Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish
The first officially published record of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church appears in The
Metropolitan Catholic Almanac for 1859 as "Mechanics’ Town, Church building – attended from Mt. St. Mary’s College." The
college has a March 1828 manuscript by Fr. Simon Brute who suggested that as the college grew its priests might take care
of the congregations – not only at St. Mary’s (now St. Anthony Shrine) and in Emmitsburg, but also The Furnace Church (a
structure never finished at Catoctin Furnace) and at Mechanicstown (known since 1892 as Thurmont). Except for occasional
visits, no formal mission was provided until November of 1856. Then Fr. William McClosky (who acted as director of the
seminary at Mt. St. Mary’s and would later be the first Rector of the North American College in Rome) advocated the
construction of a church.
Land was purchased by McCloskey early in 1857. The Catholic Mirror, in referring to the
consecration of the cornerstone, August 30, 1957, estimated that "A concourse of at least a thousand persons . . .
witnessed . . . the ceremonies . . ." Fr. George Flaut, Mt. St. Mary’s, built the original wooden altar fronted with the
four marble columns now supporting the altar of sacrifice. The present Gothic-styled church was dedicated, Sunday, June 5,
The parish was attended by Mount priests until the appointment of Fr. John Conway as pastor in
1881. He rented quarters about a mile and half from the church. Fr. Conway, a widower and Baltimore merchant, was ordained
at the age of 46, in 1879. His successor, 1886-1889, Fr. Eugene Gynne, transferred his residence to Libertytown and Our
Lady of Mt. Carmel was served from St. Peter’s with succeeding pastors stationed as St. Peter’s. In 1990, Our Lady of Mt.
Carmel was placed under Fr. John Manley, pastor at St. Anthony Shrine.
A major change came, December 28, 1918, with the appointment of Fr. Thomas Wheeler as pastor. He
was also assigned the care of the patients at the State Tuberculosis Sanatorium, Sabillasville. In 1919, the house at 18
Altamont Street was acquired as the rectory.
Long-time residents will remember pastors Fr. John J. Hart (1954-1961); Fr. Edward V. Echle
(1961-1971), and Fr. Thomas Caulfield (1971-1973). Under the aegis of Fr. Donald Croghan (1973-1986), extensive work on the
property was carried out. It should be noted with appreciation that St. John’s Lutheran Church graciously provided worship
space while (1974-1975) the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel church building was being substantially reconditioned and further
provided Sunday School quarters until the Parish Hall was built (1979).
Following the transfer of Fr. Croghan in the fall of 1986, the parish was without a pastor until
March of 1987 when Fr. Edward B. Hemler assumed joint pastorate of St. Anthony Shrine and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel parishes
assisted by Deacon Michael Lind, the parish’s first Pastoral Associate. In February, 1992, Fr. Leo R. Tittler was appointed
to the joint pastorate and in 1993, Sr. Carol Czyzewski, F.S.S.J. replaced Deacon Lind as Pastoral Associate. In 1995 Sr.
Mary Jan Nasaidka, F.S.S.J. joined the Staff as Pastoral Minister and served the parishes until 1998 at which time Sr.
Valenta Rusin, F.S.S.J. replaced her and today also serves as Director of Religious Education. In January 2001, Fr. Leo
Tittler was assigned as Senior Priest at St. John’s in Frederick and Fr. James Hannon was appointed as pastor of St.
Anthony Shrine and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.
St. Anthony Shrine Parish: A Brief History
The roots of St. Anthony Shrine can be traced to the arrival between 1728 and 1740 of several
Catholic Families from southern Maryland - the Elders, the Livers, and the Owings. Through these families the immediate
area was destined to become a focus for the Catholic religious in northern Frederick County. Jesuit missionaries,
principally from Conewago, but later from Frederick town, provided the Sacraments on an irregular, itinerant basis.
In 1792, Fr. John DuBois was assigned by Bishop John Carroll to the pastoral duties of much of
Central and Western Maryland. In 1805, he left Frederick and began the construction of St. Mary's Church (where the
Pangborn Companile stands at the entrance to the Grotto of Lourdes on
Mt. St. Mary's grounds). It is reported that the first Mass was said in that
church on August 15th, 1906. DuBois subsequently (1808) established Mt. St. Mary's as a college and seminary. For the next
86 years, the College's priest-president was pastor of St. Mary's Church and its congregation.
Old St Mary's Church on the hill
In 1894, the college's responsibility for the congregation was surrendered and a separate parish
with full ecclesiastical jurisdiction was created by the Archdiocese. Fr. John Manly was the first pastor of the new parish
- St. Anthony Shrine. Ground was broken for the rectory, July 10, 1895, and the dedication of the new church took placed on
October 26, 1897. Fr. Thomas Lyons succeeded Fr. Manly and was followed by Fr. George H. Tragesser and others. More recent
pastors include Frs. Edward A. Sargus, Vincent Tomalski, William A. McEvoy, Edward B. Hemler, Leo R. Tittler and James W.
In the fall of 1988, Fr. Donald Croghan, Pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Thurmont, was
assigned as Pastor of St. Paul's Church, Ellicott City. Founded as a mission from Mt. St. Mary's in the 1850's, Mount
Carmel became a mission of the newly formed St. Anthony Shrine and continued so until created an independent parish not
long before 1920.
From November 1988 until March of 1989, Mount Carmel was without a pastor and was served on a
voluntary basis by faculty priests from Mt. St. Mary's. In March, diocesan officials announced that Fr. Edward B. Hemler,
Pastor of St. Anthony Shrine, would assume the joint pastorate of the two churches, assisted by Deacon Michael Lind. In
February 1992, Fr. Leo R. Tittler was appointed to the joint pastorate and in 1993, Sr. Carol Czyzewski, F.S.S.J. replaced
Deacon Lind as Pastoral Associate. In 1995 Sr. Mary Jan Nasaidka, F.S.S.J. joined the Staff as Pastoral Minister and served
the parishes until 1998 at which time Sr. Valenta Rusin, F.S.S.J. replaced her and today also serves as Director of
Religious Education. In January 2001, Fr. Leo Tittler was assigned as Senior Priest at St. John's in Frederick and Fr.
James Hannon was appointed as pastor of St. Anthony Shrine and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.
The cemetery which had been under the aegis of Mt. St. Mary's College was early transferred to the
care of St. Anthony Shrine. Dating from 1806, the cemetery is a historic spot including as it does the graves of many local
Catholic families as well as those of faculty and students of Mt. St. Mary's and several members of the family of
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.
Read the History of Saint Anthonys Shrine Parish By Ann