The world shook with major events in 1912—the Republic of China was proclaimed; the Titanic hit an iceberg and sank in the Atlantic, claiming 1,500 lives; Harriet Quimby became the first woman to fly across the English Channel.
But here in College Park, it’s the year that the set down its roots. It’s grown for the past 100 years, adding a school and becoming the community social place for many area families.
“The church was [the] center of our activity,” recalled longtime parishioner Mary Lou Milstead, who has belonged to Holy Redeemer most of her life. “There were school dances that adults would attend and carnivals in the summertime where we raffled off a car.”
Milstead was baptized there more than 80 years ago; it’s where she received all of her sacraments and married her husband William. Rev. Leo Fealy performed the service in 1947.
Fealy led church for 36 years, and Fealy Hall on Berwyn Road—the original location for the church—was named after the reverend.
In 1952 the current church was constructed, and Fealy Hall now serves as the parish house.
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Many of the current parishioners are longtime members, like Milstead, who have been attending Holy Redeemer for 40 to 50 years, according to church pastor Rev. George Wilkinson. Some of them are descendants of founding church members, he said.
“It’s almost like a farm community,” Wilkinson said, adding that many parishioners’ children and grandchildren attended both the church and Holy Redeemer Catholic School, which was established in 1932 and just celebrated its 80th anniversary last month.
Milstead, who grew up and still resides in Berwyn Heights, has many fond memories of growing up at Holy Redeemer. She recalled going to mass on Sundays as a child, novenas on Wednesdays, at the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday. Her family, and many of those in her neighborhood, walked to church.
After her marriage at Holy Redeemer, Milstead and her husband moved to Greenbelt for five years before returning to Berwyn Heights. They raised all of their seven children attending both Holy Redeemer Church and its school, which was founded in 1942.
Holy Redeemer is where Milstead made many of her closest and lifelong friends.
“We were raising our families together, caring for each other, and helping out at Holy Redeemer,” she said.
Now, Milstead’s seven children are grown and live all over, with children and grandchildren of their own, making her even more thankful for Holy Redeemer and the love and support the parish continues to provide.
“It’s like being a member of another family,” Milstead said, adding that her church family is second only to her own children.
Holy Redeemer has been celebrating their centennial for the past year with concerts, dances, and other activities.
They are also creating a historical book about the parish over the past 100 years, said Rita Thompson, chair of the 100th Anniversary Committee. The church did a similar project for its 50th and 75th year celebrations, so the committee is working to build on those.
The committee is also taking on the Holy Redeemer Parishioners History Project. This project pulls together the collective stories and memories of parishioners and friends of the parish, past and present, and will be with the community.
The 100 year anniversary mass will be held on June 17, the actual anniversary of the founding of the church, and attended by Cardinal Wurel at 10 a.m. The mass will be followed by a parish-wide picnic.