About Our Parish
St. Margaret Church and St. Mary Magdalen Mission
St. Margaret Parish Mission Statement
St. Margaret Parish of Bel Air, Maryland is a multigenerational Roman Catholic community centered in the Eucharist and committed to learning, loving and living the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
We minister to each other and our neighbors, locally and globally by:
- praying and celebrating the Sacraments,
- growing and mentoring in faith,
- fostering relationships that create belonging, and
- serving with compassion and advocating for justice.
History of St. Margaret Parish and St. Mary Magdalen
November 19, 1900, Rev. J. Alphonse Frederick, the first pastor of St. Margaret Parish, purchased three acres of land in Bel Air, Maryland for the sum of $3000, using money which was bequeathed to him by his mother, Anna Margaret (Hild) Frederick. Five years later, this land became the location of St. Margaret church.
Following are some facts and significant events in the history of St. Margaret Catholic Parish, and the development of St. Mary Magdalen Mission as a mission of St. Margaret.
- Rev. J. Alphonse Frederick was ordained a priest, December 18, 1874.
- On May 1, 1905 the cornerstone was laid and volunteers helped build the church. The Church was named in honor of Fr. Frederick’s mother’s patron saint, St. Margaret, a 3rd Century martyr.
- Mass was first celebrated on October 1, 1905. This was the first known celebration of a Catholic Mass in Bel Air. The original church, presently our Adult Education Center, was used for Eucharistic celebration until 1969 when the new church was finished.
- A Mass of dedication was celebrated on April 20, 1969, by His Eminence Lawrence Cardinal Shehan to consecrate the present house of worship for the Church of St. Margaret.
- The altar is a five ton piece of marble carved in the shape of a table. Within the altar is the relic of Pignatianus, a holy Roman martyr of the third century. The tabernacle of the Blessed Sacrament is located in the Chapel at the rear of the Church.
- The original church was remodeled to provide offices for the staff of St. Margaret until 1995 when the new two story building was completed. The new building now provides staff offices on the second floor and Pre-school facilities on the first floor.
- The original church, now the Adult Education Center, was dedicated on May 13, 1995 by William Cardinal Keeler.
- On May 13, 1995, ground was broken for the new St. Mary Magdalen Mission Center on Churchville Road, which is the mission of St. Margaret. It was dedicated on April 12, 1997 by William Cardinal Keeler. A single multi-purpose building seats 600 for Mass and 300 for parish banquets. The complex also includes an Education Center/St. Margaret Middle School which was completed in the spring of 2001.
- On September 20, 2001 the St. Mary Magdalen Education Center was dedicated by Bishop William C. Newman, Eastern Vicar of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. The Education Center consists of nine classrooms, a library/multimedia center and a gymnasium. The building houses St. Margaret Middle School (grades 6-8) during the day and Faith Formation and Continuing Education classes at other times.
- FiRE House
The parish purchased the property located at 329 Wright Street in the 1990’s. After the purchase, the high school youth group was charged with the task of cleaning the house. Over time the house was used as a second rectory and then later as storage. With a renewed outlook on youth ministry and a need for a comfortable place for high school youth to gather and feel welcome, minor renovations of the building began in early 2011.
After a new roof and a minor reconfiguration of the space, youth and adult volunteers gave the building a major cleaning and a fresh coat of paint. Two white boards, new furniture, tv’s, a prayer wall, movies, board games, and more were added to finish the space. Our high school youth helped choose the paint colors, the furniture and other elements of the house and were also given the task of naming it. One of the members of our Emmaus peer ministry team, suggested Finding the Road to Emmaus (FiRE) House. The FiRE recalls the moment in the story of the road to Emmaus when the disciples finally realized that Jesus was the one who had been accompanying them on their journey and said “Were not our hearts burning within us…” And so the FiRE House logo includes a FiRE emerging from a heart.
In November of 2011, Msgr. Michael Schleupner blessed the building. St. Margaret parish’s very first youth minister, Mark Pacione, was present for the blessing and opening. Beginning that week, and almost every Tuesday evening that has followed, high school youth have gathered for prayer, community, and fun. Our hope is that in coming together in the community that is formed at FiRE House, our high school youth come to know the presence of Jesus through the accompaniment of others.
- McCormick House
The McCormick House at 150 McCormick St. was added to our campus in 2019. Fr. Kevin Schenning blessed the house the week of August 18, 2019. The purpose for the house was to allow space for the St. Lawrence Ministry. This ministry schedules appointments for those in need of assistance for eviction prevention, turn off notices from BGE, security deposits and other needs. The additional rooms allow us the space to store supplies for other ministries and a meeting room as well.
Want to learn more?
A detailed history of St. Margaret Catholic Parish may be found in the 2005 Commemorative Centennial Book celebrating 100 years of Catholic ministry in Bel Air. This book is available in the Parish Office. A copy may be found at the Harford County Historical Society located on Main Street in Bel Air, Maryland.