Members heed call, fix rectory

October 13, 1994|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Sun Staff Writer

`TC Just who did this Father Larry think he was?

The interim pastor of St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church in Taneytown -- his stewardship of the nearly 200-year-old parish will end in February -- was in town 10 days when he asked the parish to restore the crumbling rectory.

And while he didn't expect his request to fall on apathetic ears, the Rev. Lawrence J. Gesy was even more surprised when, within a month of his request, nearly a fourth of the parishioners answered the call and showed up to work.

"You talk about Renewal," the priest said, referring to a spirituality-building program in place in all of the churches of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, "this is Renewal from A to Z. The rectory was in deplorable condition."

The pre-Civil War building -- which houses the priest's residence and the parish offices -- is deplorable no more. Nearly 80 of the church's 325 parishioners contributed time, money and elbow grease.

"It was absolutely amazing, the way people came in and worked," said Edward Losiewicz, a 17-year member of St. Joseph's who helped spearhead the project.

"When we needed something to be done, people would come in with 10 minutes notice."

Once dour offices got a new coat of paint, new carpeting, new electrical wiring and a new phone system. The priest's quarters were transformed into a suite, giving the upstairs a whole new look.

"If it wasn't for Father Larry," said Barbara Keilholtz, the church's secretary and a parishioner, "This wouldn't have been done."

The new digs were blessed Sunday by Bishop Francis P. Murphy, the vicar for the western part of the archdiocese. He came not only to bless the rectory, but to honor the work done on some 19 religious articles unearthed by Rev. Gesy.

"The history here [in these artifacts] has been sort of neglected," Father Gesy said. Some of the items -- including brass candleholders -- probably date back to the early 1800s, he said.

Many parishioners "adopted" the religious items and restored them in memory of a loved one. Father Gesy, who noticed a silver and brass crucifix, had it refurbished in the names of his late parents. It now rests atop the tabernacle at the front of the church.

St. Joseph's is an old parish. It traces its roots to 1797, when it was founded by a Russian prince, Rev. Gesy said. At the time, it was the main Catholic church in the region.

It became a mission church when St. John in Westminster became the primary parish by the middle of the 19th century.

The current church was built on Frederick Street in 1876.

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