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St. John's Church, a Living History

Standing tall amongst evergreens that date from the 1920s, its steeple topped by a tall white cross, St. John Francis Regis Catholic Church stands as a structural testament to the history of worship in St. Mary’s County.

Established in 1690, St. John’s is located in Hollywood, Maryland, just off Rt. 235.  The original 1690 structure that served the parish for close to one hundred years no longer stands, but has been succeeded by a second church erected in 1780, and then by the current structure, which was finished in 1898.  The church has been added to and remodeled since 1898 to accommodate a growing parish, but parts of the original 1898 structure remain, serving as a concrete historical link.

Though certainly the most visible, the church building itself isn’t the only part of St. John’s that is steeped in history.  Its members serve as living testimonies to its significance in the community.   “St. John’s Church definitely has ties to our past,” says facilities manager Debbie Dugan.  “Some of our parishioners have family, parents and grandparents that have attended St. Johns.  Some have family members that were here when the school first opened.”
 
St. John’s Church is also home to St. John’s Catholic School.  Opened in 1923, the school provides instruction in Catholicism as well as the traditional curriculum found at most public schools, with classes for kindergarten through eighth grade.   As the church has done over the years, St. John’s School will soon be undergoing a renovation of its own due to a collapse that occurred from ice and snow on February 6 of this year.
 
“The demolition of the damaged areas occurred on March 10.  We are waiting on permits, and are hoping to reopen the school building over the Christmas 2010 break,” says Dugan.  Currently students are attending Holy Angels, located in Avenue, Maryland.
 
Since its birth in March of 1634, St. Mary’s County has become home to a diversity of religious establishments. The passing of the Religious Tolerance Act in 1649 signified the freedom that the settlers had originally sought after and had risked everything to achieve. Though there were moments of strife created by legislation such as the 1704 Church Act, establishing Anglicanism as the official religion of the colonies, the present religious liberty Marylanders enjoy today stems from the ideals of the original settlers.  St. John’s represents and important part of this history, and holds a significant place in both the legacy of Catholicism in the new world and the human narration of St. Mary’s County.
 
St. John’s holds Mass on Sundays at 7 a.m., 9 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. with a Saturday 5 p.m. vigil, and Monday through Saturday at 8 a.m.  Confessions are Saturdays 4 to 4:45 p.m. and after 5 p.m. vigil.  Visit St. John’s website at:  http://www.stjohnsparishhollywood.org/.
 

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