Madonna of Jerusalem, Sharpsburg

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Parish History

Madonna of Jerusalem was founded in 1904 as an Italian parish.  For a few years before the parish was established, an Italian priest regularly visited Sharpsburg to celebrate Mass for the local Italians.  This priest used St. Joseph Church to conduct his services.  By 1904, the Italian population had grown to the point that an independent parish was feasible.  On July 29, 1904, the congregation purchased an existing Presbyterian church.  The church was dedicated on September 11,1904. 

In 1922, new altars were installed in the church.  At some point between the purchase of the church and 1922, the church steeple was removed.  The church was extensively renovated in 1946, with the installation of new pews, windows, statues, confessionals and altars as well as a new entry and vestibule.

In February of 1960, a fire did major damage to the church.  After the fire, Madonna of Jerusalem parish used the nearby St. Joseph Church for services. This disaster brought to a head concerns about the declining population of Sharpsburg.  The city had four churches situated near each other, with St. Joseph being the only territorial parish.  The bishop determined that the Catholic community could best be served by relocating St. Joseph parish.  On July 31, 1960, the bishop announced that the St. Joseph Church would be turned over to Madonna of Jerusalem parish and that a new St. Joseph Church would be built in O'Hara Township.  The original Madonna of Jerusalem Church would then be converted to a social and recreation center.  The building served this purpose until October of 1979 when it was torn down to make room for a senior citizens'  highrise.

As the twenty-first century began, it became obvious that Sharpsburg could no longer support three independent parishes.  On March 1, 2009, Madonna of Jerusalem merged with St. Mary and St. John Cantius parishes to form the new St. Juan Diego Parish.  Madonna of Jerusalem Church remains open and continues to serve the new parish.

Photos From the Diocesan Archive:

Original Madonna of Jerusalem Church, 1937
Madonna Church (former St. Joseph), 2002
Main altar of original church, 1937
Right side altar of original church, 1937
Left side altar of original church, 1937
Altar of current church, 2002

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