Many longtime Our Lady of Good Counsel parishioners can tell you how many doors down they were from the church as children. They can also tell how many doors down they are now as adults.
The church of Fort Avenue in Locust Point is where it all began for many parishioners.
Smiles, tears and fellowship took hold April 26 as some 500 gathered to mark the 150th anniversary of the church with a Mass celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop Denis J. Madden.
“It is time for us to reflect on the past and to thank God for those who have come before us,” Bishop Madden said before turning his attention to the numerous children in the pews. “(The children) give us hope for the next 150 years.”
Throughout the Mass, parishioners sang, with full hearts, the hymn to Our Lady of Good Counsel.
Lifelong parishioner Jo-Ann Geary (nee Helms), 62, thinks about her deceased parents and all her sacraments each time she hears the song.
“I can’t sing that hymn without crying,” she said.
During Mass, Katie Flynn-Fuchs held 6-month-old son Liam in her arms. Her father, Michael Flynn, sat in a pew named in honor of Ms. Flynn-Fuchs’ great-grandparents, Bridget and Patrick Flynn.
Ms. Flynn-Fuchs’ uncle, Jim Flynn, said it was emotional “thinking back on the generations who went before us.”
Father Patrick Carrion, pastor of the Catholic Community of South Baltimore, highlighted that lineage in his opening remarks.
“This is a joyful day,” Father Carrion said. “We honor those who were once parishioners here who have been called to God.”
Good Counsel joined the Catholic Community of South Baltimore in 2003 along with Holy Cross and St. Mary, Star of the Sea.
Dr. Connie Murphy, a chemistry professor at Stevenson University and a member of the parish council, said Good Counsel is a reflection of Locust Point. No matter what adversity has come their way, the people have survived.
“They’re very resilient,” Dr. Murphy said. “There’s been a Catholic presence here for 150 years and I do believe, like Bishop Madden, there will be Catholics here for years to come.”
After Mass ended, parishioners joined Father Carrion at Latrobe Park across the street for a picnic and party. Children chased one another and ate ice cream. Older parishioners were reminded of the days when everyone knew each other on the block.
They looked at photos and stories detailing the parish’s history.
Many on hand attended Our Lady of Good Counsel School before it closed in 1972. Lector Alex Wroblewski remembered being a rambunctious student. Now a public school teacher, he is still stunned that he married schoolmate and former queen of the May Procession, Mary Kay Brown.
“I never thought I would have married the May Queen,” he said.
For many in Locust Point, like Mr. Wroblewski, the parish has been at the epicenter of their lives.
“This is our church,” Mr. Wroblewski said. “We love our church.”