Sacred Heart Church (Bowie, Maryland)
Sacred Heart Church had been better known as White Marsh after the long stretch of sandy loam between the church and the Patuxent River and marsh. This soil contains a significant amount of mica which appears sparkling white.
The original patent to the "White Marsh" property was granted by the authority of Charles Calvert II in 1722 to James Carroll. On February 12, 1728, Carroll bequeathed 2,000 acres (8.1 km2) of White Marsh, then known as Carroll's Burgh, to the Jesuits at St. Thomas Manor in the vicinity of Port Tobacco, Maryland.
During this time, while Catholics could not worship publicly, they could do so privately and were able to build private chapels on privately held land. To facilitate the construction of a church, Carroll left the land to the individual Jesuits. That allowed them to construct the Mission of Saint Francis Borgia on the property, which is considered the founding of Sacred Heart Church. However, the Jesuits did not take up permanent residence at White Marsh until about 1741, when a chapel was constructed.
The old chapel
The building was built on a hill circa 1741 and is constructed of undressed stone, with a gable roof. In 1853, a fire destroyed the interior of the building but left the stone walls standing. The interior was rebuilt by 1855. In 1876 a wood-frame bell tower was added to the church at the east end of the gable.
Adjoining the chapel is a large cemetery with gravestones dating from 1830.
Elm Street Development has a contract to purchase 154 acres of land surrounding the chapel from the Corporation of Roman Catholic Clergymen, which has owned the property since the 1728 land grant of Carroll's Burgh from John Carroll. The developer seeks to change zoning on the parcel and construct 440 single-family homes, but faces local opposition.
A much larger, modern brick church, was built at the foot of the hill, fronting Maryland Route 450 and dedicated in 1969 to accommodate the growth of Bowie due to the Levitt and Sons development, "Belair at Bowie", where most of its current congregants live.
General Chapters organizing the Catholic Church in the US
After the American revolution, Catholics in the newly created United States enjoyed freedom to worship. The Jesuit Fathers, led by John Carroll and five other priests, began a series of meetings at White Marsh beginning on 27 June 1783 called the General Chapters that organized the Catholic Church in the United States.
They held a second meeting 6 November 1783, and a third on 11 October 1784, at the same place, when they formulated the draft of the regulations binding all the clergy of Maryland. It was decided at these meetings every priest was maintained and given thirty pounds a year, and each priest agreed to offer ten Masses for every priest who died there. It was at this same meeting that those assembled voted John Carroll's name to be included in a petition sent to the Pope requesting Carroll's appointment to an office that ultimately resulted in Carroll becoming the first Roman Catholic bishop in the United States.
- Hogan, Reverend John F. (1975). "Sacred Heart Chapel". Bowie, Maryland: Sacred Heart Church: 1–6.
- Virta, Alan (1984). Prince George's County: A Pictorial History. Norfolk, Virginia: The Donning Company. p. 53. ISBN 0-89865-812-8.
- Hogan, Reverend John F. (1975). "Sacred Heart Chapel". Bowie, Maryland: Sacred Heart Church: 1.
- Pearl, Susan G. (October 1987). "Old Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church" (PDF). Maryland Historic Sites Inventory. Maryland Historic Trust (P.G. #71A-19). Retrieved 3 January 2017.
- McNamara, John (13 December 2016). "Bill seeks to delay decision on Jesuit property zoning change". Bowie Blade-News. Retrieved 3 January 2017.
- "Sacred Heart Church - The Parish with Colonial Roots - since 1728". Sacred Heart Church. Retrieved 2007-06-14.
- "John Carroll". Catholic Encyclopedia (1913). 1913. Retrieved 2007-10-03.
- Parish Web Site
- "Nation's first bishop, and many current vocations, connected to Bowie ," My Catholic Standard, by Richard Szczepanowski, July 20, 2010.