Passionist-Irvington, Maryland Infancy Narratives December 14, 2003: Third Sunday of Advent
by Father Rob Carbonneau, C.P., Ph.D.
Historian/Director-Passionist Historical Archives
J. Thomas Scharf, A.M, in his History of Baltimore City and County. From the Earliest Period to the Present Day: including Biographical Sketches of their Representative Men. (Philadelphia: Louis H. Everts, 1881) took great care to mention the existence of education and religious institutions. We must remember that in the 1880s the social service government agencies which we are so familiar with today had not yet come into vogue. In that era government and religious institutions were both charting new areas of responsibility. Simply put, we may say that the government ordinarily took a civil path to serve social needs while religious interests looked first to the Gospel approach to the same end. Many times church and state worked well together. Many times they were at odds. This reality has been part of the past Passionist-Irvington infancy narrative.
Irvington history is a valuable reminder as to how civil and religious interests co-exist with one another. Many times we think we are taking a short cut down one of the local streets only to find we are at a dead end. Before us is a church, school or cemetery. Did we ever stop and think about how such use of the land came about in the first place?
This week we will look at several organizations in J. Thomas Scharf’s 1880 overview of the First District, in which Irvington is located. They are St. Joseph’s Passionist Monastery as well as Mount St. Joseph’s College and the Xaverian Brothers.
St. Joseph’s Monastery “of the order of the Passionist Fathers, is situated on the Frederick road, directly opposite Loudon Park Cemetery, and adjoining Irvington, in Baltimore County, about three miles from the city limits. The order was introduced in Baltimore in 1865 by Father Anthony Calandria [sic], with cordial approbation of Archbishop Spalding. The corner-stone of the monastery was laid by Very Rev. Thomas Foley, chancellor of the archdiocese, in July 1867, and during the following year the structure was dedicated. The monastery property comprises about five acres, and the building is one of the finest of its character in the United States. It is of solid granite, and is surmounted by a handsome stone tower, containing a fine-toned bell. The clergy also attend St. Mary’s Industrial School, and St. Agnes’ Church, Catonsville, Baltimore County. The first rector of St. Joseph’s Monastery was Very Rev. Victor Carunchio, C.P., who was succeeded in 1870 by Rev. Charles Lang. In December, 1880, the erection of the church known as St. Joseph’s was begun on the monastery grounds to take the place of the former chapel. The cornerstone was laid on June 19, 1881, by Archbishop Gibbons. It was due to the untiring efforts of Father Benedict, rector of the monastery, that the building of the church was begun. It is a handsome structure in the Romanesque style of architecture, and will seat about six hundred persons. The Church of the Most Holy Passion, situated on the Frederick Road, near the monastery, was consecrated April 28, 1867.”
Mount St. Joseph College, Xaverian Brothers novitiate was formerly the Lusby estate. Located just west of Loudon Park Cemetery, it opened on November 27, 1873. The Xaverian Brothers first came to Louisville from Belgium and then Baltimore through the good graces of Bishop Spalding. St. Mary’s Industrial School was incorporated on April 9, 1866 with a board of directors. On May 21, 1866 leading Catholic laymen and pastors had met in the Calvert Hall basement led under the direction of the Archbishop. After his remarks, and those of Revs James Dolan and Edward McColgan, a sum of $18,000 was subscribed. A second meeting took place June 18, 1866. Alfred Jenkins was one member of the building committee and the site of the institution emerged through the generosity of Mrs. Emily McTavish who had bequeathed to it one hundred acres on Maiden Choice road to assist the project. The Brothers first lived in temporary military type barracks and began their work on September 6, 1866 which included a blessing by Archbishop Spalding. Also present were Rev. Fathers Early, McColgan, Albino [Magno], and Sprugt. The first boy was admitted on October 3, 1866 and a short time later a capacity of 45 students had been reached. A new cornerstone was laid June 4, 1867 and by August 1, 1868 the building had partial occupancy. In 1874 the charter was amended to allow the State and city three board representatives and to proceed with the courts to allow “any white boy, or any white boy convicted before such court or magistrate of any offense” of State laws by committed to the school. After 1876 the city had paid for a fixed rate for those boys sent by the city. In 1878 the building was enlarged. Between 1866 and 1880 1,427 boys had been under the care of the institution.
Also of interest is St. James School for Boys. This branch of St. Mary’s was established to be a home for those who left the St. Mary’s to make it on their own but need a place of residence; it was also a residence for poor boys between nine and eighteen who had an occupation but needed inexpensive board. The superintendent sought for them occupations, provided board and clothes, taught them at night and took charge of their wages. Situated on High and Low streets in Baltimore, it opened July 16, 1878. By December 1, 1880 it had served some 111 residents. Xaverian Brother Hubert was the superintendent.
Please contact Fr. Rob Carbonneau, C.P. at [email protected] if you have any comments.
Permission of Archives needed for publication.