Stunning catholic church opens in Frederick

March 15, 1997


Staff Writer

MIDDLETOWN, Md. - The excitement that had been building for months at the new Holy Family Catholic Community Church culminated Friday with the celebration of Mass by Cardinal William Keeler.

Today, the church holds its first Sunday worship service.

There is good reason for the congregation's joy - after all, this is the first new Catholic church dedicated in Frederick County since 1892, according to Pat Warner, one of many church members who have been working toward the grand opening.

An open house is set for 3 this afternoon so the community can finally see for itself the huge $2.6 million building on a hill along Md. 17 just south of Middletown.


The congregation actually came together 11 years ago as the Catholic Community of Middletown, an independent mission of St. John the Evangelist in Frederick.

In 1986, the congregation began meeting at Middletown High School and later met at Middletown United Methodist Church. Sometimes services were also held at other churches in the community.

The church's unique history led to the donation of a sculpture for the new church by the Middletown Ministerium.

During the past 11 years, the Rev. John Charles Moore has coordinated the congregation. He will continue to serve as pastor at the new church building.

The building's design combines a feeling of strength and simplicity with the look of the Middle Ages.

The floor is rough stone as are the walls. The altar, which is open to the congregation on all sides, is a huge slab of stone balanced on four wooden posts.

The church is stark, yet inviting with its huge windows open to the sky.

William Woeger, a brother of the Christian School in Omaha, Neb., served as the liturgical consultant and iconographer for the new building.

"The building is filled with metaphors,'' Woeger said. That feeling starts at the entry which is dominated by a stone full-immersion baptismal font.

Baptism is the first experience in our religious lives, explained the church's liturgy coordinator Susan Raush, and so the font is the first sight encountered as one enters the building.

The artwork stands out as the only color in the otherwise austere sanctuary.

Although he actually painted the panels in Nebraska, Woeger said there was a lot of spirituality at work during the process.

"The congregation here fasted while I was painting in Omaha and I knew that,'' Woeger said.

The new church is located at 7321 Burkittsville Road.

Also in the works in Frederick and Washington counties are major improvements at parishes in Buckeystown, Boonsboro, Williamsport, Frederick, Hagerstown, Walkersville and Urbana.

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