Bishop fifty years before.”

The community was shortly to be saddened by the death of the revered prelate. In March, 1921, the Cardinal died after serving as the spiritual leader of the Archdiocese for more than forty-three years. No group was more deeply grieved by his passing than the Fathers of St. Joseph’s.

Time passed, the neighborhood grew and the parish flourished. Consequently, the need for a larger church became apparent during the administration of Father William Harding, who served as pastor for nearly fifteen years. Therefore, ground was broken for a new church on May 8, 1931, on the southeast corner of Old Frederick Road and Monastery Avenue. Archbishop Michael J. Curley assisted at the laying of the cornerstone on Sunday, December 6th, of the same year. On this occasion he spoke eloquently of the contributions of the Passionists to the Archdiocese.

The new church was dedicated by Archbishop Curley on October 2, 1932. A Romanesque structure, constructed of granite from Massachusetts and trimmed with limestone from Indiana, it is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful churches in the Archdiocese. Above the entrance to the church stands a huge, striking limestone Calvary scene, with the cross reaching twenty-two feet in height. Doors of bronze and oak adorn the elegant entrance.