Brief History of St. Isaac Jogues Roman Catholic Congregation
(written by Dean Pickens, a founding parishioner)
The history of St. Isaac Jogues Church is a chronicle of deep religious faith and persistent human endeavor. With the burgeoning memberships at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church and St. Ursula Church, it became imperative that an additional parish be established in the Parkville-Carney area to better serve the needs of the Catholic people in the area. What evolved from that decision was a meeting of future parishioners in June 1968 in which Fr. Norman Gies, newly appointed pastor of St. Isaac Jogues Church, outlined the organizational needs of the new parish.
From the very onset of discussion, the strength of the parishioners was quite evident. They wanted a contemporary structure in which to celebrate the liturgies of their faith as well as one that would provide a functional setting for the many different activities that make up a community.
Priorities were identified and committees emerged to address major issues such as Liturgy, Education, Budget, Finance, and Building. During the first two years, various activities were carried out wherever space and community support could be secured. St. Isaac Jogues students in the upper elementary grades of the Religious Education Program (now Faith Formation Program) were absorbed into classes at St. Ursula for the first two years with St. Isaac Jogues supplying additional catechists. St. Isaac Jogues began the development of its own Center of Religious Education (now Faith Formation) with kindergarten and first grade children attending sessions on Sunday mornings in the Harford Hills Elementary School cafeteria. Meanwhile, additional catechists were being recruited and trained to provide quality religious instruction within the home parish.
Many early parishioners will reminisce about the folding chairs in the multi-purpose room at Harford Hills Elementary School with the priest celebrating Mass from the stage. Fr. Gies was assisted each weekend by a Passionist priest from St. Joseph Monastery in Catonsville. Faithful volunteers provided the transportation for the visiting priest every week for two years. The pastor’s residence and office were established in a private dwelling in the Perring Park area.
In the late spring of 1970 when the church structure was nearing completion, Fr. James Cronin was assigned as pastor to replace Fr. Gies who retired to Florida. In the ensuing years the religious leadership was broadened to include various support staff in the form of Associate Pastors, three ordained deacons from within our local parish and one from outside the parish, full-time Director of Religious Education (now Faith Formation), Coordinator of Youth Ministry, Faith Formation administrative assistant, office personnel, and custodial staff.
In 1989 the part-time position of Parish Manager was established to relieve the pastor of the growing burden of administrative responsibilities; and in 2001 a Pastoral Associate was added to assist with liturgical ministries because we became a one-priest parish in 1999. Whether full-time or part-time, long-term or short-term, each and every one of these people left their imprint on the growth and development of the parish.
The growth and needs of the parish resulted in the construction of the Parish Center, which provided much needed office space. A few years later a major addition was made to the Parish Center including classrooms, kitchen, and separate office space and facilities to allow leasing to a day care operator. The building really becomes a multi-purpose area with the day care operator using it in daytime and the church during the evening and weekends. It was renamed the Cronin Center in 1994 when Fr. Cronin retired. Fr. Martin Hammond was assigned as Pastor and the parish continued to flourish liturgically and financially.
Parishioner participation in the various ministries of the parish has steadily increased. Currently over 600 people are actively involved.
Perhaps the best testimony as to the sustained growth and strength of St. Isaac Jogues Church is that the children of yesterday’s families are emerging as the parish leaders of today. And there is every reason to believe that children of today’s families will emerge as the leaders of tomorrow.
“I am the vine, you are the branches.”
St. Isaac Jogues Parish is a branch of the true vine, Jesus Christ. Our goal is to continue to build the kingdom of God while recognizing the need to remain in Christ. God has chosen us to go forth and bear much fruit, through our ministries of Liturgy, Faith Formation, Service, Stewardship, and Evangelization.
“Love one another as I have loved you.”
First census – 625 families
25th year – 1,850 families
June 2002 – 2,173 families